Clippers Over Warriors and Wednesday’s NBA Predictions
After a somewhat quiet Tuesday night in the NBA, Wednesday offers up an intense 10-game slate, one that is capped by one of the best games in the young season. That is none other than a huge Pacific Division clash between the Clippers and Warriors at the Staples Center.
These arch rivals face off for the first time during the 2016-17 NBA season, after the Warriors swept the season series (4-0) a year ago. That could easily be a trend that continues, but the Clippers have looked like a new team with more focus than ever early on this year, as they’ve boasted one of the top defenses in the league and have shown remarkable balance.
Golden State is a tough out even at home, as the Dubs have lost just one road game all season and are fresh off of some demolition performances. Simply keeping this a game deep into the fourth quarter could be a challenge for the Clippers. We think this is a statement game for Chris Paul and co., however, and an upset could be coming. Let’s find out why as we dissect all of Wednesday’s games in tonight’s NBA picks:
The Nuggets and Nets get us started off tonight at the Barclays Center, as Denver looks for their second win in a row and the Nets aim to end a three-game skid. Brooklyn has done most of their damage at home, where they’ve gotten four of their five wins on the year.
Anytime the Nets are at their home base and the spread is playable, it’s obvious we could be in for a solid game. Regardless, there is no way around this game being a toss-up, as neither team defends and both teams play at very fast paces. In a spot like this, it’s hard not to favor the underdog – especially in this case when it’s the Nets at home.
Denver rebounds well and has some very explosive scorers, but Brooklyn has been the aggressor in this series, as they’ve taken five straight. Brooklyn is always going to be a dicey pick, but as a home underdog, they’re a fun play tonight.
The same probably can’t be said for the Magic, who could be a little tired after dropping 124 points in a win over the Wizards last night. Orlando is usually a grind-it-out team that plays slow, so they could be bogged down after running wild in a shootout. They’ve actually been hot with three straight wins, but they’re just 4-6 at home and Boston is a superior squad.
The one thing working in Orlando’s favor tonight could be a banged up Isaiah Thomas. Boston’s leading scorer got tossed around a bit in the Celtics’ last game and is questionable to suit up tonight:
Groin Injury Could Sideline Isaiah Thomas Vs. Magic
— 98.5 The Sports Hub (@985TheSportsHub)
Boston still has Marcus Smart to slide in at the point and could get plenty of scoring from Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Al Horford, but Thomas sitting out wouldn’t be ideal. The Celtics are a solid 7-5 on the road and 6-4 over their last 10 games, but not having their top scorer would put them in danger of being upset tonight.
For now, we tentatively pick the Celtics, but if Thomas sits, consider shifting your pick to the home team.
Detroit is another squad that could be a little worn down, as the Pistons beat the Bulls at home last night. Not only could they be tired, but they’ll also head out on the road to Charlotte, where a solid Hornets team awaits.
Fatigue aside, the Pistons seem to be on the right track, as they finally got point guard Reggie Jackson back two games ago and have pieced together a solid 6-4 run over their last 10 games. Of course, the Pistons have been largely atrocious on the road this year, where they have just a 3-8 record.
The Hornets are just 6-6 on their home floor, but they have one of the most balanced teams in the league and get solid defensive big man Marvin Williams back tonight:
Marvin Williams (knee) on track to play Weds
— Rotoworld Basketball (@Rotoworld_BK)
Williams brings solid versatility to the table, namely outside shooting and top notch defense. His presence also pushes Frank Kaminsky back to a more suitable bench role and rounds out Charlotte’s solid depth, overall.
The real narrative here is Detroit’s two-game winning streak in this series, however. This has been a very back and forth series, with the last eight games being split right down the middle (4-4). Look for the Hornets to lean on their home crowd tonight and take out a tired Pistons team that struggles on the road.
While the Pistons have had issues on the road, the Hawks have had issues, just in general. They can’t seem to buy a win these days, as ATL has dropped a staggering seven straight. In addition, they’re a paltry 1-9 over their last 10 games, as they’ve watched a once stingy defense crumble right before their eyes.
The good news is they take on a severely beaten up Miami squad tonight, and they’ll be at home, where they’ve fared well (6-4) on the year. The Heat also just played last night and are just 5-6 on the road. This spread is a bit rich for a team that hasn’t won since November, but we do like the Hawks to hammer down a win to get things back on track.
The Cleveland Cavaliers look like an easy pick tonight, as they prepare for a showdown with Carmelo Anthony in Madison Square Garden. New York will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set and is a strong 9-3 on their home floor this year, but this hasn’t been a matchup that has been friendly to them.
Cleveland routed the Knicks 117-88 earlier this year and has now won seven in a row in the series. Needless to say, logic doesn’t really support a Knicks win here, especially with Cleveland just getting over a three-game skid and getting back to playing good basketball.
The one thing that could help the Knicks is Cleveland’s health, however, as starting shooting guard J.R. Smith (knee) will not be on hand tonight:
The Cavs will be without J.R. Smith vs. the Knicks. How long he's out remains uncertain
— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH)
Smith’s absence shouldn’t cripple the Cavs, however, as he hadn’t been playing well all year and the Cavs get plenty of scoring from Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and LeBron James. Instead, Iman Shumpert and a collection of backups should fill in for Smith just fine as the Cavs earn their 8th in a row over the Knicks. Still, we can expect a solid game, as Carmelo Anthony always seems to get up for this matchup and the Knicks have been great at MSG this season.
The Houston Rockets haven’t really been known to blow teams out, yet top gambling sites like Bovada look to give them the benefit of the doubt tonight, as they host a sliding Lakers team.
The logic is there, as D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young and Jose Calderon all remain out for a pretty banged up Lakers team. L.A. leans heavily on their bench scoring to succeed, and while their offense is surprisingly solid, their defense remains atrocious.
The Lake Show also hasn’t been all that pretty on the road, where they’ve posted just a 4-8 mark. That bad run figures to continue against James Harden and co., as the Rockets are a solid 5-2 on their home floor and are currently riding a nice three-game winning streak.
While Houston is the easy pick at home, we need to account for the fact that Lou Williams (40 and 38 points in last two games) is ablaze and the Rockets don’t defend. That should give the Lakers, who have stayed within at least six points in their last two defeats, a shot to beat the spread.
Per Vegas, the Blazers vs. Bucks is out most competitive game of the night. This one in Mil-town ends up being a virtual pick’em, as the Bucks aim to stay above .500 and Portland shoots for win number four in a row.
Both are dicey propositions, as the Bucks have been pretty erratic lately (just 5-5 over their last 10 games) and the Blazers (5-6) aren’t the greatest on the road. It can’t help that the Bucks (7-5) tend to hold down the fort at the Bradley Center, either.
The kicker may be defensive upside, as the Blazers are giving up an astonishing 112 points per game and Milwaukee has been better, with opponents scoring just 101 points per game. More specifically, the Blazers don’t have anyone to slow down Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the Bucks could use Giannis and Matthew Dellavedova to potentially stifle Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
In a toss-up, we’ll take the Bucks at home.
The Kings enter Big D as the mild favorites tonight, as Dallas remains ravaged by injuries and is struggling mightily to put the ball in the bucket (averaging just 92 points per game on the year). The Mavs are at home and do have a healthy Deron Williams (two straight double-doubles), but this could be a bad spot for a 4-16 squad that just doesn’t have a ton of talented bodies on hand.
Losing center Andrew Bogut recently really hurts Dallas on the defensive end, as they may have no answer for Kings center, DeMarcus Cousins. Boogie should dominate this game as Sacramento snaps a three-game skid.
Paul George has made it through two straight games unscathed, so there is a decent chance he can gear up for a blow-up game tonight in Phoenix. The Suns should be tired after losing last night, while their suspect defense (allowing 113 points per game) should have Indy licking their chops.
Indiana got housed by the Warriors in their last game, so they’ll be itching to get a win tonight in order to get back to .500. The Pacers are an ugly 2-7 on the road, but that might not be of huge concern against a 6-15 Suns team that sports a shaky 3-5 record at home.
This series in general has not been kind to Indy, however, as the Pacers lost the first meeting in November and have lost five of the last seven matchups. Tonight feels like a good spot for the rested Pacers to shove that trend the other way.
The last game of the night goes down at Staples Center, and it’s a big one that the Clippers have been waiting for. Only three teams have beaten the Dubs all year, and they’re actually a formidable 18-2 since losing the first game of the year.
That won’t rattle Chris Paul and co., however, as the Clips rebounded from a three-game skid and overall have looked like one of the better teams on the year. L.A,’s elite offensive balance and stellar defense make them a stiff foe for the Dubs, and they’ll be out for blood after getting swept in this series a year ago.
This has been a fairly intense series in year’s past, with the Clippers nabbing an 8-12 record against the Dubs over the 20 games prior to last year’s one-sided series.
Last year’s games were even better than advertised, too, as the Clippers played Golden State extremely hard, with three of the four meetings being decided by seven points or fewer. The key should be for the Clips to control the pace in this one, while finding a way to enforce their defensive will on the most potent offense in basketball.
Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan provide size and strength down low that the Dubs simply don’t have, while L.A. continues to rank #1 in the league in defensive efficiency. If the Clippers can bring the points and maintain the defense they’ve sported all year, they should have a shot to upset the Warriors at home, while showing Golden State that they won’t be able to push them around and run away with the Pacific Division.
One thing is for sure, this game can be expected to be intense and high-scoring. Overtime also wouldn’t be a surprise.