Eight games on the NBA schedule on Sunday, including 3 on national TV: Clippers-Bulls, Cavaliers-Rockets & Thunder-Lakers. Here's a look at three game totals from NBA odds that I feel confident in.
Hornets vs. Magic (190 at sportsbooks)
For this NBA pick we find ourselves with two of the most offensively-challenged teams in the NBA. Charlotte hasn't topped 100 points in its past three games, two of which were losses. The Hornets managed 98 in Friday's eight-point loss in Boston, blowing a 16-point lead. Mo Williams, acquired from Minnesota on Feb. 10, led the Hornets with 31 points, but the team clearly misses the injured Kemba Walker, who might be back in a few weeks. The Hornets are 27th in the NBA in scoring (94.3 points per game) but fifth in defense (97.0 ppg). Orlando has followed a three-game winning streak, its longest of the season, with a two-game skid. It lost 93-90 in OT at home to Miami on Wednesday, blowing a big late lead, and 95-88 in Atlanta on Friday. Orlando, which ranks, 26th in scoring (95.6 ppg), is a curious team. It looks on paper to have several good young players but is missing ranking that true star. Should it win the draft lottery, this team could be good very quickly. This is the final meeting of the season between the Magic and Hornets. Orlando leads 2-1. It won 105-100 in Charlotte on Nov. 21 and again in Charlotte on Dec. 27, 102-94. The Hornets won in Orlando 98-90 on Jan. 3.
NBA Free Pick: 'Under' 190 points. It has hit in six of Charlotte's past seven on the road. It is 7-1 in Orlando's past eight overall.
Warriors vs. Celtics (215 on NBA betting)
One has to wonder if Golden State will be dragging a bit here as it's Game No. 5 of a six-game road trip through the Eastern Conference. The Warriors are 2-2 on it. They bounced back from a 110-99 loss in Cleveland on Thursday -- the NBA odds favored Finals matchup at sportsbooks -- with an impressive 113-89 win in Toronto 24 hours later. The NBA's best backcourt of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry combined for 47 against the Raptors as Golden State, the NBA's highest-scoring team, never trailed. The Warriors improved to 10-2 in the second game of back-to-backs, the best record in the NBA. Store that away for future reference. Coach Steve Kerr decided to give Andre Iguodala the night off on Friday for rest. He said that center Andrew Bogut, the key to the Warriors' defense, might sit in this game for a maintenance day off. I think he does because the Warriors play again Monday in Brooklyn to close the trip. Boston, which isn't a good defensive team (No. 25), beat Charlotte on Friday 106-98 and has scored at least that many points during a three-game winning streak. Newcomers Isaiah Thomas and Jonas Jerebko have really provided an offensive boost. Thomas is averaging 22.7 points and 7.0 assists during the streak. Jerebko, an afterthought in the Tayshaun Prince deal with Detroit, has totaled 36 points in the past two games. When these teams met in Oakland on Jan. 25, the Warriors won 114-111. It wasn't really that close.
NBA Free Pick: 'Over' 215 points at BookMaker. It has hit in Boston's past five games.
Pelicans vs. Nuggets (198 on NBA odds)
I have to say that I'm pretty stunned that New Orleans has won four straight games considering it has done so largely without three of its best players in Anthony Davis (by far the team's best), Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson. None of them will play here. Guys like Alexis Ajinca and Quincy Pondexter have really picked it up. Ajinca had a career-high 24 points in Friday's 104-102 home win over Miami. Did you even know a guy named Alexis Ajinca existed? Pondexter, acquired from Memphis earlier this season, had 18 against the Heat. I presumed the final playoff spot in the West would go to Oklahoma City, but if the Pelicans can hang around until those top guys get back things may get interesting. Denver pretty much quit at the trade deadline in dealing Arron Afflalo, and I expect Coach Brian Shaw to be fired after this season. The Nuggets dropped their fifth straight Friday, all by at least eight points, 104-82 in Utah. This team has quit. Expect a shakeup of players in the offseason as well. The Nuggets have had the Pelicans' number thus far, winning 117-97 at home on Nov. 21 and 93-85 in New Orleans on Jan. 28.
NBA Free Pick: 'Under' 198 points. It has hit in six of the Pelicans' past eight on the road and four of Denver's past five at home.