On paper it seems like the Sixers should be able to dominate Charlotte pretty handily in the March 19th NBA free pick. After all, Philadelphia has rattled off four wins in a row and is back to virtually full strength. Charlotte on the other hand is mired in a 2-4 rut over their last 6 despite the fact that every game is essentially a must-win for their playoff hopes. Despite this, the 76ers are just a -1 point favorite at the Spectrum Center. Trap…or easy money?
No Embiid and Philly in a Look Ahead Game
OK, it’s a bit easier to justify the line when you look a bit more into the March 19th NBA free pick. One big factor for the Sixers not being favored by more points is that Joel Embiid has been ruled OUT for scheduled rest. The big man would have had a field day against Bismack Biyombo and Frank Kaminsky especially as Embiid has grabbed at least a dozen boards in all four games back from a knee injury and just dropped 40 points vs. Milwaukee on Sunday. The Sixers are also in part one of a back-to-back on Tuesday and couldn’t be blamed for looking ahead to Wednesday night’s clash with Boston at the Wells Fargo Center.
Instead of focusing on who is not on the court or Wednesday night’s game, what is the incentive for Philadelphia to get the win vs. Charlotte? The Sixers sit at 3rd in the East, but just 1.5 games above Indiana. Dropping into the 4th seed would mean a 1st round matchup with Boston instead of the more favorable Detroit, Brooklyn, or Miami. Plus, even without Embiid the Sixers are arguably still more talented than Charlotte. Jimmy Butler has averaged 24.5 ppg the last two and J.J Redick has 19 in back-to-back games. Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons have also helped the Sixers score 123 and 130 points in the last two – a pace that Charlotte simply cannot match.
Hornets Need a Big Win to Salvage Their Season
Charlotte is fighting for their postseason lives tonight as they are 2.5 GB from the Heat with just 13 to play. That was the same situation as Sunday when the Hornets had a huge chance to gain ground in a game with Miami in South Beach – only to lay an egg and put up just 75 points. That dismal performance can be forgiven as it wrapped up a four game road trip that saw Charlotte go from home to Milwaukee to Houston to Washington to Miami. That’s a lot of zig-zagging this late in the season. The Hornets are back home in the March 19th NBA free pick looking for a huge win.
The Hornets do catch a break with Embiid out of the lineup but Charlotte still has to find some offense. Maybe it’s just the Heat defense that gives them fits as Miami also held the Hornets to 84 points in a game two weeks ago. One player who needs to have a big night is Kemba Walker. Past results dictate that he should – Walker netted 60 vs. Philadelphia on November 17th and also has a 37 and 30 point scoring output vs. the Sixers this season. Charlotte is 0-3 vs. Philly on the year however. Therefore it’s got to be more than Walker in this one if the Hornets want the win.
March 19th NBA Free Pick Betting
It’s hard banking on a team to ‘look ahead’ to their next game especially when Philly is still playing for something in trying to stay in the #3 see. Even without Embiid, this line still seems a bit light as the Sixers could easily be 5 or 6 point favorites – especially as Charlotte is without post defense in Cody Zeller (knee) and veteran ballhandler Tony Parker (rest). Somehow the Sixers even opened as a +1 underdog. 80% of the public likes Philadelphia in this one but that’s just way too fishy for comfort.
NBA Free Pick: Charlotte Hornets +1