With practically all attention on the Super Bowl, have oddsmakers left us some value in today's NBA action? Only three games are on the schedule, so we better make our sports picks count.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Boston Celtics
Our first free pick will be on the total, as we feel the UNDER represents the best value in this game between Kevin Garnett and the Celtics and Blake Griffin and the Clippers.
NBA odds here have Boston as the one-point underdogs at home on the spread, while the total can be found at 184.5. As a reference, the OVER is 25-23 in games involving the Clippers this season but has gone 21-24-1 in those featuring the Celtics.
We mainly like this pick because neither team will be able to call on their starting point guard. Chris Paul remains out and Rajon Rondo is lost for the season with a torn ACL.
L.A's offensive productiveness has plummeted dramatically with CP3 out of action – two nights ago they could only manage 73 points against a Toronto team that's ranked #25 in defensive efficiency. With CP3 unavailable, the Clippers have been turning to Griffin to dominate the touches on offense, and while he's playing well, on a whole this team is struggling to score the rock. Over their last five matchups, L.A. is averaging just 90.6 points per game.
For Boston, it's obviously hard to replace someone like Rondo, who led the league in assists before going down. The likes of Courtney Lee, Avery Bradley, Jason Terry, Jeff Green and LeAndro Barbosa will have to step up.
Defensively, both teams continue to get it done though. The Clippers and Celtics are #5 and #6 respectively in defensive efficiency on the year. Meanwhile, L.A. is allowing just 93.4 PPG and Boston is surrendering 95.9 PPG.
Not only is the UNDER 4-1 in L.A.'s last five games overall, it's also gone 9-2 in Boston's previous 11 home contests and 14-6 in their last 20 matchups overall. To boot, the trend has hit the mark in seven of the last nine encounters between these teams.
With both teams without their starting point guards and some other key pieces, we feel that defense will reign supreme again this afternoon. Therefore, we're picking the UNDER to come through.
NBA Picks: UNDER 184.5
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Detroit Pistons
Again we're attracted to a total play, this time on the Lakers' matchup with the young but sometimes surprisingly good Pistons.
Current odds have Detroit favored by three points, with L.A.'s abysmal road record having a clear effect on the lines. This season the Lakers are just 6-16 SU and 7-14-1 ATS away from home.
Though L.A. has been brutal on the road, they're playing better these days, having won four of five, and we're still not comfortable backing the Pistons as favorites in this spot. Detroit has gone just 2-4 SU (3-3 ATS) over their last six coming into this game
Instead we are rolling with the OVER with our NBA picks. It's a trend that's gone 13-9 in L.A.'s 22 road contests this season. It's also 8-3 in their previous 11 road matchups and 4-1 in Detroit's past five games overall.
Looking at the numbers closer, we see that the Pistons have been terrible defensively as of late. They've given up 105.2 points per game over their last five, which is certainly a bad omen against an L.A. team that's put up 103.0 PPG over their past five.
Meanwhile, the Lakers have looked better on the defensive end over this little run of theirs, but there are still some major areas to exploit that are worth addressing. Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant are going to have trouble contending with the speed of Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey (and even Will Bynum) on the perimeter, while Greg Monroe and the young Andre Drummond could tear up an L.A. interior defense that's been getting destroyed on pick-and-rolls all season long.
For the Lakers offensively, we already talked about how bad Detroit has been on D lately, so this star-studded collection of players could have a field day out there. Let's not forget Kobe and company dropped 108 points on the Pistons back in November.
We understand this is a pretty high number on the NBA odds board, but we feel this one could end up being a shootout. As such, we're adding the OVER to our selections. Good luck.
Free NBA Picks: OVER 201