LeBron James deactivated “chill mode“, Kevin Love got benched and Josh Smith impressed in his Rockets debut in a crazy NBA Friday night. Despite all of the chaos, we still made it through a jam-packed 11-game night with a 6-5 mark. That’s not an amazing run at first glance, but given that the Grizzlies and Hawks lost at home and the Spurs coughed up another loss, we’ll take it.
Tonight doesn’t make NBA picks any easier, as there’s another full slate with 10 games on the docket. Let’s carry our 238-124 season record into the fire and see what sticks:
Raptors @ Clippers
Toronto is solid on the road, but winning in Los Angeles is never easy. The Clips enter this one as winners of just five of their last 10, but a big win over the Raptors should boost their confidence.
Pick: Clips 109, Raptors 106
Magic @ Hornets
Orlando and Charlotte are neck and neck for the bottom of their division at the moment, but the Hornets have won four of their last five and play host, so we’ll give them the slight edge.
Pick: Hornets 97, Magic 95
Celtics @ Wizards
Washington is a strong 13-4 at home and the Celtics have dropped three straight. With no Rajon Rondo, Boston could start free falling, so the Wiz are the easy pick.
Pick: Wiz 105, Celtics 101
Grizzlies @ Heat
Miami won a spirited game against LeBron James and the Cavs on Christmas Day, so they could brace for a letdown here. Memphis plays elite defense and comes storming in with a four-game skid that that can’t afford to let go on much longer.
Pick: Grizzlies 102, Heat 98
Pacers @ Nets
Indiana is starting to piece things back together, but the Nets have found themselves lately with three straight wins. Brooklyn should make it four in a row at home tonight.
Pick: Nets 104, Pacers 95
Pelicans @ Bulls
Chicago oddly isn’t amazing at home this year and the Pellies are coming off of a huge win over the Spurs, but this feels like a trap game for New Orleans. They’ll be tired and Chicago is fresh and on their home floor, so we like the Bulls.
Pick: Bulls 106, Pellies 101
Hawks @ Bucks
The Bucks crushed the Hawks last night and these two teams face again right away on a back to back. Milwaukee hosts, but it’s tough envisioning a strong Hawks squad losing to the same team twice in a row.
Pick: Hawks 104, Bucks 102
76ers @ Jazz
Philly has looked better lately, but anytime you see a team with four wins you have a good shot at winning if you pick their opponent. Utah hosts and can build a mini-winning streak if they can get the win tonight.
Pick: Jazz 106, Sixers 103
Knicks @ Kings
The Knicks can’t normally buy a win, but their six-game skid has to end eventually. If DeMarcus Cousins (illness) is out again, I’ll give New York a shot to get their sixth win of the year.
Pick: Knicks 104, Kings 101
Timberwolves @ Warriors
Minnesota has lost seven straight and they visit Golden State tonight, where the Warriors are 10-1. It doesn’t look good for the Timberwolves tonight.
Pick: Warriors 109, T’Wolves 96