The Suns’ offense is going to be an entirely different beast with Kevin Durant in the fold, but is that effect being overestimated tonight against the Hornets? See why our NBA picks think so.
The Phoenix Suns head to the Spectrum Center to face the Charlotte Hornets in NBA action on Wednesday night.
Kevin Durant is expected to make his debut in a Suns uniform after being acquired at the trade deadline three weeks ago. With Durant joining Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton in Phoenix, the Suns have sky-high expectations which begin now as they enter today’s contest as 10.5-point favorites on the road.
Can the banged-up Hornets slow down Durant and his new teammates? I let you know with my best free Suns vs. Hornets NBA picks and predictions for March 1.
Suns vs Hornets best odds
Suns vs Hornets picks and predictions
Kevin Durant will eventually unlock another level to this Phoenix offense, but we need to temper those expectations for tonight — he’s been out for almost two months and will be on a minutes restriction.
He’ll also need to find his comfort zone alongside lead ball-handler Chris Paul and high-usage shooting guard Devin Booker. Add in a bench that doesn’t shoot well (28th in the NBA with a 43.2 FG%) and the Phoenix team total of 119.5 looks a bit too high.
Keep in mind that the Suns also play at a below-average pace and average a modest 111.6 ppg on the road this season.
Although the Hornets aren’t exactly a good defensive team, they do tend to play at a slower pace and allow far fewer points without star point guard LaMelo Ball.
Ball suffered a season-ending injury on Monday, and while he’s a massive boost on offense, the Hornets have been better on D without him. In fact, the Hornets allow 4.8 fewer points per 100 possessions when Ball is off the floor according to Cleaning The Glass.
My best bet: Suns team total Under 119.5 (-110 at DraftKings)
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Suns vs Hornets spread analysis
The Suns are fourth in the Western Conference standings but just three games separate them from 10th-place New Orleans. This is a team that has the second-best futures odds to win the NBA championship but also has question marks due to an unimpressive bench and a defense that has taken a significant step back from last season.
The Suns have also struggled on the road, where they’ve gone just 12-19 straight up and most recently lost 104-101 in Milwaukee on Sunday.
Durant will make their offense even more efficient — he was averaging 29.7 points per game on 56/38/93 shooting splits for the Nets before getting sidelined with an MCL injury on Jan. 8. He’s one of the most gifted scorers in NBA history but will be on a minutes restriction tonight and will need to find his fit on this roster.
The Hornets have the fourth-worst record in the league at 20-43 with a net rating of minus-5.7. They had been red-hot going 5-0 SU and ATS in their last five games but that was due in large part to the play of Ball, who fractured his ankle on Monday.
The Hornets have a 7-20 record with a net rating of minus-7.5 this season without Ball. In those 27 contests, they had an offensive rating of just 107.4 but in 36 games with Ball, that number perked up to 113.2.
Starting forward P.J. Washington (15.3 ppg) will also miss his third-straight game due to a foot sprain. With Ball and Washington sidelined, the Hornets will rely on Terry Rozier (21.4 ppg), Kelly Oubre (19.7 ppg), and Gordon Hayward (14.6 ppg) to get buckets.
Suns vs Hornets Over/Under analysis
The Hornets are significantly worse on offense without Ball but also allow far fewer points per game. In 27 games without Ball, they’re allowing just 108.7 ppg on 44.3% shooting from the field.
That’s partially due to slightly better defensive metrics but another factor is their drop-off in pace without Ball to push the tempo.
The Suns have been playing at a below-average tempo all season and are 22nd in the NBA in pace.
The Suns are also a modest 16th in the league in offensive rating but that needs to be weighed against the fact that Booker and Paul have missed a combined 48 games due to injuries. With a healthy Paul, Booker, and Durant they will likely become one of the more efficient offenses in the league.
In theory, they could also see regression on defense since they traded away two of their best wing defenders in Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson for Durant. That might not necessarily be the case however, since they’ve limited opponents to 110.7 ppg on 44.6 FG% in six games without them.
Suns vs Hornets betting trend to know
The Under is 5-1 in the Suns’ last six road games while going 4-0 in Charlotte’s previous four contests overall. Find more NBA betting trends for Suns vs. Hornets.
Suns vs Hornets game info
|Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
|Wednesday, March 1, 2023
|7:30 p.m. ET
|Bally Sports Charlotte, Bally Sporrts Phoenix