Our NBA picks for Thursday night’s slate were nearly perfect, as we nailed Dwyane Wade and the Bulls getting a win in Miami, the Warriors over the Nuggets and the Pelicans getting their first win of the year.
The one game we couldn’t correctly pick? The Lakers somehow getting to 5-3 with a big road win over the Kings.
Sacramento should be ashamed of themselves.
Regardless, we’ll take a 3-1 record on any four-game slate, and if we can stretch that out to 6-2 on Friday’s 8-game slate, that ratio would also offer plenty of winnings. Hopefully that was the situation for you last night and again the same tonight. To get there, let’s first run through each matchup and see which way you may want to be leaning with your NBA betting:
Cleveland Cavaliers (n/a) @ Washington Wizards (n/a)
The betting info isn’t out for this one yet, as Wiz stud point guard John Wall keeps getting thrown out of games and shooting guard Brad Beal is iffy with a sore hamstring. Needless to say, this makes the Wiz (2-5) a tough bet against the 6-1 Cavs.
Wall is going to play and Beal might, but it probably won’t make a difference for a Washington team that does not defend. A close game still wouldn’t be shocking, but this may be best to go straight up in, and we’re taking the Cavs.
Pick: Cavs 106, Wizards 101
Indiana Pacers (-5.5) @ Philadelphia 76ers (+5.5)
Indiana griped about not having any team continuity recently and then they went out and beat the Sixers. That game was in Indy and Joel Embiid wasn’t playing, however. Now we get to see this matchup (one where the Pacers needed OT to get the win) in Philly with the Sixers a little stronger down low.
It’s obviously tough to trust the 76ers at any point, much less against a talented Pacers squad as they search for their first win of the year. We vouched for the Sixers last time, but tonight we’ll just give them a shot at beating the spread.
Pick: Pacers 107, Sixers 104
Toronto Raptors (+2.5) @ Charlotte Hornets (-2.5)
Charlotte has been surprisingly sharp all season, but tonight they’ll host a good Raptors team without their best defensive stopper. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has already been ruled out for this one, and while his absence should open up Charlotte’s shooting, his defense will be sorely missed.
It really is a big loss for a Hornets team that is allowing just over 96 points per game. Charlotte’s defense takes a hit, but this is a tough matchup, regardless. Toronto slows the pace and plays very good defense themselves. We’re calling for the mild upset her, as Toronto has their full arsenal and Charlotte’s four-game winning streak feels like it has gone on long enough.
Pick: Raptors 101, Hornets 98
Utah Jazz (-4.5) @ Orlando Magic (+4.5)
The Magic look like a team that will be very fun to pick on this year. They actually are somehow 3-5 through eight games and are 2-2 at the Amway Center, but they have no distinct identity. They are far worse on the road, but they don’t defend at all and they even struggle offensively. When both aren’t clicking, they’re a nightmare to watch.
That should be bad news tonight, since Utah has Gordon Hayward and possibly George Hill back and tend to play elite defense. The Jazz have been a middling unit so far (just 5-4), but that hasn’t kept them from giving up just 95 points per game on the year. They’re also getting used to playing on the road, as they’ve gone a solid 3-3 away from home. It’s unlikely they get tripped up versus the Magic in this one.
Pick: Jazz 101, Magic 96
New York Knicks (+5.5) @ Boston Celtics (-5.5)
Carmelo Anthony and co. have surprisingly looked pretty good this year, as they’re putting up points (103 per game) at a solid rate and slowly finding themselves defensively. They’re still just 3-4, though, and continue to struggle on the road (1-2).
Boston has had its own struggles (just 3-4, as well), but they’re at home and boast a more explosive offense. Not having Jae Crowder (ankle) could hurt them, but this is a game they should win and their three-game skid needs to end. Look for the Celtics to get back to .500.
Pick: Celtics 105, Knicks 101
Los Angeles Clippers (-5) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (+5)
Los Angeles heads to OKC tonight, as they get a second shot at the only team to have beaten them so far in this young NBA season. The Thunder did that in L.A., yet with a rematch in their own backyard (where they’re 4-1), the oddsmakers weirdly support the Clippers.
Perhaps the backing of Lob City has to do with the Clipper’s league-leading defense (allowing just 88 points per game) or their strong offense (105 points per game). Whatever the case, this game is naturally in danger of going the other way, and Vegas knows it. That being said, OKC has proven they’re one of the better teams in the Western Conference and they don’t lose at home easily. They’ll at least beat the spread in a tight one.
Pick: Clippers 104, Thunder 102
Detroit Pistons (+9.5) @ San Antonio Spurs (-9.5)
This is certainly one of the bigger spreads to both fear and target. Detroit is plain old awful on the road right now (0-4) and I don’t buy San Antonio losing this much at home forever (1-3!). The Spurs clearly have some issues right now, but Danny Green just got back and Tony Parker returns tonight. I fully expect the Spurs to start righting the ship at home and it begins tonight against the Pistons.
Pick: Spurs 98, Pistons 86
Sacramento Kings (+7) @ Portland Trail Blazers (-7)
This might be the weirdest game on Friday’s NBA slate, as the Kings just lost to the Lakers last night and will badly want to get that taste out of their mouths. That being said, Portland has picked up where they left off last year, going 5-4 through their first nine games while putting up 106 points per night.
DeMarcus Cousins could have his way in this matchup, but it feels like this is the same old Kangz and their 2-4 road record isn’t doing them any favors. They should fight, though, so I’ll take the Kings to beat the spread.
Pick: Blazers 109, Kings 107