NBA Free Picks - Monday April 12
We kick of the week with a game that’s as close to a must-win as you can get for a team already assured of a good playoff seed.
The Phoenix Suns have had about as good a season as they could have hoped for, but because of how the Western Conference has shaken out this season, it could wind up being over a lot faster than they hope.
Right now, Phoenix is 2.5 games behind the top-seed Utah Jazz. Thanks to there being a clearly defined top-seven, it’s highly likely that the first seed will wind up playing a lesser competitor in the form of Memphis, San Antonio or Golden State.
The second seed though? Right now, pending the result of the play-in tournament, that would result in a matchup with the Dallas Mavericks, owners of the fourth best net rating in basketball since the All-Star break, which is one spot ahead of the Suns.
And that’s not even the worst case scenario. The Lakers are only a few games clear of seventh, and with LeBron and AD still a few weeks away, there’s a chance that the defending champs could be the first round opponent for Chris Paul & Co.
In short, they need to continue to take care of business on this home stand, which started with a blowout win over Washington on Saturday night. That makes them 19-9 against the spread at home this season, the second best mark in the league. The Rockets, meanwhile, have dropped four straight on the road and have failed to cover three of those. For the year, they’re 11-16 on the road against the spread.
Easiest choice of the day.
The Pick: Phoenix -13
The Denver Nuggets continue to be one of the most difficult teams in the league to figure out.
Following the Aaron Gordon trade, it finally looked like they’d righted the ship for good, having won every game they played since the deal and covering all but one. They’d also been having their way with teams, with their starting five producing an almost comical scoring margin with Gordan in.
All those good vibes went down the drain in one 14-minute stretch on Sunday against the Celtics. The Nuggets had a 14-point lead with under two minutes to go in the third quarter, but from that point forward, Denver was outscored 40 to 8. It was a stunning collapse for the league’s second-best offense and top unit since the All-Star break.
Now they face a Warriors team experiencing their own struggles, having lost eight of 11. They’ve also now lost second-overall pick James Wiseman for the rest of the season.
That said, they’ve won two of three and Wiseman hasn’t exactly been helping the cause on the court. According to Cleaning the Glass, Wiseman has the worst on/off differential of any rotation player, ranking in the 4th percentile of all players league-wise.
The Nuggets are also going to be playing on the second night of a back to back, and traveling from Denver for Oakland for the game. The Warriors are the more desperate team. Curry ratchets it up for this one at home.
The Pick: Golden State +3.5
The Knicks are playing on the second night of a back to back, but they’re facing an undermanned Lakers team. LA has been playing above its head, but the one thing the Knicks do consistently is beat the bad teams, especially at home, where they entered the weekend 8-2 as a home favorite. Go with Thibs’ crew here.
The matchup is the one of the day, as Joel Embiid is back and the Sixers have won three of the four games he’s played in since he returned. They’ve only covered two of them though, which is par for the course for Philly, who is just .500 against the spread on the road. Take the home team, who has been one of the hotter teams in basketball for the last three weeks.
The Spurs have the second best win percentage against the spread on the road of every team in the league, but they played in Dallas last night and the Magic have been one of the better teams against the spread since the trade deadline. Go with Orlando.
The Nets might be favorites to win the championship but they’ve dropped four of five against the spread on the road. The Timberwolves have been over .500 against the spread since the All-Star break, and they’ve been playing much better in that time, with a respectable (for them) negative 3.8 net rating. They’re the pick.
These two teams have almost identical net ratings and records since the All-Star break. The Pels are at home but they’re under .500 against the spread in New Orleans this season. Take the points.
The Jazz maintain the best margin against the spread at home of every team in the league. Getting the chance to take them in Utah against a bad team is the easiest bet in basketball. Take advantage.