Spurs Over Cavaliers and Saturday’s Free NBA Picks for 1/21

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The NBA action piles onto the hardwood on Saturday, as basketball fans are graced with an intense 11-game slate to kick off the weekend. The stars come out to play early on Saturday, as the Blazers and Celtics face off in Boston at 4:00 pm ET.

It’s a full night of NBA action, which gives us plenty of opportunities to win big. The only question, of course, is which spreads are worth targeting and which upsets aren’t the worst bets. We do have to watch out for some potential blowouts (three games with 8.5-point spreads or worse), but overall Saturday could be handing us a long list of barn burners (three games listed with 1.5-point spreads or lower and six games below 6-point spreads).

It’s going to be a fun and wild night of NBA basketball, so let’s dive in and see where we should go with our NBA picks:

Portland Trail Blazers (+8.5)
Boston Celtics (-8.5)
Total: 218

The first game of the night goes down at TD Garden between the Celtics and the visiting Blazers. This spread isn’t kind to Portland, who have been terrible (7-18) on the road and are sliding right now in the midst of a four-game skid.

Boston, meanwhile, is one of the better teams in the league and tends to take care of business (13-7) on their home floor. The Celtics do have one knock on them for this matchup, of course, as star shooting guard Avery Bradley has already been ruled out due to a foot injury:

Boston has been completely fine even when Bradley has missed time, however, as Isaiah Thomas has continued firing away as the team’s top scorer and Marcus Smart has enjoyed success when thrust into the starting five. Portland will need a huge effort from Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to keep this one close, but their road issues and atrocious defense have that looking like a pipe dream.


Washington Wizards (+1)
Detroit Pistons (-1)
Total: 210

The second game for Saturday has John Wall and the red hot Wizards visiting Detroit. The Pistons tend to be at their best on their home floor, but they’re still just 11-9 at home this year and have been shaky for most of the year. That’s bad news as they welcome the Wiz, who have morphed into a top playoff contender behind four straight wins and a nice 7-3 run over their last 10 games.

Washington has fared well in this series, as well, taking 5 of the last 6 games. Detroit could also be struggling from a team chemistry perspective, as there are growing rumors that Reggie Jackson could be on the move:

Whether or not that’s true, the Pistons have been tough to trust for a while due to their inconsistency and the Wiz are a different team than they were earlier in the year. Detroit could step up with some stiff defense at home, but we still like the Wiz as mild underdogs.


Philadelphia 76ers (+10)
Atlanta Hawks (-10)
Total: 200.5

Joel Embiid will almost surely be resting after playing last night, which should put the Sixers in a tough position as they try to win on the road against the Hawks. The 76ers have been a great surprise lately, having won three straight and 8 of their last 10 games.

This looks like a logical spot for their torrid run to hit a wall, though, as the Sixers are just 5-12 away from home on the year and won’t have their best player. It doesn’t help that the Hawks are healthy, at home (where they’re a solid 12-8) and have ripped off five straight wins in the series.

The only thing possibly working against Atlanta is if they rest veteran center Dwight Howard, but even that shouldn’t keep them from getting a nice home win. Philly has been playing their hearts out of course, so a 10-point spread might be a little rich here.


Brooklyn Nets (+12)
Charlotte Hornets (-12)
Total: 218.5

The Nets and Hornets are set to compete in Charlotte tonight and both could be a little worn down after playing last night. Both teams did net blowout wins, however, so it’s also possible we get a good, high-scoring affair.

Brooklyn will be pressing their road luck, of course, as they just beat the Pelicans on the road to grab their second road victory (2-18) on the year. Getting a third on the second of a back-to-back set feels like a reach, especially with Jeremy Lin (hamstring) still out and the distinct possibility of veteran big men Trevor Booker and/or Brook Lopez being rested.

Charlotte also tends to get the job done at home (14-7) and is the far more cohesive team. The Hornets have also done very well in this specific matchup, winning 5 of the last 6 meetings. Brooklyn edged them out in an explosive 120-118 game at the Barclays Center earlier this year, so it makes sense to see Charlotte getting them back with a nice home win.


Milwaukee Bucks (+1.5)
Miami Heat (-1.5)
Total: 206

The Bucks head down to South Beach to battle the Heat for the second time this month. Milwaukee hosted (and routed) Miami back on January 13th and will be looking to take a 2-1 season series lead.

Neither game has been close yet this year, with the home team winning easily in both games. It’s hard to know if that trend continues, as Miami has not been a reliable team at all lately (just 7-13 at home and 3-7 over their last 10 games), while the Bucks are shaky (8-12) on the road, as well.

Milwaukee is not in a good spot right now, as they’ve dropped four straight games and none of them have been particularly close. Miami has a nice two-game winning streak, but they’re basically a two-man show and we all know that can’t last forever. The Bucks are too good to keep sliding like this, and after how easily they took down Miami just a week ago, we like their chances to make it two straight in this series.


Phoenix Suns (+5.5)
New York Knicks (-5.5)
Total: 220.5

Devin Booker tries to keep his hot run going on Saturday, as he leads his Suns into the Madison Square Garden to take on the Knicks. Neither the Suns or Knicks are consistently winning right now, but it’s going to be hard to deny New York, who tend to play their best ball at home and have a healthy Kristaps Porzingis (Achilles) back in the fold.

New York certainly has been floundering lately (3-7 over their last 10 games), but they did just get a nice win over the Celtics recently and have been competing. Phoenix is in the same boat, but they are terrible on defense and do not always perform well on the road (5-17 away from home). With both teams being impossible to trust these days, we’ll roll with the Knicks at MSG.


Houston Rockets (+1)
Memphis Grizzlies (-1)
Total: 215.5

James Harden and co. got housed by the Warriors last night and could be a little tired as they head into Memphis to take on the Grizzlies. That could be problematic, as tonight could easily end up serving as a trap game.

Vegas certainly notes the risk either way, as Memphis is very good on their home floor (15-8) and is already up 2-0 in the season series. While that’s important to note, it stands to reason the Rockets would snag a win at some point in this series. Memphis not really being in top form lately contributes to that logic, as the Grizzlies are just 5-5 over their last 10 games.

Houston went into last night on a solid roll (7-3 in their previous 10 contests) and they can really fill it up offensively. We like them as the mild underdog as they get a win in this season series.


San Antonio Spurs (n/a)
Cleveland Cavaliers (n/a)
Total: n/a

The first game on this slate without any betting information is quite arguably the best if everyone suits up, but we know right off the bat that two guys could be out. The Spurs will definitely be without star center Pau Gasol (hand), who hurt himself during warmups in his last game and is going to miss significant time:

Kevin Love is still iffy for the other side, too, as he’s had his back flare up and it’s caused him to miss his last game and half of the previous one. There hasn’t been any ruling on his status for Saturday yet, but it does sound like he could sit out again.

The Spurs have the depth to make up for Gasol, who was receiving erratic minutes to begin with, while they also can lean harder offensively on LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard. Cleveland is elite at home (19-3), but they could be in a tough spot against the Spurs’ stingy defense if Love can’t go. With Leonard possibly locking down LeBron James, this game could come down to how well Kyrie Irving performs.

Spread aside, we like the Spurs to get a big road upset here, provided Love is out again.


Sacramento Kings (+6)
Chicago Bulls (-6)
Total: 205

DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings go to work in Chicago on Saturday night, as they try to snap a 4-game skid. That may not be easy to do in the United Center, where Jimmy Butler and the Bulls are a solid 13-9.

Chicago certainly hasn’t been a formidable matchup this year on a regular basis, but they tend to play well at home and should be a little more focused after getting thrashed in Atlanta last night. They don’t have the ability to stop Boogie down low, but the Kings are severely shorthanded without star forward Rudy Gay (Achilles) and don’t get the job done (8-13) on the road. We like the Kings to make it a game and beat the spread, but this is Chicago’s game to lose.


Los Angeles Clippers (n/a)
Denver Nuggets (n/a)
Total: n/a

This showdown between the Clippers and Nuggets is just the second game on Saturday’s schedule that’s in doubt from a betting perspective. L.A. is still without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but the real question is in Denver, where a litany of players aren’t locks yet for tonight.

Nikola Jokic (ankle) is probably the biggest name, but he played last game and thrived (35 points vs. Spurs) and is fully expected to suit up:

Jokic isn’t the only Nuggets player somewhat in doubt, however, as Danilo Gallinari, Gary Harris, Darrell Arthur and Wilson Chandler have all been banged up.

The good news is Denver’s top player is likely to hit the floor and the Nuggets will be at home. With the Clips even more depleted and this series split right down the middle (2-2) over the last four meetings, it’s tough to go against The Joker in this one.


Indiana Pacers (+6)
Utah Jazz (-6)
Total: 203

There just doesn’t seem to be any getting around Indiana’s road woes. Paul George and co. had been heating up (7-3 in their previous 10 games), but they coughed up a loss last night to the lowly Lakers. That drops Indy to 6-15 on the road this year and now they’ll head into Utah on the second night of a back-to-back set.

Normally Utah might be in some trouble after going into overtime in Dallas last night, but with the Pacers just as tired and seemingly unable to get road wins, the Jazz are an easy call here.


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