When forming our NBA picks, we keep in mind that some teams are making a last desperate push for a playoff spot or seeding, while other teams've already achieved what they want to achieve.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Charlotte Hornets
NBA Odds: Hawks -3
This is the NBA pick which probably makes the most sense. The Hawks really do seem to be cruising to the end of the regular season. They are breezing along and not caring too much if they win or lose. Atlanta is in a mode where it wins a game and then loses a game or two, largely alternating results instead of being the team that could barely lose in winter time. The Hawks didn’t lose a game in January, and they were so good for so long that they basically put to bed the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte, on the other hand, is in a bitter fight for the final playoff spot in the East, entering Friday half a game behind Boston and Indiana while being tied with Brooklyn. Charlotte needs this game so much more than Atlanta does, and it’s in Charlotte. Why not take the Hornets here from an underdog position? Atlanta trailed the Orlando Magic after three quarters the other day and needed a late rally to win. Charlotte is a better team than Orlando right now.
NBA Pick: Hornets +3 at 5Dimes
Golden State Warriors vs. Milwaukee Bucks
NBA Odds: Warriors -5
It is true that Golden State has won seven games in a row, and that Milwaukee has not been very good over the past few weeks, falling under .500 for a brief period of time after being above the level-water mark for much of the season. However, the Bucks played Golden State tough in Oakland. Milwaukee was down by only one point after three quarters, and the Bucks held Golden State under 20 points in the third quarter of that game. Milwaukee works very hard on defense, and that can give the Bucks a meaningful lift against the Warriors, who – it should be mentioned – are going to be playing the second half of a back-to-back set on the road in this game. This is a natural letdown spot for Golden State, which gives Milwaukee an added chance at pulling an upset on Saturday's NBA odds.
NBA Pick: Bucks +5
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz
NBA Odds: Thunder -4
The upset potential here is great if only because the Thunder, favored by two and a half points, have just been emotionally rocked by the announcement that Kevin Durant is officially done for the season and will be out four to six months, possibly lasting through the whole offseason. That’s not the thing the Thunder wanted to hear, and since these are human beings, there is always the possibility that they could lose heart – not permanently, just on one game night. Utah has been such a better team since Rudy Gobert gained extended minutes and became a more central part of the rotation. The Jazz are playing this game at home, too. They could definitely beat an OKC team which just lost by 39 in San Antonio.
NBA Pick: Jazz +5.5 at 5Dimes