After a very busy 10-game Friday night, the NBA quiets down to start the weekend and hands us a palatable six-game slate for Saturday. We also can enjoy some preparation time this week, as the earliest game tips off at 6 pm ET.
It’s always a little more problematic on the weekends, as the schedules can be wonky and it’s tough to know what to expect for day games. Luckily, we don’t have to deal with that tonight, so we can take most of the data at face value and make solid, educated bets.
Let’s aim for another successful night as we nail down our free NBA picks for tonight:
Sacramento Kings (+6)
Charlotte Hornets (-6)
With such a heavy Friday night of NBA action, it’s only natural that Saturday would showcase some tired squads. That could start right away with our first game, as the Hornets and Kings both played last night and will shoot for a win again tonight.
Sacramento has been surprisingly keeping it together despite losing star forward Rudy Gay (Achilles) for the year, thanks to better play out of Garrett Temple and Darren Collison. That could continue in this one, but the Hornets have been tough at home (15-9) and have a collection of bodies to throw at Kings big man, DeMarcus Cousins.
The last two meetings resulted in overtime thrillers, both of which the Hornets walked away from with wins. We doubt this one goes to OT, but the Kings tend to play up to their competition and they should be able to hang around and beat this spread.
Boston Celtics (PK)
Milwaukee Bucks (PK)
We get a rare true pick’em game on Saturday night, as Vegas doesn’t know what to do with this showdown between the Bucks and Celtics at the Bradley Center. Both teams played last night and could be a little worn down, while the Celtics are set to again be without star shooting guard, Avery Bradley.
The Celtics have held the upper hand against the Bucks lately, as they’ve won 4 of the last 5 meetings. This is surprisingly the first meeting between the two sides this year and given Milwaukee’s recent struggles, they’ll be tough to get behind.
Milwaukee might be a fun play if there was a spread to toy with here, but in a true pick’em setting, the Celtics are the only logical bet.
Los Angeles Clippers (+12.5)
Golden State Warriors (-12.5)
The last time the Clippers and Warriors faced off we all held out hope the Clips would show them they’d be a problem this year. That wasn’t remotely the case, as the Clips looked completely lost in a crushing 115-98 defeat.
We can’t expect a much better result on Saturday even with Blake Griffin (knee) back on the saddle, as the Clippers are still without star point guard Chris Paul. Add in a road trip to the Oracle Arena, where the Clippers are just 1-8 in their last 9 trips, and this looks like a loss for Lob City.
This is a bad series overall for the Clippers, too, as the Warriors have won seven straight and look as good as ever. Add in Golden State’s home record (20-3) and showing over their last 10 games (8-2) and they look like one of the safest picks on Saturday’s slate.
Denver Nuggets (+2)
Phoenix Suns (-2)
The Nuggets and Suns face each other for the second time in three days, as we just saw the Nuggets take down the Suns (127-120) on Thursday night. Denver will have a hard time keeping up this time around, however, as they’ll be on the road without star center, Nikola Jokic:
Malone said that Jokic will not travel with the team to PHX and LAL. Same with Mudiay.
Jokic has been their offensive heart and soul and without him the Nuggets will be forced to lean hard on Danilo Gallinari, Gary Harris and others. This could call for a bigger role for bench pariah Jusuf Nurkic, but he may not make much of a difference up against Tyson Chandler on the road.
This is an awful spot for Jokic to take a seat with an injury, as the Nuggets had been cruising in this series (won five straight) and were heating up (6-4 in their last 10 contests), overall. Their rise may hit a mild halt on the road in Phoenix, however, as the Suns could piece together enough offense to finally get a win in this series.
Memphis Grizzlies (+7.5)
Utah Jazz (-7.5)
Our featured game for Saturday has the Grizzlies hiking over to Utah to take on the Jazz. Utah has been fantastic at home (17-8) and just got done dispatching the Lakers. They’ve remained hot lately (7-3 over their last 10 games), too, despite dealing with a Rodney Hood injury.
Hood is back in the lineup and for the first time in a while, the Jazz are completely 100%. That’s bad news for Memphis, who could be a bit tired after playing the last game of Friday night in Portland. The Grizzlies haven’t been in top form lately (just 5-5 over their last 10 games) and also tend to have a tougher time on the road. Their series with Utah has been pretty back and forth, but they simply do not match up well with the Jazz. Chandler Parsons will likely sit this game out and the Jazz have tough defensive answers (George Hill and Rudy Gobert) for both Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
Overall, this looks like a great spot to trust in the Jazz, even though the spread feels a bit thick.
Brooklyn Nets (+11.5)
Minnesota Timberwolves (-11.5)
The final game of the night goes down in Minnesota, where the fast-paced Nets look to push the Timberwolves. Minnesota has been solid lately (6-4 over their last 10 games) and looks to be in a fantastic spot in this one. The Nets could be a little worn down after playing the Cavs last night and also are absolutely atrocious (2-19) on the road this year.
Minnesota has the edge from every angle, as Karl-Anthony Towns can feast in the paint or Andrew Wiggins and Zach Lavine can peck away from the outside. One way or another, this game should feature plenty of points and a Timberwolves win. While we like the Wolves, it’s worth pointing out that their defense isn’t always great and they do tend to fade late in games. Because of that, we’ll give the Nets a shot at beating a pretty rich spread.
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