We usually look at the spread when we make our basketball picks, but we like the Philadelphia 76ers on the moneyline for Saturday night's matchup with the Brooklyn Nets.
Jason’s record as of Mar. 11: 48-45-4 ATS, 4-8 Totals
When the powers that be asked us to find some juicy upset possibilities on Saturday's NBA slate, we were happy to oblige. But it turns out that the pickings are slim. Key injuries to the underdog teams aren't helping. And we don't think the New York Knicks (+19.5 away) are going to be able to beat the Golden State Warriors straight up, unless the Dubs rest all their starters again.
But there is one Saturday night special that has caught our eye. The Philadelphia 76ers have been on something of a tear lately, pulling off upsets over the Sacramento Kings (–4.5 away) and the short-handed Atlanta Hawks (–4.5 away) Can they do it again when the Brooklyn Nets come to town? If so, Philadelphia will pay off at a cool +190 on the NBA odds board. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on YES.
The Sacramento Treat
Philly almost had a third upset on its hands this week. We were a bit hesitant to give the Sixers (15-50 SU, 33-30-2 ATS) our full support in Wednesday's game against the Chicago Bulls (–6.5 away), since we don't have complete faith in Isaiah Canaan (13.3 PER) as their new starting point guard. Canaan actually came off the bench in that game, but he scored 20 points in 30 minutes as Philadelphia came oh-so-close to winning before Chicago tied things in regulation, then pulled out a 104-95 overtime victory.
Canaan was back in the starting lineup against Sacramento, and this wasn't his best game: seven points and five assists in 23 minutes, including 1-of-7 shooting from long range. But the Sixers got the job done anyway. Robert Covington (14.2 PER) blew up for 24 points and sank six of his 12 trey attempts, and Nerlens Noel (13.3 PER) had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Five other players scored in double digits for Philadelphia, erasing an 18-point deficit in the third quarter. Well done.
Dogs Will Hunt
Granted, we are talking about the Kings here. But the Nets (25-38 SU, 29-34 ATS) are on a five-game losing streak SU and ATS, including four straight upset losses at home. First it was the Charlotte Hornets (+5.5), then the Phoenix Suns (+2), the Utah Jazz (+2), and the New Orleans Pelicans (+2.5). Brooklyn has fallen 3.5 games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as we go to press. Holy doodle.
Just to complicate things further, the Nets have put a couple of players on the injured list. Sergey Karasev (10.6 PER), who wasn't playing much lately anyway, is out for the rest of the year with a messed-up right knee. But Alan Anderson (10.1 PER) was getting regular minutes before we was forced to miss Wednesday's game against the Miami Heat with a bruised tailbone. Miami won 104-98 as a 4-point road dog.
Anderson's listed as questionable for Saturday's game, although quite frankly, it might not matter all that much either way. He's got a minus-0.5 BPM for Brooklyn this year. And it's not like the Nets are short on shooting guards. For a while there, they were using a starting lineup that was essentially four guards and Mason Plumlee (19.1 PER).
As for our NBA pick we think things look a bit more traditional now. Brook Lopez (20.3 PER) is back in the starting five in place of Plums, and Thaddeus Young (20.1 PER) has earned a spot in the rotation, as well. But we're not sure what Markel Brown (9.4 PER) brings to this team, other than a minus-3.6 BPM and the promise of a highlight-reel dunk. There might not be too many of those available Saturday night with Noel patrolling the paint for Philly.
Free NBA Pick: Take the 76ers +190 at 5Dimes