10 of the current 16 playoff teams will be in action tonight, including three matchups between teams that are each in the respective top eight for their conferences – two that we would have expected before the season started and one that has come as a bit of a surprise, which is where we’ll start.
The last time the Warriors lost a game in New York, it was arguably the most famous performance of the pre-MVP segment of Steph Curry’s career, when he put up 54 points in a four-point defeat way back in 2013.
Since then, Golden State has wiped the floor with the Knicks in their own building, but Curry has been rather pedestrian, topping out at 31 points and averaging just 23.8 points per game. In fairness, he hasn’t had to do much, as the Warriors have been outstanding and the Knicks have been dreadful.
Those tables haven’t quite turned all the way, but they’ve definitely evened out this season, as each team finds themselves within a game of .500. For the Knicks, that’s a minor miracle, as is the fact that they’ve covered seven of nine games. On the year, they’re 17-14 against the spread.
They’ve also hit a bit of a rough patch of late, getting demolished in the second half by an offensively challenged Orlando team before nearly blowing a 21-point-lead to the league-worst Wolves.
In Golden State, New York will face a team that has been inconsistent but is also getting healthy. They’re coming off a two-point road loss to the Hornets, but Steph missed the game with an illness. He’ll be back, as will Kevon Looney and James Wiseman, giving Steve Kerr a legit 10-man rotation to work with.
The Knicks will have fans in their building for the first time all year, and that should give them a nice burst to start, but they have not shown the ability to pull away against better competition, so this one should be tight all the way, and Golden State has as good a closer as there is.
The Pick: Golden State -1.5 @ -108 (Click To Bet)
Now here’s a matchup of playoff teams we all expected.
On the surface, Portland is at a clear disadvantage. They’re playing on the second night of a back to back, which is always tough, but especially so when traveling to the thin Rocky Mountain air.
They’re also still missing their starting center Jusuf Nurkic, and have had to rely on the always defensively challenged Enes Kanter as their lone man in the middle. That might not make a difference against some teams, but against the possible front runner for MVP, it means quite a lot. The Blazers lost all three games against the Nuggets last year when Nurkic was out, including both in Denver by an average of 21.5 points.
The one thing Portland has going for it this year is Denver’s general inconsistency. The Nuggets are only 4-5 against the spread as a home favorite, and they’re getting a hefty number of points here, especially considering Portland won eight of ten heading into Monday night’s blowout loss to Phoenix.
But records can be deceiving, and even though the Nuggets are looking up at the Blazers in the standings, Denver has the far superior net rating – plus 3.8 to plus 0.4 heading into last night – which is why it’s OK to back them as a favorite here.
The Pick: Denver -7.5 @ -103 (Click To Bet)
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Other NBA Games
Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers
The losing streak is now up to 10 games for Cleveland, which isn’t as bad as their streak of failing to cover the spread, which is up to 13. Continue betting against them until further notice.
Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic
The Pistons are battling, but they just don’t have the talent on most nights. That’s especially true now that starting point guard Delon Wright is out for two weeks with a groin strain. That means Dennis Smith Jr – who was set to go to the G-League until the Knicks mercifully traded him to the Pistons – is the starting point guard. The Magic, meanwhile, have won and covered three straight, including Sunday night against these same Pistons. Take the better team.
Sacramento Kings at Brooklyn Nets
The Kings have lost (and failed to cover) seven in a row, while the Nets have won (and covered) six in a row. This is not one to overthink, especially with the Nets playing at home in front of fans for the first time all season.
Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors
The Raps have clawed all the way back from a 1-6 start to now occupy the fifth spot in the East standings. Philly may be the superior team on paper, but that didn’t stop Toronto from defeating them as home dogs, 110-103 on Sunday night. It was their fourth straight win and cover, while the Sixers haven’t beaten a team with a winning record since February 6. Stay with the hot team.
Boston Celtics at Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs, coming off a blowout win over the Grizzlies for their fifth win in six games, are putting it together while the Celtics, still reeling after a blown 24-point lead in a loss to the Pelicans, are falling apart. Boston is in a bad place right now, and having to face the hot Mavs on the road is not what the doctor ordered.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Milwaukee Bucks
The Wolves will be playing their first game under brand new coach Chris Finch, who wasn’t even with the organization until yesterday. How will the Wolves respond to their coach getting fired? Who knows? But the Bucks are not the team to bet against, even if you believe it will be a positive reaction.
Washington Wizards at Los Angeles Clippers
Break up the Wizards, who had won and covered four straight heading into their matchup last night against the Lakers. The Clippers have lost two of three, and before that, barely covered their spread versus the Heat. This one will be closer than it should. Back the dog.
NBA Expert Picks
(Click Odds To Bet)
Golden State -1.5 @ -108 (Click To Bet)
Denver -7.5 @ -103 (Click To Bet)
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