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Jonathan Macri previews Thursday's NBA games and gives us his picks

It’s April, which means the NBA’s regular season ends next month. Normally, this would be a time when tanking season heats up for real, and yet this week alone, we’ve seen outright wins from the Wizards, Pistons and Magic, plus the dreadful Timberwolves covering over the Nets. In short, this unpredictable season just keeps throwing us curveballs. In other words, sure things are more valuable than ever.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Death, taxes and the last place Cavs.

Aside from the stints that LeBron James graced the organization with his presence, the Cleveland Cavaliers are as sure a bet as anyone to come up lame in an NBA season.

Well, that’s not completely fair. They’re not quite there yet, but the Cavs are on pace to hit the over on their preseason wins estimate. So that’s something.

But they also own the worst net rating in the league over the course of the full season and are still dead last since the All-Star break at minus 10.4. They also have the third worst record against the spread of all 30 teams at just 19-28.

They’re coming off a 39-point whitewashing in Utah, who own the best net rating in the NBA since the break, and now face the team with the third best efficiency differential in that time frame, the Philadelphia 76ers.

Philly isn’t perfect – they’re just 8-6-2 as a road favorite this year – but they’ve covered every spread they’ve had against an under-.500 team in the last month, with the last drop coming against these very Cavs, a team that has beaten them twice this season.

Do you really think they’re going to make it three for three?

The Pick: Philly -8 @ -103 (Click To Bet)

Orlando Magic vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Is it possible that this year’s Orlando Magic are going to be that annoying lottery team who just plays spoiler down the stretch of the season?

Despite having nearly two wins for every loss with a record of 16-31, the Magic are above .500 against the spread with a betting record of 24-22-1. They’re slightly less impressive as a road dog at 9-9, but they’ve covered the last two in such situations – both games in LA, one a close loss to the Lakers and the other a come from behind victory over the Clippers.

They’ve also covered seven of nine overall, and now face a Pelicans team that has been one of the more disappointing in basketball, both on the court and in sportsbooks.

The Pels are 12th in the West with a record of 21-25. They’re also just 5-10 as a home favorite, which they are here. Zion has been balling out something fierce, and they’ve covered and won four of five, but that just inflated this line to a double digit spread. Oh, and Williamson is dealing with a bum finger that could cause him issues moving forward, if not missed games.

Orlando, meanwhile, has won outright the last two times they were getting double figures coming their way.

The Pick: Orlando +10.5 @ -110 (Click To Bet)

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Other NBA Games

Charlotte Hornets at Brooklyn Nets

The once unbeatable Nets aren’t even above .500 against the spread anymore, and now play the second game of a back to back, facing a frisky Hornets team that has weathered the storm of LaMelo Ball’s injury with five straight cover and four wins in five games. They’re the pick here.

Golden State Warriors at Miami Heat

The Heat got Goran Dragic back and not coincidentally ended their six-game losing streak with a win against the Knicks in New York. Similarly, the Warriors ended their four-game skid with a win against the Bulls after Steph Curry returned from his five-game absence. Miami has been one of the worst teams against the spread all season, with a betting record of just 19-27-1, so with Curry back, Golden State is the safer pick.

Atlanta Hawks at San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs had lost four of five to open their season-long nine-game home stand and now face the Hawks – also losers of four of five, although all of theirs have come on the road – on the second night of a back to back. With both teams struggling, do yourself a favor and take the points. 

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers

One has to think that after the Clippers got out to a 12-0 lead and an eventual 16-point third quarter cushion against the Magic in their last game, they let up a little, looking ahead to this playoff rematch. After all, LA had won and covered six straight before losing to Orlando, and this is the first time they’ve faced Denver since a Christmas day 121-108 victory. The Nuggets have won and covered three straight themselves, but have also been highly inconsistent this season. This one likely depends on if Paul George plays. I’d skew LA’s direction.

Washington Wizards at Detroit Pistons

The Wizards haven’t gone on a streak of longer than two games against the spread one way or the other in over a month. Inconsistency is their default. The Pistons, meanwhile, covered seven of 10 coming into Wednesday night. This is probably a stay away, but take Detroit if you must.

NBA Expert Picks

(Click Odds To Bet)

Philly -8 @ -103 (Click To Bet)

Orlando +10.5 @ -110 (Click To Bet)

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Article Author


Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.


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