Two teams that haven’t played in a while thanks to the unexpected winter storm in Texas are both back in action on Monday, so we’ll start with those games, each featuring squads that are headed in very different directions.
Way back on Valentine’s Day, when the Mavericks last played a game, there was evidence developing both for and against the case that they had started to figure things out.
Pro: Dallas had won four straight before losing a one-possession game to Portland, and even in that game, the Mavs nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback in the final minutes. Over those five games, their offense put up an average of 128 points, and Luka Doncic was averaging over 37 points, just above nine assists, and shooting nearly 50 percent from deep on over eight deep attempts per game.
Con: Those four wins came by a total of 11 points, were all at home, and included victories over the struggling Pelicans, the sad sack Wolves sans Karl-Anthony Towns, and an Atlanta team that has been one of the worst in basketball over the month of February. Before that mini-streak, they had lost seven of eight, and on the season, their defense still ranks as the fourth worst in the NBA.
In Memphis, Dallas gets a team that could go either way on any given night. In the last week alone, they’ve had 30-point home losses to the Pelicans and Suns while also garnering comfortable victories over the Thunder and Pistons.
If nothing else, the Grizzlies will be prepared, and the Mavs are likely to be rusty. When in doubt, go with the team that has the 14-12 record against the spread before the one that’s just 11-17.
The Pick: Dallas -5 @ -110 (Click To Bet)
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Speaking of records against the spread, only five teams had covered at least 58 percent of their margins heading into Sunday: two league powerhouses (the Jazz and Clippers), two solid Western Conference playoff teams (Suns and Spurs) and the feisty if inconsistent Bulls.
Chicago has had problems closing all year long, but they’re in almost every game, regardless of the level of competition. Finally, some of those L’s have turned into W’s, and the Bulls have won three of four, with a tight loss at East-leading Sixers mixed in.
Zach LaVine, meanwhile, officially put his stamp on his All-Star candidacy. He’s averaging 35, 5 & 5 over his last 10 games, and is coming off a 38-point outing on just 20 shots.
The Rockets, once proud owners of the second-best defense in the NBA and an above-.500 record, might not put up much resistance. They’ve dropped seven in a row, and have given up at least 118 point in five of those defeats.
They seem to be arriving at the place many expected them to following the Harden trade: a group of players biding their time until they find out their next destination, all looking to showcase individual talents rather than play together for the betterment of the whole. The exodus may have already begun, with news breaking this weekend that DeMarcus Cousins will soon be waived. We also shouldn’t discount the situation the Rockets have found themselves in over the last week, what with the storm that has overtaken Texas and postponed one of their games.
The Pick: Chicago +1 @ -108 (Click To Bet)
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Other NBA Games
Miami Heat at Oklahoma City Thunder
This is the definition of a trap game, as the Heat are finishing up a five-game road trip and coming off a victory against their opponent in the Finals. Still, Miami has been trending too positively to pick against them here, especially against an Oklahoma City team with the worst home net rating in the NBA of minus 9.9.
Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns
After Utah’s nearly unreal betting record, the Suns have the next best mark against the spread with a record of 19-10. Also just behind the Jazz, they have been the most consistently competent and competitive team all season long. They have the third best home net rating in the NBA and have covered 11 of 13 games. This margin is higher than you’d like it to be, but Portland is not immune to the occasional blowout. Go with the better team.
Charlotte Hornets at Utah Jazz
Don’t let the end of their nine-game winning streak fool you; the Hornets are not in the same weight class as the Jazz, especially in Utah, where Quinn Snyder’s squad hasn’t lost since the calendar flipped to 2021 and has outscored teams by 14.1 points per 100 possessions over that time.
Washington Wizards at Los Angeles Lakers
Amazing as it might seem, the Wizards have won and covered four straight, and the defending world champs have failed to cover six of eight. LA is not the same team without AD and there’s enough of a margin here to feel comfortable betting against the offensively challenged Lakers.
NBA Expert Picks
(Click Odds To Bet)
Dallas -5 @ -110 (Click To Bet)
Chicago +1 @ -108 (Click To Bet)
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