The NBA returned in a big way on Friday night, as James Harden scored nearly 50 points and the Rockets narrowly escaped being the first victim of the Philadelphia 76ers. The Golden State Warriors also continued on their tear as they dropped 133 points in a win over the Suns, and will enter Sunday at 18-0. The New Orleans Pelicans weren’t so lucky, as they lost on the road to the Clippers and also lost Anthony Davis to a knee contusion.
The Pelicans should be counting their lucky stars, however, as The Brow’s knee injury could have been much worse. Davis will probably be out tonight, but we can cross our fingers DeMarcus Cousins returns to lead a quieter (but still rowdy) seven-game NBA slate. Let’s take a look at each contest and come away with some picks for tonight:
Raptors @ Wizards
Everyone remembers the Wizards crushing the Raptors in a sweep in the playoffs last year, but the end result has been much different during the regular season lately. Toronto has been the better team overall this year, while they’ve also claimed seven of the last eight regular season showdowns. In fact, the lone Wiz win came in a blistering 120-116 overtime thriller last year. Something is not right with the Wiz right now and the Raptors are by far the better defensive squad. Look for the Raptors to win again.
Pick: Raptors 104, Wizards 99
Nets @ Cavs
Cleveland held a team meeting after a road loss to the Raptors and decided they were done stinking away from home. The very next chance they got, they beat the Hornets in Charlotte on Friday night. Now they’re back home against the 3-12 Nets. Cleveland is obviously the superior team here, but they’re also a staggering 8-0 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Pick: Cavs 108, Nets 97
Nuggets @ Mavs
The Nuggets and Mavericks have both crashed back down to reality. For a second there Denver looked like a potential playoff contender, but an ugly five-game skid has them looking more like the young and inexperienced bunch they really are. Dallas could still be a surprise playoff team, but their hot 9-4 start is no more thanks to three straight losses. The Mavericks are back home and don’t lose there much, though, so they have the distinct advantage in this one.
Pick: Mavs 107, Nuggets 102
Hawks @ Spurs
It seems whenever the Spurs lose it feels pretty random and then shortly after they rip off a solid winning streak. They’re at it again with four wins in a row and now they host a solid Hawks team that has struggled a bit over their last 10 (4-6) contests. They could struggle even more tonight, as Tim Duncan should be back after resting on Friday and San Antonio (8-0) hasn’t lost on their home court yet this year.
Pick: Spurs 103, Hawks 97
Pelicans @ Jazz
Anthony Davis is hurt AGAIN and it seems like this is some kind of a running joke. The Pelicans are banged up beyond belief even without him going down, so they badly need him if they want to go into Utah and take down the Jazz. I don’t see it happening, as the Jazz play some of the most smothering defense in the entire league and the Pelicans basically don’t play any defense.
Pick: Jazz 96, Pellies 90
Lakers @ Blazers
Kobe Bryant is going to start and see a lot of run in this one, which going off of the 2015-16 NBA season so far, probably means the Lakers will win. Their nasty 1-7 road record doesn’t help matters, while Portland aims to get their seventh win in a row against these sorry Lakers.
Pick: Blazers 108, Lakers 105
Kings @ Warriors
Golden State is seriously an unstoppable machine. As some kind of a sick joke, I half think they’ll stay undefeated until Steve Kerr is back to man the show and then they’ll finally lose in his first game back. It’d just be hilarious. But no, they’re not losing their first game of the year to the Kings at home. Oracle Arena isn’t a fun place for anyone that’s not the Warriors, while Sacramento could be without DeMarcus Cousins again. This could be bad.
Pick: Warriors 120, Kings 109