Despite being seven games below .500, the Charlotte Hornets are right in the thick of the race for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They have been a decent team defensively for most of the season, but rank in the bottom half of the league in most offensive statistics. That will have to change if they hope to have a chance of pulling off the upset against the Spurs. San Antonio has won two in a row after suffering their most lopsided loss of the season to the Bulls. They were able to control the LA Lakers and win a close game against the Bucks. They will now have another tune-up game when the Hornets come to town.
Charlotte played a pretty competitive game against the Spurs a couple of weeks ago. Aside from a few defensive lapses, they played well and had a chance to pull off the upset. Things will be different since they are playing on the road now, but at least they know what it’s going to take to beat the defending champions.
Kemba Walker has been the leader of this team for the majority of the season. Unfortunately, the Hornets will be without his 18 points and 5 assists per game since it was reported that he will undergo surgery and miss a significant amount of time. It comes as a huge blow for the Hornets, but someone else will have to step in to fill the void.
San Antonio definitely won’t be feeling sorry for Charlotte. The Spurs have had to deal with injuries all season long to some of their best players on the roster. They are still in playoff position, even though they are near the bottom of the Western Conference. They appear to be close to full strength now, so they should be able to control the Hornets easily.
Kawhi Leonard wasn’t in the lineup when the Spurs played the Hornets a couple of weeks ago. When you combine him being back with the loss of Walker for the Hornets, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Charlotte keeps this one close. Coach Popovich may elect to rest some of his starters for the entire game, or at least give them reduced minutes.
The Spurs haven’t been a very reliable pick for betting basketball picks against the spread this season, but they are a trendy pick in this game. It’s hard to say whether someone will really step up for the Hornets in place of Walker, but it probably won’t matter. The Spurs match up better from top to bottom and they are playing at home. They know they need to take advantage of these home games before they go on their annual rodeo road trip, and that’s exactly what they will do when Charlotte comes to town.
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The Dallas Mavericks will be tested in back-to-back nights when they face Memphis at home and Houston on the road. They aren’t coming into the games with a lot of fire after losing two games in a row. When these teams faced each other a week ago, Dallas was able to go into Memphis and pull out a win. Not too many teams in the league are able to do that, so we definitely know what the Mavericks are capable of. This will be the second game of back-to-back games for the Grizzlies as they played the Orlando Magic at home on Monday night. Both teams know the importance of having home court in the playoffs, so expect them to show up and put together an entertaining performance.
Jeff Green was brought in to help provide a spark for the Memphis offense, but they are still waiting for that spark to light. The Grizzlies are struggling to find a good lineup with him in it that can be efficient. He gives them a lot more depth, but they’ll have to figure out a way to make him more effective before the playoffs roll around.
While the Grizzlies try to figure out how to utilize Green, Zach Randolph continues to record double doubles almost at ease. He has been the foundation of the Grizzlies success for years, so keeping him healthy and fresh for their playoff run is critical. His 18 points and 15 rebounds weren’t the reason why they lost to the Mavs a week ago, so they will have to find a way to lock Dallas down on defense better.
Dallas got a solid team effort when they played in Memphis a week ago. When they found themselves losing late in the game, Dirk Nowitzki took control and put the game out of reach. His leadership is invaluable to the team, but his supporting cast has been just as reliable for most of the season.
The acquisition of Rajon Rondo has paid dividends at times, even though he hasn’t been much of a scoring threat. He has been getting the ball to the open players and also playing solid defense, which Dallas had missed before he arrived. Dallas knows that it will take another team performance to beat the Grizzlies, but they should have the advantage since they are at home.
The Dallas fans and players know how important it is to win games like this. The crowd should be charged up to create a playoff atmosphere. Coming off two losses in a row, Dallas has to have some early success so they don’t doubt themselves. Fatigue could be a factor for Memphis since they are on the back half of two games in a row. Dallas is rested and focused on their upcoming back-to-back games. All signs are pointing to take the Mavericks for your NBA picks for today. Memphis will play with a ton of effort, but heroics from Nowitzki will doom them again.
Betting predictions for tonight:
After going on a tear through their schedule and shocking the rest of the league, the Detroit Pistons have fallen back to reality. They have lost three out of their last four games, but still find themselves only two games out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Aside from Atlanta, the Cavaliers may have taken the spot of the hottest team in the East. With LeBron James clearly benefiting from his two weeks off due to an injury, Cleveland is starting to look like the team that many people expected to contend for the conference title. There’s still a lot of basketball to be played, but both of these teams appear to be headed in the right direction.
Detroit’s playoff aspirations took a serious blow when they found out that Brandon Jennings would be lost for the season because of an injury. Coach Stan Van Gundy hoped that his team would respond well, but that hasn’t been the case. D.J. Augustine stepped in nicely and scored 35 points in place of Jennings against Toronto, but their defense faltered, and the result was a close loss.
Time will tell how much the Pistons will miss Jennings as the season progresses. As it stands right now, they will struggle to win games if they can’t play better defense. They will be hosting a Cleveland team that has been on fire lately on the offensive side of the ball. Detroit will have to slow them down at times to have a chance in this one.
Cleveland looks like they finally found their groove. During their current six-game winning streak, the Cavaliers have scored 100 or more points in each of them. They have only allowed more than 100 points twice in that same stretch. They are 6-1 with LeBron back in the lineup and will look to continue their momentum on the road against Detroit.
As much as it seems like LeBron has been the hero, he has been getting solid efforts from the rest of the starting five also. Tristan Thompson has been logging a lot of minutes off the bench as well. Building depth during the second half of the season will be huge for Cleveland. They have more talent than most teams in the East, and now they are finally starting to play as a team.
Detroit had been one of the hottest teams against the spread when they were on their winning streak. They have fallen back again, but they could be an intriguing pick for your basketball picks against the spread. They should take their coach’s harsh words to heart and play better defense against Cleveland at home. Even though the Cavs have been hot lately, we have them on upset alert. LeBron has the ability to take a game over in the fourth quarter, and there’s a good chance that he does that in this game. Expect Detroit to keep this one close and have a chance to win in the end.
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If you’re looking for something positive about these two teams, there’s not much to find. The New York Knicks have surprisingly won three out of their last four games after losing sixteen games in a row before that. The Sacramento Kings started the season off well for their first 20 games or so, but then completely derailed. They have now lost six games in a row and don’t look anywhere near the team that they were to start the season. A lot was said about DeMarcus Cousins missing extended time with an illness earlier in the season, but now that he’s in the lineup regularly, the Kings don’t look much better. They may have their best chance of snapping their current losing streak when they travel to New York to face the Knicks.
If Sacramento doesn’t win this game against the Knicks, then they could easily see their losing streak extend to double digits. After they play New York, seven of their next nine games come against teams with winning records. And those two games against teams with losing records will come on the road. No one will be feeling sorry for Sacramento, but if they start feeling sorry for themselves, then they could really get on a losing slide.
DeMarcus Cousins has been putting up all-star numbers every time he’s been in the lineup. The Kings haven’t given up, but it’s one of those frustrating losing streaks where it seems they are playing well, but just aren’t getting the results. Four of their losses on the six-game losing streak have come by nine points or less.
Not many people really expect the Knicks to go on a run similar to the Detroit Pistons, but you can’t argue that they’ve looked a whole lot better recently. Carmelo Anthony has been playing at a high level again and some of teammates are joining in. During their historic losing streak, we were seeing maybe two or three guys score in double figures in games. Now we are seeing four or five guys accomplish that feat, which says a lot about how the team might be finding a little chemistry.
Including the Kings, five of the next six opponents for New York have losing records. That may not have meant much a couple of weeks ago, but now that they have a little confidence, they may be able to pull out a few more wins if they continue playing this way.
New York has obviously been streaking against the spread as well. They have been consistent underdogs, so winning three out of four games has helped their record in more ways than one. With Sacramento being on a losing streak, there’s a slight chance that New York could be a little overconfident in this game at home. The Kings haven’t been playing terribly, so they could be a great pick for your basketball picks for today. Sacramento will have to match the intensity of a Knicks team that is a little different than a couple weeks ago. They should be able to do that and come away with a win in New York.
Point Spread predictions:
Nothing could go right for the Portland Trail Blazers when they lost five out of six games. After that last loss, LaMarcus Aldridge was injured and Portland sent out a press release stating that Aldridge would be out for at least six to eight weeks. Knowing that his team was struggling, Aldridge decided to delay his surgery and play through the pain of his injured thumb. It seemed to have brought new life into a stagnant Blazers team. Now they will try to continue that on the road against the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets have struggled to find consistency all season, so Portland should be heavily favored in this matchup.
Brooklyn has lost three out of their last four games, and those losses really haven’t been close. They have struggled offensively for most of the season, and that has been the case recently as well. Not having Deron Williams in the lineup because of an injury has a lot to do with their struggles, but they will have to find some way to generate offense since it’s unknown when he will return.
Mason Plumlee showed his frustrations after their last loss when he said that the team needs to show more effort. That has been evident lately because there hasn’t been a single player that has played with intensity. They have played some tough opponents lately, and it won’t get easier when they host Portland on Monday.
LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t decide to continue playing through his injury just to look like a hero. He has been a part of Blazers teams in the past that have faltered down the stretch or in the playoffs, and he doesn’t want that to happen again. He definitely didn’t seem limited in his first game after scoring 26 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. As long as he can continue to play without being a liability to his team, then expect him to do just that.
It will be critical for Portland to win against Brooklyn, considering their next two games come on the road at Cleveland and Atlanta. Lillard and the rest of the Blazers know that Aldridge may or may not make it through the entire season. Every win right now is crucial to maintain their playoff positioning heading into the second half of the season.
The Blazers have a pedestrian 12-8 record on the road, but not many NBA weekly picks against the spread insiders will be picking them to lose to Brooklyn. The Nets have struggled scoring at home, so it will be difficult for them to keep up with a Portland team that is one of the best in the league in scoring offense. Giving Aldridge some rest whenever possible will be ideal for the Blazers going forward. That means they will have to get some big leads early in the game so that he can rest in the second half. This game could possibly end up that way if the trends hold up. Portland should have no problem going into Brooklyn and cruising to a victory.
Trail Blazers 109
Whenever a team loses a couple of tough games in a row, sometimes the best thing they can do is get right back out on the court. That’s what the Oklahoma City Thunder will have to do. They are coming off of tough losses to Atlanta and Cleveland and will now have to face Minnesota at home. If there’s a team that you want to play to get back on track, though, it’s the Timberwolves. Minnesota has been one of the worst teams in the league all season and is near the bottom of the NBA in scoring offense. With the Thunder having to play with determination, they shouldn’t have any problem taking down the Timberwolves.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are back to their normal selves, but the Thunder are struggling to beat quality teams. Losing to Atlanta wasn’t terrible because the Hawks are playing the best basketball of any team in the league right now. Cleveland has been hot recently, but you still expect the Thunder to compete or win that game.
There’s still a long way to go in the season, but it’s not very encouraging for Thunder fans that their team is struggling with Eastern Conference teams. Their dynamic duo is playing well, but they don’t have much support around them. If the role players start playing better defense, then it’s easy to see this team catching fire at any time.
With all the young players that Minnesota has, their future could be bright if they all stick together. As for the present, though, they still are a team that has a lot of developing to do before they can contend for anything in the league. Led by Andrew Wiggins, the Timberwolves are near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories.
It will be difficult for Minnesota to pull off the upset over Oklahoma City, but the next couple of games against Boston and Philadelphia provide a little glimmer of hope. Playing in the Western Conference makes it tough to win consistently for a young team, so the Timberwolves are clearly headed for a high lottery pick in next year’s draft.
Oklahoma City should win this game comfortably, so they are the smart pick for your NBA expert picks against the spread. Minnesota has been better against the spread on the road than they have been at home, so there’s a slight chance that they could sneak in and cover at the end. However, the Thunder have been playing well without the results to show for it. They ran into a couple of teams that were hotter than them, and the results were tough losses. They should be able to get back on track at home against a young Timberwolves team that will be overwhelmed at the star power that Oklahoma City brings to the table.
Point Spread predictions:
On paper, this looks like a game that the San Antonio Spurs should dominate. But the way the Milwaukee Bucks have been playing this season, they could very well keep the game close and possibly pull off the upset. That will be a much more difficult task now that the Spurs are mostly healthy. They are looking more and more like the championship team from a year ago rather than the team that was struggling earlier this season. A lot of their recent success has to do with the return of Kawhi Leonard. Coach Gregg Popovich has been easing him back into the action since their success is dependent on him being healthy.
Milwaukee plays a scrappy style of basketball, but they lack an identity. Outside of Brandon Knight, there isn’t a player on the Bucks team that makes a consistent impact on a nightly basis. Coach Jason Kidd hasn’t been able to find the right combination of players this season, and the players just don’t look confident running his system at times.
If the Bucks want to get out of the first round of the playoffs, they will have to have an identity. They don’t appear to be a team that could compete in a seven game series with many playoff teams from the Eastern Conference. With that being said, they have beaten good teams this season, but haven’t been able to play consistently enough to move up in the standings.
The Spurs have played consistently in streaks this season. They are either pretty bad or really good, depending on who is healthy. With Leonard back in the lineup, they are really good again. San Antonio isn’t used to being so far down in the standings at the halfway point in the season, but they also haven’t had to deal with as many injuries as they had this season so far.
San Antonio doesn’t play with a lot of energy at times, but they can still swing the ball around better than most teams in the league. The young Bucks team will come out with a lot of energy, but the Spurs will just stick to their game plan and it should be enough to win the game comfortably.
San Antonio has been pretty decent against the spread recently. The return of Kawhi Leonard has sparked them, so they will likely be significant favorites in this game. Milwaukee has a chance to keep it close, but not many NBA picks insiders will be picking them to pull off the upset on the road. The Spurs have a clear identity and it is tough for teams to stop. The Bucks will have a lot of intensity out of the gate, but the consistent play of the Spurs will wear them down. This game will be close at halftime, but San Antonio will pull away and cruise in the second half.
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The New Orleans Pelicans may have shown how bad they can be if they didn’t have Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday in the lineup. They hit rock bottom when they lost to the Knicks, but they didn’t have either one of their star players. New Orleans received some unfortunate news when they found out that Holiday will be out for at least a couple of more weeks with an injury. Luckily, Davis is back from his injury after missing a few games. Without Holiday, the Pelicans may struggle with the Mavericks, who have good guard play on most nights. Davis will have to dominate the game for New Orleans to have a chance in this one.
With the Pelicans being just outside of the playoff discussion, they will have to dig deep to continue winning without one of their star players. That will likely mean that guys like Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon will have to step up and make a bigger impact. They will have their hands full defending Dallas’s guard’s with Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis.
If Gordon and Evans are able to contain Rondo and Ellis, then there’s a chance that Anthony Davis can control the matchups underneath the basket. He will be battling with Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler all game, but there’s no doubt that he can handle the challenge. No matter how good their defense is, though, they will still likely have to score 100 or more points to be in the game with one of the highest scoring teams in the league.
Tyson Chandler has been one of the keys to the Mavericks success this season. He has dominated the boards and has averaged around 13 rebounds per game. The matchup between him and Anthony Davis will be one of the storylines of this game. Whoever wins that matchup will give his team a much better chance at winning the game.
With everything else being equal, Dallas is the better team because of their efficient guard play. Rondo hasn’t directly scored many points since he’s been in Dallas, but he leads the team in the assists category. They are still learning how to play together in Rick Carlisle’s offense, but there’s very little doubt that the Mavericks are built for a playoff run.
The Pelicans have been a pretty good team at home against the spread, while Dallas has just been average on the road against the spread. The trends would indicate that New Orleans is a good pick for your sports betting tips against the spread, but the loss of Jrue Holiday is making us reconsider that selection. We saw how much New Orleans struggled without both of their stars, so they won’t be at the top of their game without one of them. Dallas just has too much firepower and the Pelicans won’t be able to generate enough offense to stay in the game. The Mavericks will cruise to a victory on the road.
Don’t look now, but the Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers appear to be peaking at the right time. Both teams have been disappointing this season for various reasons, but they are also both putting themselves in position to make a run in the second half of the season. Cleveland has looked rejuvenated since LeBron James returned from his injury. The Thunder have always been good with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but they just haven’t had both of them on the floor at the same time very much this season. They should all be on the court in this game, so it could be a classic battle of strength-on-strength.
The starters for the Cavs finally look like a team rather than a group of individuals wearing the same uniforms. The obvious trio of James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving is playing at a high level, but they are also getting big contributions from JR Smith and Timofey Mosgov. When all five players are clicking, the Cavs have looked like a team to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference.
Cleveland’s scoring has improved as a result of the team chemistry, but it has also led to better defensive efforts. They will be tested against the Thunder, who have also been on an offensive tear lately. Playing at home should help Cleveland, but it will be more important that they remain in sync with each other throughout the game.
Not many teams are able to stop Kevin Durant, so many of them just focus on making sure that other players don’t beat them. OKC has arguably the best one-two punch with Durant and Westbrook because they seem to work well together. Neither player is very selfish and just takes what teams give them.
The Thunder will be looking to finish off their road trip against Eastern Conference playoff teams with a bang. They know that they can’t afford to lose games since they are in the highly competitive Western Conference. Durant and Westbrook are the main contributors on offense, but players like Serge Ibaka are the X factors on the defensive side. Taking away the interior baskets against Cleveland will go a long way in stopping LeBron and the Cavs.
Oklahoma City has been a pretty poor team on the road this season, but they are also a different team now than they have been for most of the season. If this game was played a couple of weeks ago, it likely would not get much attention because neither team was playing very well. Now that both teams are playing at a high level, it’s tough to make your expert NBA picks for today in this game. Cleveland may have the edge at home, but the Thunder have to be playing with more urgency. Since OKC isn’t in the playoff picture right now, a win on the road over the streaking Cavaliers would be huge going forward. This will be a close game that could come down to the last couple of possessions. The Thunder will pull out a close one on the road.
Point Spread predictions:
The Washington Wizards begin their four-game road trip through the Western Conference against one of the best teams in that conference. The Portland Trail Blazers will be the toughest test of the road trip for the Wizards, but it will be a good measuring stick for where they are at and how far they have to go to be a contender for the championship. Portland will also be looking to see how they match up with one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have similar playing styles and phenomenal athletes, so this has the potential to be a close game. The Blazers may have the edge since they are at home, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Wizards pull off the upset.
John Wall is the best player on the Wizards, but he also is good at getting his teammates involved. He has worked on being unselfish this season and it is paying dividends. Instead of being all about himself, he is looking toward his and the team’s long-term goals, which includes getting to and winning the NBA Finals.
Washington has been hit or miss when it comes to playing quality opponents. They have beaten some really good teams, but have also gotten blown out by some good teams. They have a hard time climbing back into games when they get behind, so they will have to prevent that from happening on the road against the Blazers.
Portland has struggled recently against quality opponents. There’s a chance that they could be without their all-star, LaMarcus Aldridge, in this one due to an injury he suffered a couple of games ago. If he isn’t able to play, then the Blazers will rely on their guards to generate enough offense to put away the Wizards.
Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard are more than capable of putting up big numbers against the Wizards, but they will want to avoid a shooting match if possible. Defending John Wall should be their number one priority. If they set a goal to not let Wall beat them, and succeed in that goal, then it’s unlikely that the role players for Washington will be able to keep up with the Blazers at home.
The Blazers have been pretty dominant at home overall, but are barely above .500 at home against the spread. Washington is right at .500 overall against the spread, so this is a tough game to pick if you are making sports picks against the spread. Both teams have plenty to play for and plenty to prove, so the signs are pointing to this being a close game. The outcome could depend on if Aldridge is able to play and how effective he can be. Portland will come out on fire and put the Wizards in another early deficit that they won’t be able to climb out of.
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