Los Angeles Clippers Over Houston Rockets and Wednesday’s Free NBA Picks
Tuesday night was a crazy time for the NBA, as we saw Kevin Durant go down with a potentially serious knee injury, the Wizards too down the Warriors and Jimmy Butler fell flat as the Bulls took a bad home loss to the Nuggets.
Those two games marked our only gaffes on the night, however, as you were probably profitable if you rolled with our NBA picks (4-2 on the night). We’ll be sending positive thoughts toward KD as we prepare to destroy tonight’s slate, as well. Join us on this 10-game journey:
Two of the most volatile teams in the league face off tonight at the Amway Center, as Carmelo Anthony leads the Knicks up against the Magic. New York has been the better team on paper, but struggle on the road (9-20) and are just 3-7 over their last 10 games.
Orlando isn’t any better, as they’re 3-7 during that same span and an uninspiring 10-19 on their home floor. The Magic did just rout the Hawks in their last game, however, and have gotten stellar player out of the freshly added Terrence Ross.
Vegas is calling this one fairly close to the chest, but with Kristaps Porzingis due back tonight, the Knicks seem easy to side with:
Kristaps Porzingis says he's good to go for tomorrow's game against Orlando. He's missed two games due to an ankle sprain.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley)
Fans can expect a tight game that goes down to the wire, but the Knicks have a little more offensive firepower.
Dwight Howard returns after getting tossed in his last game, which was a surprise win over the Celtics in Boston. The Hawks will be at full strength this time around, as they try to improve on their 16-12 home record against the visiting Mavs.
Dirk Nowitzki and co. have not been reliable on the road this season (8-19), but Dallas isn’t easy to brush off after winning two straight. Dallas can slow the pace down and tighten things up defensively, which could make them an interesting matchup for the Hawks. Of course, that hasn’t translated into any success for Dallas in this series, as the Hawks easily won the previous meeting this year (97-82) and have won six straight in this series.
Dallas can be problematic when they’re cooking and it’s worth noting that Seth Curry has been feeling it lately, but Atlanta is at 100% and should be focused on their home floor. Dallas could give it a better fight this time around, but the result should be the same.
The Sixers continue to push hard without Joel Embiid, and their plight to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff discussion rages on tonight in South Beach. Philly has dropped two in a row and has been awful on the road this year (8-20), but they’ve also remained very competitive and are up 2-1 in the season series with the Heat so far.
Miami is a very interesting team, too, as they had that crazy 13-game run before the All-Star break and then had a nice three-game winning streak snapped in their last game. Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside have formed a dangerous duo and with Miami at home in this one (where they’re at their best at 14-14), it’s easy to favor them.
Philly is very sneaky and matches up fairly well with Miami, overall. However, Dragic should have his way with T.J. McConnell and the Sixers don’t have anyone that can stop Whiteside down low. The Sixers can easily beat this spread with how hard they play, but we like Miami to get the win.
Washington could be a bit worn down after a big win over the Warriors last night, one in which saw star point guard John Wall play through an illness and dish out 19 assists. It was an amazing effort and helped snap a two-game skid, but the Wiz now go out on the road and could be a little bogged down.
That could spark some rest whispers for Wall or Brad Beal, while the Raptors will for sure be at less than 100% with due to wrist surgery. That puts a ton of pressure on DeMar DeRozan to score, but fortunately huge trades for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker leave the Raptors in a good spot.
Normally the Lowry news would have us off of Toronto here, but they’re tough to beat at Air Canada Centre (21-10), red hot with a 4-game run behind them and will be far fresher than the visiting Wizards. It’s a decent bet that Toronto’s 8-game winning streak in this series continues tonight.
This is another interesting game, as the Cavs will be on the road and are still without big man Kevin Love. Cleveland has been just fine lately, however, as they’ve ripped off 8 wins in their last 10 games and head to TD Garden with a nice three-game winning streak against the Celtics.
Boston is not going to be an easy out on the road, of course, as the Celtics are lethal (20-9) on their home floor and have the defensive talent in Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder to potentially slow down both Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. While true, that hasn’t equated to wins much for Boston in this series.
Not having Love is big, but the Cavs recently added Deron Williams and also have Kyle Korver, Derrick Williams and Channing Frye to help shoulder the scoring load. Cleveland should be ready to rock in this one and seeing as how it’s a virtual pick’em, it’s pretty hard to go against the defending champs.
The marriage between DeMarcus Cousins and the Pelicans hasn’t gotten off to the start everyone had hoped, as New Orleans is 0-3 in their first three games with Boogie. Their fourth will see Cousins on the bench due to a one-game ban:
DeMarcus Cousins suspended for 18th technical foul.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA)
That’s potentially bad news with the Pels hosting a Pistons team that housed them in Detroit earlier this year. Now down their second best player (or first?) and lacking quality guard play due to the trade that got him here, the Pels are in a tough spot. The silver lining, of course, is that they still have The Brow and will be at home, where they tend to play their best ball
There is more good news, too, as the Pistons will be traveling and just played last night. That could make for a tired an inefficient Detroit squad that has struggled on the road (10-19 away from home) all year. Ironically, we like the Pels tonight, even with Boogie sidelined.
Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets got back on track last night, enjoying a big road win over the Bulls. Denver will try to keep the positive momentum going in Milwaukee, where they take on a Bucks team that is done Jabari Parker and Michael Beasley.
Milwaukee has been hit hard by injuries all year, but they’re 15-15 at the Bradley Center and should get star guard Khris Middleton (rest) back for this one. That could be enough to get behind the Bucks, who actually had been surging with a 3-1 run before their most recent loss.
The big problem here is Denver’s size and offense. The Bucks don’t have anyone to get Jokic serious fits down low, while perimeter players like Gary Harris, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler could all feast in this matchup. We’d like to agree with Vegas here, but it might take extreme fatigue for the Nuggets to come up short.
The Pacers are unbelievably hard to figure out, as they run hot and cold and showed that in a tale of two halves win in Houston in their last game. Paul George and co. look to make it two impressive road wins in a row, though, when they head to San Antonio tonight to battle the Spurs.
PG-13 won his individual matchup with Kawhi Leonard in Indy’s first meeting with the Spurs, but San Antonio got the last laugh with a 110-106 win. That figures to be the case again tonight, but George getting the better of such a stud defender like Leonard twice feels like a reach. Instead, if the Pacers are going to even the season series, they may need huge performances out of Jeff Teague and/or Myles Turner.
That’s tough to trust with Indy being on the road, where they’re an atrocious 10-19. This road test coming against the Spurs only makes things more difficult, especially considering San Antonio has owned this series (won 16 of the last 18 meetings).
One of the easier games on this slate could go down in Utah, where the Jazz aim to bounce back after a tough road loss to the Thunder. Utah is a strong 20-11 at their home base this year and will welcome a Timberwolves team to town that they’ve taken down in five consecutive meetings.
Rudy Gobert is a brutal assignment for Karl-Anthony Towns down low, which likely puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on Andrew Wiggins to score tonight. With solid defenders on the wing in Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward to slow him down, that could be a problematic situation.
Everything points to Utah here. The Jazz are at home, own this series, have the superior matchup and unlike Minnesota, play elite defense. It’d take a remarkable effort for the Wolves to get the road upset. Considering they’re also awful (9-18) on the road, that seems rather unlikely. That being said, they have kept things close at times in this series, so we wouldn’t put it past Minnesota to at least beat the spread.
Potentially the game of the night goes down in L.A. at the Staples Center, as James Harden leads his Rockets up against Chris Paul and the Clippers. Los Angeles is the mild favorite as they try to protect a solid 19-9 home record, while also hoping to hand Houston their 12th road loss of the season.
That’s not a crazy outcome, considering this is just the second meeting of the year between these two sides and Houston hasn’t seen either CP3 or Blake Griffin yet. Both are healthy now, however, and will be leading a deep and balanced Clippers team into the fray.
Houston demolished the Clips the last time they played, but this has otherwise been a very competitive series The two split the series (2-2) in each of the previous two seasons and also were involved in an intense playoff series three years ago.
This game might be more about the Clippers than the Rockets, as they not only excel at home but will want to win this game to prove they can hang with the elite Western Conference squads. Evening the series here will be huge for their confidence, while the Rockets simply don’t have anyone to slow down Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan. Those two should thrive here and CP3 should also help dictate the pace.
Vegas understandably has this as a virtual pick’em, but we like the Clippers at home.
The final game of the night is a total wash on paper, as the Kings are tough to gauge following the DeMarcus Cousins trade and the Nets are truly the worst team in the league. Brooklyn does have a healthy Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez at their disposal, however, so it’s worth wondering if their ugly 16-game losing streak might finally come to an end.
It boils down to who you trust more: a young, stripped down Kings squad at home, or a veteran Nets team on the road? Normally we’d go with the former, just because Brooklyn has been truly abysmal (2-25) on the road, but this losing skid has to end at some point.
Sacramento should win this game, but they don’t defend and they have zero star power. The Nets at least have some veteran talent to lean on here and play fast and launch from long range all day. They’re bound to get a little lucky and connect enough to beat another bad team. It’s not like this is a pick made out of great confidence, but this is a fun upset to try tonight. We’ll take the Nets.