Eastern Conference action on Friday night’s NBA card features a pair of teams desperately trying to hold on to one of the lower playoff berths. The Charlotte Hornets are currently in 8th place right now but they’re not doing a particularly good job of staying there. They’ve lost 7 of their last 10 and now lead the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic by 1/2 game. Washington is also lurking just three games back.
We’re more interested in the Brooklyn Nets. Kenny Atkinson might not get the love he deserves but he’s done a remarkable job cleaning up the mess left by Lionel Hollins. In his first season as head coach he went 20-62, last year he guided the team to a 28-54 record. This year he’s done the unthinkable–as of this writing Brooklyn is one game over .500 with a record of 32-31 SU and have done even better against the spread going 35-28 ATS. Brooklyn’s performance has slipped from their torrid pace in January but that might have to do with scheduling as much as anything else.
Atkinson might not get any run for ‘Coach of the Year’ but if he gets the Nets to the playoffs you can make a strong case that he deserves it. Currently, Brooklyn is at the front of the ‘third tier’ pack of teams. They probably won’t catch Boston who they trail by 5.5 games but they’re 1.5 games up on Detroit and 3 games up on Charlotte. Then again, the Celtics have lost 4 straight so who knows what could happen if that trend continues and Brooklyn puts a few wins in the bank.
Tonight’s game against Charlotte is one they can definitely win. Probably not quite a ‘must win’ but definitely a game that would really be good to win. The Nets are a team we’re happy to back financially and they’ve responded going on a 25-13 ATS run. Charlotte has covered only 3 of their last 13 games going 3-7-3 against the spread. The Hornets kicked the Nets around a lot while they were down but the tide is starting to turn. The Nets won outright on February 23 at Charlotte as +3 underdogs. The line on this game has Brooklyn as -3.5 point chalk. Pointspread math suggests that these teams are evenly matched on the hypothetical ‘neutral court’. That’s a tough sell. For that matter, it’s a tough sell that Brooklyn shouldn’t be a bigger favorite here. The Hornets have been horrible on the road this season going 8-21 SU/12-17 ATS and have gone 1-4 in their last 5 road games. Their only win/cover came at Phillips Arena against the moribund Atlanta Hawks. Nets cover this one with relative ease.