Where should we be looking when we diagnose Sunday's NBA slate? Let's see which sports picks stand out most as we look to end the weekend on a high note.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers welcome Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks to the Staples Center this evening. Checking out the NBA odds that are on offer at the moment, we find Dallas is favored by three points at all of the top online sportsbooks.
LA has picked up right where they left off from last season, losing each of their first two games of the 2015-16 season. While the Lakers were competitive in their season opener at home against the Timberwolves, they followed that up by getting smacked around by the Kings in Sacramento a couple days later. LA was outmatched from the beginning and never really had a chance against DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and company.
Kobe Bryant has averaged 18.5 points on just 36.1 percent shooting through the two games, with Jordan Clarkson, Nick Young, Lou Williams and Roy Hibbert all averaging in double figures too. However, as you can see the Lakers have been god awful defensively, and we don't expect that to change anytime soon.
Tonight the Mavericks come to town, hoping to bounce back after losing by 16 to the Clippers their last time out. Dallas did open the season with a nice road win in Phoenix, but weren't able to get it going against a very talented LA squad. The Mavericks have been cautious with the likes of Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews as they work their way back from injuries. Both guards are listed as day-to-day, meaning they'll likely be game-time decisions for tonight's game.
Those situations are definitely worth monitoring leading up until tipoff, but either way we like the Mavericks in this spot. They're the better basketball team and will want to make amends inside the Staples Center after losing to the Clippers. Back the favorites.
NBA Pick: Dallas Mavericks -3 at Bovada
Miami Heat vs. Houston Rockets
The Rockets have opened the season with two straight losses, which isn't exactly the way they envisioned things going early on. Making matters worse, neither game was particularly close either, as Houston lost by 20 at home to both Denver and Golden State.
Now the Rockets head out on the road to take on a Heat team that has split its first two games. Miami topped Charlotte 104-94 at home to start the season but then fell short on the road against old friend LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Cleveland.
Dwyane Wade continues to play at a high level, having averaged 22.5 points, 4.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds through the first two games, and Chris Bosh, Luol Deng and Gerald Green have put up double-digits in scoring too. Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside have gotten off to slow starts, but they should find their strides sooner rather than later, and that's only going to make the Heat that much more dangerous.
For tonight, we are picking Miami to bounce back after losing to the predicted champions (at least if we go by the futures odds) out on the road. The Heat are only going to get better and better the more they play together, while Houston has looked really shaky to start the season. We're going to hold off on backing the Rockets until they show improvement.
We've liked what we've seen out of the Heat early on, and while the Rockets will obviously present a tough challenge, we think the home team will be able to more than hold their own. We look for Miami to win by at least three in South Beach tonight, in what should be one of the most entertaining matchups of the day.
NBA Pick: Miami Heat -2 at 5Dimes