Instead of writing up my NBA picks Friday, I gave them out on X (formerly known as Twitter), @Geoffery_Clark. At 1st I had no interest in Friday’s slate and I was busy shopping around for Super Bowl LVIII props so it was easy to ignore the NBA. Then, around 5:40 p.m. ET, my plate cleared and I dug into the games.
I found two winning bets (Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings) and talked myself into betting on a loser (New Orleans Pelicans). Whatever. Though I’m still down on the season, I’ve been on a gambling heater lately. After dumping 7.7 units (u) this past weekend, I’m 11-3 since Monday for +6.12u and a 43.9% return on investment.
Let’s keep the money rolling in with these three …
NBA Saturday ‘Locks’
- The odds chosen are the best available at the time of writing.
Philadelphia 76ers (-3.5) at Washington Wizards, 7 p.m. ET
As long as 76ers PG Tyrese Maxey plays Saturday, Philly should win. They lost to the Atlanta Hawks 127-121 Friday in the front end of this back-to-back (B2B). But, Maxey sat out with a “non-COVID” illness. Plus, the Hawks are 5-2 straight up (SU) over their last seven games and playing good ball.
Furthermore, there’s a chance Sixers SG De’Anthony Melton returns from an injury Saturday. Melton has been sidelined since mid-January. He missed Friday’s game but Philadelphia was always going to sit him out for one game in this B2B.
The 76ers need him right now considering they are missing reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid for the foreseeable future. Melton leads Philadelphia in on/off net rating (+10.9), per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG). Maxey and Melton are a huge mismatch vs. Washington guards Tyus Jones and Jordan Poole. Philly forward Nicolas Batum may return from injury Saturday as well. Batum is 5th on the Sixers in on/off net rating (+5.7), per CTG.
Also, 76ers wing Tobias Harris is a better version of Wizards wing Kyle Kuzma. Philadelphia is 3-0 SU vs. Washington this season with a +22.7 scoring margin. The 76ers were -11.7 favorites on average in those three meetings. Granted, Embiid played in all three of those games. However, Philly without Embiid isn’t as bad as D.C. currently.
Ultimately, this is a “buy low” spot for the Sixers, who are 2-8 SU and against the spread in their last 10 games. Their next three games are against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and New York Knicks. The 76ers need this win and, if they play with any desperation, they should pull it out.
BET 1.1u on the Sixers -3.5 (-110) at DraftKings. Philadelphia is bet-able up to -5.
Cleveland Cavaliers (-8) at Toronto Raptors, 7:30 p.m. ET
Cleveland is on an 8-game winning streak. Five of those wins are by 10+. The Cavaliers have led the NBA in net rating since Jan. 1st. They stomped the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers, and Sacramento Kings over that span. These teams split their 1st two meetings this season but Toronto covered the spread in both.
The Raptors beat the Cavs 124-121 New Year’s Day. But, the Cavaliers were missing two starters, PF Evan Mobley and PG Darius Garland, and Toronto hadn’t traded former PF Pascal Siakam yet. Siakam scored a game-high 36 points on 65.0% shooting (13-of-20). Not only does Siakam no longer play for the Raptors but Cleveland’s defense is much better with Mobley on the floor.
Mobley and Cavaliers C Jarrett Allen make up the best defensive frontcourt in the NBA. Cleveland has the best defensive rating in the Association. Toronto is 3-17 SU vs. top 10 defenses with a -11.5 net rating and a -6.4 spread differential, per CTG. Over the past two weeks, the Raptors are 1-3 SU vs. top 10 defenses with a -18.7 net rating and a -12.8 spread differential.
They are playing the 2nd of a B2B. Toronto eked past the Houston Rockets 107-104 at home Friday as -2.5 favorites. The Raptors tried to give that game away and nearly squandered a 22-point lead. Their only other two wins over the past 10 games are against the Charlotte Hornets (trash) and the Chicago Bulls (disappointing). Toronto needed to out-score Charlotte 32-20 in the 4th quarter to steal that game too.
Finally, the Cavaliers last played Thursday and they are 9-2 SU and ATS with a rest edge over their opponent. Cleveland has a +10.1 scoring margin in those games.
BET 1.1u on the Cavaliers -8 (-110) at DraftKings. Cleveland is playable up to -9.
Phoenix Suns (-120) at Golden State Warriors, 8:30 p.m. ET
This is the Suns-Warriors regular-season finale. Phoenix has won and covered all three. One of those victories featured Draymond Green infamously flailing and hitting Suns big Jusuf Nurkic in the head. Green was suspended thereafter and Phoenix ended up winning either way.
Both of these teams are 5-1 SU and ATS over their last six games. Yet, Golden State’s competition is pretty weak. The Warriors beat the Sixers in the game Philly lost Embiid. Golden State beat a bad Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia, again without Embiid. The Warriors hammered the Pacers 131-109 on the 2nd of a B2B in their last outing Thursday. Now, that was an impressive victory.
Phoenix’s wins in the past six games include the Miami Heat on the road, Milwaukee Bucks, and a feisty Utah Jazz team. The Suns beat the Jazz without Devin Booker, who should play Saturday. When Booker, Kevin Durant, and Bradley Beal are on the floor together, Phoenix has one of the best 5-man lineups in the NBA.
On top of that, Suns SG Grayson Allen is having a breakout season. Allen took over the point guard duty with Booker injured Thursday and threw 14 assists with no turnovers. He’s is shooting a career-best and NBA-leading 49.4% from behind the arc.
Not only is Phoenix more talented but it’ll be motivated for this game too. KD has a history with Golden State. This Warriors core has four titles while Booker and Beal have never won a championship.
Lastly, the Warriors typically play better at home but the Suns won’t be shook by the environment. Golden State is 1-5 SU as home underdogs this season with a -9.3 scoring margin. Phoenix is 11-5 SU as road favorites with a +7.3 scoring margin.
BET 1.2u on Phoenix’s moneyline (-120) at FanDuel. Gimme the Suns up to -125 or -2.5.