The NBA picks back up on Tuesday night with a solid five-game slate, featuring the second meeting of the year between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors.
LeBron James and co. got the win in Canada earlier this year, which served as a friendly reminded that the Raptors may not be quite ready to take down the Cavs in a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Finals.
The game was close, however, and DeMar DeRozan comes in extremely hot, averaging a ridiculous 34 points per game. It will be more than interesting to see if he can keep that up at Quicken Loans Arena, where the Cavs have lost just one game in this young season.
Let’s break down the matchup between the Cavs and Raptors, as well as the other four games on tonight’s slate as we issue Tuesday’s NBA picks:
Toronto Raptors (+6.5) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (-6.5)
Game two of a four-game season series tips off in Cleveland tonight, where the Raptors will surely look to avenge a loss from earlier in the year. It’s tough to see them getting it tonight, of course, as Cleveland is at home and pretty well rested. They should even get J.R. Smith (ankle) back tonight, so the Cavs can figure to be at full strength at both ends.
Cleveland usually does a fantastic job of taking care of business at home, so don’t be shocked if they put the clamps down and hand DeRozan one of his worse games of the young season.
Pick: Cavs 108, Raptors 102
Atlanta Hawks (-7) @ Miami Heat (+7)
The Hawks come into tonight’s clash with the Heat riding a four-game winning streak and have quietly looked like a title contender in the early going. They’ve only had three road games, but they’re 2-1 in those games and even took it to the Cavs in one of their wins.
This just doesn’t look good overall for Miami, who probably won’t have Goran Dragic and have struggled badly during a five-game losing streak. Look for it to hit six games tonight.
Pick: Hawks 101, Heat 95
Charlotte Hornets (-1) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (+1)
The tightest game of the night belongs to the Hornets and Timberwolves, who will do battle in Minnesota tonight. Charlotte enters with a solid 6-3 record and is playing fantastic defense with Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out on the wings, so it makes sense that the Wolves could struggle offensively – especially if Zach Lavine is out again tonight.
Minnesota is 2-2 on their home floor, but they aren’t stopping anyone (giving up 105 points per game) and might be a little too short-handed to really challenge the Hornets. The oddsmakers call this close, but we like the Hornets to win it fairly easily.
Pick: Hornets 103, Wolves 89
Chicago Bulls (+4) @ Portland Trail Blazers (-4)
The Bulls go to Portland tonight in search of win number seven. After a nice 3-0 start, Chicago has been a little inconsistent (3-4 over their last seven) as their lack of shooting has unsurprisingly popped up a few times. They could be a little under-manned in this one, as Rajon Rondo is iffy to play.
They might be better off without Rondo, who isn’t shooting well or defending on a high level. His presence could be bad news against a red hot Damian Lillard, who is coming off of two straight huge performances and tends to play his best ball at home. The Blazers are the mild favorites, but we like Chicago’s slight defensive edge.
Pick: Bulls 106, Blazers 103
Brooklyn Nets (+7) @ Los Angeles Lakers (-7)
The Nets and Lakers both have a very good shot at a win tonight, but logic suggests L.A. has the clear edge. The Lakers are surprisingly decent in this young season, as Luke Walton has them off to a 6-5 start and they’re specifically keeping things together at the Staples Center (3-1).
Backing the Lakers by a gaudy seven points isn’t realistic, but the Nets don’t defend, are down Jeremy Lin and stink on the road (1-4). Los Angeles is the easy pick, but expect a ton of points and the Nets to keep it fairly close after getting housed by the Clippers here last night.
Pick: Lakers 108, Nets 104