Saturday NBA betting thoughts
NBA betting picks on Saturday
By Dan Favale
Dallas Mavericks (+3) vs. Chicago Bulls (-3)
This spread is weird.
On the one hand, the Chicago Bulls just ground out a tough 111-105 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. That kind of effort takes a lot out of a team.
On the other hand, the Dallas Mavericks are the worst team in basketball, with an offense that is comically bad. Even if Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg decides to give Dwyane Wade a breather on the tail end of a back-to-back, and even if Chicago’s offense cools off a bit, Dallas just doesn’t have the firepower or the defensive consistency to make a 48-minute stand against what has, to this point, been the second-best team in the Eastern Conference.
This, in turn, is too tempting a spread for the Bulls to pass on.
The Pick: Chicago Bulls (-3)
Utah Jazz (-6) vs. Denver Nuggets (+6)
The Denver Nuggets spent Friday night getting pummeled by a Houston Rockets squad that went into double-overtime, and won, against the league-lording Golden State Warriors. Last night’s game, then, should have been a winnable one.
Yes, the Rockets are good. That counts for something, too. But the Nuggets have been unable to show any semblance of consistency at home this season. We can’t expect anything better from them on the road—particularly against a Utah Jazz team that’s starting to find its.
George Hill is the Jazz’s lifeline. They lost to the Miami Heat on Thursday night because they didn’t have him in the lineup. That shouldn’t be the case against Denver. And when he’s on the floor, everything changes on offense.
Assuming he plays, it isn’t unreasonable to say the Nuggets don’t stand a chance.
The Pick: Utah Jazz (-6)
Toronto Raptors (-9) vs. Atlanta Hawks (+9)
The Atlanta Hawks have been bad. Like, really bad. They started the season out on fire, but their offense has since imploded and the defense isn’t getting it done on a nightly basis.
Traveling to face the Toronto Raptors on the second night of a back-to-back is hardly a good remedy for these woes. The Raptors have defensive issues, but they rank second in offensive efficiency and have done a nice job swallowing defenses whole all season.
Still, the Hawks’ defense is good, even if it’s slumping. And the Raptors are the kind of team an elite defense can gum up, because they don’t move the ball a ton. They are more than capable of staging blowout victories, but the Hawks aren’t a team to be trifled with at the moment when it comes to near double-digit spreads. They have been so bad, so inconsistent, it feels like they’re overdue for a trademark performance.
The Pick: Atlanta Hawks (+9)
Memphis Grizzlies (-2.5) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (+2.5)
Mike Conley’s absence will continue to hamper the Memphis Grizzlies. And while the Los Angeles Lakers are missing both D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young, their brand of speed and athleticism should give Memphis’ defense problems, both in the half-court and on fast breaks.
Now, the Lakers’ defense has been terrible. And the Grizzlies are not to be messed with at home. But the Lakers project as a bad matchup for them even with Conley in the fold, as do all teams with more length and athleticism.
Don’t assume the Lakers are going to win. More importantly, though, don’t book the Grizzlies for a decisive victory.
The Pick: Los Angeles Lakers (+2.5)
Portland Trail Blazers (-6.5) vs. Miami Heat (+6.5)
Most of me doesn’t want to pick the Portland Trail Blazers. They have the league’s worst defense, their bench has been inconsistent and they aren’t torpedoing opponents at home the way that they used to. Going up against the Miami Heat’s stingy defense could pose some problems for them.
But the Heat have been mostly terrible on the offensive side, proving unable to space the floor or generate quality shots on a semi-consistent basis. And though their defense is good, the Blazers have the personnel necessary to render Hassan Whiteside unplayable for stretches at a time.
Take Portland, and feel mostly confident about it.
The Pick: Portland Trail Blazers (-6.5)
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