The NBA continues its solid game pace to cap the weekend, as we move from seven Saturday games to eight on Sunday. The action gets going early, as Carmelo Anthony leads the Knicks into Atlanta at 2:00 pm ET. The Thunder and Cavaliers follow that up just 30 minutes later to help give us a fully loaded slate of NBA games on Sunday.
Cleveland vs. Oklahoma City undoubtedly takes the cake as Sunday’s marquee NBA matchup and it will be interesting to see if LeBron James and company can get their second win in a row after losing three straight. Let’s see where the Cavs and the rest of the teams playing on Sunday stand as we dive into tonight’s NBA picks:
New York Knicks (+7.5)
Atlanta Hawks (-7.5)
The first game on Sunday starts early, so be sure to consider the impact of this being a day game. That probably impacts the Knicks since they traveled, and one look at their nasty 8-16 road record will frighten anyone.
Carmelo Anthony and co. are at least healthy and did get a win in their last game on Friday, but are just 4-6 over their last 10 games and are 1-2 against the Hawks this year. Atlanta got blown out by the Wizards on Friday, but should be dialed in to handle a far less imposing Knicks team.
New York doesn’t really have anyone to handle Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap down low, while Dennis Schroder should have his way against Derrick Rose. Rose, incidentally, may be at risk of sitting this game out due to an ankle injury.
The Knicks are bad bets on the road, but here they look even worse if they don’t have Rose. The Hawks are up in this series and are usually at their best at home, so we’ll take them in a close one.
Oklahoma City Thunder (+7)
Cleveland Cavaliers (-7)
Probably the biggest game of the night goes down in Cleveland as Quicken Loans Arena as the Cavs try to get their first win against a team other than the Nets in their last five games. OKC is certainly a tough draw, as Russell Westbrook has been shredding all year and the Thunder are in top form behind a three-game winning streak.
Cleveland has not looked great lately, and it’s caused LeBron James to vent publicly that his team is “top heavy”. While James may have a point, his words may have caused a rift in the organization and it’s unclear how that could play out. For now, we have to believe Cleveland is on the mend, as they dispatched the Nets on Friday and will once again be at home, where they’re an elite 20-5.
The Cavs still have a ways to go before they resemble last year’s championship winner, but the Thunder aren’t always at their best on the road (12-13) and will also be without big man Enes Kanter (arm):
Enes Kanter had surgery on his fractured right arm this morning and will be re-evaluated in approximately four weeks.
It’s been tough backing Cleveland lately, but at some point their home court advantage and clear talent edge has to start winning out again. OKC could be a threat as an upset play, but we’ll stick with the Cavs tonight.
Washington Wizards (-1)
New Orleans Pelicans (+1)
Another good one could go down in New Orleans, where the red hot Wizards (8-2 in their last 10 games) will take on a Pelicans team that just downed the Spurs. Washington comes in riding a three-game winning streak and will look to improve on the road, while the Pels eye a record above .500 on their home floor.
Anthony Davis is at full strength and so is this New Orleans roster, which could make them highly dangerous in this showdown with the Wiz. While that may be the case, the Pelicans do not have anyone who can slow down John Wall or Brad Beal. On the flip side, the Wiz at least have a collection of big bodies that could give The Brow a hard time down low.
This should be a closely contested game, but Wall and co. are cooking with gas and truly look like one of the best teams in the league right now. We’ll take the Wizards in a close one.
Houston Rockets (-3)
Indiana Pacers (+3)
Houston is riding high after a nice road win over the Sixers, where James Harden produced his second 50-point triple-double of the year (first time in NBA history anyone did that twice). It will be tough to bank on Harden being that simmering again in another road contest, but Indy’s soft defense could oblige.
The chief concern if you plan on betting in Houston’s favor is that the Pacers are quite good (17-6) at home and have been in top form lately (6-4 in their last 10 games). That same can’t be said for the Rockets, who are just 4-6 over their last 10 contests and aren’t quite as formidable on the road (18-10).
While we should be a bit weary of a Pacers upset here, the Rockets are the clear pick. Houston has won 4 of the last 5 meetings in this series and the Pacers don’t have anyone that can slow down Harden. Paul George has been on fire himself lately, but he could be due for a clunker and could have problems with Corey Brewer, Patrick Beverley and Sam Dekker out on the perimeter. Expect a high-scoring game, but we like the Rockets to edge out Indy in the end.
Orlando Magic (n/a)
Toronto Raptors (n/a)
It will take a lot for Toronto’s dominance over the Magic to end on Sunday, even with star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan possibly still sidelined. That shouldn’t matter much, as Norman Powell has been fantastic in his stead and Kyle Lowry has remained on fire, as well.
Toronto has a lot going for them here, as they’ve been terrific at home (16-8) and just snapped a five-game skid. Now they get the Magic, who have lost three in a row, are 2-8 in their last 10 games and have topped the Raptors just once in their last 14 tries.
Odds are the Raptors light up the floor at home in this one and the Magic – still likely without star shooting guard Evan Fournier – struggle to keep up.
Philadelphia 76ers (+6.5)
Chicago Bulls (-6.5)
We can all probably Trust the Process at this point, as Joel Embiid has been a monster in his “rookie” season and will surely continue to be when the Sixers travel to the United Center on Sunday night. The Bulls are in a bad way due to locker room issues and are approaching a three-game skid if they can’t snap out of their funk.
Chicago does tend to play their best ball at home (14-11) and have crushed the Sixers in this series (won 11 straight), but this just feels like bad timing. The Sixers simply are the better team right now, as Embiid seems unstoppable, his presence lifts Philly’s overall defense and this team flat out competes and shares the ball.
Philly is so much more cohesive than Chicago and is dangerously gaining confidence (7-3 over their last 10 games). The Bulls are at home and could obviously squeak this out, but things might get worse before they get better in Chicago.
Dallas Mavericks (+13)
San Antonio Spurs (-13)
There won’t be much reason to get behind the Mavs on Sunday, as Dallas has been beaten down by injuries and comes into San Antonio with a terrible 6-18 road record. That’s bad news when you look at the Spurs’ home record (16-5) as well as the fact that San Antonio has dominated this series (won 17 of the last 19 meetings).
Jackson looked good in short duty with the Mavs, but with Deron Williams, J.J. Barea and Wesley Matthews all ailing, the Mavs had to act fast and pick up former Indiana product, Yogi Ferrell.
Suffice to say, the Mavs are in a bad way at the moment and taking on the Spurs on the road won’t help matters.
Golden State Warriors (n/a)
Portland Trail Blazers (n/a)
The final game of the night goes down in Portland, where the Blazers should be busting with confidence after thwarting off the Grizzlies on Friday night. Portland has won three straight overall and remains a deadly test at home, where they’re a solid 13-9 on the year.
Unfortunately they’ll be battling the Warriors, who have ripped off five straight wins in this series and are 9-1 against these Blazers in the last 10 meetings. Golden State is in top form, too, having won 8 of their last 10 contests and storms in with an elite 19-4 road record.
The lone blemish? Stephen Curry has been dealing with a quad issue and could be at risk of sitting this one out. The Dubs could also be a little tired after playing the Clippers on Saturday. That all should be considered and does boost Portland as a sneaky upset pick, but we’d rather just give them a shot at beating the spread.
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