Sunday NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions for Celtics vs. Hornets: Fade Boston On Road Against Charlotte (Sunday, April 25)
Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Charlotte Hornets standout PJ Washington.
- The Charlotte Hornets welcome the Boston Celtics to the "Queen City" for Sunday's NBA showdown.
- Both teams are chasing favorable playoff positions in the Eastern Conference.
- Kenny Ducey breaks down the contest below and explains why he's backing Charlotte to cover.
Celtics vs. Hornets Odds
|Moneyline||-335 / +270|
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday morning via DraftKings.|
The battle for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference continues Sunday when teams separated by just two positions meet in North Carolina.
Though their records are nearly identical, the Charlotte Hornets and Boston Celtics are playing much different basketball at the moment. One team is red hot, climbing its way out of the play-in tournament. Meanwhile, the other is really just lucky to be there.
So, do the trends continue here or is there value on taking the underperforming underdog? Let’s look into the matchup to find the answer.
After dealing with injuries and some lethargic play we’re just not used to seeing under head coach Brad Stevens, the Celtics came out sizzling at the start of April, winning eight of nine games. That roll has since been slowed, though, with two losses in the last three. However, the one win came against its toughest opponent when shorthanded Boston beat the Phoenix Suns.
In that game, the Celtics flashed their true potential, buckling down on defense and allowing just 86 points. That’s been a real area of strength for Boston, which ranks second overall with a 106.5 defensive rating in the month of April, according to NBA.com. For context, it ranks outside the top 10 in 12th place over the course of the entire season.
The Celtics have also gotten a huge lift inside, ranking fourth in rebounding rate and third in points in the paint allowed. The latter has always been something Boston excelled at, but not until this month did it match that strong paint defense with rebounding and strong defense on the perimeter.
The Celtics enter this one an ugly 13-17 against the spread when playing on the road in 2020-21, plus they’re an even-worse 5-9 as the road favorite. There are some matchup concerns for the Celtics, but that trend is a pretty damning one to say the least.
Of note, the total has gone over in 17 of the Celtics’ 30 road games, and that would be directly related to the fact that they rank 19th in defensive efficiency when away from home.
The Hornets are just happy to be here, and really, I’m not totally sure how they are. Charlotte has lost six of eight, yet is still hanging on to the eighth spot in the East. That would put them in the top half of the league’s play-in tournament, but frankly, I’m sure they would sign up for it in a heartbeat.
This team has had to play the last 18 games without its best player in rookie LaMelo Ball, and has been down its second-best player for the last 11 in Gordon Hayward. On top of that, Malik Monk has missed 12 consecutive games, and P.J. Washington was forced out of the lineup last week for a few games as well.
Yet, despite all of that, the Hornets enter the stretch run with a very real chance of holding on to a playoff spot. They are five games clear of the Raptors and Bulls, who sit in a tie for 11th place on the outside looking in. If Charlotte can simply play .500 basketball, it could put itself in a fantastic position.
If there’s one place the Hornets can gain an edge, it’s certainly down low. Bismack Biymobo, PJ Washington and Vernon Carey aren’t exactly names that jump off the page at you, but over the last 10 games, the Hornets have ranked sixth in second-chance points allowed per game and fifth in points allowed in the paint.
Bottom line, this should make for an interesting matchup with a Celtics team that is strong inside.
This one should come down to a battle down low for rebounds and paint scoring, and that’s somewhere the Hornets have been very competitive. Washington has really taken on some huge minutes, and he’s added 3.4 points per 100 possessions when he’s been on the floor, according to NBA.com. He should remain competitive with Boston’s endless collection of forwards.
Speaking of the Celtics, their road record and past defensive performances on the road really worry me here, particularly against a Hornets team that is 10-5-1 against the spread when getting points at home this year.
Though they’ve struggled to win — and cover — games lately, they haven’t seemed too far away from challenging for a win, and have had to play somewhat of a murderer’s row of opponents with only losses to the Bulls and Cavaliers standing out as ones they should have at least competed in.
It feels crazy to back a team this banged up, but head coach James Borrego has done a great job with Charlotte and has the club competing on the glass every night. That just so happens to be where Boston thrives, and it should be in for a challenge.
That said, I think we see a Hornets cover in this spot.
Pick: Hornets +8 (-110)