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NBA Expert Picks: San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks

NBA Expert Picks: San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks are serious about making another championship run this season. If their play on the court wasn’t enough to convince you of that, then acquiring Rajon Rondo from the Celtics should have you sold. Mark Cuban made some big time moves in the offseason and hasn’t stopped there. Rondo will add another dynamic to an offense that already leads the league in points scored. What Dallas really needs is a better defensive scheme that will allow them to win games even when their offense isn’t at its best. They will need to be a well-balanced team against the San Antonio Spurs, who always give them trouble.

While the Mavericks have significantly upgraded their roster, the Spurs have been holding steady. They haven’t been playing very good basketball recently, but some of that has to do with injuries to key players. Tiago Splitter has missed significant time already this season, and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have also been sidelined.

San Antonio will have to bring their offense with them when they travel to Dallas. It’s almost a certainty that the Mavericks offense will be on fire, so the Spurs will have to either play stellar defense or keep up with them. Parker is the driving force of their offense, so if he is not able to play, then the Spurs may struggle to keep up with the Mavericks on the road.

Rondo will undoubtedly help the Mavericks down the stretch, but it may take him a few games to get accustomed to his new team and offense. For now, Dallas will have to use their current offensive firepower to outplay the depleted Spurs at home. The way both teams have been playing, the Mavericks should take advantage of the opportunity that they have to beat San Antonio now.

Although Dallas has one of the best records in the Western Conference, they have struggled against teams with as good or better records than them. That may have been a factor for Cuban making an aggressive move to get Rondo, who could lead the team after just a couple of weeks.

Dallas hasn’t been that good of a team at home against the spread, but your expert NBA picks believe they are a good bet for this game against the Spurs. They have all of the momentum on their side and San Antonio just can’t seem to put a full game together. Rondo may not be a big factor in this game, but it won’t matter as Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki will have big games and be able to handle the Spurs easily. If Parker is able to play, then the Spurs may be in it for a little while, but everything seems to be going Dallas’ way and they will keep it going at home.

 

Betting Odds: Dallas-7.5

 

Point spread predictions:

Spurs 98

Mavericks 110

 

NBA Expert Picks Against the Spread: Atlanta Hawks vs. Houston Rockets

James Harden Houston RocketsNBA Expert Picks Against the Spread: Atlanta Hawks vs. Houston Rockets

The Atlanta Hawks have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA over the last couple of weeks, but people haven’t been giving them that much respect. That changed when they completely dominated the Cavaliers on the road and made a statement that they plan to contend in the Eastern Conference. Now they will turn to one of the best teams in the Western Conference and try to make an even bigger statement in Houston. The Rockets are finally healthy, for the most part, so the Hawks will have to continue their high level of play to pull off the upset.

Hot shooting and timely defense was the key to Atlanta’s dominant win over Cleveland. Multiple players contributed in different ways, but they all had one thing in common…they didn’t miss many shots. Performances like that can be a huge confidence booster during the game, but can make teams a little overconfident in the following games.

If nothing else, the offensive outburst against Cleveland gave the Hawks players the confidence that they can get into a shoot out with the Rockets if they have too. They should try to focus more on the defensive side against Houston because if they get hot, it will be hard to keep up with them on their court.

This game is the first of five games against opponents with winning records for the Rockets. They appear to have gotten healthy at the right time for this stretch. If they are able to come out of these next five games with a winning record, then things will lighten up considerably for them over the next few games.

Houston can’t allow Atlanta to take open shots from beyond the arc because they’ve proven that they can hit them. Patrick Beverley and Trevor Ariza will be the defensive specialists in this game to make sure that the Hawks have to pass the ball more. Luring players to go in the paint is just what the Rockets want to happen since they have big Dwight Howard down there.

These teams have both been pretty good against the spread this season. They both cover more than 50% of the time. With Atlanta being on a hot streak and Houston being healthy again, this makes for a tough pick for your expert NBA picks against the spread. The trend hasn’t been for Atlanta to score a lot of points to win games, so you have to favor the Rockets in a high scoring game. If Houston gives Atlanta a little confidence and they start hitting shots, then the Hawks have a legitimate opportunity to get a huge win on the road. The Rockets should be able to hold them down defensively enough to allow the offense to pull away late.

 

Point Spread predictions for tonight:

Hawks 97

Rockets 105

College Bowl Predictions for the New Mexico Bowl: Utah State vs. UTEP

College Bowl Predictions for the New Mexico Bowl: Utah State vs. UTEP

The second game of the college football bowl season features a matchup between teams from the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA. Utah State is a regular when it comes to playing in a bowl game, but UTEP doesn’t make as many appearances. In fact, this is only their first bowl appearance since 2010. They will have the tough task of facing a team that has thrived on its defense all season. Utah State finished the season with a 9-4 record, while UTEP finished at 7-5. The Aggies of Utah State appear to have a better team on paper, but bowl games are so great because teams save their best for last and upsets are always possible.

Aside from making a bowl game, perhaps the best accomplishment for the UTEP Miners came in a 30-26 loss to Texas Tech. They were in the game all the way to the end and had a great opportunity to knock off a power five conference opponent. They weren’t able to do it, but it gave them plenty of reasons to believe that they could be good this year, which has led them to where they are now.

UTEP’s best stretch of games came in the middle of the season, when they won three games in a row. Their running game has been the strength of the team for most of the season. They will come up against a tough Utah State defense that has been stingy against the run all season. They will have to rely on big plays and hope for some busted assignments to be able to score effectively against the Aggies.

Utah State had a rough start to their season defensively, but got better as the season went along. Aside from their last game against Boise State, the Aggies had a stretch of nine games in a row where they didn’t give up more than 21 points. The Mountain West Conference has some pretty good offenses, so they had a pretty impressive stretch during the middle of their season.

The highlight of the Aggies season had to be beating their in-state rival BYU on the road. BYU has had their number for years, so it was quite an accomplishment to beat them. They always fare pretty well in bowl games and appear to have a favorable matchup against UTEP. As long as they are able to stop the run, they shouldn’t have any problems with beating the Miners.

NCAAF predictions experts have Utah State as pretty heavy favorites in this game. Top rated Sportsbooks have Utah State listed as a 10 point favorite and that number continues to rise. UTEP doesn’t have that great of a defense and Utah State should be able to slow down their one-dimensional offense. The Miners will come out fired up since they haven’t played in a bowl game in a while. That emotion will quickly wear out when they can’t move the ball on offense. The Aggies defense will force several turnovers and even have a defensive score. UTEP’s season will end in a disappointment, while Utah State will finish on a high after their embarrassing performance to end the regular season.

 

2014 NCAAF Bowl predictions:

Utah State 37

UTEP 10

College Football Picks for New Orleans Bowl: Nevada vs. Louisiana Lafayette

College Football Picks for New Orleans Bowl: Nevada vs. Louisiana Lafayette

The first bowl game of the college football season features a team from the Mountain West Conference against a team from the Sunbelt Conference. While it’s games like these that don’t garner a lot of national attention, they sometimes are more entertaining than the bigger games. Nevada finished the regular season with a 7-5 record, while Lafayette was 8-4. These teams played some pretty tough non-conference games, so the fact that they still made a bowl is pretty impressive. The Mountain West is generally considered a tougher conference than the Sunbelt, but that doesn’t matter in these bowl games.

Nevada’s non-conference slate included Washington State, Arizona and Boise State. They beat Washington State and were within a touchdown of both Arizona and Boise State. This team can’t be underestimated since they have proved that they can contend with teams in power five conferences.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo is the biggest reason why Nevada is where they are right now. He has accounted for 31 touchdowns this season–18 passing and 13 rushing. He has a similar skill set as former Nevada quarterback, and current San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. Teams have had fits trying to stop him all season so the Wolfpack will go as far as Fajardo takes them against Lafayette.

One common opponent that Lafayette had in the non-conference schedule is Boise State. They didn’t fare as well as Nevada, though, as they got blown out by the Broncos. They bounced back nicely as the season progressed and won seven of their last eight games.

Running back Elijah McGuire had been the workhorse for the Ragin Cajuns this season. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards and has carried his team at times. Most of the time he had to have big games since their defense had a tendency to give up a lot of points. Nevada is an opponent that can score a lot of points, so Lafayette’s offense is going to have to be clicking in this one.

NCAAF Bowl predictions experts are on the fence as to who is favored in this game. Lafayette might be a slight favorite, just because they are playing closer to home. A lot of times, these bowl games come down to who is more motivated. Nevada hasn’t won a bowl game in the last three seasons, while Lafayette has won their bowl game for the last three seasons. The Ragin Cajuns have a good crowd when they play in New Orleans, so this will be pretty close to a home game for them. Nevada will come out firing though, and look to end their bowl losing streak. This will turn into a high-scoring game that comes down to the very end.

 

College Bowl predictions:

Nevada 48

Louisiana Lafayette 45

 

Point Spread Picks Against the Spread: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers Vs. Thunder Preview: Lakers Take On Surging ThunderPoint Spread Picks Against the Spread: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers

What a difference two players make for a team. The Thunder were headed nowhere and were struggling to win games before Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant returned. Oklahoma City is now one of the hottest teams in the NBA and has brought themselves right back into the thick of things in the Western Conference. The Lakers are still struggling to find consistency, but they are actually showing signs of improvement at times. Kobe Bryant’s leadership has been essential in keeping the team together and the rest of the players seem to be responding.

The last three games have been indicative of the entire Lakers season. They beat the Spurs on the road, then won a close game against Minnesota before getting blown out by a shorthanded Indiana team. Lack of defense has been the issue for the majority of the season, but the offense has bailed them out on some occasions.

If the LA Lakers have an off night shooting the ball, then they are capable of losing to anyone. Kobe will be motivated to have a big game against OKC, like he usually does when other star players come on his court. The big question will be whether or not he has two or three other guys to perform at a high level as well.

Oklahoma City is going to ride this wave of momentum for as long as Durant and Westbrook will carry them. Despite missing most of the season to this point, they are leading their team in almost every offensive category. The difference between this Thunder team and the ones in past years is that now they have depth.

In the past, a single player like Kobe Bryant could beat OKC on any given night. Since a lot of players got more playing time earlier this season, they got their confidence up and know that they can step in when needed. The Thunder relied on defense earlier in the season and that strong play has continued. If they are able to control Kobe, then they should be able to win in Los Angeles.

The Thunder has struggled against the spread on the road this season. They have covered less than 50% of the time, while the Lakers have covered right at 50% of the time at home. The LA Lakers are hit-and-miss when it comes to your expert NBA picks against the spread, mainly because they can’t be hot shooting every night. Oklahoma City is a safer pick because of their strong defense and consistent play. Going into Los Angeles is always tough, but the Thunder are clearly the better team and will show that in this game.

 

Basketball predictions for tonight:

Thunder 113

Lakers 101

NBA Expert Picks for tonight: Chicago Bulls vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Photo - Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose, center, is defended by Atlanta Hawks' Al Horford, left, and teammate Paul Millsap, right, in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 93-86. (AP Photo/David Goldman)NBA Expert Picks for tonight: Chicago Bulls vs. Memphis Grizzlies

One of the top teams in the Western Conference and one of the best in the Eastern Conference will square off against each other in this matchup. Despite their good records, though, not many NBA expert picks believe that this will potentially be an NBA Finals preview. Chicago may have the best chance at getting to the Finals solely because they play in a weaker conference. Memphis clearly looks like the better team, but they have to face a lot of tough opponents throughout the season and playoffs. Chicago will find out how tough it is to play against the Grizzlies on the road. Even the most dominant team in the league up to this point couldn’t take them down at their court.

Chicago is a pretty good team overall, but it’s no secret that they have struggled against opponents with solid defenses. The Grizzlies defense is one of the best in the league, so the Bulls are going to have to find ways to generate some offense. Ball movement and points in the paint are essential to beat the Grizzlies, but it’s not usually that easy.

The shorthanded Bulls desperately need Joakim Noah back on the court. Without his presence under the basket, Chicago has struggled getting the ball inside. If they are too one-dimensional against Memphis, then they could get blown out. It will take a complete team effort in order to take down the Grizzlies.

After struggling to beat lowly Philadelphia on the road, the Grizzlies responded by beating the Warriors and snapping their sixteen-game winning streak in Memphis. It wasn’t terribly surprising that the Grizzlies were able to stop the streak, but it was surprising at how they were able to lock down the high-scoring Golden State offense.

When comparing Chicago’s offense to Golden State’s, there really aren’t too many similarities. Unless the Grizzlies relax too much and come out overconfident, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to lock down the Bulls on their own court.  The presence of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph under the basket will prove to be too much for the Bulls.

Memphis has only lost one game at home this season, which was to the defending champion Spurs. However, Chicago has a respectable 11-4 record on the road, despite not having a lot of their starters for many of those games. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Bulls will be able to score enough points to beat the Grizzlies in Memphis. Chicago will have to rely on their defense to get enough stops to keep the game close. Memphis may come out a little sluggish, but there’s no way they will lose this one at home.

 

 

Basketball betting odds: Chicago+6.5 vs. Memphis

 

Basketball point predictions:

Bulls 88

Grizzlies 97

NBA Expert Picks: Portland Trail Blazers vs. San Antonio Spurs

Spurs vs. BlazersNBA Expert Picks: Portland Trail Blazers vs. San Antonio Spurs

The Blazers and Spurs will face off again for the second time this week. Their first matchup ended in a lopsided victory for the Blazers in Portland. Despite the big victory, they ended up losing Brook Lopez for the foreseeable future with a broken hand. He has played a big part of their offense so far this season, so they will have to make some tweaks so they remain efficient. San Antonio played without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Duncan was given the night off, but Parker and Ginobili are nursing injuries and their timetable for returning is unknown. With both teams depleted with injuries, this may not be the prettiest game to watch, even though they have two of the best records in the Western Conference.

Without their big three, San Antonio looked like they couldn’t really compete with Portland. Duncan should be ready to go in this game so it should be a whole lot closer. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green were the leaders of the team against the Blazers earlier in the week, so it will give them a good boost to have Duncan back on the court.

As long as the injured Spurs players don’t miss the entire season, coach Gregg Popovich is probably ok with them not playing early in the season. Every game is important in the NBA, but he also likes to give his veteran players some rest so they will be fresh for the playoffs. They have a deep enough roster to make the playoffs without their big three playing in every game, but they can’t afford to fall too many games behind.

With the absence of the Spurs big three last game, Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge both recorded double doubles and completely controlled the game. It should be a little different story now, but they will still be tough to stop for the Spurs. Portland has struggled playing in San Antonio recently, so they will be looking to gain some confidence on the road.

The Blazers lost to the Spurs in five games during last year’s playoffs. They have been playing with a chip on their shoulder all season as they try to prove that they belong with the elite teams in the NBA. Playing in San Antonio is tough, regardless of who plays for the Spurs. Lillard will have to take advantage of the voids and have another big game to win on the road.

Portland has been a good pick for most of this season for your NBA expert picks against the spread. They have been a lot better at home than they have on the road, but they still cover about 50% of the time on the road. This game has a bit of an unknown factor since both teams are playing without some of their regular starters. Portland will miss Lopez, but shouldn’t miss much of a beat. The Spurs are more depleted and will have to feed off the energy of the crowd and get hot shooting the ball. San Antonio is capable of winning the game, but Portland will match their intensity and find a way to win a close one.

 

NBA Odds for tonight: Spurs-4.5

 

Point Spread predictions:

Trail Blazers 102

Spurs 100

 

NBA Betting Against the Spread: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Golden State Warriors

NBA Betting Against the Spread: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors look to start a new winning streak after getting their sixteen-game winning streak snapped on the road at Memphis. The Grizzlies were able to lock down the Warriors high-scoring offense at home, which not many teams have been able to do this season. Oklahoma City is not a team that anyone wants to play right now since they are playing with desperation. They put themselves in a bit of a hole with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook missing time due to injuries, so they are playing with an edge to try to climb up the standings. This has the making of a potentially great game with a lot of superstars on the same court in Golden State.

The Thunder has been one of the hottest teams in the league since they got their star players back. They will collide with the Warriors, who have the best record in the league and have the top overall seed in their sights.  They had to rely on stingy defense to get them through games until Durant and Westbrook came back. Now that they are back and healthy, they have plenty of offense to go with that defense.

The Grizzlies formula against the Warriors was to control the tempo of the game by slowing down their offense. They succeeded most of the time and ended up holding them below their season average in field goal percentage. OKC will have to use a similar blueprint to slow them down on their court. That is much easier said than done, though.

What makes the Warriors so good is that their best player can have a good game even when he has an off night. Stephen Curry leads the team in points per game, but he also averages almost eight assists per game. He is able to find the open player when he gets double teamed, which makes it almost impossible to stop them from scoring.

When Golden State gets hot from the perimeter, there aren’t many teams that can stop them. The combination of Klay Thompson and Curry has been lethal all season for opposing teams. If they are able to contain either Durant or Westbrook in this game, then they should be able to win the game at home.

Golden State has only lost one game at home this season. Their record against the spread is impressive as well because they have been pretty big favorites in several games. Top rated Sportsbooks online have the Warriors listed as a 3 point favorite. They have covered the spread about 70% of the time overall, which makes them a pretty safe bet for your NBA point spread predictions against the spread. OKC will be able to challenge them with their superstars, but the Warriors will be out to bounce back from their somewhat sloppy performance in Memphis. They will be on fire and the Thunder won’t be able to match them for four quarters.

 

Sports picks against the spread:

Thunder 103

Warriors 111

 

NBA Expert Picks Against the Spread: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Houston Rockets

NBA Expert Picks Against the Spread: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Houston Rockets

Despite being a pretty young team in the league, the New Orleans Pelicans have a respectable record and have competed with some of the best teams in the Western Conference. If they continue to get better as the season progresses, they could find themselves in the playoffs and be a dangerous team. Houston continues to win games despite dealing with injuries quite often. They look like a solid playoff team with or without Dwight Howard, but they are definitely better off with him. Now that he is back in the lineup, Houston is looking to go on another run like they did to start the season.

The matchup between Anthony Davis and Howard should be an intriguing one to follow. Davis has clearly bulked up since he was drafted two years ago, and Howard has always been one of the biggest players in the league. Howard has the ability to take games over, so Davis will have to contain him if the Pelicans will have a chance in this one.

Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday will also be looking to find Davis and other guys when they are open. Houston is a hot shooting team at times, so limiting their turnovers will be essential. The Pelicans have the ability to score a lot of points, but they definitely don’t want to get into a shoot out with Houston on the road.

The Rockets have been the most dominant when they play good defense. Their offense will keep them in almost every game, but the defense has let them down at times. When Howard missed several games with his injury, it was the defense that carried them to victories. James Harden’s defense is significantly improved from a year ago, which has added another dynamic to an already good player.

Harden and Howard are turning into one of the best one-two punches in the league. When they are both on their game, there aren’t many teams in the league that can slow them down. New Orleans has the potential to be able to hang with the Rockets, but it will take a complete effort to do so.

The Rockets have one of the best home records in the league, while the Pelicans have struggled so far on the road. The young New Orleans team will have to figure out how to play better on the road if they want to make a serious run to the playoffs. They will have a chance to showcase their abilities against Houston on the road. With the Rockets being rejuvenated with the return of Howard, it will be a tough task to beat them on their court. This is the second game in as many days for the Rockets, so fatigue could be a factor. Still, Houston is a pretty safe bet for your expert NBA picks for today. They should be able to control most of the game and pull away in the end.

 

Point Spread predictions for today:

Pelicans 87

Rockets 101

 

NBA Betting Lines for tonight: Atlanta Hawks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

NBA Betting Lines for tonight: Atlanta Hawks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

After reeling off eight straight victories, the Cleveland Cavaliers have cooled off a bit and have lost two out of their last three games. The Atlanta Hawks, on the other hand, have won 10 out of their last 11 games, including a big victory over the Chicago Bulls. They will have another tough task on the road when they face Cleveland. These teams met about a month ago, which was also in Cleveland, and the result was a blowout victory for the Cavs. Both teams look completely different now that they’ve had a chance to play together more. Cleveland’s big three look to be a dominating force and Atlanta is looking more comfortable under first-year head coach Mike Budenholzer’s system. This one should be a lot closer than the first matchup.

Atlanta’s long recent winning streak happened in large part because they didn’t play anyone with a winning record. Winning nine games in a row didn’t prove much, until they beat Chicago. Now they will have another chance to beat an elite team in the Eastern Conference. If they continue to play solid defense, then they have a shot at beating the Cavaliers on the road.

Defense has been the one consistent thing about the Hawks so far this season. They don’t have a lot of offensive firepower, but they can lock down opposing teams most of the time. Cleveland is capable of scoring a lot of points in a hurry, so the last thing that Atlanta wants to do is get into a shoot out with them on their own court.

Cleveland is definitely happy to be back at home, where they have won their last six games. The Cavaliers used hot shooting and a fast start to dominate the Hawks in their last outing, but don’t expect that to happen again in this one. LeBron James was essentially a one-man show the last time they played, but now they are playing more as a team.

With the talent that Cleveland has, all three of their best players don’t have to play great every night. As long as two of them play solid games, they are one of the toughest teams to beat in the Eastern Conference. Playing against Atlanta’s stingy defense will require them to take some outside shots more often. If they are hot beyond the arc, then they could open the game up early on.

Atlanta has been one of the best teams in the NBA when it comes to covering the spread. They have covered 60% of the time on the road, while Cleveland has only covered about 40% of the time at home. The Hawks have been a pretty hot team lately and will be looking to prove that they are a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference. Top Rated Sportsbooks online have the Cave listed a 5.5 point favorite. The trends show that you should lean towards Atlanta for your NBA picks against the spread for today, but Cleveland is due for another big game at home. They will use their perimeter game to open up a big lead, but the Hawks will climb back to make it a respectable game late.

 

Point Spread predictions for tonight:

Hawks 97

Cavaliers 104

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