Toronto Raptors Over Indiana Pacers and Sunday’s Free NBA Picks

by Kevin Roberts
on March 19, 2017

The NBA is keeping things as chill as possible for the third night in a row, with just 8 games set for Sunday’s schedule. The scheduling understandably took this weekend’s March Madness contests into consideration, but still leaves NBA bettors with plenty of opportunities to cash in on their NBA knowledge.

Let’s go over all eight games and see where your NBA betting loyalties should lie on Sunday:

Dallas Mavericks (-4.5)
VS
Brooklyn Nets (+4.5)
Total: 208.5

Dallas looks like a solid bet for the second straight game, as they went into Friday night as the favorite over the 76ers. It’s hard not to be enamored with them again here, as Brooklyn has just 13 wins on the year and the Mavs have been heating up lately.

While Dallas looks like the easy call, we do need to consider the Nets have been a lot better recently. The return of Jeremy Lin has naturally given this fast-paced offense a serious jolt and helped the Nets notch a solid 4-6 record over their past 10 games. The Nets also tend to play their best ball at the Barclays Center, with 8 of the year’s 13 wins coming on their home floor.

That’s enough infatuation with the Nets, of course. They still don’t defend and their explosive offense runs hot and cold. This is a pace down matchup for them, too, as Dallas tends to grind out wins and has been in playoff form for about two months now.

Pick

Mavs
104
Nets
99
Boston Celtics (-5)
VS
Philadelphia 76ers (+5)
Total: 207.5

Boston will likely be without star point guard Isaiah Thomas for the second straight game on Sunday. Luckily they’re facing a terrible team for the second game in a row and even on the road look to be easy favorites over the 76ers.

Philly had a mild rebirth for a while with Joel Embiid crushing skulls, but they’ve reverted back to a losing team and are just 2-8 over their last 10 contests. They could be a tough out at home with the Celtics not 100%, but this still probably isn’t the best upset play.

The Sixers aren’t to be totally ignored, but they don’t defend well and outside of Dario Saric will have a tough time scoring. Boston plays far better defense and should have their way at both ends in this matchup. Suffice to say, Boston’s amazing 11-game run in this series doesn’t look like a threat to end on Sunday.

Pick

Celtics
108
76ers
97
Phoenix Suns (+10)
VS
Detroit Pistons (-10)
Total: 213.5

We get a weird clash in Detroit on Sunday, as the Pistons try to dust themselves off after a mini-slump. Detroit gets to attempt to do so at home, where they’ll take on a young Suns team that has shut down veterans Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight for the year.

Phoenix is in full-blown talent assessment mode, and for a team that is absurdly bad on the road (9-24), that puts them in a difficult spot this weekend. The Pistons haven’t had it easy lately, but this should be a fun and favorable matchup that leads to a much-needed win at home.

Pick

Pistons
109
Suns
96
Minnesota Timberwolves (+3)
VS
New Orleans Pelicans (-3)
Total: 208

This clash between the Timberwolves and Pelicans could be a little more difficult to process. The Pels have not been great since landing big man DeMarcus Cousins in a blockbuster trade, but they’ll be at home and matchup decently with Minnesota in this spot.

Karl-Anthony Towns could potentially be cancelled out by The Brow and Boogie down low, while the Wolves have a distinct advantage on the outside with Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins has not been in top form, however, while Minnesota has found it difficult this year to get wins (10-21) away from home.

Minnesota absolutely can win here and they’ve even been trending in the right direction (6-4 over their last 10 games), but they don’t play well on the road. The Pels have taken the last two in this series, as well, and it’s a reasonable bet they make it three in a row.

Pick

Pelicans
105
Timberwolves
102
Portland Trail Blazers (+7)
VS
Miami Heat (-7)
Total: 214.5

We get a clash of pace in South Beach on Sunday, as the high-flying Blazers will try to run the Heat wild. That’s going to be tough to buy, as the Heat are very tough on their home floor and Portland struggles mightily on the road.

The silver lining is both teams have been playing solid ball and Portland has been a lot tougher to handle ever since trading for big man, Jusuf Nurkic. That could complicate matters for Hassan Whiteside down low, while it’s arguable the Heat just don’t have the firepower to stick with both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum on the outside.

On paper that might make sense, but the Heat are red hot (7-3 over their last 10) and seem to keep finding ways to win. Portland has taken the last two games in this series, but with this one going down in Miami, this feels like a good spot for the Heat to rise up and get a win.

Pick

Heat
104
Blazers
101
Indiana Pacers (+3.5)
VS
Toronto Raptors (-3.5)
Total: 200.5

Paul George and the Pacers look to get things back on track in Toronto on Sunday. The Pacers have gone off the rails lately, coughing up a bad loss to the Knicks and going just 5-5 over their last 10 games. Indy’s road struggles have continued in the second half of the year, too, so they’ll have to hope they can add to a paltry 9-23 mark while at the Air Canada Centre.

Toronto will be hoping the exact opposite, as the Raptors try to fight back against a recent slide that has seen them go just 5-5 during that same span, as well. The Raptors are really struggling to create consistent offense with star point guard Kyle Lowry on the shelf, but luckily will be back at home, where they’re a strong 22-12 on the year.

The Raps did fall flat against the Thunder the last time they were in Canada, but they seem to be in a good spot here versus Indy. DeMarre Carroll should be able to help slow down PG-13, while Serge Ibaka can help keep Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner in check. Indy’s awful play on the road should translate here, while Toronto’s dominance in this series (won 7 of the last 8 meetings) certainly can’t hurt.

Pick

Raptors
108
Pacers
104
Sacramento Kings (n/a)
VS
San Antonio Spurs (n/a)
Total: n/a

Probably the easiest game on Sunday’s NBA slate is this tilt in San Antonio, where the Spurs host the Kings. Sacramento has been in full tank mode ever since dumping DeMarcus Cousins in a trade with the Pelicans, while they’ve also been a tough bet in most road games.

You can amplify your doubts with the Kings on the road against the Spurs, who have been red hot with 8 wins in their last 10 games. The Spurs are healthy and pretty motivated, too, seeing as they’re neck and neck with the Warriors for the top seed in the Western Conference.

There is a reasonable chance the Spurs rest key guys in a game their spares could win, but even then we’d still like San Antonio here. Picking the Kings to get the road upset is a reach.

Pick

Spurs
108
Kings
97
Cleveland Cavaliers (n/a)
VS
Los Angeles Lakers (n/a)
Total: n/a

LeBron James and the Cavs stick around in L.A. for the second straight night, which means they could be a little tired after battling the Clippers on Friday. That could bring potential rest news to the table for the Cavs, but even if that happens it feels like Cleveland is a pretty strong play here.

Los Angeles does play their best ball at the Staples Center, but they’ve been slipping lately (1-9 over their last 10 contests) and recently shook up their starting five. The Cavs won’t be rested, but they won’t want to give away such a gimme game with the top seed in the Eastern Conference still very much in doubt.

Regardless of who suits up in this one, we’ll take the Cavs and we’re not giving much thought toward an upset here given how L.A. has been playing.

Pick

Cavs
111
Lakers
104
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