Free NBA Picks: Boston Celtics Over Atlanta Hawks and Monday’s NBA Predictions
The NBA week closed up in classic fashion on Sunday night, as the Hornets pushed the Clippers to overtime at the Staples Center. Perhaps the NBA was jealous of the Oscars stealing the show – who knows – but it produced a terrific cap to the week and bleeds into another fun week of NBA action.
Luckily L.A. prevailed, helping us close Sunday strong with our NBA picks, as we went 7-1 on an 8-game slate. Our only gaffe was trusting the Wizards at home against the Jazz.
It was a great finish to a productive (yet cut in half) week, but we’re gearing up for a regular week of NBA games coming up. It all starts on Monday, which features a solid showdown between the Celtics and Hawks in Boston. Let’s dive in and see which way you’ll want to be leaning with your NBA picks tonight:
This is the first of three Monday NBA games without any betting information out yet, as Joel Embiid is expected to remain ou (knee) and the status of Kevin Durant (wrist) is somewhat up in the air:
Kevin Durant's hand/wrist has improved, and he will play tomorrow barring a setback, per Steve Kerr.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps)
It does sound like KD will play, which should put the Dubs in a great spot despite being on the road. Golden State has ripped off six straight wins in this specific series, has won three in a row and also have been quite strong (23-6) on the road.
While the easy knee-jerk reaction is a Warriors pick here, we do need to keep two things in mind: they’re always a little more vulnerable away from home and Philly is about as pesky as it gets. The Sixers should be losing games left and right without Embiid in the lineup, yet they’ve won 3 of their last 5 and barely lost their last contest in a tight shootout with the Knicks.
Golden State is their toughest test of the year, though, and without their roster being at full strength, we can’t buy the upset here. Unless the spread is completely insane (+20 or something similar), we can’t get behind that angle here, either.
Another game impacted by healthy goes down in Cleveland, where the Cavs host the Bucks at Quicken Loans Arena. Kevin Love (knee) continues to recover from surgery, while LeBron James (strep throat) could be in doubt after sitting out Cleveland’s last game.
Cleveland is a very tough out at home (25-6) and have had solid success against the Bucks. Not only do the Cavs have a 2-1 series lead this year, but Cleveland has owned this series overall for a while, winning 7 of the last 9 contests.
The Bucks have surprisingly kept things together following a Jabari Parker injury (5-5 over their last 10 games) but things only get more difficult with Khris Middleton sitting this one out for rest purposes:
Khris Middleton will not travel wth the team to Cleveland. Kidd says that's why he wanted to rest Giannis on the bench for the final 5 min
— Stephen Watson (@WISN_Watson)
That makes Milwaukee as shorthanded as ever this year and on the road against a very good Cavs team. Even if King James sits this one out, it will be very tough to trust the Bucks in this one. James potentially sitting would increase the allure of Milwaukee beating the spread, but we’re still going Cavs here, from top to bottom.
The last game with no line is this battle between the Knicks and Raptors at Madison Square Garden. Both sides could be hurting in this Eastern Conference showdown, as Kristaps Porzingis is dealing with a foot injury and Kyle Lowry has an ankle issue, as well.
Toronto has looked good with Lowry out, though, as new additions Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker have picked up some of the slack to aid Toronto’s current three-game winning streak. That recent tear included a huge win over the rival Celtics and suddenly has Toronto just three games back in the Atlantic Division.
It’s going to be tough to buy Toronto slipping up here, as the Knicks have not been good (just 3-7 over their last 10 games) and haven’t found a way to take down the Raptors in any of the last five meetings. More is riding on each passing game for the Raptors, while Toronto is obviously the more complete and cohesive unit.
To top it all off, the Knicks recently released bench scorer Brandon Jennings:
The New York Knicks are waiving guard Brandon Jennings, league sources tell .
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA)
Not only is that a sign of giving up on this year, but New York loses another shooter and scorer in the process. We love Toronto all the way tonight.
One of the better games (potentially) tonight goes down at TD Garden, where the Celtics will host Dwight Howard and the Hawks. Boston has struggled a bit lately, but overall is still looking good atop the Atlantic Division. Boston is also stellar at home (20-8) and won the only meeting so far in this year’s series.
Atlanta does not have a ton going for them in this game. The Hawks are slipping at the moment behind a three-game skid, Al Horford could be ready to dish out some revenge on the other side and Atlanta isn’t likely to have much of an answer for Isaiah Thomas.
This series as a whole gives the Hawks a chance (they won last year, 3-1), but this game means more for Boston and they’re at home trying to nurse first place in their division. We should expect a good game and it’s plausible to anticipate the Hawks beating the spread, but we like Boston to pull this one out.
The tightest spread of Monday night belongs to the Mavs and Heat, who will wage war in Dallas. The Heat tripped over themselves briefly following a crazy 13-game winning streak, but seem to be very much back in a groove as they head into Big D with three straight wins.
Dallas has been solid on the other side, as they’ve gone 5-5 over their last 10 games and remain in the hunt for a playoff spot. The Mavs have also improved at home (15-14 in front of their home crowd) and are somewhat of an odd underdog tonight.
Of course, the Mavs lost some key talent after the trade deadline as Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut are both no longer with the team. It’s tough to know how much that will impact Dallas, as Nerlens Noel was actually a fantastic addition via trade and both Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry could easily make up for an inconsistent D-Will.
Dallas is the more veteran team and they’re at home, but we’ve learned not to bet against the Heat when they’re on a roll. Besides, Miami has the advantage at the point guard spot and has ripped off three wins in a row in this series. Expect a close game, but Miami to squeeze out the win late.
It’s tough to know what to expect for this potentially explosive showdown, as Vegas loves the Pacers and Rockets to put points on the board, but don’t seem to envision a particularly close game. Part of that is surely Houston’s stellar home showing (22-7 on their home court), while Paul George and co. have struggled badly (9-19) on the road.
Indiana has struggled in general lately, too, as they backed into the All-Star break behind six straight losses and are just 3-7 overall through their last 10 contests. Houston has been the mirror image, as they come in with two straight wins and a nice 7-3 record during that same span.
It’s worth noting that Indy brought the guns the first time around this year, when they shocked he Rockets in Indy with a big 120-101 win. That gave them two straight wins in the series, but came at home and saw James Harden shoot a putrid 3 for 17. It’s unlikely Harden is anywhere near that bad the second time around, plus the scenery shift to Houston benefits the Rockets considerably.
The one negative for the Rockets could be the pending status of guard Patrick Beverley, but it . With everything looking normal, we like Houston to win in a shootout and Indy to keep it close enough to beat the spread.
The last game of the night lacks the star power is used to, as the rebuilding Kings continue to adjust to life without DeMarcus Cousins. So far they are 1-1 following that massive trade, while they’ve gotten mixed results out of Willie Cauley-Stein. The man known as Trill will get another chance to prove himself in this one, as he’ll be matched up with fellow Kentucky alum, Karl-Anthony Towns.
That’s a matchup KAT wins on paper, but it’s worth noting Towns didn’t really deliver in the two previous meetings this year – both Kings wins. Sacramento has held the upperhand recently, but we need to note they no longer have their best player and Minnesota did just sweep this series (4-0) a year ago.
The Timberwolves could be tough to trust on the road (they’re just 8-18 away from home), but if we’re going to vouch for them somewhere, this would be the spot. There are strong matchups across the board for KAT, Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio, so a Minnesota loss wouldn’t just be a mild surprise, but also highly disappointing.