Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#573 Portland Trail Blazers vs.
#574 Charlotte Hornets
Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 7:05pm EDT
Spectrum Center, Charlotte
Written by Chris Kubala

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It’s an interconference battle on the parquet floor between a pair of teams trying to improve their playoff standing down in Buzz City. The Portland Trail Blazers are on the road as they travel to face the Charlotte Hornets Sunday night. Portland edged San Antonio 107-106 on the road Friday night in their latest action. Charlotte was knocked off 130-115 on the road by Brooklyn in their previous contest Friday night. In the all-time regular-season series between the teams, the Trail Blazers own a 44-16 advantage and have taken the last seven meetings. That includes a 123-111 home victory in the first meeting this season on March 1.

Portland Trail Blazers Trying to Maintain Hold on Guaranteed Playoff Spot

Portland had dropped two straight and four of five before hanging on for dear life against the Spurs Friday night. The Trail Blazers entered Wednesday third in the Northwest Division, 9.5 games behind the Jazz for the top spot. In the Western Conference playoff picture, the team was sixth, 7.5 games clear of 11th-place New Orleans to remain on the right side of the cut line. They were two games ahead of seventh-place Dallas for a guaranteed playoff berth and avoiding the play-in tournament. In Friday’s game against the Spurs, Portland trailed by three after the opening quarter, by nine at the half and by 16 with 9:26 to play in the third quarter before rallying. The Trail Blazers cut the deficit to two after three quarters and took the lead for good on Norman Powell’s driving layup with 22.8 seconds to play. Portland had to survive three shots on the Spurs’ final possession to get the victory. The Trail Blazers shot 46.1% from the field, including 11 of 29 from three-point range, and overcame a 49-38 disadvantage on the glass. C.J. McCollum led Portland with 29 points and six assists in the win.

The Trail Blazers come into this one 7th in the league in scoring with 114.6 points per game. The Trail Blazers are 18th in the league in rebounding as they collect 43.8 boards a night. Portland is 30th in the league in assists with 20.5 dimes per contest. The Trail Blazers are below average defensively as they come in 25th in the league by allowing 114.8 points a night. Damian Lillard leads the team with 28.7 points plus 7.7 assists per contest. CJ McCollum chips in 23.4 points a night while Norman Powell puts up 19.1 points per contest. Carmelo Anthony puts up 13.3 points and 3.2 boards a night. Enes Kanter (12 points, 11.9 boards), Jusuf Nurkic, Derrick Jones Jr., Robert Covington, Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little and Harry Giles III all have to step up and contribute for the Trail Blazers. Portland is 26th in the league in field goal percentage by shooting 44.7% from the floor. The Trail Blazers are knocking down 15.9 three-pointers a night, which is 2nd in the league, while ranking 6th in the league by shooting 38% from downtown. Lillard (hamstring) will miss his second straight game here.

Charlotte Hornets Hope to Snap Losing Skid

Charlotte dropped their fourth straight game as they were knocked off on the road by the Nets Friday night. The Hornets entered Saturday third in the Southeast Division standings, 2.5 games behind the Hawks. In the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the team stood eighth, 11.5 games behind the 76ers for the top spot and five games clear of the three-team tie for 10th with Chicago, Washington and Toronto to stay in the field. Charlotte led by 14 in the first quarter and by six after one before things started to slip away. The Hornets were even at the half and trailed by three in the opening minute of the fourth quarter before giving up a 19-3 run that left them down 113-94 with 7:05 to play. Charlotte couldn’t get closer than 14 the rest of the way. The Hornets shot 53% from the floor, including 12 of 34 from three-point range, but allowed the Nets to shoot 55.3% in the game. Miles Bridges led Charlotte with 33 points and nine rebounds in the loss.

On the season, Charlotte is 22nd in the league in scoring offense as they put up an average of 110.3 points per game this season. The Hornets are 18th in the league with 43.8 rebounds per contest and stand sixth in the league with 26.7 assists per game this season. Charlotte is 16th in the league in scoring defense as they allow an average of 111.7 points a night on the year. Terry Rozier leads the team with 20.4 points per game on the year. Gordon Hayward puts up 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per contest while LaMelo Ball chips in 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists a night. P.J. Washington (11.6 points, 6.4 rebounds) and Devonte’ Graham (14.2 points, 5.2 assists) also average in double figures. Cody Zeller (9.1 points, 7.2 rebounds), Bismack Biyombo, Miles Bridges (11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds), Malik Monk (13.1 points), Caleb Martin, Brad Wanamaker, Jalen McDaniels and Cody Martin are key rotation players for Charlotte this season. The Hornets are 21st in the league in field goal percentage as they shoot 45.8% from the floor as a team on the year. Charlotte is 8th by knocking down an average of 13.9 three-pointers a night while the team is 9th in three-point shooting as they connect on 37.6% from beyond the arc. Ball suffered a fractured wrist on March 20 against the Clippers, underwent surgery on March 23 and is expected to be re-evaluated in four weeks. Monk is out with an ankle injury while Hayward will be re-evaluated in late April or early May with a foot injury. Washington (ankle) and Graham (quad) missed Friday’s game so keep an eye out for an update on their statuses.

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Both teams are missing key personnel for this contest with the Trail Blazers without Lillard while Ball and Hayward headline the missing pieces for the Hornets. Charlotte has struggled with four straight losses, which has dropped them from first to third in the middling Southeast Division standings. Playing at home doesn’t even help the Hornets with their missing personnel as they are going to have a challenge trying to keep up offensively with teams. Portland is effective on the offensive end of the floor and with McCollum along with Nurkic back in the fold, combined with Powell, they have enough weapons to get by in this one. Give the Trail Blazers the advantage as Charlotte drops a fifth straight game.

Prediction: Portland Trail Blazers to cover

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Portland does plenty of damage from the outside, as they are second in the league in threes per game. The Trail Blazers are a middle of the road team in pace as they are 20th in the league with 98.2 possessions a night on the year. Portland actually scores more on the road (115.2 ppg) than at home (114 ppg) this season. Charlotte is 17th in the league in tempo with 98.9 possessions a night. The Hornets are going to have their issues putting points on the board when they are minus Ball, Hayward and Monk, which could impede them. While Charlotte did put up 115 Friday night, that was against a Brooklyn team that enjoys running. With a slower pace here, coupled with the injuries on both sides, this one ends up under the total.

Prediction: Under
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Written By Chris Kubala , "Chris Kubala"

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