Wizards Over Nuggets and Thursday’s NBA Predictions

by Kevin Roberts
on December 8, 2016

John Wall called out his teammates for their lack of energy in a recent loss, and NBA fans will get to see how that worked out on Thursday night against the Denver Nuggets.

This showdown in D.C. could be a game to behold, as Wall made some bold statements, but he’ll also be taking on a Nuggets team that has been benching their own players left and right for effort and performance.

Something has to break in this matchup, which Vegas projects to be high-scoring, as well as the third most competitive game on a six-game slate. Let’s dive into this matchup and more and see which way you’ll want to be betting tonight:

Denver Nuggets (+5.5)

VS
Washington Wizards (-5.5)

Total: 218

We find out rather quickly if Wall’s words of wisdom work for or against the Wiz, who got crushed at home by the Magic last time out. They still are at their best (5-6) at home, and it has to be encouraging to see Wall blow up for 52 points the last time he took the court. Perhaps his teammates follow suit.

It certainly shouldn’t be that difficult, as Denver’s defense is atrocious and this Nuggets team has struggled overall (4-6 in their last 10 games). Both teams seem to be in a bad way, and Denver might be worse off with head coach Michael Malone mulling lineup changes:

In addition, the Wiz are at home and it’s possible Wall’s scolding could light a fire under his teammates. We’ll roll with that logic and take the Wiz to win (and cover).

Pick

Wizards
109

Nuggets
103

Minnesota Timberwolves (+8)

VS
Toronto Raptors (-8)

Total: 214

The Timberwolves have fallen on hard times, as their young talent simply hasn’t translated to wins in a rough 6-15 start. Minnesota has had it even worse on the road, where they’re just 3-8 so far this year. That should be bad news when they hit up Air Canada Centre, where a good Raptors team is 8-4 this year.

Toronto has their issues, too, as big man Jonas Valanciunas has regressed in all capacities and what once was an elite defense has taken a big step back in allowing over 102 points per game. That probably shouldn’t be a huge problem at home against the young Wolves, but Minnesota would be wise to target Toronto down low with stud center, Karl-Anthony Towns.

Overall, however, Minnesota is overmatched in this one and have been for a while as losers of 9 of the last 10 meetings.

Pick

Raptors
107

Wolves
98

Philadelphia 76ers (+9)

VS
New Orleans Pelicans (-9)

Total: 205

We get an interesting one in New Orleans tonight, as Anthony Davis and Joel Embiid will face off. The Pelicans enter as big favorites at home, where they’re at their best (5-7). Unfortunately, they will be without star guard Jrue Holiday and are riding a three-game slide.

It’s been a rough season for the Pels, but the Sixers feels their pain. Philly hasn’t yet won on the road (0-7) and they’ll try to do so tonight without the help of Jerryd Bayless, Robert Covington and possible Jahlil Okafor, as well.

With both teams banged up, this could be an ugly game and it’s no lock that the Pels run away with it. They should still stand firm at home, but the Sixers should beat this spread.

Pick

Pelicans
104

76ers
99

Portland Trail Blazers (n/a)

VS
Memphis Grizzlies (n/a)

Total: 205

Portland will try to brush off a loss in Milwaukee last night as they head to Memphis to take on a beaten up Grizzlies squad. Memphis certainly has been hit with injuries, but they’ve stood strong against the fire, going 7-3 in their last 10 and winning four in a row.

The same can’t be said for Damian Lillard and the Blazers, who have been getting burned defensively and have gone just 5-5 over their last 10 games. The Blazers have continued their struggles on the road, too, as they lost last night in Mil-town and are just 5-7 away from home on the year.

That being said, the real kicker here is the difference in talent. Memphis is getting away with some awful injuries and it has to catch up with them (if only just a little) eventually. Considering this is a pick’em, it’s tough not to side with the Blazers, who need this win more and possess far more offensive upside. Look for a big game out of Damian Lillard as Portland wins a good one.

Pick

Blazers
101

Grizzlies
98

Golden State Warriors (-7)

VS
Utah Jazz (+7)

Total: 211

Steve Kerr suggested yesterday he’d be resting some key players in the near future, as the Dubs are heading into the second game of a back-to-back set and play twice again this weekend. That could put a few of their guys at risk of sitting or being limited tonight, but I doubt anyone is really scared of a slightly undermanned Warriors team losing to the Jazz.

Golden State has been obliterating teams lately and just got done housing a very good Clippers team in L.A. last night. Because of the blowout, the Dubs might not even be tired as they go into Utah for a battle with the Jazz.

The Warriors are the obvious pick, but this is actually a light spread due to it being on the road against an elite defensive team. Utah has been rolling, too, as Gordon Hayward is red hot with the Jazz being winners of three straight and seven of their last 10.

This is still the Warriors, though. Golden State is a staggering 10-1 on the road and 9-1 in their last 10 games, overall. This series hasn’t been kind to the Jazz, either, with Utah dropping 11 of the last 12. With Derrick Favors out and George Hill doubtful, it’ll be tough to sell a Jazz win.

Pick

Warriors
107

Jazz
97

San Antonio Spurs (-4.5)

VS
Chicago Bulls (+4.5)

Total: 201

This is probably the toughest game to call on the night, as the Bulls badly need to get things turned around, but welcome a Spurs team into town that is a perfect 13-0 on the road this year.

Things have not been good for Chicago, as the wheels are quickly coming off during an ugly three-game skid. It’s been going downhill for longer than that, though, as the Bulls have been in sleepwalk mode with a weak 4-6 record over their last 10 games.

The good news? They’re still a solid 5-3 at the United Center and their series with the Spurs over the last three seasons has been split right down the middle (3-3), with the home team winning in each of the last four games.

That may be what the top gambling sites like Bovada are seeing with this spread, even though the Bulls aren’t picked to win. We won’t go as far as calling for the upset, but we do anticipate a good, close game. Look for a barn-burner where the Bulls beat the spread.

Pick

Spurs
104

Bulls
101

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