A nice slate of games dots the NBA schedule as we pass some time between the Final Four and the National Championship Game, starting with a team desperate for a win facing off against one of the best squads in the league.
When the Bulls made what essentially amounts to an “all in” trade by dealing away two first round picks - including this year’s with just top-four protections - plus their former center of the future Wendell Carter Jr for All-Star Nikola Vucevic, the expectation was that they’d be in the running for home court in this year’s playoffs.
So far, not so good. Chicago has lost all four their games since the trade. They sit in 10th in the East, 5.5 games back of fourth.
But the tide may be turning. All four of these games have come on a West coast road trip, and the team has looked its best in their last two games against the two top teams by net rating in all of basketball, Phoenix and Utah. The Bulls have covered each time.
Now, they face a Nets team missing not only Kevin Durant, but James Harden as well, who is dinged with a bad hammy. The Nets just whooped the Hornets without their two MVP’s, but the Bulls will be home for this before departing for another five straight on the road. They will be desperate.
The pick: Bulls +3.5 @ -106
Break up the Magic!
(What’s that? They already did? Well then...)
It’s a little ridiculous that an Orlando team that was stripped for parts a little more than a week ago has suddenly become one of the most competitive units in the league. They covered five straight heading into Saturday night, including four straight since they moved on from Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier.
They also won two straight outright coming into the weekend, in Los Angeles against the Clippers and in New Orleans against a banged up Pelicans squad.
Yes, last night the Magic got absolutely pummeled by the Jazz, but Utah has put a hurting on a lot of teams this season, and one game shouldn’t throw off the scent too much of an Orlando team that will fight hard more often than not.
Throw in the fact that Denver is just 8-10 as a home favorite, and this is one to zig where it seems like zagging is the obvious move.
The pick: Magic +16 @ -109
Other NBA Games
Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers
What seemed like a game of the week before the season started has turned into one that the Clippers should be able to win easily. That said, the Clips have lost two straight and the Lakers have kept things above board since LeBron went down. This is probably a stay away, but go with the “road” team if you have to.
Charlotte Hornets at Boston Celtics
The Celtics continue to get more credit than they deserve as a team that sits one game under .500 and holding a barely positive net rating. Charlotte will be without Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball but have covered six of seven. Take the points.
Memphis Grizzlies at Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid will likely sit this one out after making his return to action on Saturday, but it shouldn’t matter. Philly is 20-4 at home and 12-8 against the spread as a home favorite. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, have lost big in two of their last three games as a road dog. They’ll have a tough time keeping this close.
Golden State Warriors at Atlanta Hawks
How do you assess a team that just lost by 53 points? That’s the situation the Warriors find themselves in, although they didn’t have Steph Curry for that game and they likely will here. That should be enough to take Golden State on the rebound against an Atlanta team that has been up and down.
New Orleans Hornets at Houston Rockets
Rule No. 1 of NBA gambling in 2021: always bet against Houston. They are the worst team against the spread by a full three games, and here they face a New Orleans team that should be desperate after two straight losses.
NBA Expert Picks
(Click Odds To Bet)
Magic +16 @ -109 (Click To Bet)
Bulls +3.5 @ -106 (Click To Bet)
NBA Free Picks
Every day there'll be free NBA picks and content on OddsChecker from our crack team of basketball experts. We're going to be with you every step of the way, as we move through the regular season, into playoffs and then onto the Finals. Sean Highkin and Jonathan Macri will be on hand to give you the best value bets, each and every day.
Enjoy video? Make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel to get the latest NBA picks from Sean Highkin land on your YouTube homepage all season long.