Tuesday NBA picks & tips
Make your NBA bets count
By Dan Favale
The Philadelphia 76ers can lean on Joel Embiid and grind out a victory against a team like the Brooklyn Nets. But that won’t work against the New Orleans Pelicans, who have been almost competent since the return of Jrue Holiday.
Lineups that feature Holiday alongside Anthony Davis have fallen back down to earth, but they can still be quite good. And some of the Pelicans’ most used five-man combinations are net positives.
Let’s also not forget that the Sixers are experimenting with a Jahlil Okafor-Embiid frontcourt pairing, which is, without question, a defensive disaster waiting to happen.
The Pick: New Orleans Pelicans (-3.5)
Brook Lopez is scheduled to sit out against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night, which doesn’t bode well for the Nets. They are severe underdogs to begin with, and soldiering forward without their best or second-best player makes life that much more difficult.
Still, a 15-point spread is too much for the Raptors to cover. This matchup will see one of the best offenses, in Toronto’s, square off against one of the worst defenses, in Brooklyn’s, but funneling action toward the Raptors banks on them jumping so far out in front, by 25 points or more, their lead won’t be ruined by garbage time.
That’s dangerous territory.
The Pick: Brooklyn Nets (+15)
With an inconsistent offense, the Charlotte Hornets aren’t the most certain plays when it comes to near double-digit spreads. But their defense is fantastic, and more than capable of disrupting the Los Angeles Lakers’ offense.
On top of that, the Lakers are banged up. Both Tarik Black and Luol Deng, two of the team’s best defensive weapons, are game-time decisions. If either one of them isn’t ready to go, it’s unlikely that the Lakers are able to cobble together the defense necessary to combat Charlotte’s fortress.
Despite a recent rough stretch on the road, the Hornets are underrated. They remain one of the most balanced teams in the Eastern Conference and should be able to pick up a decisive win here.
The Pick: Charlotte Hornets (-9)
This spread is truly weird. The New York Knicks have been okay at home, but they’re not great. The Indiana Pacers are missing Monta Ellis, but his absence makes them better on defense.
Favoring the Knicks by five points is a trap. They only have the edge at one position—wherever Kristaps Porzingis plays, be it power forward or center. Paul George and Jeff Teague are an upgrade over Derrick Rose, who is expected to play after missing two games with back spasms, and Carmelo Anthony.
There is a good-to-great chance the Pacers not only cover this spread, but win the game.
The Pick: Indiana Pacers (+5)
We have seen the Los Angeles Clippers win big before without Blake Griffin, so it’s not surprising that they’re laying nine points against a Denver Nuggets squad that’s playing the tail end of a back-to-back. But there will be an adjustment period for the Clippers, however small, and they’ve tapered off quite a bit since a hot start to the season.
Plus, the Nuggets have been quite good of late. They are destroying opponents when both Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris are on the floor, and they’re plucky enough to be a hassle on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Pick: Denver Nuggets (+9)
Memphis Grizzlies (+2.5) vs. Boston Celtics (-2.5)
Yes, the Memphis Grizzlies are one of this season’s biggest feel-good stories. And sure, the Boston Celtics’ record is mildly disappointing.
Looking at the advanced stats, though, this spread is kind of a joke.
The Celtics play like one of the best teams in the league when all their key players are healthy, while the Grizzlies do not. And wouldn’t you know it, just about everyone on Boston is ready to rock for Tuesday night’s affair.
Don’t be shocked if the Celtics turn this into a blowout road victory.
The Pick: Boston Celtics (-2.5)
Houston Rockets (+1) vs. San Antonio Spurs (-1)
James Harden figures to carve up, chew up and spit out the San Antonio Spurs’ crappy pick-and-roll defense. But the Houston Rockets will be without starting center Clint Capela, who is better fit to battle against San Antonio’s bigs than either Nene or Montrezl Harrell.
Houston’s three-point chucking will definitely keep this one close, but San Antonio has been a revelation on the road. Rolling with the Spurs is the way to go—unless head coach Gregg Popovich decides to rest everyone.
The Pick: San Antonio Spurs (-1)