Free NBA Picks: Rockets Over Celtics and Wednesday’s NBA Predictions
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in a bad way these days, as LeBron James recently went on a tirade against the organization. King James feels the Cavs are a sinking ship without some outside help, as the star forward pointed out the dire need for an extra playmaker.
How the Cavs respond on Wednesday night is one key storyline for tonight’s NBA action, and it’s a solid bet they’ll step up their game at home against a banged up Kings team. That could make the Cavs one of the safest bets on this slate; one in which is an extremely busy one with 10 games to account for.
Things leveled out a bit on Tuesday after a chaotic Monday night, and we fared just fine with our NBA picks with a solid 4-2 mark. Our gaffes? Picking against a Sixers team that didn’t have Joel Embiid and backing a tired Utah squad in Denver.
It was still a profitable night overall and we get several chances to extend that success with a ton of action tonight. Let’s dive in:
LeBron James called out his franchise on Tuesday in an effort to spark another move on the roster. That either is a bold claim for the Cavs to make one more trade, and/or a move to spark a Cleveland team that is floundering right now.
Either way, we like the chances of LeBron’s angst echoing in the locker room and leading to a big win on Wednesday night. Cleveland’s elite home record at Quicken Loans Arena ( ) aids that argument, as does the clear backing by Vegas based on this spread.
The Kings are going in the opposite direction for the most part and it’s all on DeMarcus Cousins now that Rudy Gay (Achilles) is done for the year. Sacramento can possibly beat this spread, but the Cavs should be dialed in at home – especially after King James sounded off.
In what could be the game of the night, James Harden leads his high-flying Rockets into Boston to take on the Celtics. Boston has been in a rough slide, as they lost last night and have seen their losing streak climb to three games. Needless to say, they’ll be up to play on their home floor, where they’re a stellar 13-8 on the year.
As badly as the Celtics will want to win, there are two huge problems here: the Rockets are one of the best teams in the league and they don’t have Avery Bradley around to help slow down Houston’s offense:
#NEBHInjuryReport: Avery Bradley (Achilles) "will be out all week," according to Brad Stevens. Tyler Zeller (sick) will travel to WAS.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 23, 2017
Bradley’s absence has already negatively impacted the Celtics and it’s quite possible it continues to do so against a Rockets team that averages over 114 points per game. Harden has been quite the handful all year and even though Houston has been pretty mediocre lately (just 5-5 over their last 10 games), this looks like a favorable spot for the Rockets.
Nets fans could get a good one at the Barclays Center tonight, as the Nets tend to play well at home and host a Miami squad that struggles (6-17) on the road. The Heat have really turned it on lately, however, as they’ve won four straight – including an impressive win over the Golden State Warriors.
The play might not be a Nets upset here, but maybe just a close game that goes down to the wire. Goran Dragic is playing well at both ends of the court and the man on fire is Dion Waiters (33 points in back-to-back outings). If he can keep it going, the Heat should win what could be a pretty intense road date.
Miami does continue to be shorthanded, but the Nets don’t have a reliable starting point guard and play some of the worst defense in the league. Look for this fast-paced game to produce a lot of points and a tight finish, but we like Miami to win.
Stephen Curry and co. continue their road trip in Charlotte tonight, as they try to get a big win after dropping their last game in Miami. Golden State has still been on fire lately (8-2 in their last 10 games) and is a formidable foe thanks to their elite 18-4 road record.
The Hornets shouldn’t be written off here, of course, as they’re at mostly full strength (only missing bench scorer Jeremy Lamb) and tend to excel on their home floor (15-8 at home). Curry has been a revolving door defender at the point guard position, too, which could give way to a huge game for Kemba Walker.
In addition, the Hornets have the perimeter defenders in Nicolas Batum and Michael-Kidd Gilchrist to potentially slow down Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant on the outside. Flat out stopping the Warriors feels like a reach, but there could be enough logic to get behind the Hornets beating this spread. The Warriors have won four straight in this series and are sure to make it five in a row, but shooting for the Over and taking Charlotte for the points is a fine play.
We could get another explosive game in New Orleans, where Russell Westbrook leads his Thunder up against the Pelicans. The big storyline here will be the status of big man Anthony Davis, who sat out his last game:
AD says he's feeling better and was able to go through practice today #Pelicans
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 24, 2017
It sounds like The Brow will be in full force tonight, but NBA bettors should keep tabs on his status, as he’s been known to be scratched ahead of games before. That being said, he did wreck the Thunder earlier this year and is very productive (averages 30.7 points per game at home) on his home floor.
OKC is the better team at this juncture, but the Pelicans play well at home and should have their star center back in action. Provided Davis is back in the saddle, we like a Pelicans win tonight.
The Hawks and Bulls face off again for the second time in the last five days and for the third time this year. Atlanta has been cruising in this series so far, winning both games during the 2016-17 season and six straight, overall.
Chicago could catch a break tonight, as they’ll be back at home at the United Center, where they’re a solid 14-9 on the season. The Bulls have also heated up a bit since losing to the Hawks, as they’ve won two straight and with one more win could be back over .500.
The Hawks have without a doubt been the more reliable team this year, as they’ve really turned their season around and have been hot lately (7-3 in their last 10 games). If we’re looking strictly at the matchup, this is Atlanta’s game to lose. They’re fairly mediocre (13-10) on the road, but they have the size down low to dominate this game, as well as the perimeter defenders to give Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler fits.
Chicago doesn’t have the shooting or size to win this game and for a team that has been so difficult to peg all year, a three-game winning streak might feel like a mild reach. Vegas doesn’t know how to call this one, but we’ll take the Hawks in a nail-biter.
The Sixers are down bodies, yet they keep on trucking along. Philly has really turned things up lately, as they won again last night to give them 7 wins in their last 10 games. We’re seeing better defense and more efficient offense out of this young club and this +11.5 spread may be too rich to bet against them in this one.
We still need to account for two things, of course: the Sixers are not healthy and Milwaukee plays their best ball at the Bradley Center. The Bucks could also have their confidence back after routing the Rockets in Houston earlier in the week. With Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid both out, the Sixers could have issues in the paint and will likely lack the scoring to stage the upset.
The Sixers are quickly becoming a tough team to safely bet against, but their hot run can’t keep going without star talent to support it. We think they can beat the spread tonight, but this is a game the Bucks need to lock down.
The Toronto Raptors could be in a tough spot tonight, as they’ll be operating on the second game of a back-to-back set in Memphis. They’re also be tasked with trying to snap an ugly four-game losing streak with star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan still sidelined:
DeRozan out next two games
— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) January 23, 2017
That’s not the greatest bet on this slate, and Vegas knows it. Memphis plays tough defense and is for the most part 100% healthy. Toronto can’t stop Marc Gasol down low and won’t really have an answer for Mike Conley, either. With their offense quite ISO reliant, the Raptors could struggle mightily on the road against a stingy Grizzlies defense.
On the flipside, Memphis has not been getting it done (4-6 over their last 10 games) and needs a big win to get back on track. Taking down a depleted Raptors team could fit the bill.
Probably one of the toughest NBA predictions to make tonight is this game between the Knicks and Mavericks in Dallas. Both veteran teams have flashed glimpses of playoff potential lately, but both squads also have their issues.
New York is not good (8-15) on the road, while they limp into this showdown with just three wins in their last 10 games. Complicating matters is the health of Kristaps Porzingis, who is reportedly dealing with an elbow issue on top of a sore Achilles.
Zinger not being 100% is holding the Knicks back on both ends and that’s bad news for a team that already has a tough time out on the road. For Dallas, the Mavs need to figure out a way to turn things on at home (just 9-12 in front of their home crowd) and are dealing with injuries. J.J. Barea is sidelined yet again and both Andrew Bogut and Wesley Matthews are questionable for tonight’s showdown:
J.J. Barea (left calf strain) is out. Andrew Bogut (right hamstring) & Wesley Matthews (right hip) are questionable vs. New York. #DALvsNYK
— Earl K. Sneed (@EarlKSneed) January 24, 2017
Health could be the kicker in this matchup, as the Knicks at least have all of their key players and arguably have a little more offensive firepower than Dallas right now. Things could change if Wes and Bogut suit up, but for now the Knicks feel like an appealing upset pick.
The final game of the night feels fairly obvious, as Damian Lillard and the Blazers host the Lakers and tend to shred L.A. in this matchup. Portland is at their best at home in general, but they almost always come out firing against a Lakers team they’ve beaten in 10 consecutive games.
It is going to be a lot to ask of the Lakers to get an upset road win tonight, as they remain severely depleted across the board. D’Angelo Russell remains out due to knee and calf ailments, which leaves the Lakers experimenting with various options at point guard:
D'Angelo Russell will travel with Lakers for their two-game trip in Portland (Wed) and Utah (Thurs). He'll continue rehab w/ training staff
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 24, 2017
Add in an injury to small forward Luol Deng and erratic play from big man Julius Randle, and the Lakers are impossible to trust right now. If you need further evidence to support a Blazers pick tonight, just note the Lakers’ road record (5-19) or recent success (3-7 over their last games). This could be a fun game to target the Over when it comes to the Total, but don’t be shocked if Portland wins easily at home.