Don’t look now but the Charlotte Hornets are on the verge of playing themselves into the NBA postseason. That seemed completely improbable as recently as a week ago but here they are. Things are starting to get settled in the NBA’s Eastern Conference and all of the playoff spots with the exception of the 8th and final seed are locked down. Orlando and Brooklyn are in. Right now, Detroit is in the 8th seed but are furiously trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by playing their worst basketball of the season down the stretch. The Pistons are 3-7 SU in their last 10 games and have lost 4 straight. They were in a perfect position to all but lock up a playoff spot and put the kibosh on the Hornets’ run but looked downright awful in a 104-91 loss at home as -6.5 point chalk.
That makes the Eastern Conference playoff race a three team affair with Detroit, Charlotte and the Miami Heat all vying for one remaining spot. All three teams have two games remaining, Detroit has a 1 game lead over both Miami and Charlotte. Charlotte is the team among this trio in the best form having won three straight and 7 of 10. Miami has lost 4 straight and 6 of 10. The Hornets have a very favorable schedule playing at Cleveland tonight against a Cavs team that quit caring weeks ago and closing out the season on Wednesday against the Orlando Magic at home. Orlando has at least one thing that could provide motivation in that matchup–a win would give them a final record over .500–but as far as the playoffs they’re already locked in.
Charlotte has been a pointspread machine in recent weeks going 8-2 ATS in their last 10. Cleveland briefly exerted an effort in mid-March when the beat Detroit and Milwaukee in back to back games and covered at home against the LA Clippers before pretty much throwing in the towel on the season. Their team defense has been abysmal all season long. They check in with the #22 (tie) scoring defense allowing 114 PPG but their recent form on the defensive end has been significantly worse. In their last ten games they’ve allowed an average of 117.1 points per game. The Cavs have lost 9 straight SU going 3-6 ATS. They’ve been horrible at home all season going 13-27 SU/19-21 ATS. Charlotte hasn’t been much on the road this year going 13-27 SU/18-22 ATS and 4-5 SU/ATS as a road favorite. To their credit, they have been taking care of business down the stretch so it appears that they really want this playoff spot. Tough to lay -7 points on the road with a team like Charlotte but they beat a far superior Detroit team by 13 on Sunday. Now they’re playing a team that really doesn’t care any more and will put up little resistance–particularly on the defensive end.