Cleveland Cavaliers Over Houston Rockets and Sunday’s Free NBA Picks
The NBA calms down a bit after a loaded Saturday slate, which featured a loaded 12-game schedule. A good amount of teams that played on Saturday will be out on the hardwood again tonight, which raises concern for fatigue and poor play.
Keep that in mind when making your final bets and let us take a look at the matchups to figure out the rest:
Jimmy Butler and the Bulls start the action off on Sunday in Boston, where they’ll battle Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics. Chicago limps into Sunday’s tilt behind an ugly four-game losing streak, while the Celtics have been strong (21-9) at TD Garden.
This has been a very tight series lately, with the series being split right down the middle (3-3) over the last six meetings. As bad as things have been for Chicago, a big road win could hand them the season series, which they currently lead, 2-1.
The Bulls may have momentum in this series, but they don’t have momentum in general. Boston gets to play the season’s fourth meeting in front of their home crowd, and they’re also at full strength with both Al Horford (elbow) and Avery Bradley (Achilles) ready to rock.
Chicago could make it a game and end up beating the spread here, but this is a game the Celtics should be able to handle.
Paul George and the Pacers are another team trying to get things back on track, as they try to recover from a 4-6 stretch with this home matchup against the Heat. Indy has not been very consistent lately, but they luckily usually figure things out (22-10) on their home floor and will also welcome a Heat squad to town that is just 14-20 on the road.
While Miami hasn’t been very reliable away from South Beach, they have been strong overall and in this series, specifically. Goran Dragic and co. are closing in on locking down the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, having ripped off three straight wins and 7 of their last 10. Four straight wins versus the Pacers can’t hurt their confidence going into this one, either.
There is no denying Miami’s solid play of late, but the Pacers look to have the advantage here. Paul George should be able to get his way against Miami, while Miami’s road struggles could shine through in this one.
Normally we wouldn’t even think about vouching for the Knicks on the road (or in general), but when Melo and co. get the rival Nets, it’s time to start remembering their good qualities. New York can still put up some points, and while they’re bad on the road (11-22), they won’t be traveling very far in this one.
In addition, the Knicks aren’t nearly as bad off as Brooklyn, who are just 2-8 over their last 10 games and still have just 11 wins on the season. The Nets do have Jeremy Lin back and continue to play their best ball at the Barclays Center, but they’ve dropped three in a row in this series and are understandably impossible to trust.
The Nets could be a decent upset play, but the betting line isn’t out yet due to the status of Brook Lopez. With or without Lopez, it’s hard to hate the Knicks here.
Cleveland played on Saturday and this will be their third game in four nights, but they’re always going to be a threat when going up against an elite opponent. The dangerous Rockets got tripped up by the Spurs recently, but have otherwise handled themselves fairly well, winning 6 of their last 10 contests.
Houston still doesn’t defend at a high level, but they’re very tough to beat on their home floor (23-9) and this team still fills it up as good as anyone (115 points per game) on the offensive end. With the Cavs still shorthanded due to injuries and fatigue settling in, this could be a pretty good spot to keep betting against Cleveland.
That being said, King James really gets up for high profile matchups and Cleveland has been losing too much lately for his liking. Look for James to come in focused and try to out-play Harden, who he’s beaten in two of his last three tries.
Another exciting game for Sunday could potentially be this high-scoring affair in the desert. Phoenix just blew a bad loss to the Lakers on Thursday, but has otherwise been playing pretty well. They aren’t overly reliable on their home floor (just 13-20), but they do possess a little more stability and upside there.
Portland has been red hot lately, but they do most of their damage at home and become a little more vulnerable out on the road. New center Jusuf Nurkic has been an absolute revelation for the Blazers, but its possible he cools down a bit on the road here.
This is a fun pick’em game and simply because of their offensive upside, we’ll give the Suns a shot at the upset.
The last game of the night goes down in L.A. at the Staples Center, and it’s anyone’s guess how this one unfolds. D’Angelo Russell and the Lakers shocked the Suns on Thursday and will be looking to keep their winning ways going, but they remain a very difficult team to trust with just two wins in their last 10 games.
Los Angeles does play far better under the bright L.A. lights, but they don’t defend and the loss of Lou Williams has sapped their bench scoring. Magic Johnson’s call to play young big man Ivica Zubac major minutes could go either way, but it probably won’t be a positive in terms of winning right away.
Everything here seems to play into Philly’s hands, as they’re going to be severely overlooked with Joel Embiid done for the year. The star talent is certainly lacking, but the Sixers are still fairly balanced and play really hard. Against a Lakers team that is often either disinterested or simply flat out bad, it could be enough to spring the upset.