The Spurs laid an egg in Chicago and Portland and Milwaukee lost at home to send us limping out of Thursday night with a shaky 1-3 record. San Antonio didn’t even show up against the Bulls, while the Blazers struggled without LaMarcus Aldridge and lost on a last second game-winner by Evan Turner, of all people. We’ll chalk last night up as bad luck and carry our still prominent 357-182 season record into a busy Friday night:
Magic @ Knicks
Carmelo Anthony looks healthy-ish and has been playing well, and the Knicks enter tonight’s home game with a nice two-game winning streak. Orlando does have Tobias Harris back and is far more talented, though, so it’s likely New York’s nice little run comes to a crashing halt.
Pick: Magic 99, Knicks 96
Bulls @ Mavericks
Chicago got a big win against the Spurs last night, but they could come in tired tonight when they take on a very good Dallas offense. The Mavs have won three straight and are on the brink of taking over first place in their division, while they are pretty tough at home, as well.
Pick: Mavs 106, Bulls 103
Rockets @ Suns
Dwight Howard hasn’t looked the best and the Rockets are just so-so over their last 10 games (6-4). Phoenix, meanwhile, plays host and has won four straight (plus 8 of last 10). If the Rockets don’t bring their A game tonight, the Suns could run them out of the gym.
Pick: Suns 111, Rockets 108
Raptors @ 76ers
Toronto hasn’t been themselves defensively for a while, but tonight’s game against Philly should be a nice gimme game. The Sixers are a respectable 4-6 (for them) over their last 10, but it’d be silly to pick them over a far more talented Raptors squad.
Pick: Raptors 109, Sixers 96
Thunder @ Hawks
Atlanta comes into tonight riding an insane 14-game winning streak, while they also boast a stout 18-3 home record. There is no shame in losing to the Thunder, though, who enter tonight’s action with four straight wins.
Pick: Thunder 106, Hawks 102
Hornets @ Cavaliers
Charlotte is finally back to full strength and a nice three-game winning streak shows it more than anything. They’re playing better defensively, but tonight they go into Cleveland, where the Cavaliers have suddenly morphed into a pretty decent squad. With four straight wins and far more star power, Cleveland holds the edge at home.
Pick: Cavs 104, Hornets 98
Pacers @ Heat
A slow-paced, defensive battle can be expected when the Heat and Pacers square off on Friday night. The Heat host this one in South Beach and look like the favorites with Indy reeling with six straight losses.
Pick: Heat 96, Pacers 89
Pelicans @ Timberwolves
Minnesota is starting to get healthy again, but they’re still missing some key players. New Orleans has to go to work without Jrue Holiday, but Tyreke Evans can man the point and Minny won’t have an answer for Anthony Davis down low.
Pick: Pellies 109, Timberwolves 98
Lakers @ Spurs
Kobe Bryant (shoulder) is out for this one and could be done for the year, while the Spurs could rest some stars after playing on Thursday. San Antonio is at home and is the better team, though, so regardless of who suits up they should get the win.
Pick: Spurs 108, Lakers 101
Celtics @ Nuggets
Boston just got a big win last night but they’ve been struggling overall on the year and have won just three games in their last 11 tries. Denver is solid at home and this matchup (no Kelly Olynyk) should give them a nice shot at putting an end to a four-game losing streak.
Pick: Nuggets 106, Celtics 104
Kings @ Warriors
DeMarcus Cousins hasn’t quite been elite against the Warriors this year and Golden State is virtually unstoppable on their home floor (one loss), so picking against them at home is just silly.
Pick: Warriors 108, Kings 101