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Hornets vs. Thunder Parlay Preview Article

VirginiaCavs

Man Crush on Kyle Guy
NBA Parlay Picks of the Day

Charlotte Hornets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 8 p.m. ET at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City

The Importance of Injuries


NBA oddsmakers are slow to catch up. Their odds are constructed based on games that have been played over a longer amount of time.

So when a team suddenly morphs into a different team, the sports betting sites are helpless.

A good example here is when Steph Curry gets hurt. The Warriors become a different team without him than the one they’ve been all season.

Because oddsmakers fail to adjust for his importance, fading the Warriors is a slam dunk when he’s not playing. They are 1-7 ATS in his absence.

So one point that I want to make for this game between Charlotte and OKC is that, given the number of injuries on its team, OKC has radically morphed into a different team that the one it's been all season.

The Importance of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

OKC actually has multiple important injuries. But one crucial injury is that to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Since his absence due to right foot plantar fasciitis, the Thunder are 1-6 ATS.

Gilgeous-Alexander has one of the NBA's highest usage rates, meaning that the Thunder love to make use of him when he’s healthy.

His absence creates a void that a lot of his teammates need to fill, but are unable to because he does so much.

He’s the team’s leading scorer — by far, actually. He averages 23.7 points per game. The next-leading scorer on the team averages 14.2.

Gilgeous-Alexander also leads the team in assists with 5.9, which are 2.5 more than any other teammate.

So not only does he score in bunches, utilizing his efficient shooting from behind the arc, his proclivity to draw contact and make free throws, and his ability to score in other different ways.

But he is also a playmaker, using his threat as a scorer, as someone who likes to drive inside, and as a willing and crisp passer in order to create more favorable scoring opportunities for others.

What the Thunder Were and Are Now

Throughout the season, the Thunder have been a team that loves to attempt three-pointers.

But because several other players who would normally accrue a lot of minutes are injured, the Thunder cannot be this kind of team anymore. They have to become a different kind of team, a kind of team that they do not want to be.

Despite having to attempt fewer threes per game lately as a result of who their available healthy personnel is, the Thunder still attempt the ninth-most threes per game.

Because they miss efficient shooters like Gilgeous-Alexander, who is converting 41.8 percent of his three-point attempts this season, they have dropped to 14th in three-pointers made per game.

Aside from the simple fact that their offensive ceiling is limited by these injuries, the bevy of injuries is critical to a team that would have matched up really well with Charlotte if it had been healthy.

Throughout the season, the Hornet perimeter defense has struggled, as evident in the high rate of open and wide open three-pointers it allows.

This vulnerability in Charlotte’s perimeter defense is, however, irrelevant for this game given the inability of OKC’s available personnel to exploit it.

Putting the Injuries in Perspective

An additional reason why I like the “under” today is that Charlotte, too, is missing some important offensive scorers.

But let’s observe how clear the contrast is.

As of now, OKC for sure misses Gilgeous-Alexander, Al Horford, Luguentz Dort, Hamidou Diallo (he was traded), Darius Bazley, and actually more players.

Those five players are the Thunder’s top-five leaders in points per game.

Besides efficient shooters like Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder miss guys like Horford who could stretch the floor for his teammates as a center who likes to shoot from deep.

In contrast, the Hornets still have their leading and fourth-leading scorers. They also have less injuries in general.

Hornet Match-Up Advantage On Offense

Whereas the Thunder lack the personnel to exploit what would have been a match-up advantage, the Hornets do have the personnel to take advantage of the Thunder defense.

Defensively, OKC is feeble in front of the basket. It lacks adequate rim protection. Due to other injuries, Moses Brown is starting at center.

But Brown is an awful defender, as evident in his atrocious defensive rating.

On offense, though, Charlotte loves to attack the basket.

So a Hornet offense that attempts the ninth-most field goals within five feet of the basket will thrive against a Thunder defense that allows the fourth-highest field goal percentage within five feet of the basket.

Whereas the Thunder miss their leading scorer, the Hornets have theirs, Terry Rozier. And one thing he loves to do is drive to the basket.

He and other efficient scorers at the basket like Miles Bridges will have great games.

Parlay Verdict

The lack of Hornet scoring talent is not affecting its abilities on defense, where Charlotte has made up for its lack of scoring in order to go 6-2 ATS in its last eight games.

But the Thunder injuries are costing them on both ends of the court, which explains their current 1-6 ATS run.

Whereas the Hornets are allowing 108 points in their last three games, the Thunder are allowing 135.

With so many injuries on both sides and with Charlotte’s apt defense, the offensive ceiling is quite low enough on both sides for the “under” to hit.

As for the spread, the Hornets are dramatically healthier and will use their personnel, including their leading scorer, to exploit the Thunder’s defensive weakness in front of the basket.

Best Bets: Hornets -4.5 at -108 & Under 214 at -108 with Heritage
 

pip2

Well-Known Member
I didn’t realize Brown had a miserable defensive rating. Every time I tune in he looks kind of impressive. But I haven’t tuned in very long for the Thunder games lately...
 

VirginiaCavs

Man Crush on Kyle Guy
If that freaking kid doesn't go crazy out of nowhere and knock down seven threes the "under" hits easy...instead I split....
 
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