NBA Predictions and Best Bets: Boston Celtics vs. Charlotte Hornets Picks and More
Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics
When: Monday, October 25, 7:00 p.m. ET
Spread: Celtics -1
Boston Celtics vs. Charlotte Hornets Pick
Both teams enter tonight on the tail-end of a back-to-back. The Charlotte Hornets will be feeling confident in their ability to overcome the Celtics after dispatching the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night to take their season to 3-0. On the other hand, Boston finally got their season up and running by defeating the rebuilding Houston Rockets and often looked disjointed in their defensive approach.
The Hornets are ranked fourth in points per 100 possessions through three games and are only marginally outside of the top-10 on defensive points allowed, per Cleaning the Glass. James Borrego has his rambunctious young team playing with swagger on offense and grit on the defensive end. Thus far, Boston's biggest flaw has been their defending of pick-and-rolls, where bigs are finding clear lanes to the hoop with a well-timed slip. LaMelo Ball will be licking his lips at the opportunity of carving open Boston's fragile defense and could be the difference-maker for the Hornets.
Interestingly, Boston currently occupies the 10th spot in points allowed per 100 possessions but languishes in the bottom five for points score per 100, which isn't sustainable due to the firepower on their roster. After dispatching the Rockets, you would hope that the Celtics' confidence is riding high enough for the team to level out their season at .500.
The Celtics could potentially be without both Jaylen Brown and Romeo Langford, who are listed as day-to-day and didn't participate in the Rockets game. Still, the Celtics will likely decide on these two later today. For Charlotte, Terry Rozier remains on the injury list, again as a day-to-day decision.
On paper, the Celtics should be winning tonight's contest, but confidence and rhythm are everything in the NBA, and the Hornets have oodles of both. I would place the Celtics as marginal favorites in what will be a close game.
Pick: Charlotte Hornets +3 @ -139
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Denver Nuggets Pick
Evan Mobley has been winning over the hearts of NBA fans worldwide with his defensive intensity and impact. However, expecting Mobley to stifle the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic in what is his fourth NBA game is probably a step too far. The Nuggets enter their third game of the season sitting at 2-0 and will be confident of extending that streak further against a Cavs team that is still developing their identity.
Cleveland's only advantage is that the Nuggets don't have a true center off the bench and are forced to go small whenever Jokic sits. If the Cavs stagger Mobley and Jarrett Allen, they may find success in the paint, but beating the Nuggets perimeter defense isn't an easy task.
Styles of play will make this contest enjoyable, with the team who implements their style likely to be the victor. Cleveland relies on pace, running in transition to create accessible shooting opportunities. At the same time, Denver is a half-court team that utilizes movement shooters and slashers while allowing Jokic to quarterback the offense.
One of the Cavaliers' most significant weaknesses is their spacing, and Denver will look to clog that paint to force the Cavs into low-quality shots. Denver is one of the NBA's best teams and has championship aspirations this year, and you should expect them to deal with the Cavaliers in tonight's game comfortably.
Pick: Denver Nuggets -6 @ -235
Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors Pick
Oh, this one should be fun! The Toronto Raptors have a unique roster teeming with size and length, and rookie Scottie Barnes has had an incredible start to his NBA career. Despite only winning one in three, when the Raptors blew out the Celtics, Toronto is becoming a pest of a team, constantly jumping on passing lanes and playing a physical brand of basketball.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, the loss of Kyle Lowry and the continuing absence of Pascal Siakam has left them a little short of quality NBA players, forcing them to develop from within. The Bulls are at the opposite end of the spectrum, having added multiple impacts makers during the summer and jumping out to a 3-0 record to begin the year.
Cleaning the Glass has Toronto's offense ranked at 29 in points per 100 possessions, while the Chicago Bulls are third in points allowed per 100, so it's fair to assume the Raptors are going to have a tough time finding the bottom of the net. Similarly, the Raptors are also sitting in that top 10 for points allowed per 100, but when facing a tough defense, they can't rely on just making their opponents' lives difficult.
Chicago has multiple scoring threats, all of which are dynamic in their shot-making and play finishing abilities, meaning the Raptors defense will need to hold firm if they wish to grind out a victory tonight.
I anticipate a low-scoring affair with the Chicago Bulls taking the W.
Pick: Chicago Bulls -3.5 @ +110
Other NBA Games
It's been a tough start for the Brooklyn Nets and a surprising one for the Wizards. Brooklyn still looks to be working out their offense while Kyrie Irving isn't part of the rotation, and their deficiencies on defense are being laid bare. Spencer Dinwiddie and Bradley Beal have been a fearsome backcourt for the Wizards and will feel confident entering tonight. Expect a shootout with the Nets likely winning the game and evening up their series.
Detroit is now 0-2 entering this game and still have no sign of Cade Cunningham making his NBA debut. The Atalanta Hawks are 1-1 to open their season but look fearsome with Clint Capela running the floor. Detroit's lack of shooting and limited defensive ability will make them light work for the Hawks, especially if Killian Hayes continues to struggle from the field. With Danilo Gallinari questionable and Onyeka Okongwu out for tonight's game, the Hawk's might appear to be a weakened team. Still, their strength in depth should prove too much for the Pistons to overcome.
Cole Anthony has been on a tear these past few games and capped it off with an impressive performance last night as the Magic defeated the Knicks. However, the Miami Heat are a well-oiled unit that pressures shooters on the perimeter and funnel them towards the ever-impressive Bam Adebayo. Mo Bamba has shown improvements as a rim-runner and shooter, but with Miami's wings pinching on every venture inside the three-point line Bamba will find it hard to either roll to the rim or operate in pick-and-pops. The Heat should finish this game victorious and take their record to 2-1 on the season.