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Winning Sports picks: Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trail Blazers

It’s games like these down the stretch that will determine the seeding in the Western Conference playoffs. The third through six seeds are separated by just two games, so these head-to-head matchups are essential for the teams in those positions. That’s exactly where the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks find themselves right now. Winning a game like this could bump you up one or two spots, but losing could also drop you down one or two spots. The teams involved should treat this like a playoff game, because there is a chance that they may actually meet again for a playoff series. Home court advantage is essential in the West, so Portland will have to capitalize at home in this game.

The Blazers seem to be getting back on track after a brief scoring slump recently. Although LaMarcus Aldridge is still averaging around 20 points per game, his shooting percentage has taken a dip over the last several games. That statistic has been overlooked because of the stellar play by Damian Lillard, and the fact that Portland keeps on winning.

Lillard has been playing like the best point guard in the league lately. His fourth quarter heroics have brought his team out of some ruts and won games that they probably should have lost. Guard play will definitely be something to pay attention to with Lillard going up against Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis.

Speaking of scoring slumps, the Mavericks have been uncharacteristically struggling with scoring points. They scored more than 100 points for the first time in five games in their last matchup against the Pelicans. They’ve also been held to under their season average of 105 points per game in seven of their last eight games.

It’s unknown whether Rondo and coach Rick Carlisle are on the same page, but it appears they are going about their business without tension. Dallas has been playing without Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler for the past several games, which could be contributing to their low scoring outputs. They will have to find a way to break that trend on the road against the high scoring Blazers.

If you’ve been betting on either the Mavericks or the Blazers against the spread this season, you’ve likely been disappointed. Despite their solid overall records, they are both right around .500 against the spread. Dallas has been a little better on the road against the spread, posting a 17-14 record. However, we are taking the Blazers for our NBA picks against the spread since they are the hotter team. The Mavs defense is improved, but they won’t be able to stop the duo of Aldridge and Lillard on the road. Look for the Blazers to win this game in a blowout.


Sportsbetting predictions against the spresd:

Mavericks 97

Trail Blazers 110


Winning Point Spread Picks: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Chicago Bulls

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls may be headed in opposite directions. This matchup should feature a couple of MVP candidates and other star players, but that won’t be the case Thursday night. Kevin Durant will miss at least another week, but Russell Westbrook may have a limited role in his return from facial surgery. For Chicago, both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler will miss significant time, and may not even be back before the playoffs start. The Thunder look more like the team that can catch fire down the stretch because they are about to have all of their stars healthy at the same time. Chicago just can’t catch any breaks with that regard, but don’t count out this tough team.

Westbrook has been putting up MVP type numbers since a little before the all-star break. His recent injury was a little setback, but he should be back to normal pretty soon. Westbrook has carried the team without Durant and has taken advantage of the additional scoring opportunities. The additions of D.J. Augustin and Kyle Singler have also proven to look like good moves since they have some experienced players on their bench.

The outcome of this game could be determined by how big of a role Westbrook plays in it. He will likely be playing with a protective mask, so it could affect his aggressiveness and make him think twice about driving to the basket. It could also be a mental barrier and affect some of his shots.

Without Rose and Butler, the Bulls are looking to Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic to keep them alive for a top seed in the Eastern Conference. Their offense has struggled a bit without their starting backcourt, but Mirotic and Aaron Brooks have stepped in to keep them competitive. If nothing else, it was an encouraging sign for them to increase their lead over the Wizards by beating them in their last game.

Even without their two best players, Chicago isn’t a team to sleep on. They’ve got a deep bench and their entire team is bought in to the defensive philosophy of coach Tom Thibodeau. They may not be able to win as many games without a high scoring offense, but you know they will be in games as long as their defense holds up.

Chicago is one of the rare teams that has a better record on the road than they do at home. You can look at that both ways when it comes to playoff time. It’s good that they can win on the road, but it’s also not good that they may not have a true home court advantage. The Thunder have been scoring a lot of points recently. The Bulls haven’t been scoring a lot of points, but they also haven’t been giving up a lot. In a battle of strength on strength, we are going to take the Bulls for our NBA picks for today. Westbrook will play hesitant at times and it will hurt the Thunder. Take Chicago to get a big win at home.


Winning Betting predictions:

Thunder 97

Bulls 101


Winning Point Spread Picks: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Winning Point Spread Picks: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Clippers

After stumbling out of the gate in their first two games after the all-star break, the Portland Trail Blazers have gotten back to their winning ways and are currently on a three-game winning streak. They have averaged more than 110 points over their last three games, and have been led by LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard in all three games. This matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers is critical for both teams, as they are currently separated by only half a game in the standings. These teams have played some competitive games in recent times, so we should expect to see a similar performance from both teams with the stakes being this high.

Portland has struggled against the Clippers this season. They will be looking to beat them for the first time in three tries when they meet in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. They should have a pretty big advantage in this one since the Clippers will be without Blake Griffin again. Look for LaMarcus Aldridge to have a huge game as a result.

Damian Lillard has just owned the fourth quarter in their last few games, and really for a good chunk of the season. It’s hard to beat the Blazers when it’s a close game late. Lillard flips on a switch when he needs to put an opposing team away, and sometimes he is able to single handily close games out.

The LA Clippers are happy to return home after a brutal four game road trip, but the competition isn’t getting any easier. Despite not having Blake Griffin over the last couple of weeks, the Clippers have held their own and are standing their ground in the Western Conference standings. It will take a solid team performance to take down the hot shooting Blazers in this one, though.

Even if Griffin was healthy, DeAndre Jordan still might be the MVP for this Clippers team. He may not put up huge offensive numbers every night, but he consistently posts double digit rebound numbers. And his biggest asset may be what doesn’t show up on the stats sheet–his defense. If he doesn’t block shots, then he’s forcing players to alter their shots. Jordan’s defense will be a huge factor in this game against Portland.

On paper, Portland should be the clear favorite in this one. The Clippers are without arguably their best player, while the Blazers are playing some of the best basketball that they’ve played all season. There’s something about this Clippers team that just doesn’t give in, though. Every time it seems like they are underdogs, they rise to the occasion and surprise people. We are still going to take the Blazers for our NBA picks for today to win the game outright, but it’s going to be close. We wouldn’t be surprised if it came down to the final possession, or even went into overtime. But Portland will get their first win over the Clippers this season on the road when it’s all said and done.


Basketball predictions for tonight:

Trail Blazers 109

Clippers 107


Winning Sports Picks: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Golden State Warriors

Winning Sports Picks: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Golden State Warriors

This matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Golden State Warriors features a lot of young talent on both sides. The Warriors are a little more established right now, but no one would be surprised if the Bucks were a contender in the next couple of years. They weren’t supposed to do much this season, but find themselves in a position to coast to the postseason and look good enough to possibly be a sleeper team. Golden State, on the other hand, has been one of the best teams in the league this season. They have been almost impossible to beat at home, so Milwaukee will have to play near flawless basketball in order to pull off the upset.

The Warriors ended their six game road trip with an ugly loss to the Brooklyn Nets. They didn’t play that well for the majority of the game against the Celtics either, but ended up catching fire in the second half. They should be plenty motivated and energized now that they are back at home.

Even though the Warriors haven’t played very well their last couple of games, they’ve got to like the intensity that they’re getting from Stephen Curry. He had eight points entering the fourth quarter against Brooklyn before rolling off 18 points in the fourth quarter alone. That type of leadership will be huge when they face adversity down the stretch. Teammates will start following him more since he’s leading by example, so expect others to elevate their games in the fourth quarter as well.

We were wondering how well things would work out for Milwaukee after trading away their best player, Brandon Knight. They have gone 2-4 without him through their first six games and have only score 90 or more points twice in that stretch. We originally thought it was a strange trade, but it’s evident that the Bucks are looking to the future rather than the present season.

Milwaukee still has some good young talent, but they are playing like a team that just had their chemistry shaken up a bit. Their lack of a scoring threat will make it tough to stick with the highest scoring team in the NBA. A lot of things will have to go right for the Bucks to win this game on the road.

The Bucks have been one of the best teams against the spread this season, but they have been trending downward since the all-star break. Both teams still have two of the best records against the spread in the NBA, but neither has been very reliable lately. With that said, Golden a State is due for another dominant performance. They are coming off of two disappointing games in a row as they return home. Expect them to light up the scoreboard and get some confidence back. Milwaukee won’t have an answer in this game, so the Warriors are a great pick for your NBA picks for today.


Winning point spread predictions:

Bucks 86

Warriors 110


Winning Betting Tips: Paul George Begins Road to Returning

Winning Betting Tips: Paul George Begins Road to Returning

The Indiana Pacers saw a very encouraging sign when they saw Paul George going through a full practice recently. George is just seven months removed from one of the most gruesome leg injuries that I’ve ever seen. It’s really hard for me to believe that we are even talking about the possibility of him returning this season, but he has recovered a lot more quickly than many NBA predictions experts thought. George indicated that he’s still not where he needs to be, and that he’s a little hesitant to make his cuts and moves that he normally makes. This first full practice should be a good measuring stick to tell him how much longer he has to go to a full recovery.

Doctors are saying that he should be ready to play sometime in March. The Pacers front office is saying that they would love to see George back on the court again this season, but the decision is really up to him. George has the potential to be a franchise player for Indiana, so it may be in their best interest to take this situation very cautiously.

So how would George’s return affect the Pacers positively or negatively? The positive is that he’s the best player on their team, so they need him on the court. He led the Pacers to back-to-back Eastern Conference Championship Series the last two years, so he knows how to win. Indiana is only a couple of games out of the eighth spot in the East right now, but have been playing well lately. Having George return could really increase their odds of making the playoffs this season.

On the negative side, George’s return could end up being disastrous if he reaggravates the injury. I’m not sure if this is something that could be reaggravated, but if he is playing cautiously, then the likelihood of him hurting something will increase. You could also throw in the fact that their chemistry could be disrupted if he comes back with less than 20 games left in the season. Also, if the Pacers don’t make the playoffs, then it’s really in their best interest to get a high lottery pick. George may be able to win them more games, which would decrease those odds.

NBA expert picks insiders report that “one thing that people can’t say” is that the Pacers are tanking to get that high lottery pick. The fact that they are vocal about George returning if he wants to play makes it sound like they don’t really care about a lottery pick. Their interest is in getting their star player healthy and back on the court as soon as possible. Any amount of game experience will be good for George this season just to get him comfortable with playing at NBA speed again. The odds of Indiana making the playoffs would increase if he comes back this season, but they would have to continue playing solid defense as well. Defense has kept them in the playoff discussion this season when the offense has been atrocious at times. Time will tell whether Paul George comes back and if it will even make a difference for the Pacers this season.

NBA Weekly Predictions: Washington Wizards vs. Chicago Bulls

NBA Weekly Predictions: Washington Wizards vs. Chicago Bulls


Just when things started to be looking positive for the Chicago Bulls, they have literally started falling apart. They were heartbroken when they found out that Derrick Rose could miss the rest of the season, but weren’t terribly stunned since they have had to play without him before. Little did they know that Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler would follow shortly after with injuries. Gibson is just day-to-day, but Butler is expected to miss 3-6 weeks with his elbow injury. It’s a tough blow to a Chicago team that is clinging to a top seed in the Eastern Conference. Washington has struggled lately as well, but they are still only three games back from Chicago for the third seed in the conference.

There was still hope in Chicago when Rose went down with another injury because of how well Butler has played. Butler was the main reason why the Bulls kept up with the best teams in the East earlier this season when Rose missed significant time. Now that they will both be out of the lineup for more than a month, it will be interesting to see if they will be able to keep pace with teams like Cleveland and Toronto.

Coach Tom Thibodeau will have to figure out ways to generate offense without Rose and Butler. The duo accounts for nearly 40% of the team’s points. The team has struggled lately in particular after being held to under 90 points in three out of their last four games.

Washington is a hard team to figure out, but they are looking more average every time they take the court. They recently played Golden State closely, but then followed up that performance by being blown out by the Timberwolves and getting beat comfortably by the Sixers. They have the luxury of playing in the weak Eastern Conference, but they will be an early exit if they continue that trend.

John Wall continues to play decent basketball, but he knows his team still has a long way to go before they can be considered a contender. They should have a golden opportunity to close in on another game with the Bulls since their roster is depleted. If the Wizards lay an egg in Chicago, it could spell doom for Washington going forward.

Neither one of these teams have been trending in the sports betting world lately. In fact, neither team has been very reliable at all this season when it comes to your NBA picks against the spread. With the tough injuries that the Bulls are dealing with, you have to take the Wizards in this game. They haven’t been very good against the road this season, but Chicago will be looking for ways to create offense. It will likely take them a few games to figure it out, so Washington is playing them at a good time. The Wizards will get a huge win on the road in Chicago.


Winning Betting predictions for tonight:

Wizards 98

Bulls 91

NBA Matchup Preview: Houston Rockets vs. Atlanta Hawks

Winning Sports Picks: Houston Rockets vs. Atlanta Hawks

The Houston Rockets appear to be peaking at the right time. They have won five games in a row and now will face a tough two-game stretch against conference contenders. The first one is against the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks have been one of the best teams in the league this season, but haven’t been playing their best since the all-star break. Despite a fairly weak schedule over their last few games, Atlanta is barely squeaking by lesser opponents. We should be able to tell where these teams stand at this point in the season. Atlanta should be able to cruise to the top seed in the East, but the Rockets are fighting to move up in the second spot, or higher, in the West.

Houston’s last game against Cleveland garnered a lot of attention for the wrong reasons. James Harden’s flagrant foul for kicking LeBron James in the groin made all the headlines, but what got a little overshadowed is how good the Rockets played in that game. Cleveland was one of the hottest teams in the league entering the game, and Houston was able to put them away in overtime.

At the very least, Harden made a huge case for being the MVP this season when he out-dueled LeBron in a head-to-head matchup. He has been the main reason why the Rockets are in the position they are in right now, especially considering that they haven’t been able to rely on Dwight Howard at times this season. Unfortunately for the Rockets, Harden has been suspended for Tuesday’s game against Atlanta, so they will have to find other ways to generate points.

Even though the Hawks haven’t looked particularly dominant in their last few games, there aren’t many people doubting their ability. They have a comfortable lead in the East, so they really don’t have a need to blow out teams. As long as they keep winning to keep their confidence up, it may be a wise decision for coach Mike Budenholzer to give some of his regular starters some rest.

Atlanta has created some playoff atmospheres in their arena this season, this game should be no exception with one of the best teams in the Western Conference coming into town. The Hawks’ chances of winning this game improved greatly when the NBA announced they were suspending Harden for this game. As efficient as their offense has been this season, it will be hard for the Rockets to keep up without their leading scorer.

If you’ve been betting on either of these teams against the spread this season, then you’ve likely been pleased with your results. The Hawks are currently 39-20 against the spread, while the Rockets are 34-25. Houston has been trending upward lately, while Atlanta hasn’t been as hot due to some close wins that they should have won comfortably. We would have taken Houston for our NBA picks against the spread, but we have to switch our pick to Atlanta because of the Harden news. Houston is playing on another level right now, so we will see how much they have had to rely on Harden over these last few games. It’s hard to imagine them beating the Hawks on the road without their best player.


Winning Sports predictions:

Rockets 95

Hawks 106


NBA Weekly Picks: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks

NBA Weekly Picks: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks

Just when you think the New Orleans Pelicans will slowly disappear from the Western Conference playoff picture, they go on a run to get right back into the thick of things. They have taken advantage of a relatively weak schedule since the all-star break to keep up with the Thunder and are still very much alive for the eighth spot. Now they will have a chance to make up some more ground against the Dallas Mavericks on the road. Dallas has struggled with two losses in a row, so they will be looking to bounce back at home. New Orleans won the last meeting between these teams back in January, so this should be another good game.

Even though the Pelicans have been without three of their top scorers, they have found ways to score points and win games. Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson have all missed games recently, and it’s possible that they could all miss this one as well. The trio has accounted for more than 50% of the team’s total points per game average, so it’s really impressive that they continue to win.

Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans have really stepped up when they were needed most, but their hot streak has been a complete team effort. New Orleans has to continued to win games like this in order to keep up with OKC. They were able to beat Dallas the last time they played, but it will be a different story this time since they don’t have some of their star players.

The Mavericks remain the fourth highest scoring team in the NBA, but they haven’t eclipsed 100 points in a game in four straight games. Part of that has to do with the absence of both Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons, who have both been battling with injuries over the last few games. Contrary to the Pelicans, the Mavs haven’t been able to find a new combination without those players.

Dallas is sitting in the sixth spot in the Western Conference right now, but they are only about two games back from Houston for the third seed. New Orleans is the more desperate team right now and are playing with good chemistry, so the Mavs will have to match their energy out of the gate and find an effective scoring combination to get back on track.

The Mavericks haven’t been much better at home than they’ve been on the road, but the Pelicans can’t say the same. Both teams have similar home records, but the Pelicans are well below .500 on the road. It’s even worse against teams with better records than them. With that being said, the Mavericks are a good pick to win outright for your NBA picks for today. New Orleans might be able to sneak in and cover the spread, though. The Pelicans are playing good basketball right now and the Mavericks aren’t. Dallas usually doesn’t play three bad games in a row, so we believe they will bounce back in a big way in this game.


Betting predictions:

Pelicans 104

Mavericks 106

NBA Weekly Picks: Friction With Rajon Rondo in Dallas

NBA Weekly Picks: Friction With Rajon Rondo in Dallas

One thing that is impossible to predict when making trades is how the new player will get along with his new teammates and coach. It’s a little easier to predict in free agency, because teams and coaches can talk to the players about schemes and the culture before they sign. Trading is a little different, since a lot of times, the player has no control over what happens. It’s a business, and franchises will treat it like that.

That leads us into the Rajon Rondo trade that the Dallas Mavericks made in November. There’s no denying Rondo’s talent, but there has always been questions about him being a little selfish and trying to do too much on the court. He has been the lone star player the past couple of seasons in Boston, so there was a little bit of a culture shock when he went to Dallas and was surrounded by guys like Dirk Nowitzki, who is a franchise player.

Frustrations boiled over in their recent game against the Toronto Raptors, which led to a heated shouting match between Rondo and coach Rick Carlisle. The heated discussion was supposedly about Rondo calling his own plays and not listening to his coach. As a result, Rondo watched the rest of the game from the bench.

Nowitzki was a little shocked about the whole situation and wasn’t real happy about it happening. Owner Mark Cuban didn’t think it was a big deal, since both guys are competitive and just want to win. Things like this will happen to even the best players and coaches, but you have to wonder whether there is a bigger issue stemming from Carlisle and his point guards.

Some might blame the situation on Rondo being selfish, but we also should remember that Jason Kidd went through similar frustrations when he played for Carlisle. His frustrations never escalated as much as Rondo’s did, but it still indicates that there may be bigger issues between the coach and players.

You hope that there’s not a lack of trust, for the Mavericks sake. A lack of trust will only take you so far before a minor issue like this one turns into players turning on their coach and not playing for them. Dallas has the luxury of having an outstanding leader like Nowitzki that shouldn’t let anything like that happen in the locker room.

With Dallas being in the middle of a playoff run, this is not a situation that you want to see. We think the Mavericks are a team to watch closely the rest of the way as title contenders, but now there’s a new element to watch. The Mavs offense has been struggling lately, so that could have been another point of frustration for them. If they continue to struggle offensively, it may indicate larger issues within the organization that needs to be taken into consideration when making your winning NBA picks.

Sports betting picks against the spread: Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat

It’s still early, but this game between the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat could be a preview of a first round matchup in the NBA playoffs. The Hawks continue to maintain a sizable lead for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Heat are fighting for one of the final spots. If Miami gets one of those spots, it will be well earned considering they would do it without one of their best players. Chris Bosh being out for the season leaves a huge void on both sides of the court for Miami. They don’t necessarily have to win every game to sneak into the playoffs, but they have to at least put up a respectable fight in games like this.

After stumbling hard in their first game back after the all-star break, the Hawks appear to have regained their footing. It would take an epic collapse for them to not be the top seed in the East, considering there are only around 20 games left in the season. Games like this against Miami are still important to them because they don’t want a potential playoff opponent to have any confidence when playing against them.

When the Hawks are at their best defensively, there aren’t many teams that can beat them. Considering the Heat isn’t the best offensive team, they shouldn’t have trouble taking care of business. Miami may have a little more energy playing at home, but Atlanta has never had any issues playing on the road this year.

The good thing for the Heat is that they have a renewed energy with the recent acquisition of Goran Dragic. If they received the bad news with Chris Bosh without having some good news to fall back on, it would probably have been a lot more difficult for them going forward.

Dragic hasn’t had to take too much time to get acclimated with his teammates. He has been a solid contributor in each game he has played for Miami so far. That has to be an encouraging sign, considering he should only get better as he gets used to playing in a new system. The Heat may not be able to compete with a team like the Hawks, but they could put themselves in a position to make the playoffs with the energy that Dragic brings every night.

Atlanta is the best team against the spread in the NBA for a reason. They have dominated their opponents all season, no matter where they play. When they are at their best defensively, they suffocate teams to the point where the game is out of hand by the time they start the fourth quarter. That may or may not be the case in this game, but we are still going with Atlanta for our NBA picks against the spread. The Heat won’t have enough firepower to keep up with the efficient Hawks. The game may be close at halftime, but Atlanta will wear down Miami in the second half.


Winning Score predictions:

Hawks 111

Heat 95