Monday’s Free NBA Picks for March 20th

by Kevin Roberts
on March 20, 2017

Sunday capped an explosive NBA week in style, as Damian Lillard almost scored 50 points, the 76ers upset the visiting Celtics and the Lakers gave the defending champion Cavs a run for their money at the Staples Center.

Through all the craziness, we still kept things together, going 6-2 on the night. Our only gaffes were pretty forgivable, as few could have seen Philadelphia taking down the Celtics and we felt Miami was a solid bet at home against the visiting Blazers.

There was evidence supporting these upsets, though. Isaiah Thomas was held out for the second straight game for Boston and Portland had been playing quality ball.

While a perfect 8-0 run would have been ideal to close out the week, we get to start fresh on Monday with a fun 7-game slate. Let’s see where our NBA betting loyalties should lie tonight as we take a look at all seven contests:

Atlanta Hawks (+5.5)
VS
Charlotte Hornets (-5.5)
Total: 203.5

This could be a really fun slate, seeing as this Hawks vs. Hornets battle in Charlotte is actually one of the worst games when we look at spreads. That’s a good thing, as this slate looks really competitive on paper. That’s certainly been the case in this series, too, with these two sides splitting the last six meetings (3-3) right down the middle.

There is something to be said about recent success, though, and most of that has come for the Hornets, who have taken each of the last two games and 3 of the last 4 meetings. Charlotte is also in a solid spot at home, where they’re a respectable 19-15 on the year. The Hornets also got Frank Kaminsky and Nicolas Batum back from nagging ailments recently, so they’ll be firing on all cylinders.

That won’t be the case for the visiting Hawks, who already are stuck in a slide (lost three straight) and will be tasked with getting a tough road win with versatile power forward Paul Millsap (knee) sitting out games tonight and Wednesday:

Not having Millsap on the road is a big deal, and that leaves Dwight Howard to contend with Charlotte’s solid collection of bigs. This will ask more out of Howard and Dennis Schroder in the scoring department, while also delivering a hit the Atlanta’s defense. This might be a good spot to favor the Hornets.

Pick

Hornets
104
Hawks
101
Utah Jazz (-2.5)
VS
Indiana Pacers (+2.5)
Total: 193.5

A tough game to gauge could be this battle in Indiana between the Jazz and Pacers. Indy should be pretty tired after facing the Raptors last night, while Utah will be looking for a big win after dropping their last two games. That could be difficult to come by on the road, especially with the Pacers tending to play their best ball (24-10) on their home floor.

While Indy is usually a good bet at home, this might not be the best spot to get enamored with them in the pro basketball betting world. Indy is just 5-5 over their last 10 games, should be a little tired after last night’s loss and also doesn’t matchup particularly well with the Jazz. Rudy Gobert should keep Myles Turner in check down low, while also limiting Paul George and Jeff Teague to their outside games.

Gordon Hayward and George Hill bring enough perimeter defense to win on the edge, too, which could help give the Jazz enough lift to get a big road win. Utah certainly could use it, as the Thunder have worked their way up to just 2.5 games back in the Northwest Division.

Pick

Jazz
101
Pacers
96
Philadelphia 76ers (+5)
VS
Orlando Magic (-5)
Total: 211.5

Another weird game to project includes the Sixers and Magic. Philly lacks any real star power beyond rookie forward Dario Saric, yet they remain fairly competitive and have looked very good lately in a blowout win over the Mavs and a tight win over the Celtics.

As good as the 76ers have been lately, they are still abysmal on the road (9-24), which may make them a tough sell versus the Magic at the Amway Center. Of course, Orlando is still finding themselves this deep into the season and are an uninspiring 12-22 on their home floor.

The good news for the Magic is they did just get a win in their last game and star center Nikola Vucevic has been back after dealing with an annoying ankle issue. He’s routinely wrecked the team that originally drafted him, while Orlando has won 4 of the last 5 meetings.

Philly is a dangerous upset pick tonight, but even their last win in this series came by one point. They’ll keep it close and we could get a decent amount of points here, but we actually like Orlando at home in this one.

Pick

Magic
108
76ers
106
Washington Wizards (n/a)
VS
Boston Celtics (n/a)
Total: N/A

One of the biggest games of the night goes down at the TD Garden in Boston, where the Celtics look to stave off the visiting Wizards for second place in the Eastern Conference. John Wall and co. are just two games behind Boston and a win on the road would inch them closer to the #2 or even the #1 seed.

Boston limps into this matchup after losing to the 76ers last night, but the silver lining is they should be getting back star point guard Isaiah Thomas (knee). That remains the main reason why the betting information is slow to get out for this contest, while Wiz star point guard John Wall has been banged up, himself.

Wall hasn’t missed any time and should be ready to rock here, while the Wizards as a whole should be far fresher after not playing the past two nights. Boston is tough to bet against at home, but the Wiz have jumped out to a 2-1 season series lead and have been the more impressive team over the last three months. Even if Thomas suits up, we’d have to be concerned he’s a little rusty or not his usually effective self.

Because of the uncertainty and the way the Wiz have been playing, we’ll take Washington in this one.

Pick

Wizards
106
Celtics
102
Denver Nuggets (+9)
VS
Houston Rockets (-9)
Total: 237

One of the funnest and most explosive games tonight is without a doubt a rematch between the Nuggets and Rockets, who just faced off on March 18th. That game ended with the Rockets getting their second straight win of the season series, while also seeing both teams top 100+ points for the third straight meeting.

James Harden has been on a tear and doesn’t figure to be slowed down by the Nuggets, who allowed him to put up 40 points in the last game, along with a triple-double. Harden has been especially nasty on his home floor, too, where the Rockets have been a blistering 25-9 so far this year.

Houston enters with a solid 6-4 mark over their last 10 games, and they’ll also be far healthier than Denver. That at least figures to be the case, as both Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler have been missing time with ailments and are again questionable ahead of this game:

Those two forwards suiting up could be huge for Denver, who don’t find a lot of success on the road (just 13-19 away from home), but are tough to beat when they have all of their weapons on hand. Either one hitting the floor could take a lot of scoring pressure off of big man Nikola Jokic and help make this an interesting showdown.

While Denver is certainly a threat in this spot, the Rockets are even more dangerous and will be on their home floor. Given how Harden is slaying right now, he’ll be tough to bet against in this one.

Pick

Rockets
116
Nuggets
112
Golden State Warriors (-2)
VS
Oklahoma City Thunder (+2)
Total: 222

The Warriors and Thunder will wage war for the fourth and final time during the regular season, and this time Kevin Durant (knee) won’t be able to battle Russell Westbrook and his former teammates. OKC is certainly a threat at home (26-9) and they’ve been on a tear (won five straight), but they’re down 3-0 in this season series and may end up hitting a brick wall tonight.

Golden State seems to have finally woken up from a mild funk, as they’ve pieced together two straight dominant wins and will look to hand OKC a convincing season sweep in this one. The closest game in this series did go down in OKC (Dubs still won by 16) and KD won’t be on hand, but the Warriors remain the better team and will probably want to bring out the broom in support of Durant.

The Thunder are not a bad upset play here, but the Warriors are starting to look like themselves again and are starting to heat up (three straight wins). OKC could make this one far tougher on the Warriors than the three previous meetings, but don’t expect a different final outcome.

Pick

Warriors
117
Thunder
114
New York Knicks (+10.5)
VS
Los Angeles Clippers (-10.5)
Total: 215.5

The night cap for this slate could be a weird one, as Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks visit Los Angeles to take on the Clippers. Vegas either really hates the Knicks or loves the Clippers here, and it’s tough to argue against the logic at either end.

New York certainly has some explosive offensive ability, but they do not play well on the road (just 11-24 outside of MSG) and might not have big man Kristaps Porzingis (thigh) on hand for this one:

Zinger does hope to play, but he’s far from a lock and even his presence might not be enough to keep this competitive. L.A. is always a tough out at the Staples Center, where they’ve been a solid 22-11 this season.

Chris Paul and the entire Lob City cast will all be at hand for this clash, too, so it’s going to be tough to deny a Clippers squad that has won this matchup 9 games in a row. That includes an earlier meeting this year at Madison Square Garden, where Griffin and DeAndre Jordan destroyed the Knicks down low (60 total points) in a win.

Pick

Clippers
115
Knicks
107
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