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NBA record: 58-50

Sunday September 28th

Boston Celtics at Miami Heat

Pick: Celtics -3

The series has officially turned in Boston’s favor. After the Miami Heat jumped out to a huge first half lead only to blow it in the second half behind a valiant Celtics come back. Not only did the Celtics erase their early 12-point deficit, they won by 12 in a dominating turn-around.

The Celtics took care of the ball better than they have all series, and got great performances from Tatum and Brown. While the Heat are just a game away from the finals, it makes you think whether or not they blew their opportunity to put the more talented Celtics team away.

I like the Celtics to force a Game 7. They stole the momentum from Miami, and without Herro’s 37 point anomaly, the Celtics could very well be up 3-2, not the other way around. Take the Celtics to cover their -3 line, and for this ECF series to go the full seven games.

Saturday September 27th

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers

Pick: Nuggets +5

Down 3-1, the Nuggets have the Lakers right where they want them. While they haven’t been able to pull out wins at the end of games, Denver has actually been in every game in this series with the exception of Game 1. It could just as easily be 2-2 or even 3-1 in favor of the Nuggets. That’s how close they’ve been.

Finally, the oddsmakers are giving the Nuggets a bit of respect. The lines in this series have been all 6 to 8 in favor of the Lakers, but now the line has shrunk to five. In Game 4, the Nuggets had a golden opportunity to steal a game, but LeBron’s defense and Anthony Davis on the offensive glass kept them in…not to mention some help from the refs. I’m taking the Nuggets to stay alive and win this game. Hey, who knows, maybe they’ll push this series further.

It’s not like they haven’t been down before.

Friday September 25th

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics

Pick: Celtics -3 & Marcus Smart Over 12.5 points

I’ve been consistently going back to the Celtics well, and to be honest, it’s been hurting me. That being said, this series is not going to end in 5 games. The same thing stands as last game. The Celtics have dominated this series for long stretches, but the Heat have found ways to win at the end and have closed out games better. (Tyler Hero!!)

I’m taking the Celtics to extend this series. Teams up 3-1 tend to take their foot off of the gas a bit, and with the Celtics having their back against the wall for what might be the final time, expect some added motivation for them. Take the Celtics and the points.

I’m piggybacking with Marcus Smart’s over. He’s averaging 17.5 points in this series, and is one of those players who plays his best when the slate is stacked against him. The over here is the play for Smart, as I expect him to hit a couple of threes and make some plays at the rim.

Thursday September 24th

Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets

Pick: Lakers -6

The Nuggets almost have the Lakers right where they want them. Down 2-1 in the series, all the Nuggets have to do is lose another game to go down 3-1…and we know what will happen then. LOL. That being said, the Nuggets looked impressive in their thorough defeat of the Lakers in Game 3, winning by 8 points, and covering their spread.

Coming into this game, the Lakers need a response. They didn’t rebound the ball well and LeBron and Davis has pedestrian games as well. Look for them to be locked into this game from the start, as a 2-2 series going into Game 5 is the last thing this team wants or needs.

Although Denver played well in Game 3, the oddsmakers still like the Lakers in this game, making them six point favorites. This line has dropped from the past games where it was 6.5 and seven point spreads, so while the arrow is slowly pointing towards Denver, the love is for the Lakers. I’m riding with the Lakers in this series. They’ve responded after every loss in this playoffs with a resounding victory, and I fully expect them to do the same here with a dominating performance from their two stars. Take the Lakers -6.

Wednesday September 23rd

Boston Celtics at Miami Heat

Pick: Celtics -2.5 (buy half-point)

You could really make the argument that the Boston Celtics are dominating this series. Yes, they’ve blown huge leads in two games, and yes, they’re still down 2-1 in the series. But with the exception of some slow finished, they have won most quarters, outscored the Heat for long stretches, and it seems like in Game 3…they finally figured out how to close.

That’s bad news for Miami. They had a golden opportunity up 2-0 to close this series out, and they let Boston stay alive. Look for the Celtics to tie this series up at two games a piece. The spread is at -3, but I expect a very close game to the finish, which is why I suggest buying a half-point in favor of Boston. If this series gets tied up, watch out for a Game 7.

Tuesday September 22nd

Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets

Pick: Over 213.5

I like the over in this game. While I think Denver has built some confidence in this series, they’re still 6.5 point underdogs, and that line isn’t big enough for me to touch.

Late in Game 2, the Nuggets finally found their offensive rhythm. While they didn’t come away with the win, they came pretty darn close, and Nikola Jokic finally realized he can score the ball whenever he chooses to.

Expect this game to be high-paced with plenty of deep shots from both sides. The Nuggets haven’t been able to stop Anthony Davis, and by showing him more attention, it’ll just free up LeBron to dissect the defense with his passing and driving. Take the over in a game that could go either way.

Sunday September 20th

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers

Pick: Lakers -7.5

The Lakers dominated Game 1. They enforced their will early in the 2nd half, and it appears that their talent differential might be too much for Denver to overcome. That being said, the Nuggets have shown the ability to fight back from adversity all playoffs, and they’ll look to do that as 7.5 point underdogs.

It doesn’t look like the Nuggets have an answer for Anthony Davis. The star had 37-points and was the best player on the court all game. LeBron only had 15 points, but controlled the floor with 12 assists. I expect the same thing to happen in this game, and for the Lakers to win another one to go up 2-0 in this WCF series.

Saturday September 19th

Boston Celtics at Miami Heat

Boston -2.5 & Over 206

The Celtics very well could be up 2-0 in this series. Instead, the exact opposite is the case, and they’re two more losses from going home. It’s been a combination of a team blowing a lead consistently, and the opposition (Miami) who has proven more mentally tough.

I think Boston finally breaks through. They had a very emotional team meeting after their last loss, and this team, if anything, has proven to be resilient these past couple of seasons. They may be boosted by the return of Gordon Hayward, who would help this team in so many ways.

Miami has the edge, and the closer in Jimmy Butler. But this Celtics team has been so close, and I can’t see them blowing another lead. This series doesn’t feel like it’s on the brink of being over, and the Celtics will win this game to extend their hopes of moving on.

Friday September 18th

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers

Nuggets +7.5 & Over 211

The Denver Nuggets are in the process of shocking the world. They’ve come back not once, but twice in this postseason alone from a 1-3 deficit, and now have the confidence to at least push this Lakers team. The Lakers have been sitting at home since their 5 games series win against the Rockets, which may work against them, as they’re 1-5 in their last 6 ATS with 3 or more days of rest.

The Nuggets meanwhile are playing with nothing to lose. They’re not supposed to be here, but Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic are playing like some of the best players in basketball, and Jokic may just be the best center in the world.

In both series, the Lakers dropped the first game and won four in a row. I’m not saying they’re going to lose, but this team takes a little bit to get going. With how hot the Nuggets are, and the fact that they’re 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11, I’m taking the Nuggets to cover +7.5. Like Jamal Murray said, “Put some respect on their name!”

Thursday September 17th

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics

Pick: Celtics -2.5

What happened to Boston down the stretch of Game 1? After dominating the majority of the first three quarters, the Celtics folded down the stretch. Call it veteran leadership, coaching, or just a ridiculous run, the Miami Heat are hot, and are now favored to defeat the Celtics in this series and make the NBA Finals. That being said, the Celtics are still 2.5 favorites in this Game 2.

The Celtics have been playing team ball to start halves, and become stagnant near the end of quarters. While they have some talented isolation players, they are a much better team when they are moving the ball and making the extra pass for great shots.

I trust Brad Stevens to make the adjustments needed to knot this series up. In the 4th/OT, the Heat outscored Boston 46-31. Before that, the Celtics entered with a 12-point lead. They were the better team for most of the game, and while they folded down the stretch, it will be used as a learning experience. Jayson Tatum and Jaylon Brown have big games as the Celtics win Game 2 to tie this series up.

Tuesday September 15th

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics

Pick: Celtics -2

Did you have no #1 or #2 seed in the Eastern Conference Finals? Didn’t think so. It’s been a wacky playoffs for the East, and we get an unexpected matchup between the Heat and Celtics.

The Heat have arguably been the best team in this entire postseason. They’re 8-1, and just disposed of the heavily favorited Bucks in an easy 5 games. The Celtics were taken to 7 but eventually prevailed over Toronto.

I’m taking the Celtics to continue their momentum. They have the firepower to attack this stellar Miami defense from plenty of angles, and after defeating the defending champs, this young team will be coming in with some moxie and confidence. Take the Celtics to win this Game 1 matchup on the back of a great performance from Tatum and Walker late to cover -1.5.

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers

Pick: Over 207.5

Whoooo baby we have a Game 7, and it’s an unexpected one at that. When Denver went down 3-1 to the mighty Clippers, it looked like it was all she wrote. However, just like in the first round, Denver has fought back and forced a Game 7. Do they have another improbable comeback in them?

Probably not. I have to say, the Clippers have looked absolutely flustered down the stretch of their last two games. Denver has come back from seemingly insurmountable leads and the Clippers have had no answers. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are failing to step up and stop the bleeding.

I’m not touching the line. The Clippers are still favored by 7.5, but their bench advantage has been nonexistent. Instead, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell have been hurting LA. I’m going with the over instead. In Game 6, I just missed the over in my parlay which missed by 5 points. This time, it’s set at only 207.5. The over is the play in this unexpected Game 7.

Sunday September 13th

Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets

Pick: Over 214 & Nuggets +8.5

Somehow, the Nuggets did it. After fighting back from a 16 point deficit to win Game 5, the Nuggets are now 4-0 in elimination games. They’re down 3-2 but have stolen the momentum in an absolutely masterful comeback in which they may have turned the whole series.

It’s been a pretty unpredictable series. Much like the first round, when their backs are against the wall Denver responds. The Clippers are favored by 8.5 points, and to me that feels like a trap. Denver has proven to be too dangerous. Instead, I’m taking the over of 214, a shockingly low total even though these teams haven’t been scoring the ball at will this series. I’ll take my chances that one team will get hot, and the Nuggets can keep it close enough to cover.

Saturday September 12th

Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers

Pick: Rockets +6.5 & Under 217

Usually, James Harden is due for a clunker in an elimination game. While Game 4 wasn’t exactly that, he played horrendous. Harden shot 2-11 from the field, made only 1 of his 6 three pointers, and didn’t even attempt a field goal in the final quarter. WHAT?

The Rockets still only lost by 10. They’ve been much closer in this series than a 3-1 deficit would seem, but they’ve been tooth and nail with LA all round. The Lakers are giving 6.5 points in this one, and I think that’s too much.

All it takes for Houston is to get hot from deep, and they haven’t done that. They shot 43% in Game 4, but a lot of those attempts were in essential garbage time as the Lakers were packing the paint. Adjustments need to be made, and their superstars have to play like stars. I’m taking the Rockets with the points in this game, and while LA may win, it will be close till the final whistle.

Friday September 11th

Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors

Pick: Raptors +2.5

We deserved this. In a highly contested Conference Semifinals series, we get a Game 7. Both of these teams feel like it’s theirs to lose. The Raptors come into this game winners of 3 of the last 4 after falling down 0-2. For them to even be in this spot is very impressive.

It’s youth against experience. The Celtics have been in a Game 7 before, in a loss to LeBron’s Cleveland team in 2018. They ended up losing that game, but the experience will help them here. The Raptors are fresh off a championship run, and the ups and downs of that has steadied them in this series.

I’m going with Toronto. I’ve been burned a few times by them in this series but again, I keep coming back to their championship last season. Nobody expected them to be in this Game 7 after being down 0-2, and if OG never made that shot, the whole thing would’ve been over. But some things happen for a reason, and the Raptors, fresh off a 2 OT victory, will advance in this series.

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers

Pick: Clippers -8

The previous series, I had a lot to talk about. This one, not so much. The Nuggets tied their series at 1 and have lost 2 in a row. The Clippers are the far superior team, and Denver had their chances to make it interesting.

The Clippers are -8 in this game, and a win would advance them to the Conference Finals against most likely, the Lakers. They want to get that show on the road. Sprinkle in the fact that Michael Porter may have ruffled some feathers internally with his comments about the gameplan, and this series is as good as over. Take the Clippers big.

Thursday September 10th

Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets

Pick: Lakers ML & Over 220

The Rockets had the Lakers on the ropes in Game 3 with the series tied at 1. They entered halftime with the lead and were tied heading into the 4th, but were outscored by 10 in the final period. Their backs are against the wall, and they are favored by the books to go down 3-1.

I’m in agreement with the books. The Lakers did the same thing last round. They coasted through a loss in the first game, looked themselves in the mirror, and locked in for the remainder of the series.

The Rockets played well in Game 3. They got 63 combined points from Harden and Westbrook and shot 40% from three. Their bench is depleted with the loss of Danuel House, and Robert Covington is banged up after taking a shot to the head late. The Rockets had their chance to make this a series, and while they’ll keep this one close, the Lakers will go up 3-1.

Wednesday September 9th

Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics

Pick: Raptors +3

Boy it would’ve been nice for the Celtics to head home to the TD Garden up 3-2 in this series to try and eliminate Toronto in front of their home crowd. That may have been blouses for the Raptors. But to their advantage, the bubble levels the playing field, and the Raptors are still alive down 3-2 in this crazy series.

I think it’s been pretty clear the Celtics have been the better team in this series. With the exception of Game 4, Boston should’ve won every other game. Without OG’s game-winner in Game 3, this would be over.

But Toronto has championship resolve. Most of this roster was a key piece in their championship run, and coach Nick Nurse has shown the ability to make adjustments in key moments. I’ve been burned a few times by Toronto in this series, but I’m going back to the well, and taking them to extend this series to 7. To me, it’s had 7 written on it since it was decided these two would play.

Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets

Pick: Clippers ML & Over 219.5

It felt like the Clippers took control of this series at the end of Game 3. When the Nuggets went up by 10 late in the third quarter, the Clippers were at a crossroads. Would they fold and fall behind in the series, or would they play like the championship contender everybody expects them to be?

The Clippers responded like champions. Knowing they have a potential date with the Lakers in the following round, it was possible they started looking ahead. Jamal Murray and company gave them a bit of a scare, but look for the Clippers to take control in Game 4 in a high-scoring game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Nuggets keep it close until late in the 4th though, as this team has shown a never-say-die attitude this playoffs.

Today’s Parlay: $50 wins $183.86!

Tuesday September 8th

Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks

Pick: Miami –2.5

Against all odds, the Bucks have extended this series. In a valiant 2nd half effort, Milwaukee extended this series with an OT win in Game 4…without Giannis for the majority of the game. The question is now, can they make this a series?

I don’t think so. It remains to be seen if Giannis will play in Game 5, and the Heat are playing like a well-oiled machine. It was nice to see the Bucks role players step up and extend this series, but give Erik Spoelstra time to prepare for a Giannis-less team, and his adjustments will make all the difference. The Heat close this series out in 5.

Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets

Pick: Rockets +5.5

Game 2 was a whirlwind. The Lakers entered the 3rd quarter with a 16 point lead, and squandered it before the end of the period. They showed some heart and championship resolve by responding and winning this game, but it’s concerning how Houston is proving that they can compete when the Lakers are playing their best.

The Lakers got a big boost from their bench, with Rondo, Morris and Kuzma combining for 39. With contributions like this, they should have won this game by more than just 8 points. They can’t expect performances like this from their bench again.

For Houston, most of their starters played well, but Russell Westbrook really struggled. He shot only 4-15, was 1-7 from deep, and had 7 turnovers. Even is Westbrook tidies up his game just a bit, the Rockets win that game. In Game 3, I expect the Rockets to come out hot once again. They believe they can compete with this Lakers team, and with some improvements from their other “star”, they will cover this spread.

I think the Lakers may win this game outright, but it will be a nail-biter all the way to the finish line.

Monday September 7th

Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors

Pick: Raptors +1

This series looked like it was over, I’ll admit. In the first two games, the Boston Celtics dominated. In Game 3, let’s be honest, the Celtics should’ve won. But basketball is a weird sport, and the Raptors stole Game 3 on the buzzer beater from OG. After that crazy win, they won Game 4 to even the series up. Now, it’s anyone’s ballgame.

I feel like the Raptors stole momentum. It’s weird in sports, when you’re so close to winning but it gets snatched from your grasp. The Raptors have tied this series and changed the momentum of the whole series.

I’m riding with the Raptors in this game. To me, it just feels like the momentum changed. They had no business winning game 3, and happened to win game 4. This feels like the Raptors series to lose, and with an essential pick-em in this game, I’m going with Toronto to continue their momentum.

Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets

Pick: Clippers -9

I don’t know. I feel like Game 2 was an anomaly. When the Clippers got punched in the mouth in the first round, and I’ll admit, that happened a few more time than I expected, they responded. That’s what a championship team does. They get hit, and fight back.

in Game 2, the Clippers got hit. They lost in convincing fashion, and let’s be honest: this team has championship aspirations. When you lose like this, it hurts. You’re expected to steamroll the competition, but the Nuggets came to play.

The Nuggets are a good team, but I don’t think their Game 2 performance indicates their statue. The Clippers are a much better team, and their last performance could work as a wake up call. Expect Doc Rivers to have his team ready for this game, and the Clippers to respond in a big way. They’re 9 point favorites, but I’m expecting a 15+ point win.

Sunday September 6th

Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat

Pick: Miami -1.5

Finally, the Heat are favored. I took the Bucks too often in this series, and they’ve continued to let me down. In all honesty, I blame their coach, Mike Budenholzer. He simply refuses to play his starters big minutes, and his bench has been hurting him.

I mean, it’s the playoffs. Why can’t you play Giannis 40+ minutes? He’s won back to back MVPS, but he can’t handle a big minute load. Right. Anyways, the Heat ended Game 3 by outscoring the Bucks 40-13 in the 4th quarter. It’s hard for me to see how they’re going to respond from that. I can’t believe I’m picking this series to end in a sweep…at the hands of the Heat.

Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers

Pick: Lakers -5.5 & Over 223.5

The Lakers looked rusty on Friday night in Game 1. The Rockets were just coming off a 7 game series against the Thunder, and were in mid-series form. The Lakers on the other hand struggled throughout the game in their disappointing 112-97 loss.

Just like last series, the Lakers find themselves in a hole. This team seems to coast from time to time, and that can happen when you have two of the top five players in the NBA. Davis and James combined for only 45 points, and Alex Caruso was the next leading scorer with 14. Not ideal.

I expect the Lakers to turn things around in this game. They’re still favored by a solid margin (5.5), so the oddsmakers have faith in their rebound ability. I’m with them, and am taking the Lakers to cover in a bounce-back win. This series looks like it could go deep though, as the Rockets play-style is the antidote to the Lakers.

Saturday September 5th

Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics

Pick: Celtics -2

You know, watching Game 3 you’d have no idea that the Raptors won. They got thoroughly outplayed once again, and lucked out on a long range bullet for OG Anunoby to somehow stay alive in this series. 1-2 is much better than 0-3.

However, I still think the Celtics are a better team. In all seriousness, Boston should have a commanding 3-0 lead in this series. For some reason, they’re underdogs in Game 4, and I’m taking Boston to rebound with a win.

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers

Pick: Nuggets +9

I said before Game 1 that the Clippers would win in a laugher, and that’s what happened. I also said that is no indication of how this series is going to go. Denver was gassed entering their last game, and they got their beating out of the way.

Look for them to respond with a good performance in Game 2. Now, the Clippers are a better team. I would not be surprised to see them them turn on the jets late and win this game, but the Nuggets will keep this game much closer than Game 1 for an eventual cover.

Friday September 4th

Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat

Pick: Bucks -5

Did you have the Bucks down 0-2? Not many people did. They’ve been out-played, out-coached, and out-clutched by Jimmy Butler and the Heat. Rumors are already swirling that Giannis is going to leave town ASAP. Is it all over?

Settle down. This series is far from over. The Miami Heat have been playing out of their minds, getting contributions from players who have no business playing this well on the big stage. The Bucks have been struggling, but they only lost 3 in a row once all season. It’s not going to happen again. Take the Bucks to cover -5 in a 10 point win.

Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers

Pick: Lakers -6

This has the feel of the Nuggets/Clippers game last night. The Rockets, in my opinion, are actually a tough opponent for the Lakers. They can get to the rim at will, have shooters all around the court, and if they get hot, the Lakers may have trouble scoring at their pace.

The only problem is that they’re not playing well right now. Yes, they escaped the first round, but they barely did it, Russ and Harden are struggling, and the Lakers are a different animal than the Thunder. The Lakers are coming into this game rested while the Rockets are reeling after a 7 game series. This series will be a good one, but this game will not be close. Take the Lakers to cover -6.

Thursday September 3rd

Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics

Picks: Raptors ML & Over 215

I hope I don’t regret this. Check out this quick stat. In their last 18 games, the Toronto Raptors are 0-3 against the Boston Celtics, and 15-0 against the rest of their opponents. WHAT! That’s an insane stat. Yeah, maybe the Celtics just have the Raptors number. Or maybe they’re just a better team.

I’m not buying it. The Celtics are playing better, but the Raptors have done nothing to separate themselves in this series. Without Marcus Smart’s flame throwing 4th quarter performance last time out, this series would most likely be tied and there would be talk of it going 7. It’s closer than you think. Take the Raptors. No way they go down 0-3.

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers

Picks: Clippers -8.5 & Over 223

This game feels a little unfair. It’s nothing against the Nuggets, but they just played one of the most exhausting series I can ever remember watching. It wasn’t just that they came back from 3-1. It was the fact that they had to outscore Mitchell, bang with Gobert down, and frankly, they looked tired in Game 7.

They snuck out the victory while the Clippers were sitting in their hotel rooms watching. Jamal Murray had one of the best series I can ever remember, but he was gassed in Game 7. Murray only scored 17 points. The under hit by 56 points! This series will be more competitive than most think, just not in Game 1. I’m going with the Clippers to cover 8.5.

I’m also going with the over of 223. The Clippers lowest scoring game in their series was 110 in the clincher, and they had games of 154, 133, and 130. This team can score the ball, and against a winded Nuggets team, they should have no problem continuing that.

Wednesday September 2nd

Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks

Picks: Milwaukee ML & Over 221

So, here we go again. The Bucks lost their 2nd straight Game 1 to an inferior opponent, but this time, their opponent is packing a punch. The Miami Heat look legit. They’re 5-0 in the playoffs, and have a group of players who aren’t happy to just be here–they want to win, and think they can beat this Bucks team.

This has the makings of a long series. In order for that to happen, I expect the Bucks to come out and play better than they did in Game 1 when they turned the ball over 19 times, and Giannis was held to only 18 points. Put simply, this team cannot go any further without Giannis playing like a superstar. I’m taking the Bucks to win a squeaker, pairing their ML with the over in this game.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

Picks: Houston -4.5 & Under 221.5

Who would’ve thought, that after trading Chris Paul and two first round picks for Russell Westbrook, that Paul’s new team would be playing the Rockets in the first round in a Game 7. It’s been a weird season, and the Thunder have exceeded any and all expectations. They’re not supposed to be in this spot.

The Rockets are the better team, plain and simple. This series had no business going to 7. They’re consistently shot themselves in the foot late in games, and haven’t been able to close out the Thunder. That ends here. It was a fun series, but I’m taking my chances with Harden and Westbrook in a close-out Game 7 against this young, yet exciting team.

The Rockets cover 4.5 and the under hits. The reason for the under is simple. It’s Game 7. These teams have been playing every other day for two weeks. They have to be running on fumes, and if the Game 7 last night was any indication in Utah/Denver, their legs will be running on “E”. Expect a low-scoring win by Houston.

Tuesday September 1st

Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors

Pick: Raptors -1.5

Game 1 was a blowout victory for the Celtics, and I have to give credit where it’s due–they played extremely well. Almost too well, in my opinion, while Toronto couldn’t do anything right.

The Celtics shot 44% from deep, while Toronto shot only 25%. Boston won the rebounding battle by 10, and held Pascal Siakam, Fred Van Vleet and Kyle Lowry to 40 points combined. Cmon now. It was a great effort by the boys in green, but I think it’s Toronto’s turn to rebound. Take the Raptors -1.5.

Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets

Pick: Denver +1

This series has been awesome. It’s a heavyweight fight between two of the young stars in basketball, and each is fighting tooth and nail to make it into the next round. What we’ve seen from Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray has been incredible.

Mitchell has had games of 57, 51, and 44 in this series. Jamal Murray ain’t too shabby either. He’s had games of 36, 50, 42, and 50 again. It’s incredible, and he’s led the Nuggets down from 3-1 to tie it up for this Game 7.

The Jazz are favored by 1, so it’s essentially a pick-em game on a neutral court. To me, it seems as if the Nuggets stole all the momentum. Murray can go score for score with Spida to neutralize that advantage, and the rest of the Nuggets role players are stepping up. Only 12 teams have come back from 3-1, but Denver is going to be 13.

Monday August 31st

Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks

Pick: Heat +6

Call me crazy, but something looks off with Milwaukee. Their first round series was anything but dominant, and even in their wins, they didn’t play particularly well against a very undermanned Magic squad. They got the job done, but something is missing.

Miami on the other hand had no trouble dismantling the Pacers in a quick 4 games. They looked every bit the contender of the early season, and are suddenly a very scary out for the Bucks. They’re 6 point underdogs in this game, and I’ll take my chances with them having almost a week off. This series is going to be a good one.

Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder

Pick: Rockets -5.5

The Rockets looked like a different team with Russell Westbrook back in the fold. With their two stars back together healthy, the Rockets destroyed the Thunder, 114-80. It was a close game in the beginning, but the Rockets put their foot on the pedal in the 2nd half.

I expect the same thing to happen in Game 6. The Thunder were one of the best stories of this season. Having just a 0.2 chance to make the playoffs, Chris Paul and this scrappy group exceeded even the most optimistic of expectations. Unfortunately for them, all good things must come to an end, and their run will end in Game 6, and they will fail to cover the 5.5 spread.

Sunday August 30th

Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks

Pick: Mavericks +10 & Over 237.5

The Dallas Mavericks got absolutely destroyed in Game 5. They lost by 43 points, couldn’t play any defense, and were just flat-out killed. The Clippers are now one game away from the 2nd round, and will look to end this series in 6.

That being said, the Mavericks are 10 point underdogs in this game. That’s a little steep to me, even taking into account their loss in Game 5. For the majority of this series, the Mavericks were neck and neck with LA, and giving them a scare. I’m not sure if the Mavericks can force a Game 7, but I know Doncic and his crew will keep this game close for the cover.

Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors

Pick: Raptors -2

The Toronto Raptors, in my opinion, are playing the best basketball in the entire NBA at the moment. Their sweep over the undermanned Nets was the most dominant performance of the first round. They can defend, score the ball, and have the depth to match anyone.

Boston is a tough matchup, as they are a very good team. This should go 6 or 7 games, but I think the Raptors continue their hot play. They have a sour taste in their mouth from their last loss in the bubble to the Celtics, and the Raptors have the defenders to rattle Tatum and Brown. Go with the Raptors in Game 1.

Saturday August 29th

Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks

Pick: Bucks -13.5

This one feels like a classic gentleman’s sweep. For the second straight season, the Orlando Magic won as gigantic Game 1 underdogs against a highly rated seed. After their Game 1 win, the team lost 4 in a row to Toronto last year, and is on the verge of doing the same against the Bucks.

The Bucks haven’t played their best ball yet. They won by 15 in Game 4, but only held a 3 point lead after three. They opened the floodgates in the fourth, and to me, that was the last chance for the Magic to make this interesting. This series is over, and both teams know it. I don’t expect this game to be close at any point, and I’m taking the Bucks–even with this huge line.

Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers

Pick: Lakers -13.5

Much like the Bucks-Magic series, the Blazers had chances to make this series interesting. After their Game 1 loss, the Blazers have been blown out twice, and lost by 8. Now, with Damian Lillard missing tonight’s game, a blowout is on the way.

The Lakers have found their groove, and look re-focused after their lapses in the bubble. The only chance Portland had to win this game was if Lillard went bonkers, but he won’t even play. CJ and Melo will do their best to keep it close, and although I love Melo–not even him in his prime could do anything to stop this LA freight-train right now. I like the Lakers, BIG, covering the 13 point spread.

Wednesday August 26th

*3-0 yesterday*

*Games postponed*

Tuesday August 25th

Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets

Pick: Nuggets +3

Maybe I’m going to the well one too many times. This Nuggets team has been thoroughly outplayed in this series against a supposedly inferior opponent, and I can’t put my finger on the exact reason why (with the exception of Donovan Mitchell looking like prime MJ). They can’t get anything going in the paint against Gobert, and they can’t defend the 3-point line.

That’s okay. This team is not going to lose 4 in a row, and they’re still undervalued in this game. Look for Jokic to have his best game of the series, and for Jamal Murray to continue his hot play. Take the Nuggets to stay alive in this series and force a Game 6.

Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Clippers

Picks: 1H Over 117 & Over 234.5

I thought the Clippers were a good defensive team. I guess the loss of Patrick Beverley did much more to their performance than I expected. Neither of these teams have played any defense in this series, Doncic is locked in, and Playoff (Pandemic) P is due for a breakout performance.

This all has the making of another over hitting in this series. I’m doubling down with the first half over as well. These teams light it up, and why would today’s game be any different?

Monday August 24th

*5-1 yesterday*

Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder

Pick: Rockets ML

I’m going back to the well. After going 2-11 from deep in Game 2 (albeit in a win) James Harden shot almost just as bad, going 3-13 in their OT loss. As good as a defender as Dort is, this is unsustainable for the Thunder defense, and they have to be worried coming into this game that Harden is going to explode.

Because of that, I’m taking the Rockets ML. A lot of things worked in the Thunder’s favor in Game 3, and they still needed OT to secure the win. This series has been thoroughly dominated by the Rockets for the vast majority, and look for a win here in Game 4 to go up 3-1.

Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat

Pick: Over 216.5

Apparently the Miami Heat are the 2017 Warriors. This team can’t miss from deep. After shooting 51% from deep in Game 2, the Heat followed that performance up with 13 more makes from distance. I’m not sure what’s in the Orlando water, but it’s helping the Heat.

I expect to see some desperation from Indiana as they’re down 3-0, which could lead to some quick shots and run outs the other way. Because of this, the over is the play here, especially a game after these two combined for 239 points.

Sunday August 23rd

Denver Nuggets at Utah Jazz

Pick: Nuggets +3.5 & Over 215.5

I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with Denver, but I don’t expect it to continue. I came into this series thinking that they’re the better, more balanced team, and with the exception of about 5 minutes of their Game 1 victory, Utah has won this whole series.

The Nuggets need this game. A 3-1 hole is a death sentence for any team that doesn’t have LeBron James, and Denver knows this is their one and only chance to make this a series again. They’re underdogs in this one, and I like that value. I expect a great game from Jokic after getting dominated by Gobert in Game 3, Jamal Murray to hit some big shots, and for Michael Porter to reappear into the bubble. Take the Nuggets.

BTW, I’m taking the over as well. Utah has scored 125, 124, and 124 in this game. Even if they get slowed down a little bit it’s a good value play.

Toronto Raptors at Brooklyn Nets

Pick: Over 217 & Nets +13.5

If the Nets are going to down in 4 games, they’re going to go down shooting. Even without Joe Harris in the lineup, this team has some guys who can shoot the ball. While they struggled in Game 3–shooting a laughable 16-51, this team is known to respond after big losses. In their last 7 double-digit losses, the over has hit in the next game 5 times.

Also, just look at the stats, they’re due for a regression. Garrett Temple shot 1-9 from deep, TLC shot 3-18 from the field, and 2-11 from deep. Seriously? Even a couple more makes from this duo makes their 25 point blowout a somewhat respectable game.

This Nets team has played with heart all season. They’re going to lose this series, and most likely this game, but they’re going to do it in an entertaining, high-scoring game.

**Bonus Picks**

Sixers +8.5

Mavs/Clippers Over 232

Saturday August 22nd

Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat

Pick: Pacers +5

The Indiana Pacers are due. After close losses in both Games 1 and 2, they know that if a couple of bounces went their way, this series would be tied 1-1. Their backs are against the wall and they’re now fighting for their lives. One more loss for them and this series is as good as over.

In Game 2, Miami shot 18-35 from distance, and won the rebounding battle…and only won by 8 points. Let’s call it how it is: they’re not going to shoot like that again, and Duncan Robinson can’t be expected to go 7-8 from three. Take the Pacers in a close game to stay alive in the series.

Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder

Pick: Houston -2.5 & Over 222.5

Coming into this series, I really thought this could be a 7 game series. The Thunder were a scrappy underdog story and the injury to Russell Westbrook had me worried for Houston. After a couple games, all Houston’s done is emphatically beat OKC, and the scary thing? Houston isn’t even playing well.

Because of that, I’ve officially lost faith in this Oklahoma City team. It’s unfortunate for them that they won’t get to play home games in their own arena, because they have some of the best fans in the NBA. But, that’s the reality we’re in. The Rockets shot only 32% from deep, had only 36 combined points between Harden and Gordon, and still won by 13 in Game 2. It’s hard to think those results will repeat, but in the end the results will be the same. The Rockets will go up 3-0. Get your brooms ready for use.

Friday August 21st

Denver Nuggets at Utah Jazz

Pick: Over 218 & Jazz +1.5

This series has all of the fireworks. After Denver stole Game 1 from the Jazz in OT, they had a chance to go up 2-0 and put this series on ice. The Jazz not only fought back, they demolished Denver in Game 2, 124-105.

Neither team has shown any inclination to play defense in this series. The total still doesn’t give these teams respect, and the over is one of my plays in this game. The other is Jazz +1.5. They’re underdogs, but I don’t think they should be. They stood tall with Denver in Game 1, albeit in the loss, and have looked like the better team for most of this series. They’re also getting PG Mike Conley back for this game, which sounds like trouble for Denver.

Bet $1 on the 76ers and receive $76 in Free Bets at FOXBet!

Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks

Pick: Under 233.5

I like the under for a few reasons. First off, the Clippers are one of the best defensive teams in the league, and while they haven’t shown it, the defensive talent is there. They’re also hoping to get back Patrick Beverley, who would give them some much needed defensive presence on the perimeter.

That all sounds good, but the main reason I’m taking the under is the fact that the Clippers got embarrassed in Game 2. They got run out of the building, and this team has championship aspirations, as well as pedigree. Great teams don’t throw up clunkers two games in a row, and this is a classic response spot. Look for their defense to tighten up significantly, and for them to hold the Mavericks to their worst shooting game of the series.

Thursday August 20th

Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

Pick: Over 226 & Rockets -2

The Houston Rockets showed us in Game 1 that even without Russ Westbrook, they’re dangerous, and when they get Russ back, they might just be favorites to win it all. They dismantled OKC with their hot shooting, and that should continue in this game. For most teams, you’d expect their hot shooting to fluctuate from game to game, but this is Houston, and they can shoot the lights out any game.

I’m taking the Rockets to cover their -2 spread as well as hitting the over of 226. I think there’s a lot of value on both of these due to the fact that neither team could particularly stop the other in Game 1. Take the Rockets to go up 2-0.

Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers

Pick: Lakers -5.5

Enough is enough. The Portland Trail Blazers are a great story, and they’re a talented team. I love Damian Lillard and am a huge fan of Carmelo. But newsflash to the national media: The Blazers should not be favorites after winning game 1.

The Lakers lost by 7 in a game where they couldn’t shoot a 3 to save their lives. As a team, they went 5-32. Danny Green was 2-8, AD was 0-5, and LeBron was 0-5. How often is that going to happen? The answer is not very often. In this game, the Lakers should at least shoot respectably from deep, which should allow them to cover this spread easily…as they should.

Wednesday August 19th

Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors

Pick: Nets +11.5

In Game 1, the Raptors absolutely smoked the Nets, 134-110. While it was expected the Raptors would take care of business in this series, the Nets were expected to put up a fight.

I’m taking the Nets +11.5 in this one for a couple reasons. For starters, the Raptors didn’t miss in Game 1. They went 22-44 from deep and 32-33 from the free throw stripe. It’s like these guys had their game sliders on. Fred VanVleet did his best Steph-Curry impression, hitting 8 threes and scoring 30 points, and the Nets couldn’t keep up.

Most teams wouldn’t be able to keep up with Toronto’s shooting in Game 1. I don’t expect that to happen again, and the Nets should shoot better than 31% from deep. Take the Nets to cover.

Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Clippers

Pick: Over 229.5 & Over 117 1H

There will be a lot of uncontested scoring in this one. After the teams combined for 228 points in Game 1, it has to be remembered that the game slowed down a ton in the 2nd half once things started getting chippy. In the first half of Monday’s game, the teams combined for 135 1H points. What happened in the 2nd half is anyone’s guess.

With the return of Porzingis, who was having his way offensively, the Mavericks will be able to score the basketball. Doncic has proven that no matter how good the defenders covering him are, he still can’t be stopped. Expect a good performance from the Mavericks, although it still may not be enough against this Clippers team.

Defensively, the Mavericks simply don’t have the defenders to cover this deep Clippers team. These totals are way too low, and take the over in not only game, but the first half.

Tuesday August 18th

Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks

Pick: Bucks -12.5

It’s safe to say that the Bucks didn’t exactly run through their bubble restart schedule. They weren’t as sharp as they were in the regular season, and now there is some talk that they shouldn’t even be the favorite in the East.

Nonsense. Like most of the contenders, then Bucks didn’t have their foot on the gas each game. They knew they were the top seed regardless of their performance.

Against the Magic, the Bucks are going to re-establish their dominance early and remind everyone just how good they really are. Take the Bucks in a 20+ point win.

Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers

Pick: Heat -4.5

In a series that was dominating headlines after Jimmy Butler and TJ Warren had a classic beef all season, I must say that I’m happy these two teams are meeting. I have my popcorn ready.

The Heat dominated this matchup this season, winning 3 out of their 4 meetings. It must be noted though that in the Pacers lone victory, neither team’s starters were playing.

Indiana is undermanned with the loss of Sabonis, and Oladipo doesn’t look fully healthy. Combine this with the playoff experience and moxie of Jimmy Butler, and the Heat should win this Game 1 with relative ease.

Monday August 17th

We’re talking playoffs?? Let’s get into it.

Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics

Pick: Celtics -5.5

This had all the makings of an epic playoff series between divisional rivals. Unfortunately, injuries sometimes get in the way. Sixers star Ben Simmons isn’t healthy for this series, and that hurts the Sixers in a big way.

The Celtics come into this series playing some good basketball. They were 5-3 in the bubble and have no health concerns of their own to deal with. On paper, this has the makings of a great series. However, the Celtics are too talented of a team to stumble in this game against a Ben Simmons-less Sixers team. Take the Celtics at -5.5.

Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets

Pick: Over 215.5 & Denver ML

Another series that on paper, had 7 game potential. I expected each game to be tight and down to the wire with these two teams being very familiar with each other. That was…until Mike Conley had to leave the bubble due to the birth of a child. Valid reason, but this is the playoffs Mike! (kidding)

Without Conley, the Nuggets absolutely need to win this game. They can’t let Utah steal the momentum and know that they have backup coming back. The Nuggets know this, and will take advantage and win this one outright.

I also have the over in this game. Both of these teams can flat out score the basketball, and this line seems way too low for me. All the recent trends of these teams also has me leaning over for this parlay.

Saturday August 15th

Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers

Pick: Blazers ML & Under 223.5

The NBA Play-In game, first of it’s kind. The Blazers only need one more win to advance to the playoffs, while Memphis, a heavy underdog, has to win 2 in a row. That seems like a long-shot.

The Blazers are coming in hot. Every game they played was essentially a playoff game to them, so they’re ready and seasoned. They’re playing their best ball of the season, and it’s come at a time when they’re almost fully healthy for the first time. They’re favored by 5.5, but I see a very close game.

I like the Blazers ML here paired with the Under. I’m siding with the under for a couple reasons. First, the Blazers can’t keep scoring at this pace, and this is the closest thing to a playoff game without counting as one. The intensity will be high from the start, and coaches will be wary of letting the other team go on an extended run. The Blazers win in a close one, meaning no Game 2.

Friday August 14th

Philadelphia 76ers at Houston Rockets

Pick: Under 230.5

Both of these teams just want to get to the playoffs. They’re both short-handed after the bubble games. Ben Simmons is out for the foreseeable future for Philly, which spells trouble for them against Boston. For Houston, Russell Westbrook is now fighting an injury. He’s set to miss the beginning of their series against OKC, which could get dicey. I’ll get to that another time though.

In this game, I don’t expect either team to give it their all. They’re both locked into their playoff spots and just want to get into the playoffs unscathed. The total is set pretty steep here and I’m taking the under as I don’t expect them to play their starters deep and it could look like a rec league game by the 3rd quarter.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Clippers

Pick: Thunder +5.5

Again, both of these teams are looking to do just one thing in this game: enter the playoffs with a healthy roster. The Clippers rest Kawhi and Paul George in the regular season, what do you think they’re going to do in this game? While the duo may start, don’t expect big minutes.

The same goes for OKC, but to me, they’re more willing to play the starters longer minutes to keep momentum going before the playoffs. But even if the starters don’t play long, the backups have shown the potential to win games. In their last game against Miami, their bench unit went on a huge run including a game-winning 3 to win. I like the Thunder to at least cover in this game.

Thursday August 13th

Portland Trail Blazers at Brooklyn Nets

Pick: Nets +10.5

Damian freakin’ Lillard. The man is a one man wrecking crew. After the Clippers tried to clown Lillard in their victory last week when he missed a couple free throws, Lillard has come back with a vengeance to keep Portland’s season alive–scoring 61 points against the Mavericks. The work is not done, and he’ll have to defeat a suddenly scrappy Nets team.

Brooklyn is 5-2 in the bubble, with wins over the Bucks and Clippers. Wait, what? The restart has been weird, but the Nets are playing as good of ball as any. Normally in a game like this I’d say that starters are going to be rested, but the Nets just sat some guys against Orlando. They’re going to want to go into the playoffs with momentum, so expect their main guys to get normal minutes.

With the way the Nets are playing, there’s no way they don’t cover 10.5. The Blazers are the better and more desperate team, but the Nets have something going right now. Take the Nets to cover, but Blazers to win.

Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns

Pick: Suns -5.5

Here we go. The Suns have a chance to be the only team in NBA history to go undefeated in the bubble with an 8-0 record. They’ve been impressive, beating teams they’re supposed to beat, and upsetting teams they have no business beating. Whether they can make the playoffs still remains to be seen, but for now, they’re awesome to watch.

They’re also favorites against the Mavericks. Porzingis is questionable, and with their playoff spot locked up, let’s assume that means he’s out. The Suns need this win to have a chance, and I expect them to get it fairly easily against most of the Mavericks bench.

Wednesday August 12th

Miami Heat at Oklahoma City Thunder

Pick: Miami ML

The Heat are still looking to play their best ball in the bubble. After an emphatic victory over Indiana, they want to keep their momentum going against the Thunder. With their injury report looking lighter than usual, the Heat are nearing full strength. The Thunder on the contrary have a multitude of injuries and have been keeping certain players out.

It seems like the Thunder are content with their playoff spot, and I don’t see them pushing their starters for big minutes. The Heat are looking to continue their hot streak, and I expect a huge game from Bam Adebayo…especially if Steven Adams is held out again. Take the Heat.

Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers

Pick: Raptors ML

With the Raptors coming off a huge win without some of their starters on Monday against Milwaukee, they’re looking to keep their momentum going against Philly. The Sixers are ravaged by injuries, as Ben Simmons is out and Joel Embiid may not be playing. 

The Raptors fully healthy are the much better team, and if this came down to a battle of bench players, the Raptors have Philly beat there as well. The Raptors have too many bodies to throw at you, and the Sixers may be playing without some of their stars. I don’t like the spread here, but I like Toronto to win outright.

Tuesday August 11th

Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic

Pick: Over 219

This is not the game we expected. This game was expected to be one of the best games of the bubble, and the reason? Both teams were fighting for the 7th seed to avoid the Milwaukee Bucks. Well, that’s over with, as the Nets have secured the 7th spot. In this game, we’re going to be without Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, and Jarrett Allen on the Nets side, and Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Terrence Ross.

Because of that, I’m not touching the spread. Instead, I’m targeting the over for a simple reason. The last time the Nets played without their starters, they absolutely blitzed the Bucks. They moved the ball well and shot the three at an impressive clip. Without the starters playing, both of these teams will be working the offense to get good shots. The total is also set at a low 219, making the over the solid play here.

Phoenix Suns at Philadelphia 76ers

Pick: Suns ML

The Suns have yet to lose, and to me, that is outrageous. They’re 6-0 in the bubble and have the looks of a dangerous playoff team—if they were to get there. They’re still on the outside looking in with two games left, and can’t take a loss. 

Their opponent, the 76ers, is in a bit of trouble. Ben Simmons had surgery and Joel Embiid is battling an ankle injury. They’ll also be without Josh Richardson in this one. Safe to say, they’re short-handed. Because of that, I’m taking the Suns to keep rolling and to win this one outright. 7-0 here they come.

Monday August 10th

Oklahoma City Thunder at Phoenix Suns

Pick: Over 220

Wow. The Suns are rolling. If you told me that they’d be the only undefeated team in the bubble after 5 games, I would’ve laughed and asked if you were crazy. But here we are, and they’re being led by Devin Booker and a supporting cast that suddenly looks competitive.

The Thunder have shocked the world this season. They’re 43-26 and in contention for a top 4 seed in the West. They have a balanced attack that makes it hard for opposing teams to game-plan for them. In this game, the over is set at only 220.

I like the over. While the Thunder have a great defense, the Suns have been on a roll and OKC can score the ball in bunches if given the opportunity. The spread is too tough to crack in this one, but I’m rolling with the over. Are the Suns NBA Finals threats? (I’m kidding)

Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks

Pick: Raptors +6

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that this could be an Eastern Conference Finals preview for the 2nd year in a row. I know, I’m reaching here. I’ve been so impressed with Toronto this entire season. When Kawhi left in free agency, the thought was that this team would fall back a bit. I mean, Kawhi is the reigning Finals MVP, it’s only natural to think they’d struggle a bit.

The complete opposite has happened. They’re 50-19 and have a better win % than a year ago. Go figure. Now, the Bucks are no slouches either. They have the best record in the league and have shown no signs of slowing down.

With the line set at -6, I think the Raptors can cover or even win outright. The reason being is that they match up well with Milwaukee with their length on the perimeter and size down low. This will be a close game that I can’t wait to watch. In the end, take Toronto to cover.

Sunday August 9th

Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Clippers

Pick: Clippers -13 (Voided)

This is a huge line, especially for a Clippers team that had a hard fought game yesterday when their starters played big minutes. The Clippers have all but clinched the 2nd spot in the West playoffs, and are now just looking to make it into the playoffs in one piece.

The Nets have been a pleasant surprise in the bubble. They’re 3-2 and have really put together some solid performances under Jacque Vaughn. While I like what they’ve done, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, and Jarrett Allen are doubtful to play in this game. 

The Clippers should roll over this team. 13 is a huge line but they shouldn’t have a problem covering this. 

(NOTE: LeVert, Allen, and Harris ended up playing: Pick voided)

Bonus pick: Over 226

Memphis Grizzlies at Toronto Raptors

Pick: Raptors -5.5

The Raptors are something else. They have one of the best defenses in the game and score the ball at will. After losing Kawhi in free agency, I’ll be honest and say I didn’t expect them to be this good. 

While the Grizzlies are technically still in the 8th spot, their hold is shrinking. They’ve been struggling to win games in the bubble, going 1-4 to this point, and now they get a Raptors team that is steaming off an embarrassing loss to the Celtics.

The Raptors know the playoffs are right around the corner, and coach Nick Nurse is going to have this team ready to play. I’m taking the Raptors at -5.5.

PREVIOUS PICKS

Saturday August 8th

Los Angeles Clippers at Portland Trail Blazers

Pick: Blazers ML

The Clippers know that they can beat any team when they’re at full strength. They’re also known for a clunker of a performance here and there when their motivation levels are low. I think they’re due for one. They already proved in their last game, a dismantling of the Mavericks, that when on, they’re tough to beat. They’re playing without Pat Bev and Harrell in this one.

The Blazers are rolling. They finally found the pieces after a year of being injured, and are playing their best ball of the season. They’re the #9 seed right now, but they want the 8th seed. Lillard is hot and CJ is waiting to break out, Melo is playing his best ball in years, and Gary Trent has come out of nowhere to look like Ray Allen. The Blazers take this game and inch closer to 8.

Los Angeles Lakers at Indiana Pacers

Pick: Lakers -7

We go through this every season. A couple of weeks before the playoffs, LeBron’s teams start struggling. The talk of the league is that they aren’t cut out to compete, and an early playoff exit is on the horizon. Has that actually ever happened? NO!

The Lakers are struggling right now, but they’re resting players and have locked up the top seed. The talk after their loss to Houston is that they won’t win it all. All analysts must have forgot that LeBron didn’t play. Look for the Lakers to play with an edge in this game after the whole world is doubting them, and turn in a big performance.

The Pacers don’t know what’s about to hit them. Take the Lakers to cover the spread big.

Friday August 7th

Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers

Pick: 76ers ML

Firmly sitting in a playoff berth, but needing some wins to secure a move up to 7th in the East, the Orlando Magic have to be kicking themselves after losing their last 2 games. They responded to a disappointing loss to Indiana with a 10 point loss to the Raptors.

The 76ers are in a bit of pickle. Star Ben Simmons has been ruled out indefinitely with a knee injury, and he will be unavailable for this game at the very least. On paper, the 76ers can survive without him for short stretches with the talent on their roster, as before the suspension of the season, they were holding up well without him.

I expect a close game in this one, but with the Magic missing Aaron Gordon in this game, the 76res should be able to pull out a tough fought victory in a close game.

Washington Wizards at New Orleans Pelicans

Pick: Pelicans -4.5

I’m running it back with the Pelicans. I have no idea what happened yesterday. They couldn’t stop a middle school team from scoring. After they burned me yesterday by getting absolutely smoked by the Sacramento Kings, their playoff berth is looking more unlikely by the day. Good thing for them is that the Washington Wizards are next on the schedule.

The Wizards should have never been in the bubble restart. They were too far out of the postseason, and star Bradley Beal decided to opt-out. There is little to no talent on this team, and the Pelicans should be able to run right over them in a game where they hopefully show some desperation. 

Side note: The Washington Wizards are now behind the Charlotte Hornets in the Eastern Conference standings. The Hornets didn’t even get invited to Orlando. LOL

Thursday August 6th

I’ll admit, I’m off to a slow start. Let’s call it the bubble blues, but I promise, I’ll get right for you guys!

New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings

Pick: Pelicans ML

The Pelicans are hitting their stride, and the Kings are winless in the bubble. This line feels soft to me. New Orleans is ramping up Zion’s minutes because they see the opportunity in front of them with Memphis struggling.

I’m also following the trends. The Pelicans are really good against teams that they should beat. They’re 7-0 in their last 7 ATS against teams with a losing record. Now I know they have a losing record themselves, but let’s be honest. This team hasn’t been at full strength all season. They’re finally there, and it’s showing with their play. Take the Pelicans in this one.

Bonus: Over 234

Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks

Pick: Clippers ML

The Clippers are coming off frankly an embarrassing loss to the Phoenix Suns on a Devin Booker buzzer-beater. While the Clippers admittedly have little to play for, they’re 1-2 in the bubble and can’t be happy with how they’ve played to this point. The playoffs are just a few short weeks away and they have to fix plenty of things before that point.

The Mavericks are a tough opponent, and this may be a first round preview. This will be a hard fought game but again, the Clippers have the talent to lock in at a moment’s notice. This feels like one of those moments, and they’ll show out in a big way in this game. Take the Clippers to win outright.

Previous Picks

Wednesday August 5th

Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors

Pick: Over 223.5

The over has hit in 15 straight Orlando Magic games and 20 of their last 27, and yet, they’re still getting soft totals. In their loss to the Pacers yesterday, they combined for 229 points, and in their previous two bubble games, the total has flown past 240. 

The Raptors have one of the best defenses in the entire NBA. However, they can score from a multitude of positions too. I expect Siakam to have his way with the Magic defense, and the Raptors to take an early lead, forcing the Magic to pick up the pace. 

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this game end up in the high 230s, so the safe play is to take the over in this matchup. BTW, if you’re still looking for a long-shot NBA Finals bet, the Raptors should be your play.

Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics

Pick: Nets +9

Wow. I’ll admit, I’m impressed. The Brooklyn Nets, minus Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris…not to mention their other 5 players currently sitting out, defeated the Milwaukee Bucks yesterday as 18.5 point underdogs. That was the biggest upset since 1993. While some could argue the Bucks sat Giannis and Middleton in the 2nd half, the Nets were still leading at halftime against the starters.

I expect the Nets to keep their hot play going. The Celtics are coming off a loss to Miami, and will be without Kemba Walker tonight, while the Nets have said they’re going to be playing all of their starters. While the Celtics may eventually pull out the victory, the Nets should have no problem covering the spread after their role players were given a shot of confidence yesterday.

Tuesday August 4th

Dallas Mavericks at Sacramento Kings

Pick: Mavericks -6

After blowing their lead against the Rockets in the opener of the bubble, the Mavericks unexpectedly fell to the Phoenix Suns in their next game. They’re desperate for a win, and may have found their perfect opponent.

The Sacramento Kings are also winless in their resumption after losing to the Spurs and Magic. You wouldn’t know it, but the Kings are only 1 game behind the Blazers and Spurs for the 9th seed in the West. They still have something to play for even though they haven’t shown it to this point.

The Mavericks are favored by 6 points in this game. After losing both of their restart games, the Mavericks enter this game with a chip on their shoulder. They’re too talented of a team to lose 3 in a row at this juncture in the season, and I expect to see an offensive explosion. Take the Mavericks to win this one by double figures.

Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers

Pick: Over 244

I can’t believe I’m taking an over this high, but when a game features the likes of James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Damian Lillard, expect fireworks. 

Both of these teams are coming off high scoring games on Sunday. The Rockets defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 120-116, and the Blazers fell to the Celtics 128-124. The scary thing about the Rockets performance is that James Harden struggled from the field, shooting only 5-14 and 3-12 from beyond the arc. If you think he’ll play like that in this one, think again.

The Blazers have nobody on the perimeter that can even think to slow down Russ and Harden, The good news for them is that they have the horses offensively to be able to go punch for punch with Houston, as Lillard and McCollum have shown the ability to light up the scoreboard.

This game has the makings of another shootout, and if you want to be on the right side of it, take the over at 244. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Harden and Lillard score over 40 points in a classic showdown.

Monday August 3rd

Toronto Raptors at Miami Heat

Pick: Raptors -2.5

If you didn’t know already, the Toronto Raptors are a serious Eastern Conference threat. In their opening victory against the Lakers, the Raptors not only proved that they can compete with the best teams, they can beat them handily, coming away with a 15 point victory. I’m buying stock in the Raptors.

The Heat are no push-overs either. They opened the bubble with a 20 point victory against the Nuggets, but that must be taken with a grain of salt as they played without Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, and Will Barton. In this matchup, the Raptors are favored by 2.5 points, and that’s where I’m going with this one.

The reason being is that the Raptors have the length to match up with the Heat, specifically Bam Adebayo. Their defense is elite, and with the Heat potentially playing without Jimmy Butler (who missed practice Sunday), the Raptors can smother the supporting cast and come away with a tough victory, covering the -2.5.

Indiana Pacers at Washington Wizards

Pick: Under 227.5

Tj Warren anyone? In the Pacers first game in the bubble, they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 127-121. While the result was significant, the way the Pacers won was even more impressive. They were playing without Domantas Sabonis who is fighting his way back from a foot injury, so Tj Warren took matters into his own hands, scoring 53 points.

In their matchup with the Wizards, they shouldn’t need an offensive explosion like that again. The Pacers are the much superior team, and the Wizards will be playing on the second leg of a back to back. The Wizards scored 110 points in their loss to the Nets, but the Pacers defense is far superior to the Nets.

The under is the play here in a game I don’t think will be particularly close. Expect the Wizards to struggle to get anything going, and the Pacers to suffocate them while playing a controlled offensive pace of their own. One thing I don’t expect? Another 50 burger by Tj Warren. Too bad we can’t bet on that.

Sunday August 2nd

Washington Wizards at Brooklyn Nets

Pick: Over 234

I have no problem saying that these are the two worst teams in the bubble. The Nets started their first game in the restart with a 128-118 loss to the Orlando Magic that was nowhere near as close as the score indicated. The Nets got dominated, and it should come as no surprise. They’re playing with Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, and Wilson Chandler, and half of their roster was on the streets a month ago. A prime example of this is them starting Lance Thomas in the opener, a guy who hasn’t played all season.

The Wizards on the other hand aren’t much better. They’re currently “fighting” for a playoff spot, but without Bradley Beal, they don’t have much to play for anymore. The Wizards got stomped by the Suns in the opener, and proved to play no defense in the process in their 125-112 loss.

I’ll be honest, with the lack of talent on these teams, I won’t try and pick a side on this one. To be, the total is an easy pick, and the over at 234 is the way to go. In their openers, both of these teams refused to play defense. In a game with little to play for, defense will be secondary to player’s trying to fill their own stat sheets up. Take the over and don’t expect to sweat.

Sacramento Kings at Orlando Magic

Pick: Magic -2.5

The Sacramento Kings entered the playoff bubble with little to no playoff hopes, and with them losing 129-120 to the San Antonio Spurs in the opener, their chances have dwindled even more. To say that their motivation levels may be waning could be the understatement of the year.

The Orlando Magic on the other hand have everything in the world to play for. After their 10 point victory over Brooklyn on Friday, they currently stand a 0.5 game above the Nets for the 7th seed. This is important, and the reason for this is the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks will be playing the 8th seed, and that’s an automatic bounce from the postseason for either team. The Magic will be doing everything in their power to avoid that.

The pick in this game is the Magic -2.5. I was impressed with the Magic in the opener, and while beating the Nets isn’t showing much, they showed much more than an ordinary 10 point victory would suggest. I expect them to continue their hot play and beat a Kings team that has no shot at the postseason as it is. 2.5 seems light, and we’re going to take advantage of that.

Saturday August 1st

Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers 

Pick: 76ers -5.5

The Indiana Pacers will welcome the Philadelphia 76ers to their “home version” of the bubble. 

The Pacers enter the bubble short-handed. All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis will miss at least this game with a lingering foot injury, and the Pacers are still awaiting word whether or not Victor Oladipo will be playing after his quad injury. Against a team like the 76ers, that’s bad news.

While the loss of Sabontis is detrimental against any team in the NBA, it’s especially trying against a team like the 76ers. The reason being? Joel Embiid. Embiid is a force, and with the Pacers only having Myles Turner to combat him, it’s going to be a long day for Indiana. Combined with the fact that the 76ers have finally decided to stop playing Al Horford and Embiid together, the 76ers look to be much improved.

To put it simply, the 76ers are a much more talented team, and they’re finally healthy coming into the restart. Ben Simmons has recovered from his back injury, and Josh Richardson should be fully back in the fold. I’m higher on the 76ers than most, and I don’t think this game will be close, as the 76ers will enforce their will and prove that they have as good a chance as any at dethroning the Bucks in the East.

New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Clippers

Pick: Pelicans +5

The New Orleans Pelicans will play their second game in the bubble against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Pelicans are coming off a hard-fought loss to the Utah Jazz in their opener. While losing to a team like Utah is nothing to scoff at, the fact that they only lost by 2 with Zion Williamson playing only 15 minutes is good news for them.

The Pelicans will look to get Zion more involved in this game, and I expect his minutes to be closer to 30 than the 15 he just played. With Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell still on the mend for the Clippers, the Pelicans won’t have to deal with the never ending depth of the Clippers.

In the end, this game will be close. The Clippers are championship ready right now, but their place in the playoffs is safe and sound. The Pelicans on the other hand have to fight for their lives, and I expect them to play just like that. With Zion and Brandon Ingram leading the charge, they’ll stay close throughout, and while ultimately the Clippers may come out victorious, the Pelicans will cover.

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