The NBA was filled with weird performances this past weekend, but that’s bound to happen with games starting a little earlier. For whatever reason, that can impact how players perform, for better or worse. Things get back to normal on Monday night, though, and NBA bettors are graced with a solid 7-game slate.
There is a lot to take in even with seven games, though, so let’s prepare for Monday’s NBA betting grind by considering the matchups, injuries and more in tonight’s NBA picks column:
Pistons @ Cavs
Detroit’s enhancement of their main rotation has not paid off yet, as the team has dropped each of the first two games Tobias Harris has played in, along with five in a row, overall. Tonight doesn’t look like a good spot to snap that skid, as the Pistons are just 11-18 on the road and have to try to top a very good Cavaliers team that is 23-4 at Quicken Loans Arena this year. LeBron James and co. are cooking with gas, having just taken down the Oklahoma City Thunder and come into tonight riding a five-game winning streak. Picking Detroit to win doesn’t make a lot of sense here, but with the season series tied 1-1, I think Detroit can keep it tight enough to beat the -8.5 spread.
Pick: Cavs 104, Pistons 101
Pacers @ Heat
Indy and Miami meet for the fourth and final time during the regular season, with the season series finale going down in South Beach. Chris Bosh remains out and Dwyane Wade is iffy, so it’s obviously going to be very difficult to trust Miami, even though they’ve won two in a row with Goran Dragic and Luol Deng playing out of their minds. Indiana has also won two straight and 7 of their last 10, though, so they certainly present a considerable challenge. The Heat do have Hassan Whiteside back and he is coming off of a huge performance, so there is also logic to support Miami adding to their strong 17-11 home record. With Indy being average on the road (13-16), I’ll take the Heat to win straight up if Wade is active.
Pick: Heat 98, Pacers 96
Raptors @ Knicks
New York comes into tonight with a win and thoughts of a small winning streak, but still don’t look to be in amazing shape after dropping 8 of their last 10 games. They’ve been at their best at Madison Square Garden, but given they’ve gone just 14-15 at home this year, that may not be saying much. Toronto looks like quite the challenge even at home, as the Raptors have won 7 of their last 10 behind a very balanced attack at both ends. These two sides have split the season series to this point, but Toronto has been solid on the road (17-12) and is without a doubt the better team right now. Look for big performances out of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan as the Raps get a nice road win and take the series lead.
Pick: Raptors 103, Knicks 98
Warriors @ Hawks
This was an awesome battle a year ago, but the Warriors have only gotten better and the Hawks have regressed. That being said, Atlanta has been a tough out at home (17-11) and Golden State’s five losses have all come on the road. The Hawks have been sinking lately, though, losing their last two games and 6 of their last 10. The Warriors are a little more vulnerable away from home, but they’re still an eye-popping 25-5 outside of Oracle Arena. As long as they remain focused, they look like the safe pick tonight. I do think the Hawks can make it interesting and beat the -7 spread, but shooting for the Over on the 223 Total seems a bit ambitious.
Pick: Warriors 106, Hawks 102
Lakers @ Bucks
Los Angeles heads to Milwaukee for their second and final contest with the Bucks tonight and we naturally get another goodbye on the Kobe Bryant Tour, as he’ll set foot in the Bradley Center for the last time ever. It should be another emotional night and The Black Mamba should deliver some points, while rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell could give the Lakers offense a boost in his second straight start. The Bucks are not a good overall team these days, but they’ve done a terrific job at home (15-9), while the Lakers are an atrocious 5-27 away from the Staples Center. There will be very little defense in this one, however, which should allow L.A. to hang around and beat the gaudy -8 spread. The Lakers stole a win last time in Los Angeles, so expect the opposite with this one in Mil-town.
Pick: Bucks 105, Lakers 101
Celtics @ Timberwolves
Boston has been very solid all year and at 33-24 are actually a strong stretch away from giving the Raptors a serious run for their money atop the Atlantic Division. Even though that might not be a lock, the Celtics can keep chasing the dream in Minnesota, as they’re a solid 16-14 on the road and the Timberwolves continue to sputter at 17-39. The Wolves have plenty of talent to work with and are at home, but they haven’t been able to take advantage (just 9-20 on their home floor) and are still sliding lately with 7 losses in their last 10 games. They could keep things interesting, but I still like Boston to cover and get the road win due to superior defense.
Pick: Celtics 107, Timberwolves 100
Suns @ Clippers
This has to be the easiest game to call on the night, as the Suns are down yet another quality player after trading Markieff Morris away. Phoenix has been unbelievably bad, losing 11 straight and going an embarrassing 4-22 on the road. The Clippers are playing without Blake Griffin and Chris Paul has a mild thigh issue, but should still take care of business at the Staples Center tonight, where they’re a strong 18-9. If CP3 suits up, this one should be a rout and the Clips could have a real shot at topping a ridiculous -16 spread.
Pick: Clippers 112, Suns 92