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

If this season has proven anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. That’s why days like Saturday, where we get two games that are as close to a sure thing as you’ll find, are quite a gift.

Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz

The last time the Utah Jazz lost a home game, people still hadn’t taken down their Christmas trees, the ball hadn’t yet dropped on 2020, and James Harden was still a productive member of the Houston Rockets.

Well, somewhat productive.

December 31, against the Phoenix Suns. That’s the most recent game the Jazz dropped in their home arena. Since then, they’ve won 23 in a row at home, and more importantly for our purposes, covered in 19 of those victories.

Their only home losses against the spread in this calendar year have come against the Houston Rockets – 15-point win on a 19-point spread - the Grizzlies and the Bulls. They come into this game against Sacramento having just beaten the Trail Blazers, and after this, they face Washington, Oklahoma City and Indiana, all at home.

The Kings, Wiz, Thunder and Pacers are all currently on the outside of the playoffs looking in, and none have a net rating ranking in the top half of the league since the All-Star break. Don’t just roll with Utah tonight; take them for the rest of the home stand. You’ll be happy you did.

The Pick: Utah -12.5 @ -104 (Click To Bet)

Washington Wizards vs. Phoenix Suns

The Suns home dominance isn’t quite as impressive as the Jazz – they’ve won 19 in Phoenix against eight losses – but they have made betters very happy. Chris Paul & Co are 18-9 against the spread in Talking Stick Resort Arena, which is second only to Utah.

They’re especially hot of late, with six straight wins at home, five of which have seen them cover. Their most recent game in the Valley of the Sun was an outright win over the favored Jazz, and these Wizards are not the same caliber of competition.

This Washington game marks the first of five straight games that Phoenix plays at Talking Stick, with the subsequent ones coming against the Rockets, Heat, Kings and Spurs. Like the upcoming slate for Utah, this is not a formidable group, with only Miami ranking in the top half of the league in net rating since the All-Star break, and just barely so at 14th.

Throw in the fact that the Wizards beat the Suns at home back in January and there’s a revenge factor that’s at play here, as is the fact that the Wizards are playing the second night of a back to back, whereas the Suns had a full day of rest.

The Pick: Phoenix -11.5 @ -110 (Click To Bet)

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Other NBA Games

Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers

These are two of the four worst teams against the spread in the league this year. That said, Cleveland is .500 against the spread at home while Toronto is just 11-16 against the spread on the road, including seven straight dropped covers. Go with Cleveland.

Los Angeles Lakers at Brooklyn Nets

The Nets are just 4-10 against the spread in their last 14 games, and even though Kevin Durant is back, James Harden has taken his place on the shelf. The Lakers have split the first four games of their road trip and have covered all but one. They’re getting a lot of points here. Take them.

Philadelphia 76ers at Oklahoma City Thunder

Since the All-Star break, Oklahoma City has a negative 14.3 net rating, which is not only dead last in the NBA in that time, but a full six points per 100 possessions lower than the next worse team. The Sixers, meanwhile, have the third best net rating over that stretch, and now have Joel Embiid back in the fold. This falls under the category of “the spread can’t be high enough.”

Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors

The Warriors recently lost seven of eight but are somehow still in position to nab a spot in the play in game, and they can’t afford to lose a home game to a last place team. Houston is also going to be playing the second night of a road back to back. Go with Steph.

Detroit Pistons at Portland Trail Blazers

The feisty Pistons continue to punch above their weight class, winning four of their last seven outright and against the spread. But they’ve also alternated wins and losses over that time, and they’re due for an L. The Blazers have only played three under-.500 teams at home since the break and have won all three, covering two. They’ll take care of business here.

NBA Expert Picks

(Click Odds To Bet)

Utah -12.5 @ -104 (Click To Bet)

Phoenix -11.5 @ -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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