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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

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Monday, 1 February 2016

NBA Picks February 2016 (February 1-7)

Has it really been a month since the New Year? Time seems to be rushing along at this moment with a big 2016 year for myself and my family and sometimes it would be nice to have a little pause button to appreciate things that have been happening.

This month we will see the All-Star Game in the NBA which is usually considered the 'turning point' of a season as the top teams begin to focus on the Play Offs which will begin a couple of months after that game.

It is the time when these top teams want the chemistry to be proven and show they are ready to make a push for the NBA Championship, while the trade deadline also fast approaches.

January proved to be a tough month for the picks thanks to a really poor week in the middle of the month. It is the first losing month of the season for the picks, but fortunately a decent last couple of weeks ensured those losses were kept lower than the season totals to ensure we are still in profit heading into February.

The last couple of months have actually started off much slower than I would like so I am looking for a better start to February which should put the picks in a position to build in the right direction.

Monday 1st February
The last day of January proved to be a disappointment with both picks coming out on the wrong end.

That finished that month with a losing record, but the season is still in a good position and hopefully the February picks will be much stronger than January.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Indiana Pacers Pick: I wasn't sure the Cleveland Cavaliers had proved anything under Tyronn Lue with their wins following their defeat to the Chicago Bulls, but they certainly looked very strong in beating the San Antonio Spurs.

The change in tempo has worked for Kevin Love who has looked as good as at any time since joining Cleveland and pushing the pace has seen the Cavaliers explode for at least 114 points in four straight games. To do that against teams like Minnesota and Phoenix is one thing, but reaching that milestone against one of the best Defensive teams in the NBA in San Antonio is something to be admired.

They are now facing an Indiana team that had lost six of seven games, but will come into this one off back to back wins. The Pacers have given Cleveland plenty to think about in recent games and own a 4-0 record against the spread in the last four games between them, but this Cavaliers team are in really good form at the moment.

Cleveland are not a great road favourite to back, but have been stronger when set as the road favourite of six points or fewer. I will back the Cavaliers to cover this game on Monday and continue their strong run of form.

Dallas Mavericks @ Atlanta Hawks Pick: Both the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks were playing on Sunday night but they had contrasting results as Atlanta were blown out and Dallas won easily. They have also had contrasting results on the back to back with Dallas having a winning record against the spread and Atlanta having a losing one this season.

The Mavericks have been in stronger recent form with three wins in their last four games compared with Atlanta who have lost five of their last six. This has been a tough moment in the season for them as the players have admitted and the Hawks have been having a hard time at both ends of the court.

Dallas rested Dirk Nowitzki to ensure he was ready to play in this game and they are 5-3 against the spread when trying to revenge a home loss this season. On current performances on the court, Dallas have every chance of making this really competitive even if they fail to win outright and I do think they are being given too many points.

I do have to say that Dallas haven't been the best road underdog to back this season, but they look a team much more in tune with what they want to do on the court than Atlanta. Recent Hawks games have seen the team struggling for points and Dallas are very effective Defensively which makes this a lot of points being asked to cover for the home team.

Tuesday 2nd February
It looked like being a frustrating day for the picks to open the month as the Cleveland Cavaliers blew a double digit half time lead as the Offense went stone cold in the second half. Fortunately they managed to pull the game into Overtime before winning by five points which meant taking the early line was a positive.

Unfortunately Dallas never really got into the game with Atlanta to earn a split of the day.

Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks Pick: The Boston Celtics reached triple digits for the twelve game in a row, but their five game winning run came to an end thanks to some awful Defensive work in the second half. The loss to the Orlando Magic was a disappointment, but the Celtics should be ready to face their rivals the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

Boston have been on a decent run since their loss at Madison Square Garden last month and they now face a New York Knicks team who have lost five of their last six games. The Knicks have surpassed expectations this season but look to have hit a wall with the likes of Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis both a little banged up.

They will need both to be ready to compete against a Boston team that is finding points from a number of different avenues, although they did fall in love with the three pointer in their last game. However the Offensive output is hard to ignore and Boston reaching triple digits in this one will make it tough for New York to compete unless they perform as badly Defensively as they did against Orlando.

The Celtics have been strong at revenging a same season loss to an opponent and also bouncing back from an upset defeat. While they are not a great road favourite to back, New York are just 7-11 against the spread as the home underdog of three points or fewer over the last couple of seasons and I like the road team to get back to winning ways.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Portland Trail Blazers Pick: The Milwaukee Bucks are having a hard time of late with five losses from their last six games and losing their last four on the road. The Eastern Conference Play Offs are beginning to get away from Milwaukee who play the second of a three game road trip against Western Conference teams and they will be desperate to reverse recent form.

That is going to be tough against the Portland Trail Blazers who have won four in a row as they continue to surpass the expectations most had for them. They are once again in contention for a Play Off place in the Western Conference and Portland will be looking to complete this current seven game home stand with another couple of wins.

Portland have certainly picked up their play Defensively and they are catching Milwaukee on a back to back, although the Bucks have been strong in this position against the spread this season. However Milwaukee are struggling Defensively which is a concern against a team like Portland and that might be the difference in this game.

The Bucks have struggled to a 3-6 record against the spread when set as the road underdog of between 6.5 and 12 points this season and Portland have been a decent home favourite to back. The Trail Blazers did let me down in their last home game as the favourite, but I think they can be backed again as they continue to ride strong play at both ends of the court at the Rose Garden.

Wednesday 3rd February
Both of the picks on Tuesday returned as winners after some tough moments, but Wednesday looks a much tougher day to find games of interest.

In fact I have only found the one pick from the host of games to be played on Wednesday.

Atlanta Hawks @ Philadelphia 76ers Pick: The Atlanta Hawks blew out the Dallas Mavericks and they have been such a streaky team this season that perhaps that is the start of a positive run. Facing the Philadelphia 76ers who they have blown out twice already this season gives Atlanta a chance to make it two in a row and I like them to cover what looks a big number.

However it hasn't been big enough for the 76ers so far this season as they are just 2-9 against the spread when given between 6.5 and 12 points as the home underdog. I have to respect the fact that Philadelphia have gone 3-4 straight up in their last seven games, something that has to be considered a success relative to their season performances.

They also battled back from a huge deficit to fall just short against the Golden State Warriors here over the weekend, but getting that effort in back to back games is difficult for them. Only two of their last eight games have ended in a double digit loss too, but Philadelphia might find it hard to pick themselves up from an emotional effort that came close to the upset of the season.

Atlanta are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games in Philadelphia and I will back them to cover this one.

Thursday 4th February
It was a very easy win for the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday to improve the week's totals to open February as I was looking for. The last two months have started slowly so a faster start is what I wanted and have so far achieved.

New York Knicks @ Detroit Pistons Pick: The Detroit Pistons haven't played that well on the back to back spots this season and they are going to missing a key player in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. However, I think the Pistons can still get a measure of revenge over the New York Knicks for a loss to them earlier this season, especially as Detroit are 6-1 against the spread in the same season revenge spot.

They did suffer a close loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday which may have an affect on this game, although that looked a lot closer after a strong run in the fourth quarter for Detroit. The starters didn't have to play for long periods which should mean they are rested for this home game although the back to back spot hasn't been easy for them.

On the other hand, the New York Knicks are really struggling to find Offensive consistency with Carmelo Anthony still feeling a little banged up. They challenged Boston for a while in their last game, but New York have failed to surpass 95 points in five of their last seven games.

The Knicks have been a solid road underdog this season against the spread, but they are just 4-4 against the spread when given six points or fewer. They face a Detroit team that is 7-3 against the spread as the home favourite of six points or fewer and I will back the home team to cover as they get enough points to make up for Caldwell-Pope's absence.

Toronto Raptors @ Portland Trail Blazers Pick: This has been a game that the Toronto Raptors have struggled with in recent seasons, but they are in the kind of form that can see them snap their four game losing run against the Portland Trail Blazers.

There is little doubt this will be a close game with the way the Portland Trail Blazers have been playing during their home stand. Portland have won five in a row at home and will play their final of seven games at the Moda Center before heading on the road, but it has to be noted that all of their wins at home have come against teams with losing records.

In fact Portland are just 6-8 against the spread when hosting the better teams in the NBA and face a Toronto team who have gone 8-3 against the spread on the road against teams with losing records. They were winning again in Phoenix after a slow start following the end of the Raptors franchise record of wins in a row, and I do think the Raptors are the superior team in this one.

You can't ignore the fact that Toronto are 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games in Portland, but they were seven points clear going into the fourth quarter here last season and then were beaten in Overtime. They have been getting closer and I think the wrong team is being favoured in this one so I will take the point being given to the road team.

Friday 5th February
It was almost the most stunning of collapses from the Detroit Pistons who had led the New York Knicks by 27 points in the first half and by 24 points at half time. That lead was pegged all the way back to the Knicks actually leading with two minutes to go, but Detroit managed to pull the iron out of the fire and New York were not able to recover what would have been the biggest deficit in franchise history that resulted in a win.

There is no doubting that it would have been the worst bit of luck if Detroit hadn't covered, but it was a mental mistake from the Knicks that allowed that to happen in the end with a foul given away with three seconds left on the clock.

Miami Heat @ Charlotte Hornets Pick: The Miami Heat have been playing very well as their squad has improved in health but they have to face a Charlotte Hornets team who impressively saw off the Cleveland Cavaliers in their last game.

The Heat won't be disappointed if Kemba Walker has to sit for the Hornets for a second game in a row though as they have dealt with being short-handed for long stretches of the season. Walker is questionable for this game but Charlotte didn't miss him when beating the best team in the Eastern Conference in their last game.

A chance to move back to 0.500 is important for Charlotte, but Miami will also be looking to make sure their Play Off push continues going in the right direction. The Heat have won five of their last six games which has ensured they have maintained their winning record and I think they are playing well enough to beat Charlotte here.

The home team might have won the last six in the series between these teams, but I do think the Heat are perhaps being underestimated as the underdog. It isn't like they are massive dogs, but Miami are the better team especially if Walker sits out again along with Al Jefferson and I like the Heat to cover.

Boston Celtics @ Cleveland Cavaliers Pick: The Cleveland Cavaliers have admitted their second half performances in the last two games have left a lot to be desired. Against both Indiana and Charlotte, Cleveland had a big first half lead built up but a poor third quarter allowed their opponents to get back into things.

The Pacers failed to get the win, losing in Overtime, but Charlotte did beat Cleveland who are still a work in progress under Tyronn Lue. Now they return home to face the Boston Celtics with some bad blood still lingering from the way their First Round Play Off series developed last season.

That alone should focus Cleveland as well as the fact that Boston have won seven of their last eight games. The Celtics have thrived in the role of road underdog too so they have to be respected, but Cleveland do match up well with them and a more complete performance has to be coming after the last two on the road.

No one can doubt that Cleveland are much stronger at home and they have been scoring plenty of points. I think this will be a high-scoring game as both teams have shown some Offensive power of late, but I think the Cavaliers will cover as they would have done with this number in three of their last four home games against Boston.

Memphis Grizzlies @ New York Knicks Pick: There are two ways the New York Knicks can go on Friday night- either they ride the momentum of their second half performance against Detroit into this game or fatigue plays a huge part in their sixth consecutive loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Knicks recovered from that big deficit against the Detroit Pistons in a monumental second half effort, but I do wonder if they can emotionally pick themselves up having still lost the game. Coming back from 27 points down to lead with minutes remaining and losing has to have a mental impact on a team that has lost seven of their last eight games.

The starters all had to play in the comeback so this back to back is a tough spot for New York, especially when you think how well Memphis have matched up with them. The Grizzlies have won eight of their last nine including four in a row which makes them a very confident team while they are 6-2 against the spread against the New York Knicks.

New York have struggled as the home underdog of six points or fewer, going 11-23 against the spread in the last couple of years, and that game last night has to have taken something from them. I know Memphis are not a great road favourite to back as they are 1-4 against the spread in that spot, but they are rested, match up with New York and should have too much for the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in this one.

Saturday 6th February
The Cleveland Cavaliers had their third straight terrible second half performance which has led to a second loss in a row. Thankfully the rest of the Friday picks landed as expected and that has kept the week in a very positive position with two days left to go.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets Pick: The Portland Trail Blazers might have picked up some valuable wins in recent games, but they won't be able to get too far if they can't start beating the better teams in the NBA. A loaded Western Conference is unlikely to see Portland challenge for supremacy beyond the First Round of the Play Offs, but getting to the post-season is a genuine aim for the team.

The Trail Blazers just completed a seven game home stand, but that run was bookmarked by a pair of losses to teams with winning records. They now travel on the road to take on the Houston Rockets who have been improved but still struggling for the consistency they would have expected at the start of the season.

Houston haven't really been the team you want to back as the home favourite this season, but Portland are 3-7 against the spread when playing on the road against a team with a winning record. While the Trail Blazers have a strong record in Houston, I do think the spot is a difficult one considering they are off a long home stand.

I think the home team are healthy and Houston have been scoring plenty of points in recent games. With Portland not quite as effective on the road, I think the Rockets can find a way to get this done while covering the number.

LA Lakers @ San Antonio Spurs Pick: The San Antonio Spurs have been looking for a big road win against a top team in the NBA and their blow out of the Dallas Mavericks on Friday certainly impressed. However, the defeats at the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers over the last couple of weeks have been a big disappointment for a team that has handled most of the challenges they have faced this season.

Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili won't be available for this game as the LA Lakers come to town along with retiring Kobe Bryant. Back to back wins have been rare for the Lakers all season, but they will come in looking for a third straight win, although it will take something very special to achieve that.

No one can deny how dominant the San Antonio Spurs have been at home this season and they have a very impressive 12-4 record against the spread when hosting a team with a losing record. The back to back shouldn't be a concern when you see San Antonio are 7-1 against the spread in that spot this season, while they blew out Dallas so well that they have rested their starters.

The Spurs have covered in three of their last four home games against the LA Lakers and I will back them to get over this very big number.

Sunday 7th February
Both of the picks on Saturday were very poor and showed little sign of actually being the right sides which was a disappointment.

The Sunday games are both scheduled for the early afternoon to ensure they are completed before the Super Bowl begins and I do have a couple of picks from the games to be played.

Denver Nuggets @ New York Knicks Pick: It has been a tough stretch for the New York Knicks and the chances that Carmelo Anthony suits up for this game are slim. Anthony is a huge piece of the New York Knicks future so they may opt to rest him through the All-Star break and hope he can be healthy down the stretch.

There have been plenty of positives in New York this season as the team has surpassed most expectations, but missing out on the Play Offs would still be a blow at this stage. The Knicks have lost eight of their last nine games and have lost four in a row which will have sapped some confidence, even though they have been competitive for the most part.

I don't doubt they are the favourites because the Denver Nuggets are not so strong on the road. However, the Nuggets have been playing well recently and look a team that could potentially get into the Western Conference Play Off picture in the next two months.

Denver have also thrived in their role as the road underdog this season, while they are also 8-4 against the spread when playing a team with a losing record on the road. It isn't a lot of points the Nuggets are getting, but I think this Denver sports team can cover on Sunday 7th February.

Atlanta Hawks @ Orlando Magic Pick: The Atlanta Hawks finished with the Number 1 Seed in the Eastern Conference last season, but they have been far more inconsistent this time around. A streaky team, Atlanta have won three in a row and I think they will be too good for the Orlando Magic who have struggled over the last month.

This has been a game the Atlanta Hawks have enjoyed having won six of the last seven against Orlando, while they are 10-4 against the spread in their last fourteen games in Orlando.

Orlando have just been struggling at both ends of the court and they have allowed at least 100 points in seven straight games. The Magic have also lost eleven of their last twelve games and fifteen of their last seventeen as they have dropped off the pace when it comes to Play Off places in the Eastern Conference.

One thing that concerns me is Orlando have been 3-1 against the spread as the home underdog of three points or fewer this season, but I like the Atlanta Hawks to get the better of them in the first of a home and home series against them.

MY PICKS: 01/02 Cleveland Cavaliers - 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
01/02 Dallas Mavericks + 6 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
02/02 Boston Celtics - 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
02/02 Portland Trail Blazers - 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
03/02 Atlanta Hawks - 8 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
04/02 Detroit Pistons - 5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
04/02 Toronto Raptors + 1 Point @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
05/02 Miami Heat + 1 Point @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
05/02 Cleveland Cavaliers - 7 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
05/02 Memphis Grizzlies - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
06/02 Houston Rockets - 5 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (1 Unit)
06/02 San Antonio Spurs - 15.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
07/02 Denver Nuggets + 2 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
07/02 Atlanta Hawks - 3 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)

February 1-7 Update: 9-5, + 3.23 Units

January Final21-23-2, - 3.80 Units
December Final27-21-3, + 3.67 Units
November Final27-22-1, + 2.69 Units
October Final5-4, + 0.57 Units
Season 201680-70-6, + 3.13 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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