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.
Trail Blazers 108
After playing against three quality opponents in a row, the Memphis Grizzlies will get to relax a little but during the last two games of their home stand. There is always the chance of a letdown when a subpar team comes in after playing playoff contenders, but Memphis should be able to handle Philadelphia even if they don’t look sharp. The Grizzlies have struggled defensively at times in their last few games, but were able to make up for it with their offense. They will be trying to get back to their dominant defensive scheme against a 76ers team that struggles to score.
The last time the Sixers played the Grizzlies, the game ended in a Memphis victory in overtime. Philadelphia will be looking to surprise Memphis on the road this time and try to finish the game off. They are hoping that Memphis overlooks them, but the chances of that happening are slim considering they already caught them by surprise once.
If the Sixers hope to come close to beating the Grizzlies, they will have to score a lot more than their 90 points per game that they’ve been averaging this season. Their best player, Tony Wroten, has been injured for a lot of the season and may not play in this game too. They will have to rely on Michael Carter-Williams and the rest of the role players to step in and generate some offense.
Memphis enters this game averaging around 101 points behind the trio of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley. Reaching their season average in points shouldn’t be an issue in this game against the hapless Sixers. In fact, this could be a great opportunity for some of the veteran players to get some rest and give the younger guys some good game experience.
The second through sixth spots in the Western Conference standings are jumbled up tightly. Memphis has shot themselves in the foot in the past by losing games that they should win, like this one. Having home court advantage is huge when it comes to the playoffs, so they should be focused even though they are playing a lesser opponent.
Neither one of these teams have been very good against the spread this season, but for different reasons. Memphis doesn’t blow out a lot of teams, and the Sixers get blown out a lot. Considering Memphis is coming off of a tough stretch of games, there is a chance that they will relax enough to allow the Sixers to sneak in and cover. Monitor whether the Grizzlies plan to play their starters for the entire game. It’s likely that they won’t, though, which could make Philadelphia an intriguing pick for your expert NBA picks against the spread. They played Memphis close last time, and this one could end up being closer than the experts think as well.
The Milwaukee Bucks hold a 2-1 advantage in the season series with the Detroit Pistons. The majority of their games have been played early in the season, though. In fact, Detroit was just 3-13 the last time these teams played each other. Milwaukee looks like about the same team, but Detroit has found a new confidence. They have gone to a team that looked like they were headed toward a lottery pick, to a team that is now only a couple of games away from being in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks are pretty solid in the playoff picture right now, but they have been inconsistent all season. Playing a hot Pistons team will be a good test for them.
Milwaukee has played up or down to the level of their competition for most of the season. That has resulted in a lot of close games, no matter who their opponent was. They have strayed from that recently, though, and been on both sides of blowout games. The Bucks match up pretty evenly with Detroit, which should lead to a close game. With the way they’ve been playing, though, a close game isn’t guaranteed.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd continues to experiment with different lineups until he can find consistency. With the exception of Brandon Knight, there aren’t many players that get a consistent 35-40 minutes per game. Knight is the anchor of the team and is heavily relied upon. If he has a bad game, then it’s likely that the Bucks will struggle as a team.
Like Milwaukee, the Pistons don’t really have a set lineup that consistently plays 35-40 minutes per game. During their recent hot streak, they’ve been able to surprise most teams with their intensity and execution, with the exception of maybe the Atlanta Hawks. Detroit’s scrappy style of play is similar to the Bucks, so it will be interesting to see which team executes most.
The guard play from Brandon Jennings and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been pretty solid during their recent stretch of games. They have had some big shots in critical times and locked teams down on defense as well. Playing another young team like the Bucks will be a test because they should have an equal intensity level throughout the game.
When you’ve got two teams with not a lot of experience playing against each other, there’s a good chance that you will see a sloppy game. But there’s also the chance that the game will come down to the wire. These teams haven’t played each other in a couple of months, so we will see how far they’ve come in that time frame. The Bucks are the home team, but Detroit has been playing at a high level lately. We believe that the Pistons are a good pick for your sportsbetting tips today to go into Milwaukee and pull off the upset. Detroit will continue to roll and make moves in the Eastern Conference standings.
Point Spread predictions:
Not too many teams have been able to slow down or stop the Hawks this season, especially in Atlanta. Oklahoma City will be challenged with doing exactly that on Friday. The Thunder are in the most desperate situation that a team can be in at the halfway point in the season. They are currently on the outside looking in at the playoff picture in the Western Conference. With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook healthy, there’s no doubt that the Thunder can insert themselves into the playoff picture. The only problem is that teams in the West keep winning, so it is hard to make up ground at times. Playing Atlanta won’t help matters, but it will provide a good measuring stick at where they are as a team.
The Thunder’s road trip against Eastern Conference teams will get a lot more difficult against Atlanta. The Hawks play a similar style of basketball as the Spurs. Since OKC has to play San Antonio often, and plays them pretty competitively most of the time, they shouldn’t be too concerned going into Atlanta. If they are able to throw the Hawks off their game, then they could pull off the upset.
With OKC finally tasting a record that’s above .500, they are looking to go on a big run to move up the standings. Their defense has improved over the last couple of weeks, so they will have confidence that they can disrupt the timing of Atlanta’s offense. We know that Durant and Westbrook are two of the best players on the court, but it will take a team effort to win against the Hawks.
Atlanta is on an extended home stand in which they feel that they can increase their lead for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. This will be their first test on the home stand from a Western Conference opponent. It’s hard to say that the Hawks don’t match up well with the Thunder, but with OKC’s track record against the Spurs, anything is possible in this game.
It’s amazing what winning will do to a fan base. Now that the Hawks are the best team in the East, the fans are lining up to create a playoff atmosphere almost every game. The players have been feeding off of that energy and it continues to produce victories. Energy is one thing, but execution is another. Executing their game plan against OKC will be critical with the talent that they have.
The Hawks have dominated against the spread this season, but a lot of that has to do with them being one of the surprise teams in the league. Now that they have the target on their backs, it will be interesting to see if they can continue covering. The Thunder are the more desperate team right now. They are executing on both ends of the court, which is a reason why we are taking them for our sports tips against the spread. Durant will go off for a huge statistical game and make some clutch shots down the stretch. They will be able to match the intensity of Atlanta and make a huge statement on the road and pull off the upset.
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The series between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers has lost its luster from a year ago, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing at stake when they play each other. The Heat are in position to be a low seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, while the Pacers have some work to do to sneak into the picture. That is quite the difference from a year ago when they were battling for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Injuries and losses to free agency have changed the dynamic of these teams, but it shouldn’t make for a less entertaining game.
The Pacers enter this game averaging around 95 points per game, which is one of the lowest marks in the league. George Hill’s absence due to an injury has a lot to do with that, but they’ve just had a hard time getting anything going. Indiana has been solid defensively for most of the year, but they are giving up more than 100 points on average in their last dozen or so games.
Playing the Heat should get them a little more fired up as they have started a little rivalry over the past couple of seasons. Miami just isn’t as intimidating with an aging Dwayne Wade and no LeBron James. Look for Indiana to try to lock down the Heat defensively and create some fast break points to keep them off balance.
When Dwayne Wade is completely healthy, he can still make an impact on the court. Unfortunately for the Heat, he has had a hard time staying on the court this season. Coach Erik Spoelstra hasn’t been able to find an answer for the Heat offensively without the leadership of LeBron James. He will have to put together a solid gameplan against a Pacers defense that can be stingy.
Finishing games has been another problem for the Heat at times. They held a lead over the Thunder for a good part of the game recently, but weren’t able to hold on. They eventually wore down in the fourth quarter and allowed the Thunder to pull away. They will have to close out the Pacers if they have a lead. Giving Indiana a reason to believe they can win won’t lead to a desirable result for Miami.
Neither of these teams has been very good against the spread this season, so there will be other matchups to be on in that regard. However, for a good straight-up bet, Miami looks like a solid pick for your sports picks for today. The Heat haven’t been playing their best lately, but the Pacers have been a lot worse. Playing at home should help the Heat maintain a lead if they get one early. Look for Chris Bosh to have a big game at home after a fairly disappointing performance against the Thunder recently. Bosh will have the high point of the night and the Heat will win a close battle.
Basketball predictions against the spread:
The Dallas Mavericks have spent a lot of time playing on the road lately, but they will return home on Friday to face the Chicago Bulls. Dallas has been playing pretty well and even got a signature win on the road against Memphis recently. The addition of Rajon Rondo has proven to be a valuable acquisition for them. He has contributed both on offense and defense, which could make them a more complete team when the playoffs roll around. Chicago hasn’t been playing very well lately and the frustrations are starting to set in. Coach Tom Thibodeau and Derrick Rose have been vocal about the team’s lackluster effort lately. They will have to figure that out pretty quickly in order to beat the Mavs on the road.
Chicago has had somewhat of an up-and-down season due to injuries and getting used to their new teammates that were acquired in the offseason. At this point in the season, though, no one will be accepting any excuses. Rose is frustrated that the team isn’t on the same page. It’s a little ironic that Rose is being so vocal after his controversial comments earlier this season about not playing when he was a little dinged up.
The Bulls haven’t been playing very good defense lately, which is not a good sign coming in to this game. Dallas is one of the highest scoring teams in the league, so Chicago will have to figure something out quickly. They have shown the ability to score enough to keep up with Dallas, but this just might not be the right time to play them.
Rajon Rondo hasn’t exactly been lighting up the stat sheet since he has been in Dallas, but his presence on the court has opened things up for other players. Monta Ellis continues to put up a lot of points and Dirk Nowitzki makes timely shots when his team needs them most.
Dallas can expect to get Chicago’s best effort when they come to town. Derrick Rose and the rest of the Bulls have too much pride to be on such a bad losing streak this far into the season. The last time these two teams faced each other, Dallas won in a double overtime thriller. We won’t predict another overtime game, but we do see it being a close game with the potential for an upset.
Chicago has been a much better team on the road than they have been at home this season. Combine that with the strong statements that Rose made about his team, and we feel that Chicago is a good pick for your sports betting tips against the spread. They should come out with a lot of focus and energy on the road and try to get back on track. It will take a complete team effort, but that’s exactly what Rose knows has been missing. Holding down the second best scoring team in the league at home will be tough, but Chicago will find a way to hold them down enough to pull off the upset.
The Chicago Bulls enter this matchup with the San Antonio Spurs limping. They have lost four out of their last five games and it’s not getting any easier over the next couple of games. You have to wonder whether the schedule has them fatigued since they have been alternating home and away games over their past few contests. They have a few days to rest up for the Spurs, and they will need it. San Antonio has been playing good basketball again now that they have their starters back in the lineup. If the Bulls want to consider themselves a contender for the NBA Finals, then they will have to be able to compete against teams like the Spurs.
Chicago has thrived on their defense over the years, but it has let them down over their last handful of games. They have given up more than 100 points in each of their last five games, which makes it tough to win when they can’t score over 100 points consistently. Jimmy Butler has cooled off a bit after his hot streak over the last month or so, but he is still leading the team in scoring at just over 20 points per game.
Coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t pleased with his team’s defensive performance and he’s trying to figure out what has gone wrong. Chicago may have better athletes than the Spurs, but there’s no question that they don’t match up favorably against them. San Antonio moves the ball better than most teams in the NBA, so the Bulls will have a hard time containing them.
San Antonio plays a similar style of basketball as the Atlanta Hawks, who just beat the Bulls comfortably a few games ago. The return of Kawhi Leonard has had a significant impact on the way San Antonio has been playing lately. He suffered another scare recently against Utah, but shook it off and appears to be healthy for this game.
Leonard makes a big impact offensively, but it is his defensive ability that is invaluable to the Spurs. With Tim Duncan and Tony Parker getting up there in age, Leonard is the anchor of the defense. He has proven that he can guard anyone in the league, so expect him to take on Butler or Derrick Rose in this game if they start giving the Spurs trouble.
The Bulls are only 12-10 at home this season, but are 15-5 on the road. San Antonio hasn’t been as dominant on the road this season as they have been in the past, so this could be anyone’s game. Matchups will be the key in this game. The Bulls didn’t match up well against the Hawks, so it’s hard to believe they will match up well against the Spurs. These teams are headed in opposite directions lately, and we believe those trends will continue. As a result, the San Antonio Spurs are a good pick for your basketball picks for today. Their ball movement will bury the Bulls and send them to their fifth loss in their last six games.