Wednesday NBA best bets
Hard Court betting guidance
By Dan Favale
Neither Jaylen Brown nor Avery Bradley will be suiting up for the Boston Celtics, which compromises a defensive scheme that’s only just started putting it together. But Jae Crowder is back in the fold, and the Celtics have been one of the hottest teams most recently, winning 10 of their last 11 games.
With the Philadelphia 76ers still soldiering on without Joel Embiid, not to mention first-overall pick Ben Simmons, this isn’t a game that will be kind them.
The Pick: Boston Celtics (-10.5)
Picking against the Milwaukee Bucks is a roller coaster obsession, particularly since they’ve lost Jabari Parker to a torn ACL. The Brooklyn Nets, while the worst team in the league, are scrappy and can catch you off guard if you’re not careful. Many of their games have gone down to the wire.
This might be one of them too, in which case you have to like their chances given how poor the Bucks have played in crunch time. But they’ve beaten the Nets single-handedly in each of their last two meetings, and there’s little reason to expect this matchup to be different when Khris Middleton is rounding into form.
The Pick: Milwaukee Bucks (+5.5)
Both the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks meet while vying for bottom-level positioning in ther respective conference’s playoff race. The Pistons are the slightly deeper team, with a behemoth center in Andre Drummond who can eat Dirk Nowitzki alive when he plays the 5, but the Mavericks are the craftier squad.
Expect this one to be close, so long as Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle doesn’t sit Harrison Barnes or Wesley Matthews at the last minute.
The Pick: Dallas Mavericks (+5)
You want to roll with the Minnesota Timberwolves here. They’ve been much improved over their start to the season, and Andrew Wiggins is working off a fantastic performance in a near-win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
Plus, the Denver Nuggets are banged up. Like, badly. Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Emmanuel Mudiay and Darrell Arthur are all expected to miss tonight’s tilt, giving the Nuggets around eight or nine bodies they can actually use.
And yet, Nikola Jokic is on fire—playing better than even Karl-Anthony Towns. The Nuggets’ kiddies are stepping up, and even if Jokic loses the battle to Towns, Denver’s youngsters are playing well enough to win the war.
The Pick: Denver Nuggets (-5.5)
With the Oklahoma City Thunder enduring some sort of slide, it’s dangerous to pick the New York Knicks. I mean, Russell Westbrook just lost to his former teammate in Kevin Durant, and his former coach in Scott Brooks. That’s not going to sit well with him.
The New York Knicks put things together on defense in a win against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, but they haven’t won consecutive games in two months. Until they prove otherwise, we shouldn’t expect them to cover single-digit spreads when facing above-.500 squads on the road.
The Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder (-7)
The Utah Jazz are still missing Rodney, have struggled mightily on the offensive end of late and don’t stack up too well defensive against teams that run four-out lineups.
Ergo, the Portland Trail Blazers aren’t a good matchup for them.
Portland is playing better over the last few weeks, and even without Evan Turner, head coach Terry Stotts should carve out enough spacing and speed to make things interesting against Utah’s snail-paced attack.
The Pick: Portland Trail Blazers (+8)
Here’s everything you need to know about this one: The Los Angeles Clippers still don’t have Chris Paul, and the Atlanta Hawks are expected to be at full strength.
This isn’t a hard choice.
The Pick: Atlanta Hawks (+3)