With 7 games on the NBA schedule, highlighted by national TV matchups between the Bulls-Spurs & Clippers-Warriors. Here's a look at three game totals from NBA odds that I feel confident in.
Jazz vs. Nets (186.5 at sportsbooks)
Utah has found arguably the biggest difference-maker on the defensive end in the NBA in 7-foot-1 second-year Frenchman Rudy Gobert. It has been his emergence that allowed Utah to trade away Enes Kanter, who landed in Oklahoma City. Gobert is exactly the type of find a team like Utah has to have because no big-ticket free agents are headed to Salt Lake City. Gobert is the leading shot-blocker in the NBA since the calendar turned to 2015 with 84. The Jazz are first in the NBA in points allowed since the All-Star break, holding teams to 83.0 points per game. Utah ranks No. 2 overall in points allowed overall at 96.2 per game. Since the break, Gobert is averaging 10.4 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. He's now one of my favorite players. The Nets are 1-2 on a five-game homestand. They seem to have exhausted all their energy in a last-second upset of Golden State on Monday. Brooklyn allowed 115 points in a blowout loss to Charlotte on Wednesday and 108 in an overtime defeat to Phoenix on Friday. The Nets were up 15 with less than six minutes left against Phoenix. They missed 15 of their final 18 shots. Brooklyn lost in Utah 108-73 on Jan. 24 in probably the Nets' worst game of the season.
NBA Free Pick: 'Under 187.5' It has hit in Utah's past five on the road. It is 4-1 in Brooklyn's past five after a loss and 7-3 in the team's past 10 vs. the West.
Raptors vs. Thunder (213.5 on NBA odds)
Presumably we will see two of the NBA's best point guards go at it here in All-Stars Kyle Lowry of Toronto and the red-hot Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City. Lowry returned from a three-game absence on Friday night but the Raptors still lost 103-94 in Charlotte for their seventh defeat in the past eight games. Lowry had 25 points. Toronto has not played well defensively of late, allowing at least 103 points in five straight games. It is now 21st in points allowed at 100.9 per game. Oklahoma City lost 108-105 in Chicago on Thursday despite 43 points from Westbrook, although he did miss a fifth straight triple-double. It was his third straight 40-point game. In fact, Westbrook is only the fourth player in NBA history to have three straight games of at least 40 points, five assists and five rebounds. The other three guys are pretty good: Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor. OKC lost in Toronto 100-88 on Nov. 4.
NBA Free Pick: 'Over 212.5' at 5Dimes. It is 4-0 in Toronto's past four games and 5-0 in OKC's past five.
Mavericks vs. Lakers (200.5 in NBA betting)
This NBA Odds total seems really low to me as Dallas is No. 4 in the NBA in scoring at 104.5 points per game and the Lakers are dead last in defense in allowing 105.8 points per game. That said, Dallas is scuffling on offense right now. The Mavs haven't topped 89 points in a two-game losing streak. The team clearly misses starting forward Chandler Parsons, who has missed seven straight games with an ankle injury. Presumably he sits here as well. L.A. has dropped four straight games. Leading scorer Nick Young has missed the past six due to injury and thus seems unlikely to play here. Dallas is 2-0 vs. the Lakers this season, winning 140-106 (season high in points for Dallas) and 102-98, both in Big D. Keep in mind when forming your NBA picks that the Mavs have won four straight against the Lakers overall.
NBA Free Pick: 'Over 205.5.' That Lakers defense will cure what ails the Dallas offense. The 'over' has hit in the Lakers' past six at home.