The Cleveland Cavaliers are the only NBA team playing for the second straight day on Monday evening, which should help produce a fresh six-game slate full of well-rested NBA stars.
Monday lacks the usual studs like James Harden, Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrook, but should still provide plenty of entertainment via DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns and of course, LeBron James.
The Cavs could be a little tired, of course, and they’ll also be a bit under manned. Watch out for that and more as we run through Monday’s schedule and get to our NBA picks:
Sacramento Kings (-2)
Philadelphia 76ers (+2)
DeMarcus Cousins and co. head to Philly tonight, where the dangerous Sixers await. Philadelphia is a laughingstock, no more, as the 76ers have really turned things out lately (7-3 in their last 10 games) and have become a very tough out.
Philly is at their best when big man Joel Embiid is anchoring both ends of the floor, of course, and he’s not a sure thing for this contest:
Joel Embiid medical update: •Embiid (left knee) is questionable for Monday's game vs. Sacramento. He will likely be a game-time decision.
Embiid sat out Sunday’s game to rest an ailing knee, but he was a monster on Friday against the Rockets and would be a huge force if healthy for this matchup. Embiid’s presence could help limit the impact of Boogie on either end and potentially really open this game up.
It’s likely Embiid suits up and the Sixers give the Kings a healthy fight at home. Considering they play their best ball at home and with Embiid, we like their chances to continue their solid run.
Brooklyn Nets (+9)
Miami Heat (-9)
The Brooklyn Nets can’t stop the bleeding right now, as they’ll try to patch up a nasty five-game losing streak during their trip to South Beach. That isn’t likely to happen, however, as Brooklyn is a horrendous 2-21 on the road this year and Miami has been ablaze during a 7-game winning streak.
The Heat aren’t getting elite play out of big man Hassan Whiteside, but Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters are playing out of their minds and Tyler Johnson is on the mend. With Miami at least looking guard on the perimeter, they’re in good enough shape to run with the fast-paced Nets.
Factoring in Brooklyn’s road woes, Miami’s hot run and their current dominance over the Nets (won 8 of the last 9 meetings), this might end up being the easiest pick of Monday’s slate.
Detroit Pistons (+7)
Boston Celtics (-7)
Actually, Monday’s NBA picks only get easier as we work our way down the line, as Detroit is another team that struggles (9-16) away from home and they’ll have quite the task on their hands as they try to beat the Celtics at TD Garden.
Boston has been struggling a bit without defensive ace Avery Bradley (Achilles) and it doesn’t sound like he’s a lock to return anytime soon:
#Celtics Brad Stevens said Avery Bradley getting close, doing pool conditioning & anti-gravity work, but has yet to test Achilles on court.
That doesn’t help the Celtics, but the good news is tri-fold; they’re at home (where they’re a strong 15-8), they’re hot (three straight wins) and they get a Pistons team they’ve topped in 3 of the last 5 meetings. The kicker, of course, may be the status of big man Al Horford, who will be needed to help contain Andre Drummond.
For now, it looks like there’s a good chance Horford suits up and all things considered, the Pistons don’t feel like the sneaky bet to chase tonight.
Orlando Magic (+8)
Minnesota Timberwolves (-8)
We could get our first good game of tonight’s slate in Minnesota, even though Vegas like the Timberwolves by a mile. Orlando certainly won’t be easy to trust, as they just got blown out two games ago and have struggled overall (just 3-7 over their last 10 games).
You’re right to favor Minnesota, however, as they’re turning it on at the right time (7-3 over their last 10 contests) and will be at home against a team they stack up well against. The Magic have a very hot and cold offense and that’s likely to be pointing towards cold with star shooting guard Evan Fournier still not back.
The Timberwolves can hurt the Magic from every angle and seem to be in a groove. Orlando should keep things interesting and beat the spread, but we like the Wolves to hang on for the win.
Cleveland Cavaliers (-5)
Dallas Mavericks (+5)
The Cavs and Mavs fittingly face off tonight, as both played last night and should be worn down after big wins. Dallas is in the more enviable spot at home, but it took all they had to take down the Spurs last night and it’s going to be very tough to bank on them getting two massive upset wins in a row.
Dallas has been solid lately, however, as they’ve gone 6-4 over their last 10 games and tend to play their best ball on their home floor. That probably won’t be good enough in this one, as Andrew Bogut got hurt again last night, Dirk Nowitzki will be a strong rest candidate and both J.J. Barea and Deron Williams remain on the shelf.
Cleveland also has their own bad news, as big man Kevin Love (back) won’t suit up for this one:
Ty says Kevin will not travel to Dallas will get treatment tomorrow
Love is a huge loss for the Cavs, but they’re in a groove right now (two straight wins) after a mini-funk and it’s hard to see it stopping against a depleted Mavericks squad. Kyrie Irving should feast on Yogi Ferrell in a Cavs win.
Memphis Grizzlies (-4)
Phoenix Suns (+4)
The final game of the night goes down in Phoenix, where we oddly get the second tightest spread when the Suns host the Grizzlies. Part of that is due to Memphis being so shaky lately (5-5 over their last 10 games), but Phoenix is still going to have a hard time keeping this one close.
The Suns do get to face Memphis at home, but Phoenix doesn’t really have a home court advantage (8-14 on their own floor) and isn’t coming in totally prepared (lost three straight). They’re also at a disadvantage when you look at this series, as Memphis has dominated (won 9 of the last 11 games). Look for that trend to continue as the Grizzlies cover in a nice road win.
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