The NBA season is back which means you’re finally free to bet on sports once again. Here are some picks for the games ahead including the best bets of the upcoming weekend.
Magic -7 over Nets (Must Bet)
The Magic have looked good during scrimmages, particularly Jonathan Isaac. The spread is uncomfortably large, especially for a team you may not trust, but Orlando should cover against a decimated Brooklyn team that hardly resembles the the one that had them barely in the playoff picture four months ago.
Suns -7 over Wizards
Without Bradley Beal, it’s hard to imagine the Wizards are going to find much success on offense. Keeping up with a Suns team that ranks in the top half of the league in points per game isn’t going to be easy for the depleted Wizards without their best player. Devin Booker and company should handily take care of business in the battle of the two teams who probably never should’ve been invited to Orlando in the first place.
Trail Blazers -2.5 over Grizzlies (Stay Away)
With Jusuf Nurkic back in the fold, Portland looks primed to make a serious run at the 8 seed. This will be an important game for them against the incumbent Grizzlies. Nevertheless, the Grizzlies have been playing well all season and there is a reason why Memphis is currently ahead of Portland in the standings. Still, Portland’s talent is hard to ignore in a neutral site game.
Bucks -5 over Celtics (Stay Away)
Kemba Walker is scheduled to be on a fairly strict minutes restriction in this potential Eastern Conference Finals preview. The Celtics have looked rusty in scrimmages and unless Jayson Tatum is at the peak of his powers, it’s hard to imagine Boston can hang with the Bucks with Kemba Walker sitting on the bench for most of the game.
Spurs +3 over Kings
De’Aaron Fox will play after suffering an ankle injury in training camp, but he might not be at 100%. The Spurs won’t have LaMarcus Aldridge, but Popovich has the guards on defense to contain a slightly hobbled Fox.
Rockets +1.5 over Mavericks (Stay Away)
It’s tough picking against Luka, not to mention Seth Curry, who has been on fire from deep during scrimmage play. However, the Rockets seemed to have figured something out with Harden and Westbrook when the NBA left off. Their PJ Tucker at center starting lineups actually work, giving them spacing on offense and confusing opponents on defense. They’ll be able to switch everything against Luka which will mean he won’t be able to feast on bigs like he usually does in the pick & roll. The Mavericks will likely rely heavily on Kristaps Porzingis, but that didn’t work for the Lakers when they faced the Rockets and continued to feed Anthony Davis. The Rockets want you to feed your big man and play through the post while they fire away from three. This matchup should favor the Rockets, but it’s still a stay away because Luka Doncic is just so good.
Heat +1.5 over Nuggets
The Nuggets don’t look 100% comfortable with their rotations after trading Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez back in February. Bol Bol and Michael Porter Jr. have looked fantastic, but how much is coach Mike Malone willing to shake up on a team that ranked 3rd in the Western Conference when we left off? The Nuggets may continue to experiment in this game. Meanwhile, the Heat have the defensive bodies in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, among others, to match up with the Nuggets’ two top scorers.
Thunder -1.5 over Jazz (Pick of the Weekend)
The Jazz barely snuck out with a win over the Pelicans in their first game. If this matchup with the Thunder is equally as competitive, expect OKC to come away with the win. The Thunder have been great in close games this season and Chris Paul is a huge reason why. The Pelicans didn’t have the size to stop Rudy Gobert’s lobs or the multiple defense options on the perimeter to stop Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley. Jrue Holiday can only do so much. The Thunder have plenty of defense options to give the Jazz guards problems making plays and it should be enough to get them the win.
Clippers -5.5 over Pelicans
After losing opening night, both teams will be desperate to get in the win column. The Clippers will still be without Lou Williams, but George and Leonard should be able to carry the load offensively. It will be interesting to see who LA chooses to put on Zion, but they certainly should do a better job against Brandon Ingram than the Jazz did through the first three quarters.
76ers -5.5 over Pacers (Must Bet)
After a few lineup adjustments and a few months off, the Sixers look poised to improve on what has been one of the most disappointing seasons for any team in the NBA. The Pacers have lost one of their best defensive options against Joel Embiid with Domantas Sabonis out for the foreseeable future. In his only game of the season against the Pacers, Embiid put up one of his best games of the season, posting 32 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and only 2 turnovers en route to a win. Expect the Sixers to look to make a statement in their return to the floor.
Raptors +4 over Lakers (Must Bet)
The Raptors should give a Lakers team that isn’t playing for much at this point some problems. Toronto beat LeBron and Anthony Davis in their first meeting this season in Los Angeles and that was without Pascal Siakam having his best night. This matchup should play into their hands with the Lakers coming off a hard fought win over the Clippers.
Photo: (Marcio Jose Sanchez – AP Photo)