Wednesday Night NBA Picks for March 22
A few games tripped us up on Tuesday, giving us a 5-3 record on the night. We did call the Pelicans taking down the Grizzlies, but whiffed on a Timberwolves upset over the Spurs. The Bucks also took down the Blazers on the road and Detroit couldn’t beat the lowly Nets, which rounded out our gaffes.
We’ve got another fun 8-game NBA slate set up for Wednesday night, so let’s dive right back in and see if we can’t get things right with our NBA picks:
Kemba Walker leads the Hornets into Orlando tonight, giving us what should be a fairly competitive game at the Amway Center. That being said, the Hornets come in hot with two straight wins and have dominated in this series, winning six straight.
Orlando will try to turn the tables at home, where they aren’t great but tend to perform to their best ability. That wasn’t really the case the last time Charlotte came to Florida, while none of the the three previous meetings this year have been close.
It’s going to be really easy to write off the Magic here, but let’s consider three things: the Hornets aren’t good on the road (11-24), Orlando is also coming in on a two-game winning streak and the Magic will surely want to avoid a 4-0 season series sweep.
All of that is enough for us to get behind the Magic as a fun upset play tonight.
Paul George and the Pacers head to the TD Garden on Wednesday, as Indy tries to inch closer to securing a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. That will be easier said than done on the road against a good Boston team, especially considering the Pacers are a lethargic 11-24 outside of Indiana this year.
This series certainly hasn’t gone Indy’s way, with the Celtics winning each of the first two matchups this year, as well as 3 of the last 4 meetings, overall. Boston enters in slightly better form, winning 6 of their last 10 games and also getting star point guard Isaiah Thomas (knee) back.
With the Celtics owning this series and this game being at TD Garden, it will be easy to back Boston here. That being said, we’d certainly give the Pacers a chance to beat this spread.
The Pistons are back out on the road for the second straight night, as Tobias Harris and co. will battle the Bulls after failing to take down the Nets in Brooklyn. Detroit has struggled away from home all year (11-23) and has been a little tough to trust lately, going just 5-5 in their last 10 contests.
It hasn’t been any easy to get behind the Bulls, who are just 2-8 over their last 10 games and are closing out the year without the help of star shooting guard, Dwyane Wade (elbow). Chicago is pretty tough to beat at home (20-15), but they could be awfully worn down after an overtime loss last night in Toronto.
Complicating this matchup is the likelihood that center Robin Lopez gets suspended after getting tossed from Chicago’s game last night. With or without him, the Bulls seem undermanned and could also be tired out. We’ll take the visiting Pistons by a hair in this spot.
We should brace for another huge Russell Westbrook line tonight, as he and the Thunder welcome a 76ers team to town that took out (103-97) earlier this year. OKC has been pretty strong overall, too, as they had ripped off five consecutive wins before getting housed by the Warriors in their last game.
It makes sense for OKC to get back on the winning trail here. The Thunder are very good (26-10) on their home floor, remain just 2.5 games behind the Utah Jazz for first place in the Northwest Division and have also topped the Sixers in an insane 15 straight meetings.
Most of those wins were with Kevin Durant in town and Philly has been surprisingly feisty with star center Joel Embiid on the shelf, but this feels like a Thunder win all the way. The Sixers can certainly make things interesting due to their scrappy play, but OKC covering isn’t an insane bet here, either.
One of the more interesting games on this slate goes down in D.C., where Dwight Howard will lead his Hawks up against John Wall and the Wizards. Vegas doesn’t seem to think so, of course, as the Wiz have won two straight in the series and 3 of the last 4 meetings.
Adding to Atlanta’s problems in this matchup is the continued absence of big man Paul Millsap (knee), who is expected to sit out his second straight game tonight:
Bud wouldn't commit to Millsap only missing two more games but he did describe injury as "more short term."
— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC)
Not having Millsap is a big blow for the Hawks on both ends, while a four-game skid shouldn’t boost anyone’s confidence that they’re primed for a big road upset. Washington has been a very tough out since December, too, as the Wizards are playing high level ball and are a solid 6-4 over their last 10 games. They’ve dropped two straight, but this looks like a great spot for them to get back on the winning path.
One of the oddest games to gauge tonight is Cleveland at Denver, as the defending champs aim to pick things up after finally getting their team back to 100% health. Kevin Love has been back and looked good for two games, while Kyle Korver also seems to be getting closer to a return.
With the Cavs looking stronger, they feel like an easy play against a Nuggets team that still doesn’t play great defense and has dealt with issues at the forward positions. The silver lining here is Denver is at home in this one and is slowly getting their bodies back.
Nikola Jokic presents a problem for the Cavs, too, and we saw that earlier this year when he dropped 27 and 13 on them. Cleveland still won that game easily and with everyone back in the saddle, it’s tough to expect a different result.
Giannis Antetokounmpo are really surging these days, winning 8 of their last 10 games, including a big road win at Portland on Tuesday night. Milwaukee’s hot run is surely impressive, but they could be a little worn down from last night and a tough stretch in general. Adding another road game in Sacramento could potentially make this a trap game.
Even if we buy that, it might be a little tough to latch on fully with the notion of a Kings win, seeing as Sacramento seems to be in full-blown tank mode. The Kings are just 2-8 over their last 10 games, don’t defend very well and lack any reliable star talent.
Everything points to another Bucks win, provided Milwaukee doesn’t rest any of their key players. Considering they’re fighting to make the playoffs, we doubt that happens and we doubt they trip up here.
The last game of the night probably hands us another easy call, as Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks visit the Utah Jazz. This is a brutal matchup down low for New York, and Rudy Gobert’s dominance in the paint has helped us see that pretty clearly with the Jazz taking 4 of the last 5 meetings.
Utah has a lot on the line pretty much every night out, as they’re leading their division race by just 2.5 games. Luckily they get the shaky Knicks, who are just 3-7 over their last 10 contests and are reportedly and some of their other star players.
That can’t be good for New York’s chances of getting wins, while stealing one in Utah could be specifically tough with the Jazz going 23-12 on their home floor thus far this year.
New York at full strength with their stars playing the entire game still has them feeling like an underdog in this spot, while it’s obvious to see how Vegas feels. This spread might be a tad rich, but the Jazz are a safe pick to win.