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Monday, 3 March 2014

NBA Picks March 2014

This has been one of the weirdest NBA seasons I have seen, not in terms of the action but I always seemed to be one step behind with my picks. The frustration began to build and I figured it was better to take a watching brief and try and get a handle on the picks before I got back to making them.

January proved to be very difficult, while I then decided I would take February off so teams can get through the All-Star Game and also the trade deadline before I would make more picks. I have felt I am getting things right over the last week or so and hopefully that will kick-start what has been a poor season to this point.

March usually represents the real push towards the Play Offs and teams begin to try and build some momentum towards the post-season. We have seen the Miami Heat playing what has been their best basketball of the season since returning from the All-Star Game and I think that just highlights the change in mindset that teams have.

Play Off places and seedings are all to be determined over the next six weeks and that means teams are less likely to take 'games off', while the trade deadline passing means players know they are virtually set where they are until the summer.

The Western Conference also remains the more competitive of the two in the NBA, but I also feel the Miami Heat are showing the reasons why they are the favourites to win their third consecutive NBA Championship. I don't think there are too many teams that will fancy beating the Heat in a best of seven series from either Conference, although I think the Indiana Pacers made some moves ahead of the trade deadline to think they are the most likely to be able to knock off Miami.

At the end of this month, I think a lot of the Play Off picture will be made clearer in both Conferences, especially which teams are in line to grab home court advantage through the First Round and we will also begin to see the route teams will need to take to reach the NBA Finals.

March 3rd
Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets Pick: The Chicago Bulls are as healthy as they are going to be this season and have been in top form but it won't be easy to see off the Brooklyn Nets who have also turned things around and could get back to 0.500 for the first time since November.

It could be an important game in terms of seedings in the Eastern Conference too, but I do like the Bulls to keep this competitive and will take those points on offer against a team they have played well against over the last twelve months.

Utah Jazz @ Milwaukee Bucks Pick: It will be interesting to see what kind of motivation Utah can bring into this game having only fallen short against the best team in the Eastern Conference and now facing the worst team in the NBA.

Utah have been competitive in recent weeks, while Milwaukee are still trying to find their identity after moving a number of pieces of their rotation ahead of the trade deadline. They shouldn't be favoured to beat any team in the NBA and I will back Utah to grab the W in this one.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Denver Nuggets PickThis hasn't been a good place for Minnesota to visit in recent years, but the injury hit Denver Nuggets will not be in a more vulnerable state than they are at the moment. The teams have been trending in opposite directions in recent games and I think a healthy Timberwolves team will prove too good.

March 4th
If there is one thing I can't stand, it's when you have factors that cannot be accounted for taking over and destroying a pick. I was already a little miffed by Chicago's season high 27 turnovers, but the way Minnesota blew their lead over the Denver Nuggets was even worse.

The Timberwolves were up 21 with around 7 minutes left to play, but losing that lead was only one terrible bounce that the pick received. Minnesota missed 5 free throws in the final 90 seconds which would have given them an easy cover, while it was still to get worse.

They then allow Denver to hit 4 three pointers in the last 25 seconds, but the defensive mistakes to let that happen were poor and it was just the ultimate joke that they only won by 4 points. You just can't account for that, especially with the home commentators even describing their disbelief at the way the game ended.

It feels like that was my season encompassed in one game with leads being blown a common theme earlier in the season. Hopefully that is as bad as this month will get and I get a couple of lucky bounces my way in the next four weeks.

Miami Heat @ Houston Rockets Pick: The total points looks on the high side in this game, but Houston are capable of getting hot from outside the three point arc and play at such a speed that it would be a surprise if both teams don't crack 100 points each.

The over is actually 6-1 in the last 7 games in the series between these teams in Houston and I think the winner is too close to call. I will look for both teams to play a high-scoring game in this one.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: The point spread looks huge, but Philadelphia have taken some crushing losses at the LA Clippers and Golden State Warriors in recent games to suggest the Oklahoma City Thunder have a chance to cover it.

I can't be sure, although I do think the total points of 219.5 is too high for the game as the Thunder can clamp down defensively and at least restrict the 76ers to prevent that number being surpassed.

New Orleans Pelicans @ LA Lakers Pick: The Lakers are not a team I really want to be backing, especially coming off an emotional win at Portland last night and there is a chance they have a let down in this one. However, New Orleans have been playing terribly in recent games and can't be trusted much either.

A little fatigue and mental let down may prevent the Lakers scoring freely in this one, while the Pelicans have struggled mightily with their offense over their 8 game losing run. With that in mind, the 210.5 total points looks too high and I will go for this one being a low-scoring game.

March 5th
New York Knicks @ Minnesota Timberwolves Pick: After blowing a huge lead in a poor fashion, the Minnesota Timberwolves would have been happy to escape Colorado with another win to end their road trip 4-1. There is still a lot of work to do to get back into the Play Off mix, but they have 4 games in a row they should be winning.

The first is against the New York Knicks who have been struggling for form and would have to dig deep to keep this competitive through the game.

Dallas Mavericks @ Denver Nuggets Pick: I still don't know how Denver got so close in their last game against the Minnesota Timberwolves and they will need Ty Lawson to be as hot as he was in the second half to win this game.

That won't be easy against a Dallas team that have played well in recent weeks and who have covered the spread in 6 straight visits to Denver.

Atlanta Hawks @ Portland Trail Blazers Pick: A terrible home loss to the LA Lakers aside, Portland have still been playing well enough to see off the Atlanta Hawks who are suffering through injuries which should be exposed by the likes of Robin Lopez.

March 6th
It hasn't been a great start to the month with the picks, but the one thing that I picked up on Wednesday which was extremely cool was this story.

I am a huge Tupac Shakur fan, always have been, so that was cool to see in Boston even if it is going to be 18 years since he passed (18 years, wow, that's just nuts).

Miami Heat @ San Antonio Spurs Pick: The Heat suffered a tough loss at Houston a couple of nights ago and they have stunk up the joint when playing in San Antonio during the regular season. However, Miami have played well on the road against teams with winning records, going 9-4 against the spread in that situation and I like the points in this one.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Phoenix Suns Pick: The Thunder have begun to find their rhythm after initially struggling with the returning Russell Westbrook and I also feel Phoenix are having a hard time maintaining their standard from the season.

The Thunder are 9-4 against the spread on the road against teams with winning records, while they are 6-1 against the spread in the last 7 in the series and 16-5 ATS in their last 21 in Phoenix.

LA Clippers @ LA Lakers Pick: There are three clear reasons why I like the Clippers to cover against their city rivals the Lakers: 1) The Clippers are in much better form, while the Lakers are leaking points alarmingly defensively; 2) The Clippers are 15-10 against the spread against teams with losing records; 3) The Clippers are 5-1 against the spread in the last 6 against the Lakers.

March 7th
I have to move on, but can only be a touch peeved that yet another team this week has blown a big lead with the opponent having a 'miracle' comeback. There are at least three games that have ended in terrible situations that have turned winners into losers and that is having a real impact on the month totals.

Brooklyn Nets @ Boston Celtics Pick: The drama of the returning Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (latter is questionable) should be taken out of the game as they played here in January. Brooklyn have been in strong form, are playing well and should prove too strong for the Celtics, even with this line looking suspiciously low in my opinion.

Milwaukee Bucks @ New Orleans Pelicans Pick: Beating the LA Lakers has at least snapped the negative momentum New Orleans have been riding and they should be too good for the poor Milwaukee Bucks who are desperately clinging onto the worst record in the NBA. The Pelicans have beaten Milwaukee twice this season by at least 14 points per game.

Indiana Pacers @ Houston Rockets Pick: They have the best record in the NBA since the turn of the year and have beaten one of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference here already this week. Houston have been on a roll and Indiana have just hit the buffers both physically and mentally, which is not a good sign six weeks out of the Play Offs.

Atlanta Hawks @ Golden State Warriors Pick: The Golden State Warriors are trying to get themselves moving up the Western Conference seedings and take on the Hawks who have been struggling through injuries. Atlanta were blown out at Portland in their last game and may still be short of Paul Millsap for this game so I expect the Warriors to win this one, especially as they are 6-3 against the spread when asked to cover 9 points or more this season.

March 8th
Utah Jazz @ Philadelphia 76ers Pick: They have stunk up the place in recent weeks and many are tipping them not to win another game, but I believe Philadelphia won't get a better chance than this one. The Jazz have lost 5 in a row on this road trip and will be returning home after this one so may lack the effort required to win by more than 7 points.

New York Knicks @ Cleveland Cavaliers Pick: It was a strong defensive effort that helped the Knicks win their second game in a row, but that has been the exception this season and I expect them to be tested by Cleveland.

The Cavaliers haven't played well of late, but this is a chance to get back in the right direction, although I feel the game is likely to be high-scoring with both teams capable of surpassing triple digits as a team.

Washington Wizards @ Milwaukee Bucks Pick: The Milwaukee Bucks put in a huge effort last night but fell short and could struggle to regain the physical well-being against a potent Washington team.

The Wizards have played well, especially on the road agains teams with losing records, and will be tough to stop if they maintain their three point shooting.

March 9th
I don't like conspiracy theories about games being fixed in the NBA, despite the history of the League where the strangest of things happen down the stretch, but I can't help but feel totally sick with the end of the Washington game... Forget the fact they were up 28 in the first half, the last 10 seconds of the game showed the Bucks had no intention to do anything but make sure they lost by fewer than 8 points.

Why else would the coach foul with 5 seconds left and a 9 point deficit? Why would he then run a play for an easy lay up instead of trying to score a three and why no more fouls? That is not even counting the 'lane violation' call from the referees that prevent the Wizards going up 10 with those 5 seconds left on the clock.

It makes no sense to foul in a game where you have no intention to at least try and make the game close with that little time on the clock and stinks frankly.

Miami Heat @ Chicago Bulls Pick: The Bulls have played hard all season and can't be under-estimated, but I don't think the Heat are going to lose three in a row. It should be close and competitive but LeBron James could make some big plays late to help the Heat cover.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ LA Lakers Pick: A horrific season for the Lakers saw them lose by a franchise record 48 points last time they played here and they have had to play plenty of basketball this week.

With the offensive power Oklahoma City have, it is going to be tough for the Lakers to keep this close in my opinion.

March 18th
I took a few days off from the NBA Picks as it felt my head was addled by the Washington game at Milwaukee and I just didn't feel comfortable making picks with those bad thoughts running through me.

There is now only a month of the regular season left and most will be enjoying their Fantasy Basketball Play Offs (including myself who made it through to all three Play Offs in the Leagues I am in).

Miami Heat @ Cleveland Cavalier Pick: It is a large spread at a time when teams are perhaps beginning to focus on the Play Offs, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are short-handed for this one. Missing Kyrie Irving is huge for the home team, while the Heat should be focused as they keep tracking the Indiana Pacers.

Washington Wizards @ Sacramento Kings PickComing off a long road trip may be tough for Sacramento, while the Kings could also be looking ahead to the big game with San Antonio in three days time and may not be fully focused on Washington.

Sacramento can score plenty of points, but the Wizards are in good form themselves and can close on Chicago with an important win in California.

March 19th
Bored of saying how annoying it was to see a team blow a chance to win late in the game, but just can't seem to avoid these pathetic losses... Washington just needed to hit their free throws and the game was won yesterday, but failed to put away 3/4 down the stretch and then lost in overtime.

Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics PickThe Heat couldn't stop Cleveland for much of the game yesterday which allowed the Cavaliers to keep the game close. The second of back to back games is always tough, but Boston will have to reverse recent poor shooting from the field to keep this one close.

Charlotte Bobcats @ Brooklyn Nets PickBrooklyn have played so well at home and have enough motivation to try and close on the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. The Bobcats won't roll over for them, but Brooklyn have defended too well at home to think they won't cover.

MY PICKS: 03/03 Chicago Bulls + 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
03/03 Utah Jazz @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
03/03 Minnesota Timberwolves - 5.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
04/03 Houston Rockets-Miami Heat Over 210 Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
04/03 Oklahoma City Thunder-Philadelphia 76ers Under 219.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
04/03 LA Lakers-New Orleans Pelicans Under 210.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
05/03 Minnesota Timberwolves - 8.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
05/03 Dallas Mavericks - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
05/03 Portland Trail Blazers - 8 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
06/03 Miami Heat + 3.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
06/03 Oklahoma City Thunder - 6 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
06/03 LA Clippers - 11 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
07/03 Boston Celtics - 4 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
07/03 New Orleans Pelicans - 7.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
07/03 Houston Rockets - 4 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
07/03 Golden State Warriors - 9.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
08/03 Philadelphia 76ers + 7 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
08/03 Cleveland Cavaliers-New York Knicks Over 201.5 Total Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
08/03 Washington Wizards - 7.5 Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
09/03 Miami Heat - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
09/03 Oklahoma City Thunder - 12.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
18/03 Miami Heat - 10 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
18/03 Washington Wizards - 1.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
19/03 Miami Heat - 6.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
19/03 Brooklyn Nets - 6 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

March Update: 7-16, - 9.36 Units

January Final2-11, - 9.08 Units
December 2013 Final8-11, - 3.42 Units
November 2013 Final8-7-1, + 0.82 Units
October 2013 Final0-4, - 4 Units

Season 201418-33-1, - 15.68 Units
Final Season 2013105-93-3, + 10.49 Units
Final Season 201279-53-1, + 27.48 Units

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