Indiana Pacers vs. Charlotte Hornets
Wednesday, November 16, 2022 – 07:00 PM EST at Spectrum Center
Indiana was supposed to be one of the Eastern Conference’s worst teams but has been better than expected, while Charlotte has been worse than many thought – but I blame much of the Hornets’ early struggles on the fact they didn’t have young All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball for much of it. The 21-year-old, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft, simply is the engine that makes the Charlotte offense go.
In the two games he has played, Ball is averaging 16 points, 7.5 assists, and 5 rebounds and the Hornets are 1-1, averaging 113.5 points per game. Yes, they still stink defensively. Ball isn’t shooting well yet at just 33.3% overall and 20.8$ from deep but that’s likely rust.
Charlotte’s eight-game losing streak ended Monday with a win in Orlando. Mason Plumlee had one of his best games of the season shooting 8-for-9 for 18 points and 11 rebounds. Plumlee is one of nine NBA players this season to average 9.0 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.
It's not clear as of this writing if Gordon Hayward will play on Wednesday. My guess is no as he hasn’t since Nov. 2 due to a shoulder injury. He’s averaging 17.4 ppg.
There are reports that the Pacers could trade center Myles Turner sooner rather than later with both the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers having interest. Indiana is ready to start younger and much cheaper Isaiah Jackson at that position.
Indiana comes off a 118-104 win over Toronto on Saturday as it outscored the Raptors 36-14 in the fourth. Missing the injured Pascal Siakam and the ill Fred VanVleet, Toronto shot 6 for 21 in the final period, missing eight of nine 3-point attempts. Turner had 19 points and 10 rebounds.
The Pacers tend to live and die behind the 3-point line themselves as 39.6% of Indiana's points have come as the result of 3-pointers, which is the highest percentage in the NBA this season.
Guard Tyrese Haliburton, who leads the NBA in assists at 10.3 per game while averaging 20.5 points, is questionable for this one with an ankle injury, so that’s obviously important.
With a win against the Hornets, the Pacers can go above .500 for the first time since Feb. 23, 2020. However, Charlotte has won six straight in the series and it should be seven as long as Ball plays and there’s no reason to think he won’t.
On the defensive end, the Pacers are ranked No. 26 in points allowed per game at 117.2 while the Hornets are 19th at 114.7.
NBA Pick: Hornets (-130) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Washington Wizards
Wednesday, November 16, 2022 - 07:00 PM EST at Capital One Arena
Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City is 1-1 on a four-game road trip, pulling an upset at the Knicks on Sunday, 145-135, but losing in Boston on Monday 126-122 – thus, this is the team’s third game in three nights in three different cities.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is off to the best start of his career averaging 31.5 points per game while shooting 54.3% from the field and 93.4% from the foul line. Dating back to last season, he has 19 performances with 30-point over his last 27 games played. He is making 11 field goals per game this season, the second-highest mark in the league.
Aleksej Pokusevski had 16 points and 14 rebounds vs. the Celtics, but he did appear to tweak his ankle.
The Thunder have thrived coming out of halftime this season. Through 13 games, Oklahoma City has the best third-quarter point differential in the NBA (+4.1). Atlanta (+3.3) and Chicago (+3.3) round out the top three.
Washington has been off since Sunday when it won a fourth straight game, 102-92 at home over Memphis despite playing again without All-Star guard Bradley Beal. He has been out since Nov. 4 but will be back Wednesday from the health and safety protocols.
Beal averages 21.6 points on 51.7% shooting from the field along with 5.7 assists. By averaging 20+ points per game in 2022-23, Beal (6) can pass Elvin Hayes (6) for the most 20+ point per game seasons in franchise history.
Beal (735) also needs two steals to pass Elvin Hayes (736) for third on the Wizards' all-time steals list.
The Wizards have has won four straight games against the Thunder, the team’s longest streak in the series since winning five in a row from February 2007-December 2008. I expect five for my NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Wizards (-200) at BetOnline
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