Best Monday NBA Wagers
Who To Back In The NBA
By Dan Favale
The Philadelphia 76ers are coming off a rousing come-from-behind win over the Boston Celtics on Sunday night. Though the effort they expended could peter them out, they are young, and they play with spunk. They need to be taken seriously as we enter the NBA’s stretch run.
The Orlando Magic, meanwhile, are more blatantly tanking. They beat the Phoenix Suns on the road this past Friday night, but against a squad that plays as fast and hard as the Sixers, they’re liable to not only whiff on this spread, but actually lose.
Even if the Magic win, it should be close. Neither team is particularly efficient on the offensive end, driving down the number of scoring opportunities, and it’s the Sixers who have a better plus-minus per 100 possessions since the start of March.
The Pick: Philadelphia 76ers (+5.5)
Generally speaking, the Indiana Pacers have been tough to beat at home. That said, they’re not world-beaters at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. In fact, they rank a paltry fourth in home-court net rating since Feb. 1, according to NBA.com.
The Utah Jazz, by comparison, have the second-best road net rating since Feb. 1, behind only the Houston Rockets. They might be playing without Rodney Hood, in addition to Derrick Favors, on Monday night, but that’s almost immaterial. They have one of the deepest rosters in the league, and a defense that should make life hell on an underwhelming and predictable Pacers offense.
The Pick: Utah Jazz (-2.5)
That this spread is so low testifies to Kevin Durant’s value on the Golden State Warriors. They absolutely thumped the Oklahoma City Thunder in each of their previous meetings, but without him, the Warriors offense has bordered on anemic in a bunch of games.
Still, the Warriors are clearly the better. And even without Durant, they won’t lack motive to get up for this contest versus the Thunder. They were reportedly very unhappy with the way Durant was received during his first return to Oklahoma City, back in February, and you better believe they will want to win this one without him to send a message.
Maybe this won’t be another blowout. The Thunder are a bit deeper since the trade deadline, and Stephen Curry is shooting 23.3 percent (10-of-43) on wide-open threes this side of the All-Star break. But neither of these factors, plus Durant’s absence, should impact the ultimate outcome—a Warriors victory.
The Pick: Warriors (-1)
This game has major playoff implications.
Even after Sunday’s loss to the Sixers, the Celtics have a 1.5-game hold on the Washington Wizards for second place in the Eastern Conference. While the Wizards have cooled off of late, the Celtics are playing the second end of a back-to-back, and there’s a strong chance Isaiah Thomas misses his second straight game with a knee injury.
The nature of back-to-backs alone should open a window of opportunity for the Wizards, even if they’re forced to play without Markieff Morris. Their starting lineup ranks among the best in the league, and a Thomas-less Celtics team will struggle to get buckets.
The Pick: Celtics (-4)
Call this a gut feeling.
The Denver Nuggets might need to play this game without both Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari again. They lost Saturday night’s contest against the Houston Rockets by just four points, but that kind of performance without two of their best players feels unsustainable against a Rockets squad that is outscoring opponents by nine points per 100 possessions, the sixth-best mark in the league, on their home court since Feb. 1.
The Pick: Houston Rockets (-8.5)
Yes, the Los Angeles Clippers have had some questionable performances lately—specifically last Wednesday’s home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. But the New York Knicks are a crap basketball team; the Clippers should have no trouble destroying them.
If nothing else, the Clippers are healthy and didn’t need to expend much energy in Saturday night’s beat down on the shorthanded Cleveland Cavaliers. New York is among the worst road squads in the league and may be playing without Kristaps Porzingis. You do the math.
The Pick: Los Angeles Clippers (-11)