Houston Rockets Over Atlanta Hawks and Thursday’s Free NBA Picks
The NBA should think long and hard about dramatically switching up their scheduling process. The inconsistency is absolutely maddening for anyone laying bets or playing daily fantasy basketball, and we can only imagine the impact on actual NBA players.
One look at this week’s schedule tells the story, as we got six games on Tuesday, a ridiculous 12 games on Wednesday and march into Thursday night with just four games. The light schedule is probably necessary after most of the league suited up last night, but the NBA could help itself by simply spacing these games out better.
With the 20 games in this three-day span, and easy solution that would make the entire week more palatable would be to divide the schedule up as evenly as possible (something like 6, 8 and 6 would suffice).
As crazy as the NBA schedule tends to be, we actually welcome the light load tonight, as Wednesday was crazy for making NBA picks. We did go 9-3 on the night, but running through that many games and keeping tabs on injuries, matchups and spreads is exhausting for people placing NBA bets. It tends to dilute the betting process and can limit your success if you’re not careful.
Tonight we can drop the anchor and dive into a nice four-game slate, which should be easy to manage and will hopefully produce winning results. Let’s get to it:
The Lakers head to D.C. to battle the Wiz after both teams got a one-day break. John Wall is playing at an insane level and so are the Wizards right now, as they look to lean on an elite 20-6 home record and keep their hot run (8-2 in their last 10 games) going here versus Los Angeles.
The Lakers could be a tougher out than we’d first think, of course, as D’Angelo Russell returned with a massive double-double in a win in L.A.’s last game. The Lakers are awful on the road (5-21) and haven’t fared well in this series (lost 6 of the last 7 meetings) but a healthy D’Lo and an explosive offense make them a mild threat.
The Lakers could be even more dangerous tonight if big man Julius Randle (sick) can suit up, but right now that’s up in the air:
The Lakers are still listing Julius Randle as questionable for tomorrow's game in DC. He is recovering from pneumonia.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) February 1, 2017
While we need to pay mind to the Lake Show, we don’t really fear them here. The Wizards are extremely tough to beat at home and really, they look like the best team in the Eastern Conference these days. Bet hard on the Wizards in this one.
The second game of the night offers up some revenge, as Dwight Howard leads his Hawks into Houston to take on the Rockets for the second time this year. Atlanta got blown out in Miami last night and are heavy underdogs here, but they did take the Rockets down earlier this year (112-97) and have won six straight in this series.
Houston is a different beast at home, where they still possess a blistering 18-5 record. The Rockets have been floundering lately, however, going just 5-5 in their last 10 games. James Harden has also cooled off considerably (just 10 points last game) after shredding the Sixers for 50 points last week.
The early edge naturally lies with the Rockets, but the Hawks are an interesting bet against the spread. Not only have the Rockets not been quite as dominant lately, but Atlanta has remained one of the more balanced teams in the league and have been solid (6-4 over their last 10 games). Their 14-11 road record isn’t bad and they could get up for this game after arguably looking over the Heat.
Houston should win and will push this spread, but we like the Hawks to get up to play this one and keep it fairly tight.
Game three on Thursday night goes down in San Antonio, where Kawhi Leonard have a strong 17-6 home record and will host a Sixers team that is just 6-15 on the road.
Health woes complicate matters for Philly, as Joel Embiid (knee) has missed 6 of his last 7 games due to knee soreness and is in doubt for tonight.
The hits keep coming for the 76ers, as star swingman Robert Covington (hand) also sat out last night and could be at risk of missing tonight’s game, as well. The injuries could force the likes of Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel and Nik Stauskas into heavy action, putting Philly in a tough spot against one of the league’s best teams on the road.
If the Sixers can get their guys back they could be a tough out when it comes to this spread, however. The Sixers have been playing fantastic ball as of late (6-4 over their last 10 games) and are a much tougher unit defensively when Embiid anchors the middle of the floor.
This still looks like a Spurs win across the board, however, as San Antonio is pretty hot (7-3 over their last 10 games) and have destroyed the Sixers in this series (won 10 in a row). If Embiid suits up you can attack the spread, but his status is up in the air so we’ll ride the Spurs all the way tonight.
The last game of the night goes down at the Staples Center, as the Clippers and Warriors face off for the second time in the past week and third time this year. Blake Griffin and co. are fresh off a big win over the Suns last night, while both teams could be a bit tired after playing last night.
Griffin is still working himself back into game shape, but even if he was completely himself, this still feels like a bad spot to trust the Clippers. Los Angeles is a solid 17-7 at home, but they’ve lost 8 straight in this series and it’s tough to love their chances to even keep it competitive with Chris Paul (thumb) still sidelined.
Stephen Curry remained red hot last night, as he popped off for at least 39 points for the second straight game. The Dubs as a whole are on fire, as well, as they’ll enter L.A. having won four consecutive contests and 9 of their last 10. Los Angeles isn’t the worst bet to beat this spread, but usually the Dubs get an even richer line (and cover).
Considering the Clips are undermanned and the Dubs aren’t traveling that far from home, we like them to win and cover here.