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Monday, 25 January 2016

NBA Picks January 2016 (January 25-31)

There have been some big moves in the NBA over the past week and none more so than the firing of David Blatt in Cleveland.

That was a huge story considering the Cavaliers are leading the Eastern Conference, but it looks like they were not convinced Blatt was going to help them close the gap on the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs who look the teams to beat.

It might not be the only move in Cleveland with suggestions that Kevin Love will perhaps be traded before the deadline next month as the Cavaliers look for better chemistry with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

Talking about the Warriors and Spurs, they will meet for the first time this season on Monday, but Gregg Popovich has done a typical Pop move and already announced Tim Duncan will sit. I would not be surprised at all if other starters are given the night off with Popovich looking to get his team ready for the Play Offs and surprise the Warriors with what they are going to do in a potential Western Conference Finals.

It was a much better week for the picks after the disaster of the week before and has moved the January totals into a position where I can potentially end the month with a profit. It does mean having another big week to get that moved back around, but at least a chance has been created with a strong week last week.

Monday 25th January
There are plenty of games set for Monday, but it has been a little difficult finding an angle to go with although I do have a couple of picks from the day.

Boston Celtics @ Washington Wizards Pick: The Boston Celtics had an unforeseen back to back after the storm on the United States east coast meant their game against Philadelphia was postponed for a day. It didn't matter to the Celtics who blew out the 76ers on the road and now make the short trip to the Washington Wizards who were beaten by the Celtics just a couple of weeks ago.

The back to back hasn't been a big issue for the Celtics who have a 7-3 record in the second of those games this season, 4-2 on the road. Boston have also been in decent shape the last couple of weeks as they look to make sure they remain on course for a Play Off spot in the surprisingly competitive Eastern Conference.

It will need a big effort from the Celtics to beat Washington again considering the latter have also shown some decent results recently. They snapped their two game losing run at home by blowing out the Miami Heat and have been well rested with their last game being postponed due to the poor weather in the area.

Washington have been very good when playing with three or more days rest, going 3-0 against the spread in that spot this season. However, I think the Boston Celtics can match up well with them and have been a strong road underdog to back and I will take the points in this one.

Atlanta Hawks @ Denver Nuggets Pick: The Denver Nuggets will be missing Kenneth Faried in this game, but I still think they are being given too many points at home in this one. The Nuggets have gone 4-3 on their current home stand which comes to a close on Monday, but they are 6-1 against the spread in those games as they have played teams competitively.

It looks like another game where they will be able to give their visitors all they can handle, especially if the Atlanta Hawks can't find the consistency that helped them to the Number 1 Seed in the Eastern Conference last season. The Hawks return home after this game, but back to back losses to Sacramento and Phoenix are disappointing considering what Atlanta believe they are capable of achieving.

This hasn't looked a great position for Atlanta in the past to cover spreads and they are just 1-4 against the spread when favoured by between 3.5 and 6 points on the road. And throw in the fact that all of Denver's last seven home games have been decided by 6 points or fewer, six of those games by 3 points or fewer, and this looks a lot of points for the Nuggets to be given.

I hate the fact that Faried is likely out because he is a big presence on the boards both Offensively and Defensively, but I still think Atlanta have played up and down all season. That inconsistency is hard to ignore and I like the home underdog to stay within this number.

Tuesday 26th January
It was a mixed bag of results from the opening day of this week, while the Tuesday schedule looks a difficult one to negotiate too. Looking through the games, only one really appealed.

Sacramento Kings @ Portland Trail Blazers Pick: Two teams who are trying their best to get into the Western Conference Play Off picture face one another on Tuesday. However this looks a really difficult position for the Sacramento Kings to compete and I would be surprised if the Portland Trail Blazers cannot take advantage.

While Portland have been resting since Saturday, this will be Sacramento's third game in four nights and they are coming in on the second of a back to back. That alone might not be an issue as the Kings have a solid 7-4 record against the spread in the second of those games this season, but the difference this time is that the Kings had to play a double Overtime game on Monday.

They will also have taken an emotional body blow having lost that game to Charlotte and it might be difficult for them to really pick themselves up for this road game. Portland have the speed and scoring power to make it very hard for a fatigued Sacramento team and it is hard to imagine them having enough in the tank for this game.

Sacramento have been a strong road underdog but this looks a bad spot for them. Add to that the fact that Portland are 6-1 against the spread when having a couple of days to rest and they have a solid enough 6-4 record against the spread as the home favourite this season to think they can take advantage if the Kings are physically spent.

Wednesday 27th January
The Portland Trail Blazers did the business comfortably on Tuesday against a tired Sacramento Kings team.

However, I have nothing to back that up with on Wednesday with the lines intriguing me in a couple of games but ultimately falling a little too short for me to get involved. Hopefully Thursday will provide better options.

Thursday 28th January
I had a look through the six games to be played in the NBA on Thursday and once again there isn't a game that really stands out for me to make a pick.

Hopefully the nine games on Friday will produce an angle worth backing after only making three picks through the first four days of this week.

Friday 29th January
After a couple of days off from making picks due to not really being convinced, Friday has offered up some angles that I am hoping to exploit.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Detroit Pistons Pick: The firing of David Blatt was the big news story of last week, but Cleveland have responded with back to back wins following a loss against the Chicago Bulls. However those have come against some of the weaker teams in the NBA and this is a big challenge for them up against the Detroit Pistons.

There aren't too many teams that are as up and down as the Pistons- they have beaten the likes of Golden State and Houston, but lost to New Orleans and Denver as they struggle for those consistencies.

I like the Pistons in this spot even though they go on the road to the hot Toronto Raptors on Saturday. Playing the best team in the Eastern Conference at home should have some inspired for a big effort as they look to put another win in the column against the Cleveland Cavaliers having done that earlier this season.

And while the Pistons are in a tough spot, Cleveland are hosting the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday which is certainly going to take some of their focus from this one-stop road game. Cleveland are trying to prove they can handle the best in the Western Conference after being blown out by the LA Clippers, while the Cavaliers are a poor road favourite to back, going 13-22 against the spread when favoured by six points or fewer on the road.

This isn't a lot of points for the home underdog to be given, but I like the Pistons in this spot with the points.

Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: The Houston Rockets were embarrassed by the San Antonio Spurs in their last game and will be expecting a much better effort when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder. While all of the attention in the NBA is on the two leading teams in the Western Conference, Oklahoma City are quietly going about their business and will not be overlooked easily with both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in their starting line up.

The Thunder have only had only sloppy loss in recent weeks and they have some revenge on their minds as an injury ravaged squad was beaten by Houston all three times last season. Houston have backed that up with another win this season to make it five in a row against the Thunder, but this might be the best Oklahoma City they have played in that time.

Oklahoma City have played very well at home and they have a decent record here when playing teams with winning records. That has not been the case for Houston who are 4-8 against the spread as the road underdog, while they are 3-6 against the spread when playing a team with a winning record on the road.

I'd be more than a little stunned if Houston are blown out again as they were in San Antonio, but I expect Oklahoma City to do enough to win this one and cover the points.

Charlotte Hornets @ Portland Trail Blazers Pick: The Charlotte Hornets have a very good record as the road underdog of six points or fewer in the last couple of seasons. They seem to thrive in that spot, but I am not sure they will be able to do that against the Portland Trail Blazers who are looking to maintain their position in the Western Conference.

I wouldn't take the Charlotte blow out loss in Utah as anything more than an accumulation of fatigue from their double overtime win in Sacramento. That win will give them confidence they can beat another of the teams chasing the Number 8 spot in the Western Conference, but I think the injuries in the rotation are hurting the team.

Portland have overachieved this season with many expecting them to fall off after losing key contributors in the off-season. Damien Lilliard has been backed up by CJ McCollum to give Portland a strong back court and the team have filled some holes effectively while the Trail Blazers also have a strong record against Charlotte, going 6-1 against the spread in the last seven at the Rose Garden and 9-4 against the spread in the last thirteen of this series.

The Trail Blazes are also 6-2 against the spread when facing teams with losing records at home and they should have too much for a short-handed Charlotte team almost concluding their road trip.

Saturday 30th January
It seems the days off from the NBA Picks were justified after the Friday picks went 2-1.

With just two days left of the month, another couple of winning days will make sure the month ends without a loss after a miserable middle week which was the worst of the season so far. On Saturday we have a number of games being played and I should have at least one pick with my shortlist completed but waiting for the final lines.

Detroit Pistons @ Toronto Raptors Pick: It wasn't a great performance from Detroit on Friday night as they failed to really stop Cleveland getting what they wanted Offensively through the first three quarters. That effectively ended that game as Detroit came into the fourth quarter down by eighteen points and even a fourth quarter fightback was never looking like being anything but pride salvaging.

Now they take on the second best team in the Eastern Conference and one that will have the confidence flowing through them following a ten game winning run. That is a franchise record for the Toronto Raptors who will be heading on the road after this game.

First Toronto conclude a seven game home stand and they have been dominant winning all six as they look to complete a sweep on Saturday. All but one have been comfortable wins for the Raptors who are playing a Pistons team that are just 3-6 against the spread when on the second of back to back nights play.

I hate underestimating Detroit who have been capable of raising their level, but they might have put in too much of an effort in the latter stages of their loss to Cleveland. Fatigue has to play some part, while Toronto are playing much better Defensively which can set them up for a decent win.

Sacramento Kings @ Memphis Grizzlies Pick: The Memphis Grizzlies are almost certainly going to make the Play Offs, but the future of the franchise has some big questions to answer. They did sign up Marc Gasol for the long-term, but Mike Conley could potentially move on this summer while a changing identity has made them a little hit or miss this season.

While they have been able to handle some of the weaker teams in the NBA, Memphis have been battered when facing the best. Maybe they can surprise someone in the First Round of the Play Offs, but they don't look a genuine threat in the Western Conference.

The Grizzlies won't be able to underestimate the Sacramento Kings who have DeMarcus Cousins firing, but who have to snap a three game losing run. Sacramento are trying to get into the Play Offs, but there are some moves that still need to be made to make the Kings a threat in a tough Conference.

Sacramento haven't been that strong in this series and I think Memphis will make enough stops Defensively to put themselves into a position to win this one. The Kings are 2-3 against the spread as the road underdog being given three points or fewer compared with Memphis going 17-9 against the spread when favoured by three points or fewer at home.

After a real battle, I expect Memphis to make some stops late to ensure they win this one by at least three points.

San Antonio Spurs @ Cleveland Cavaliers Pick: This is a big game for the Cleveland Cavaliers who are still trying to prove themselves in the wake of the firing of David Blatt. A very good looking win at the Detroit Pistons can't be dismissed easily, but now they are on a back to back where they are 3-4-1 against the spread this season and trying to show that they have learnt a lot from their blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors here.

The San Antonio Spurs have also been blown out by the Warriors, but they recovered to hand out a beating to the Houston Rockets at home. Unlike Cleveland, San Antonio are well rested and have a 5-2 record against the spread when having two days rest between games.

There is something to prove for the Spurs after that loss to Golden State and they are going to be missing Tim Duncan as they look for a season sweep of the Cavaliers. There has been a change in the way Cleveland are playing under Tyronn Lue as they look to move the ball quicker than they did under Blatt and the team have responded well, although they did lose their first game against the Chicago Bulls.

Being a home underdog is a strange spot for Cleveland but they are 4-4 against the spread as a small home underdog of three points or fewer over the last couple of seasons. It has not been a great spot for the Spurs either as the small road favourite, but I think there is more consistency with the way they want to play and I believe they win a big national game while covering this number.

Sunday 31st January
You can't be anything but frustrated with Saturday picks- the Cleveland Cavaliers were brilliant and deserved their win over the San Antonio Spurs, but I should really have had two winners from three picks.

However, both Toronto and Memphis blew twenty point leads in the fourth quarter with the Grizzlies barely holding on and the Raptors failing to cover. That is frustrating when you think of the numbers they had to cover and had a knock on the weekly totals.

There is just one day left in this month and I have a couple of picks from the games to be played on Sunday.

Boston Celtics @ Orlando Magic Pick: The Boston Celtics are looking for a home and home sweep of the fading Orlando Magic as they look to improve their own standing in the Eastern Conference. Boston have looked very strong at both ends of the court in their five game winning run and Orlando will have seen at first hand a few days ago as to how difficult playing the Celtics is at this moment.

The Celtics have scored at least 109 points in nine straight games which is incredible when coupled with the way the Defensive side of the court is being looked after. Only one of their last four opponents have managed to get into triple figures and facing an Orlando team who have lost eight in a row will give the Celtics a significant edge.

Playing teams with losing records on the road has been productive for Boston who are 7-2 against the spread in that spot this season. The Celtics haven't been a great road favourite to back though, which does concern me, but this is a team streaking at the moment and who dominated Orlando just days ago.

I am also a little worried that the last nine games in the series have been won by the home team and Boston are 0-4 against the spread in their last four visits to this part of Florida. Numbers are made to be snapped though and Boston are a stronger team than Orlando at this moment and I will back them to cover.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Portland Trail Blazers Pick: The Portland Trail Blazers are enjoying a long home stand which is going to be used to spark their push towards the Western Conference Play Offs. After losing their opening game, Portland have won three in a row at the Rose Garden and will be very confident they can get the better of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The young Timberwolves have been competitive in some games, but they have had difficulties on the road where their concentration can be questioned. It has been a disappointing season for Minnesota who thought they could have a step up in their performances with their young core earning some experience.

That hasn't really happened for them and Minnesota have already been beaten by the Portland Trail Blazers twice at home this season. Now they go on the road where they are 0-6-1 against the spread in their last seven games in Portland, while Minnesota are also 3-7 against the spread on the road against teams with losing records.

On the other hand, Portland are 6-2 against the spread at home when playing teams with losing records. It does look a good spot for Portland to make it four in a row at home and I like them to cover this number.

MY PICKS: 25/01 Boston Celtics + 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
25/01 Denver Nuggets + 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
26/01 Portland Trail Blazers - 4 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
29/01 Detroit Pistons + 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Coral (1 Unit)
29/01 Oklahoma City Thunder - 7.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
29/01 Portland Trail Blazers - 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
30/01 Toronto Raptors - 7.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
30/01 Memphis Grizzlies - 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
30/01 San Antonio Spurs - 2 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
31/01 Boston Celtics - 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
31/01 Portland Trail Blazers - 7 Points @ 1.95 Bet Fred (1 Unit)

January 25-31 Update: 5-6, - 1.45 Units

January 18-24 Final: 8-3, + 4.37 Units
January 11-17 Final2-9, - 7.18 Units
January 4-10 Final6-5-2, + 0.46 Units

January Update16-17-2, - 2.35 Units

December Final27-21-3, + 3.67 Units
November Final27-22-1, + 2.69 Units
October Final5-4, + 0.57 Units
Season 201659-47-4, + 6.93 Units

Final Season 2015109-108-5, - 6.91 Units
Final Season 201458-72-1, - 16.86 Units
Final Season 2013105-93-3, + 10.49 Units
Final Season 201279-53-1, + 27.48 Units

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