Charlotte Hornets Over Chicago Bulls and Monday’s Free NBA Picks
The talk of the sports world is undoubtedly the field of 68 for this year’s March Madness tournament, but the pros are back at it again on Monday and we don’t want to ignore some stellar matchups.
We got some nice production out of this past weekend’s action, and Monday picks things right back up with a friendly 8-game slate. Just like several of the weekend’s games began with competitive spreads, Monday’s slate also offers up some potential barn burners with five games presently given no higher than a 5-point spread.
Two games are slow to push out betting information to this point, but that should come out at some point on Monday as we learn about some injury updates. The earlier we can crack down on our NBA betting loyalties the better, however, as we’ll already have a good idea as to which way we’re leaning well before the games arrive.
Let’s jump into tonight’s slate as we break down each contest and deliver Monday’s NBA predictions:
Jimmy Butler and the Bulls get things started on Monday, as Chicago and Charlotte tip things off on this 8-game schedule. The Bulls and Hornets will wage war for the third time this year, having already split their previous two meetings.
Chicago could come in a bit worn down for this one, as they played against the Celtics on Sunday and have really been struggling (5 straight losses). It doesn’t help matters that the Bulls have not been easy to trust on the road this year (just 12-21 away from the United Center) and also are just 1-3 in their last four battles versus the Hornets.
This looks like a solid spot to lean on the Hornets, as they’ve had the upper hand in this series and also tend to play well (18-14) in front of their home crowd. Charlotte has been getting stellar play out of big man Marvin Williams, while Kemba Walker could operate as he pleases against an inconsistent Bulls defense. It’ll naturally take massive outings from both Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade to get the Bulls out of this one alive, but we wouldn’t count on that happening.
There has yet to be a betting line released for this game, which has the Hawks and Spurs facing off in San Antonio. The early signs don’t look promising for the Spurs, though, as LaMarcus Aldridge (heart) is being held out indefinitely and Kawhi Leonard (concussion) could also be at risk of sitting this one out.
The absence of one or both of San Antonio’s two best players could be huge for the Hawks, who are not all that reliable on the road. This series hasn’t been kind to the Hawks, either, with San Antonio edging out wins in 11 of the last 12 contests. Atlanta did find a way to win the most recent battle, however, in an intense 114-112 overtime thriller back in January.
Early bets should side with the Hawks, who have been good lately (won three straight) and will obviously have a severe health and depth advantage. The Spurs are always dangerous to bet against at home, but it’s tough not to favor the Hawks in this spot.
Another interesting matchup goes down in Toronto at Air Canada Centre, where the Raptors try to snuff out a two-game skid against the veteran Mavs. Dallas enters this matchup fairly hot (6-4 over their last 10 games) and will be worth considering as a nice upset pick.
Dallas has certainly not been amazing on the road this year (8-22), so Dirk Nowitzki waltzing into Canada and stealing a rare road win could prove to be rather elusive. That may especially be true when you look at Toronto’s success at home (21-11), as well as the fact that they’ve won each of the last two meetings in this series.
The Mavs have been solid lately and have a veteran squad, but the Raptors are at home and need wins to keep pace behind the Celtics in the Pacific Division. We like Toronto to get it done on their home floor tonight.
If you’re looking for a faster space with more scoring, consider this tantalizing showdown between the Wizards and Timberwolves in Minnesota. Vegas gives us a true pick’em here, as the Wizards have been running wild during a five-game winning streak, but could easily get tripped up on the road against a talented T’Wolves squad.
Minnesota is far from guaranteed a trip to the playoffs this year, but Karl-Anthony Towns gives them a clear edge in the paint in this contest, while the Wolves come in hot after going 6-4 over their last 10 games.
The Timberwolves have really stepped up their game against some tough challenges, too, earning big wins over the likes of the Clippers and Warriors recently. As interesting as the Wolves are in this spot, it’s increasingly more difficult to bet against John Wall and co. right now. In a pick’em, we’ll stay with the red hot Wiz.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are a tough call on the road against the Grizzlies on Monday, as Milwaukee will be shooting for an insane 7th straight victory. Milwaukee has really heated up lately, as they continue to work their way to locking up a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
As amazing as their recent run has been, it’s going to be awfully hard for the Bucks to get a road win against a talented Grizz unit. Memphis has noticeably been slumping (five straight losses), but Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are too good to let this team slide for much longer. The Grizz have also been at their best at home (19-14) and will be hard-pressed to let yet another game slip out of their grasp.
The Bucks are obviously a tough out these days, but it’s worth noting that four of their last five wins have come at home at the Bradley Center. Given their lack of reliable shooting and a sore 12-17 road record, it’s fair to assume they could hit a brick wall in Memphis tonight.
Another tough game to call is the Clippers vs. Jazz, as L.A. will shoot for a third straight win and the Jazz will look to hold serve at home so they can maintain their first place lead in the Northwest Division. It’s easy to roll with either side in this one, as the Clips have turned it on lately but Utah is a tough out (22-12) on their home floor.
Utah feels like the easy call initially, but star big man Rudy Gobert (knee soreness) isn’t a total lock to suit up. Being down Gobert could be crippling going into this matchup, especially since Utah is already operating without fellow big man Derrick Favors.
Add in the dominance by Los Angeles in this series (won each of the last four games), and this looks like a slug-fest that ends with the better offensive team pulling it out.
It’s tough to say if we get a barn burner or a stinker late on Monday, but the Magic and Kings will be taking the court to get a win versus each other, regardless. Something has to break here, too, seeing as the Magic have lost two straight (as well as 7 of their last 10) and the Kings could be looking at their 9th loss in a row.
Sacramento is at home and could easily surprise with a win against a bad Magic team, but they seem to be in full-blown tank mode right now. The Kings also don’t have a ton of reliable talent and haven’t fared well in this matchup, with the Magic winning 4 of the last 5 meetings.
Orlando just got star center Nikola Vucevic back, too, which should help make their offense a little more cohesive and less predictable. The Magic don’t make much positive noise on the road (just 12-21 outside of the Amway Center), but this feels like a solid spot to bet on them while traveling.
Another late game to help close out Monday night’s NBA action resides in Denver, where Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets will take on D’Angelo Russell and the Lakers. Denver is heating back up with The Joker healthy again, and could be looking for their third straight win when L.A. comes to town. As bad as the Lakers have been this year, they’ve at least been competitive lately, stealing a win over the Suns in Phoenix last week.
The Lakers are talented and won’t be that far from home, but they’re still a really tough sell in the NBA betting world. Los Angeles remains a bad road team (8-27) and are still not producing wins (2-8 over their last 10 contests) on a consistent basis. To make matters worse, L.A. simply doesn’t have anyone to contain Jokic down low, nor Denver’s versatile scorers out on the wings.
L.A. will need massive outings from both Russell and Julius Randle to have a chance here, but judging by Denver’s dominance in this series lately (3-1 over the last four showdowns), we tend to favor the Nuggets. The Lakers aren’t the worst ATS play, but even that feels like a gamble that isn’t really worth taking.