Free NBA Picks: Warriors Over Rockets and Friday’s NBA Predictions

by Kevin Roberts
on January 20, 2017

The NBA action heats up on Friday night, as a rematch between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets headlines a busy nine-game slate. That’s quite the change in pace from Thursday, when we just had five games to play with in NBA betting circles.

We fared just fine in our NBA picks last night, going 4-1 across the board, straight up. Things could get a little more complicated for tonight’s slate, of course, as the Rockets vs. Warriors game might be a toss-up and we have eight other games to consider.

Houston and Golden State are without a doubt the top game to watch, as the Rockets remain one of the few teams to take the Warriors down this season. That game can be looked back as an instant classic, as James Harden and co. showed they might be a tough out come playoff time with an intense overtime win at the Oracle Arena.

Stephen Curry and the Dubs will enter Texas with their sights on returning the favor tonight, while the Rockets would love to jump out to a 2-0 season series lead. Let’s go over all nine games to see what the latest NBA betting lines look like and how we might want to bet tonight:

Toronto Raptors (+1)
VS
Charlotte Hornets (-1)
Total: 215

The Raptors visit Charlotte in a fun Eastern Conference battle tonight, where Vegas seems to not know what will happen. The home team Hornets get the slimmest of edges when it comes to the spread, but maybe they shouldn’t. The Hornets are a solid 13-7 on their home floor, but just 3-7 over their last 10 games and 1-5 in their last six meetings with Toronto.

Toronto isn’t afraid of playing in tough environments, either, as they’re a strong 13-8 on the road this year and 17-6 inside the Eastern Conference. In their last three trips to Charlotte, they’re 2-1 and the only loss came in overtime.

There is a negative for the Raptors, of course, as defensive ace DeMarre Carroll (neck) got hurt in Toronto’s last game and could miss some time:

Even if Carroll does sit, the Raptors still have their main scorers and also have nice depth via Norman Powell and Terrence Ross that can fill in for Carroll. Charlotte has some solid perimeter defenders, but they haven’t performed at an elite level this year and this unit as a whole has been shaky since the new year rolled around. They aren’t a bad pick at home, but we like Toronto.

Pick
Raptors
107
Hornets
105
Portland Trail Blazers (-2)
VS
Philadelphia 76ers (+2)
Total: 209.5

At one point can we safely bet against the 76ers again? Joel Embiid has started an uprising in Philly, as these young Sixers are slowly learning how to not just compete – but actually win. Before we know it, uber-hyped rookie Ben Simmons will be in the fold and the Sixers just might start thinking about the playoffs.

Their confidence is busting right now and that could be a problem for a Blazers team that doesn’t defend (giving up over 110 points per game) and doesn’t win (7-17) on the road. Philly, meanwhile, has notched 9 of their 14 wins at home and is seemingly always a threat with Joel Embiid taking the floor. With starting point guard T.J. McConnell (wrist) also back and healthy, the Sixers could be a fun underdog play tonight.

Portland does still yield some explosive offensive firepower, but the Sixers are a shocking 7-3 over their last 10 games and suddenly feel dangerous. We’ll ride the wave with them at home.

Pick
76ers
106
Blazers
104
Milwaukee Bucks (-3.5)
VS
Orlando Magic (+3.5)
Total: 209.5

We could have another fun one going down in Orlando, as Giannis Antetokounmpo is set to lead his Milwaukee Bucks into the Amway Center. The Bucks have hit a wall recently (three straight losses), but something has to break in this one, with Orlando struggling just as badly. Orlando is actually worse off (2-8 over their last 10 games) and could be undermanned on the perimeter.

Orlando could remain without starting two guard, Evan Fournier (heel), and will for sure be without backup shooting guard Jodie Meeks:

That lack of depth hurts Orlando’s outside scoring and could force Aaron Gordon and possible Mario Hezonja into extensive action. The Magic are in a bad place overall right now, and taking weapons out of an offense that already wasn’t overly imposing could make things far worse.

This looks to be pointing in Milwaukee’s favor, as the Bucks have won 4 of the last 5 games in this series and will be at full strength.

Pick
Bucks
104
Magic
101
Golden State Warriors (-5.5)
VS
Houston Rockets (+5.5)
Total: 236.5

Wow, is this an insane Total. These two teams do have the explosive offense to hit that, but the oddsmakers may be thinking about the impact of the last meeting (which went into 2OT). Going that high on the Total might feel a bit rich.

This spread also feels a little light, considering the Dubs have been good so far at repaying their debts. The Rockets came into the Oracle Arena and edge the Dubs out earlier this year and you better believe Steph, KD and co. are going to want to even things up.

Houston is still a tough team to bet against, as they’re a staggering 17-4 on their home floor and are a solid 7-3 over their last 10 contests. However, they haven’t exactly fared all that well in this series aside from their last game, as the Warriors have claimed wins in 8 of the last 9 meetings. Golden State is also piping hot right now (won 5 in a row) and is 9-1 over their last 10 games. Look for them to even things up and cover here.

Pick
Warriors
117
Rockets
110
Chicago Bulls (+5.5)
VS
Atlanta Hawks (-5.5)
Total: 203.5

It is extremely tough to know which version of these teams will show up on any given night. The Bulls have show time and time again they can beat any good team in the league, but then they play down to bad competition and lose winnable games. Atlanta, on the other hand, was looking like one of the hottest teams in the league and then didn’t bother to show up in Detroit in their last game.

The hope here is we get a pretty good contest and Vegas will be spotting the Hawks 5.5 points based on their hot run and home court edge. Atlanta has certainly been good, winning 8 of their last 10 games and also sporting a decent 11-8 home record. They’ve also owned this series lately, winning the last five meetings and 7 of the last 8.

Chicago has been a tough team to trust all year, as they benched Rajon Rondo and have not been great on the road (8-13). They also may not be completely healthy for this one, with big man Taj Gibson (ankle) looking like a game-time call tonight:

Possibly a man down on the road in a series they’ve struggled with, it will be tough to get behind a Bulls win. That being said, the Hawks are not always reliable and this spread is wide enough to give the Bulls some wiggle room. We like a close game and Chicago to beat the spread.

Pick
Hawks
106
Bulls
103
Brooklyn Nets (n/a)
VS
New Orleans Pelicans (n/a)
Total: n/a

This is one of two games without betting information out yet, as we can’t be sure of the status of Anthony Davis and any players the Nets might sit. Brooklyn is notorious for resting Brook Lopez and with the Nets also playing on Saturday, that feels like a distinct possibility in this one.

With or without Lopez, the Nets figure to be in a tough spot on the road, where they’ve won just once all year. That second win could be arriving at anytime, but the Pelicans have locked in 11 of their 17 season wins on their home floor and are as healthy now as they’ve been all year.

The Brow has been dealing with hip and hand issues, but suited up for his last game and figures to be a lock for this one. He has a tasty matchup against a weak Nets front line and also tends to thrive at home, where he averages over 31 points per contest. With or without Davis, the Pels should have enough offense via Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Terrence Jones to carve out a win.

We can probably expect a high-scoring and possibly even close affair, but the Pelicans feel like the play in this matchup.

Pick
Pelicans
110
Nets
104
Sacramento Kings (+7.5)
VS
Memphis Grizzlies (-7.5)
Total: 199.5

DeMarcus Cousins has a tough matchup on his hands tonight, as he leads his Kings into Memphis to battle Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies. Kings head coach David Joerger has split the series to this point against his former team, but may fall behind the count in this one.

Sacramento has been struggling (lost three straight and 8 of their last 10) overall, but is also not getting it done (8-12) on the road. Things could be made even more difficult with star forward Rudy Gay (Achilles) being lost for the season.

That’s awful news any way you look at it, but it’s especially bad tonight, as the Kings will be taking on one of the nastiest defenses in the league and will be at far less than 100%. Boogie takes on even more offensive pressure, which the likes of Garrett Temple, Omri Casspi and Matt Barnes may be called upon to help replace Gay’s role.

Not only do things look bad for the Kings on the surface, but this could serve as a bounce-back game for Memphis. The Grizzlies have lost two straight and need to get back on the winning path, while this matchup and a solid 14-8 home record suggests they should be able to. The Kings aren’t a terrible bet to beat this spread, but we like Memphis to put the clamps down and cover at home.

Pick
Grizzlies
104
Kings
96
Utah Jazz (n/a)
VS
Dallas Mavericks (n/a)
Total: n/a

Gordon Hayward and the Jazz take on the Mavericks in Dallas tonight in the only other game that has yet to release betting information. One huge reason for that are some injury question marks in Utah, while the Mavs could potentially rest some key veterans after playing on Thursday night.

The biggest question mark across the board is probably the aging Dirk Nowitzki, who could be rested. Deron Williams is also a rest candidate, while Dallas will also likely continue to be without star center Andrew Bogut.

For Utah, George Hill is expected to suit up, but could still end up sitting due to an ankle issue:

Hill should play, but is worth keeping an eye on leading into this contest. While Hill is probably safe to go in Dallas, we do know shooting guard Rodney Hood won’t be:

Hood’s absence takes a little scoring and defense away from the Jazz, but their team defense is arguably tops in the NBA and they have plenty of scoring to lean on via Hill, Hayward and big man Derrick Favors. Utah has been reliable on the road (12-9) for the most part, too, while they’ve also done well in this matchup (won 3 of the last 4 meetings) lately. We like the Jazz to take this one as they continue to stave off the Oklahoma City Thunder for first place in the Northwest Division.

Pick
Jazz
96
Mavericks
92
Indiana Pacers (-3)
VS
Los Angeles Lakers (+3)
Total: 220.5

The final game for Friday night could be an interesting one, as Paul George tries to help the Pacers add to a paltry 6-14 road record. Indy has not been good at all on the road this year, but it’s tough to knock them too hard at the moment, as they’ve ripped off 7 wins in their last 10 contests.

PG-13 and co. have also fared very well in this specific matchup, as the Pacers have owned the Lakers lately, winning three straight in this series, as well as 6 of the last 7 meetings.

L.A. is getting some respect from Vegas here, largely because they’re at home, where they’ve locked down 10 of their 15 wins on the year. Los Angeles hasn’t been anything close to reliable recently, however, as they’ve dropped five straight losses and are just 3-7 over their last 10 games.

The kicker will be whether or not you buy the Lakers at home, as opposed to Indiana’s inability to get road wins. This spread is too tiny to play around, so we’re going to side with Indiana’s talent and recent hot run. They’re the better team and if we’re to believe they’re truly turning a corner, this is a game they need to win.

Brace for a ton of points and a fairly close game, but we’ll take Indy to cover.

Pick
Pacers
112
Lakers
105
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