NBA Picks & Predictions - Saturday February 27
Even though there are no games between teams with winning records on Saturday, there are several awfully close lines that warrant closer inspection, starting with a hot home team that’s still giving points to a struggling opponent who they beat last time out:
On opening night, the Pacers and Knicks faced off in what was a close game that saw Indiana eventually pull away at home. The die was seemingly cast for both teams: New York would be a try-hard that lost a lot more games than they won, while the Pacers seemed poised to finally knock on the door of the Eastern Conference’s elite.
Since then, the Knicks have won exactly as many games as they’ve lost, with a 16-16 record, a positive point differential, the league’s third-ranked defense, and an NBA All-Star leading the charge. The Pacers, meanwhile, have gone just 14-16. They’ve outscored their opposition by barely a half a point per game over that time, and their last win against a team that currently has a winning record came way back on January 14 against the Portland Trail Blazers – one of only two such victories they’ve had all season.
The Knicks, of course, don’t have a winning record, but they are 5-2 over their last seven games. They’re coming off of what was by far their best offensive outing of the season, when they put up 140 on the moribund Kings, and are now facing the Pacers who are playing the second night of a back to back, as they lost on Friday to the previously struggling Celtics.
These last time these teams played, New York emerged victorious on the road, 106-102, in a game that got the Knicks back to .500 at the time. They’ll have a chance to do so once more here, and it would be the second time since the 2012-13 season that New York would be a .500 team this late in the campaign. Thibs will have them amped and ready to go.
The Pick: New York +1 - Click To Bet
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The Sixers have only been a double-digit favorite twice this year, once winning and covering early in the season against the Hornets and more recently losing outright against the Blazers. Here, they get a team that has won two straight after 10 losses in a row. Those wins have come against the struggling Hawks and suddenly free-falling Rockets though, and this is a significant step up in weight class. Lay the points.
Two of the worst teams in the league face off here, although the Wizards have won five of six and look poised to make a midseason push for the play-in games, especially since they’ve steadfastly refused to put Bradley Beal on the block. The Wolves, meanwhile, have lost and failed to cover six in a row and just fired their head coach. This spread should be much higher than it is. Take advantage.
New Orleans is just 7-9 against the spread on the road, and the only cover that came against a team that currently has a winning record was way back on January 13 against the Clippers, in a game New Orleans was a double-digit dog and still lost. The Spurs are still able to take advantage of bad defenses when they want to, and no one has been more inconsistent on that end of the floor this season than New Orleans. Take the points.
Are the Jazz skidding? They’ve lost twice in their last four games after losing just once in their previous 21. That might be a bit of an overreaction, but it’s still cause for minor concern as they find themselves laying a double-digit margin on the road against an Orlando team that refuses to go quietly into the night. The Magic are 4-3 in their last seven and are 8-9 against the spread at home on the season. This is probably a stay away, but go with the dog if you must.
The most maddening team of the 2020-21 season takes the floor after an unconscionable loss to the Washington Wizards on Thursday, and frankly, it’s impossible to know what Nugget team you’re going to get on a night to night basis. The Thunder, meanwhile, continue to punch above their weight class, winning two straight against the Spurs and Hawks. The last time they faced Denver, it was just a two-point road loss. They have what it takes to stay in this one at home.
This feels like the game of the day, but it’s unclear whether the Mavs will actually be able to hang around even without Kevin Durant looking at them across the court. Brooklyn is a slight favorite despite being the home team and riding an eight-game win/cover streak. The Mavs are just 13-18 against the spread on the year, and don’t deserve to be getting the benefit of the doubt here.