Our NBA handicapper looks ahead at the top games of the week to signal intriguing betting opportunities to help you decide where to place your NBA picks as we head to the All-Star game.
Thursday, February 11
Wizards vs. Bucks
The Wizards are not playing well but this is a good spot for them as the Bucks have lost seven of their last eight games as of this writing. John Wall and Bradley Beal lead a very talented team that will start to get back on track with a road win in Milwaukee. The Bucks will put up a fight, as their last four losses have been by a combined 22 points, so backing them at the right price would be wise.
Pelicans vs. Thunder
The Pelicans visit the Thunder in the final game before the All-Star break and it's always fun to watch Anthony Davis going up against Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, even though the Pelicans have lost four of their last five games and their 19-32 record as of Tuesday is disappointing. The Thunder have won six of their last seven games and they're tough to beat at home (24-5).
Wednesday, February 10
Rockets vs. Trail Blazers
This is a revenge spot for the Rockets, as the Trail Blazers crushed them 96-79 in Houston last Saturday. Portland beat the Grizzlies 112-106 on the road last Monday and the Rockets will be tired after playing a back-to-back in which the first game was at Golden State. So back the Trail Blazers once the line for this game is released.
Hawks vs. Bulls
The Bulls have lost five of their last six games and to make matters worse, it has been confirmed that Jimmy Butler will miss 3-4 weeks with a strained left knee. The Hawks are coming off back-to-back losses against the Magic and I see them taking advantage of a struggling Bulls team.
Lakers vs. Cavaliers
The Cavaliers are favored by 15.5 points against the Lakers in Kobe Bryant's last visit to Cleveland. The Lakers are actually playing decent basketball, going 2-2 over their last four games and their two losses were by a combined six points against the Spurs and Pacers. Bryant will be motivated because he is facing his great friend LeBron James and former Lakers teammate Tyronn Lue is now Cleveland's head coach, so we can expect another competitive effort from Kobe and the Lakers as they keep the game close enough to cover.
Clippers vs. Celtics
Look for a close game between two very talented playoffs teams that are playing extremely well. The Celtics, who have won eight of their last nine games, will be at home, but the Clippers, winners of seven of eight, will be more rested because Boston visits the Bucks on Tuesday night. Keep that in mind and expect this contest to go down to the wire.
Spurs vs. Magic
The Magic won two straight games against the Hawks and they will face a tired Spurs team after what should be a tough game against the Heat. San Antonio will still be without Manu Ginobili but Tim Duncan could return. Look for San Antonio to win but keep an eye on the spread for the Magic.
Tuesday, February 9
Spurs vs. Heat
The Spurs have won four straight games but they will be without their sixth-man Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan for this matchup with the Heat. Miami is coming off a 100-93 loss against the Clippers and they're getting 7 points at home, which is a great NBA pick because they have the healthier roster on Tuesday.
Wizards vs. Knicks
How will the Knicks respond to the firing of their Derek Fisher when they host the Wizards? Losers of nine of their last 10 games, Carmelo Anthony and company will try to start off the Kurt Rambis era with a win and facing a struggling Wizards team that has lost three of their last four games can help, so there's value on backing the Knicks at +1.5 NBA odds at 5Dimes.
Rockets vs. Warriors
The Warriors lead the season series 2-0, they have won nine games in a row, they're 23-0 at ORACLE Arena and 41-0 in their last 41 games there but there's plenty of betting value on the Rockets at +15. The Warriors will certainly win but James Harden is playing extremely well and he will keep Houston within single digits.