The Charlotte Hornets and Denver Nuggets have managed to avoid the dreaded health and safety protocols in the NBA for now, and they should both be able to field respectable rosters for their Thursday night tilt in Denver. The Hornets will be hoping for some better defensive performances in this game than they are used to, while the Nuggets will look to exploit a road weary Hornets team. Either way, the tip off of this Charlotte Hornets vs. Denver Nuggets matchup is highly anticipated.
Despite both of these teams not getting invites to the annual Christmas Day schedule in the NBA, there is some serious star power in this contest. The Hornets are led by one of the best young point guards in the game in LaMelo Ball, while the Nuggets are led by reigning league MVP Nikola Jokic. Both players appear poised to compete in this game, which should make it an entertaining one if nothing else.
Charlotte Hornets – Struggling Mightily On Defense
The Charlotte Hornets are currently struggling, losing four of their last five games and three straight. Those last five games have all come on the road, as the Hornets are involved in an extended road trip heading into the Christmas holiday. Here, they will look for a big road win to close out the pre-Christmas schedule, but Charlotte simply has to be better on defense if they want to have a chance in this game.
This season, the Hornets are allowing an alarming 117 points per game for the season, which is the worst mark in the NBA. That is simply not good enough for a team that has the offensive talent to do damage in the Eastern Conference, but may not get a chance to showcase it if they can’t string together a few defensive stops. Against a solid Nuggets offensive lineup, the Hornets have to do a better job of crowding shooters while not letting Jokic get whatever he wants.
Expected Line-Up: LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges, Mason Plumlee
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Denver Nuggets – Relying On The MVP Tonight
The Denver Nuggets come into this matchup with a chip on their shoulder, as they lost last night against the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder. Denver was held to just 94 points in that game, as they could never really get into gear on the offensive end of the floor. Here, they will look to right the ship against a perfect opponent to fix an offense against, given how much the Hornets have struggled with their defending.
It is worth pointing out that the Nuggets didn’t have to push their starters past the 25 minute mark in Wednesday night’s loss to the Thunder, as the game was decided heading into the fourth quarter. That means that the legs of the Nuggets shouldn’t be too tired coming into this game. And Nikola Jokic has to be licking his chops for this matchup, as he should be able to score at will against an unathletic Mason Plumlee.
Expected Line-Up: Monte Morris, Will Barton, Aaron Gordon, Jeff Green, Nikola Jokic
Expert Pick #1 – Nuggets -2.5 @ -110
The first bet we recommend for this game is the Nuggets -2.5 at -110 odds. The Nuggets looked terrible yesterday in Oklahoma City, but they should be able to fix their offensive woes against a Hornets team that hasn’t been home in ages and isn’t good at playing defense at all. The Nuggets should be able to use Jokic to their advantage in a big way to pick up a win at home.
Expert Pick #2 – Over 228 @ -110
The second bet we recommend for this game is the over 228 at -110 odds. If the Hornets give up close to their season average in this game, this game should get in the neighborhood of the total pretty easily. Denver should be able to score close to 120 here, which will be a big boost for the over as a whole.
Expert Pick #3 – Nuggets Over 114.5 Points @ -120
Finally, the Nuggets over 114.5 is the final bet we recommend for this game at -120 odds. As you can see, we are firm believers that the Hornets are an abysmal defensive team, as the stats bear out for them this season. Expect the Nuggets to put up a ton of points on Thursday night en route to a cover that should leave their home fans excited heading into the short Christmas break.
The Denver Nuggets are not at 100% from a health perspective, but they should have the firepower to handle the Charlotte Hornets tonight. Charlotte will drop their fifth game out of their last six, while the Nuggets will make up for last night’s poor performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder.