San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz: NBA Picks
We move closer to the actual playoffs in the bubble with another slate of games to hit on Friday. Brooklyn has a chance to clinch a spot with a victory over the Kings, while some seeding implications are starting to be on the line out West. Even my Sixers are still trying to move up a slot. We’ll examine some expected hot starts and an individual play to keep an eye on.
BET: Spurs - 8.5 @ -106
Nobody wants to touch this line because it’s so big and the return on the regular 8 isn’t spectacular. The Jazz are down five players – four starters – and are going to watch two teams move into a tie once they lose. The question remains by how much. San Antonio is far from out of it and will be throwing everything they can at a weakened Jazz frontcourt. The lanes should be open for the Spurs.
With no total on the board – the under was an easy play – look for the Spurs to do the majority of their damage in the first half. Unlike a team that’s been knocked out, San Antonio can’t afford to let anyone back in games. It’s another BIG line today and I get everyone’s concern. Even our own Sam Farley correctly calling me out on that Sixers-Wizards take. Utah is still playing for seeding, but they just don’t have the bodies here. Take the best value with the best return, watch the blowout happen and collect on the -8.5!
BET: Brooklyn 1Q Moneyline/No Draw @ -110
The Kings are coming off a huge win last night putting up 49 in the first and another 40 in the third. They shot the lights out against the Pelicans, still trying to fight for a post-season spot. Clearly a lot is on the line and the Kings should be in this game late. The issue I’d have for Sacramento is holding off a Nets team that can only go up from last time on the floor. Despite getting three key players back against the Celtics, it was an exercise in futility. The Nets are actually in a clinching game, a win and they’ve secured a spot. Expect that momentum and the bounce back from their last loss to carry them.
I love the Nets to come out aggressive and force Sacramento into some bad shots. We’ll see if Bogdan Bogdanovic can duplicate a career outing last night against the Pelicans. Don’t expect a hot start on the second night of a back-to-back, expect the first quarter to go in Brooklyn’s favor.
BET: Pelicans -5.5 @ -110
One – if not THE – biggest disappointments in the bubble has to be the Pelicans. As they enter this game tonight against the winless Wizards, it’s truly become a must-win scenario. We’ve seen glimpses but far from the full picture of what Zion Williamson can be, and the rest of the team seems to be struggling with the rotations on the floor. Anything over 6 would be too much for me, but I’m ok with the sense of urgency pushing the Pelicans to play a little better – hopefully Zion a little longer.
The team is coming off a blowout loss just last night, and should bounce right back against Washington. The Wizards won’t win this game, but there’s good value in such a low number for their opponent. Especially an underachieving yet talented one like New Orleans.
BET: Nikola Vucevic Over 20.5 Points @ -104
The Sixers enter this game tonight against the Magic down Ben Simmons. There is a general belief that Joel Embiid will run wild, as he’ll be the main focus on offense. I’m here to remind people that’s not how the team has played – at least consistently – minus Simmons this season. There will be a concerted effort to get Embiid the ball, but he’ll shoot more on the outside tonight than normal, especially without Simmons at the 4. Vucevic won’t be asked to handle Embiid all by himself and will get the necessary help. He’s also had decent to good success against Philadelphia – even when the Sixers are healthy. The part about getting help defense will do wonders in preventing him from fouling out.
We’ve seen Embiid come off an aggressive game on D last time out. He’s either going to foul out again tonight with less help up front, or the Sixers big man might not “seem” as aggressive on defense as he did against Washington. Orlando is playing for playoff survival, and the Sixers will still try and generate a lot of offense from the perimeter. There will be holes and openings down low for Orlando to exploit, and if “Vuk” can get to the FT line, this over will hit in the 3rd quarter!