The Charlotte Hornets quickly became one of the most exciting teams to watch throughout the regular season. They boast a young core centered around rookie standout LaMelo Ball, PJ Washington, Miles Bridges and Devonte' Graham. Together, they provide a potent offensive attack on a nightly basis. Throw in a career-year from guard Terry Rozier (20 points per game) and Charlotte has quickly figured out its rebuild in a short amount of time. Had Ball not been injured for a chunk of the seasons, the Hornets likely would have finished considerably higher in the standings in the Eastern Conference. But as it stands, the Hornets will have to win in the play-in tournament if they want their season to continue.
On the other side of this matchup are the Indiana Pacers, who have had a rather tumultuous season. They've dealt with a plethora of injury issues, and In the last few weeks there have been reports about head coach Nate Bjorkgren potentially being on his way, as he apparently isn't meshing with the players. There was also a report that T.J. Warren elected to have season-ending surgery to avoid playing for Bjorkgren this year. With all of this going on, Indiana has had a disappointing season compared to last year when they finished fourth in the East. But, there's still time for them to turn it around, and that starts with their game against the Hornets. Here's a look at who our experts think will win.
Charlotte Hornets vs. Indiana Pacers
Date: Tuesday, May 18 | Time: 6:30 p.m. ET | TV and live stream: TNT
Reiter's take: In a war-of-attrition game, Charlotte, even minus Gordon Hayward, has fewer injury woes and therefore the advantage. LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier will have their way with the Pacers, Charlotte's go-small approach will befuddle Indiana, and the W will be theirs. Pick: Hornets
Ward-Henninger's take: The Pacers haven't been able to stop anyone on defense recently, and I don't see that changing against an offense helmed by LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier. Domantas Sabonis should have a field day, but ultimately the Hornets pull it out. Pick: Hornets
Herbert's take: I'd feel more confident about this pick if Gordon Hayward were healthy, but I still expect Charlotte to keep its composure, move the ball and find clean looks against Indiana's aggressive defense. Pick: Hornets
Botkin's take: The Pacers are banged up and their coach is on the ropes. The Hornets have more options to turn to for offense. Domantas Sabonis isn't enough. Pick: Hornets
Kaskey-Blomain's take: The Pacers just feel like a team that's ready for the season to be over, while the Hornets and younger, and looking to build toward a bright future. Charlotte has a lot of young players that will be eager to advance to the postseason for the first time, and that could translate to a more desperate team on the floor. Pick: Hornets
Maloney's take: I know the Pacers have been a mess lately and have their own injury problems, but the Hornets just aren't very good without Gordon Hayward (9-19). In a one game setting I'll go with the team with the best player and that's the Pacers and Domantas Sabonis. Pick: Pacers
Quinn's take: Five of Indiana's six best players are either out or questionable due to injury. In a single-game setting, I'm trusting the team with better ball-handling and more (healthy) ways of generating baskets. Pick: Hornets
Wimbish's take: Domantas Sabonis has played great against the Hornets' bigs this season, and I expect him to carry Indiana to a win against a young Hornets team who will be without Gordon Hayward. Pick: Pacers
Thanks for checking us out, and good luck with your picks!