NBA Picks & Best Bets - Sunday February 28
We have a packed slate for Sunday, including a possible Finals preview and a battle between two MVP candidates:
On paper, it’s as likely a Finals preview as any in the league.
Only three teams entered the weekend having outscored their opposition by at least 200 points this season: the world-beater Utah Jazz, who led the NBA with a whopping +315, and these two teams, who have outscored their opposition by 251 points (Milwaukee) and 217 points (LA), respectively.
They also sport two of the three best offenses in the league, and even though both have fallen off a bit defensively, we know from recent past performance and from personnel that they can each turn it on when necessary. So why is it that neither team feels like it’s fully put things together?
For Milwaukee, it’s a combination of their recent five-game skid and random bad losses to inferior competition that have dotted the first half of their schedule. For the Clippers, it’s the fact that since their 13-4 start, they’re just 11-7 in their last 18 games with a 4.6 net rating over that span – good but certainly not great.
Of the two, the Bucks are the team feeling more confident right now. They’ve won four in a row, including covering three double digit spreads, although they barely beat the Pelicans in their last game. Los Angeles, meanwhile has alternated wins and losses over their last seven games and are now due for a defeat.
This one should be close, but so is the line. When in doubt, go with the home team.
The Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -1.5 - Click To Bet
The world champs are officially reeling.
That was the consensus opinion after they’d lost four straight – all without Anthony Davis – before recovering with a gutty 102-93 win (and cover) against the Portland Trail Blazers.
That game showed us what a difference Dennis Schroder can make. He doesn’t have the same impact of AD, but he scored 22 points in his return, including getting to the line nine times and hitting all of those attempts. That extra shot creator was enough to give LeBron – who himself had 28, 11 & 7 – all the help he needed.
In Golden State, the Lakers will get a slightly superior foe, at least of late. Unlike the Blazers, who have now lost four straight, the Warriors have won three in a row and five of seven, with the only two losses coming by a total of six points. Golden State showed that they’re on the Lakers’ level earlier this season, when they earned a come-from-behind, two-point victory in LA as nine-point dogs.
That result was par for the course for the Lakers, who are just 6-11 as home favorites this season. They’ll be 6-12 after this game.
The Pick: Golden State + 4 - Click To Bet
The Bulls were fattening up on mediocre competition over the course of their recent 7-3 stretch, but as Friday’s nine-point home loss to Phoenix showed, they’re still susceptible to getting soundly defeated by good team. After a rough start, the Raptors certainly qualify as that, with the only two losses in their last seven games, both coming in tight contests against the East-leading Sixers and the red hot Heat. Take the better team at their home away from home.
Despite their struggles, the Boston Celtics are 8-3 as a home favorite, which they are here. The Wizards have been playing better of late, but are also playing the second half of a back to back here. Take the Celtics, who are looking to build off of a nice win to right the ship.
The Pistons are only 2-5 in their last seven games, but they have a respectable minus 2.4 net rating in that time. They fight and claw and generally make life tough on opponents, especially ones who aren’t among the league’s elite. New York is much improved, but because of their tepid offense, they still find themselves in dog fights on a regular basis. Back Detroit.
Over the last five weeks, the Atlanta Hawks have two losses for every win and own the 21st ranked net rating in the NBA. On the flip side, the Heat have won and covered five in a row. This line can’t be high enough, especially with Miami at home.
It’s simply impossible to back Houston right now, who hasn’t won a game (or covered a spread) since February 4. The Grizzlies are actually the last team the Rockets beat, but that just means extra motivation for a Memphis team fighting hard to stay in the playoff race, whereas Houston has already fallen out of it.
Stop the fight. The Suns have the fourth best net rating in the league this year and here they play the team with the second worst. Devin Booker will be looking to put on a show against his friend and NBA Draft classmate Karl-Anthony Towns, and Minnesota’s perimeter defense doesn’t stand a chance against him and Chris Paul, especially on the second night of a back to back.
On the bright side, the Kings finally got a win. On the down side, it came against Detroit, who is most certainly not in Charlotte’s weight class. Sacramento seems one more bad loss away from moving on from head coach Luke Walton, and against a Hornets team that has the fourth best point differential against the spread this season, it might come on Sunday.