This week I will have two separate threads for the NBA Picks. The first will come Monday to Wednesday and the remaining November games before I put one together for Thursday to Sunday to cover the opening December games.
Monday 28th November
Sacramento Kings @ Washington Wizards Pick: The Washington Wizards have had a difficult start to the season, but they look to be getting healthier and that should lead to some improvements. This does look an opportunity to get the better of the Sacramento Kings who are playing on a back to back and have also been working out their inconsistencies.
The issues the Wizards are having makes it tough to back them with confidence, especially when you think Washington are likely to have problems on the boards against the Kings. However I do think the Kings aren't as good on the road as they are at home and Washington have proved to be a little better Defensively at home which can make a difference.
Washington find better shooting from the three point arc at home and I like the fact that the Wizards are 3-0 against the spread in their last three home games against Sacramento. Neither team has really been able to find their best when facing some of the teams with losing records this season and Washington haven't been a great favourite to back when being asked to cover more three points or more, but I feel the spot is a good one for them.
It is likely to be a high-scoring game, but I can see Washington making the bigger plays in the Fourth Quarter and being able to pull away for the win.
Utah Jazz @ Minnesota Timberwolves Pick: The Utah Jazz were expected to be one of the teams who would make the improvements to leap into the Western Conference Play Off picture. There definitely looks like being some room for the Jazz to get into the top eight in the West, but their opponents on Monday have had a more difficult start as the Minnesota Timberwolves were also expected to be much better this season.
A young roster is taking time to understand what Tom Thibodeau wants from them, but I do think the former Chicago Bulls Head Coach will get them turned around. Whether he can do it in time to make the Play Offs this season is another question, but some are suggesting that Thibodeau will look to make a couple of trades to bring in veteran leaders who can pass on their experiences to the young talent on the roster.
The Jazz have been improved with George Hill back in the line up and they have been much stronger Defensively than Minnesota while also holding an edge on the boards. With Hill and Gordon Hayward, Utah also should have more of an Offensive punch in this one and I think that can play out here.
Being on the road is tough and the Timberwolves have played well here at times even if they are still very inconsistent. However I can see Utah improving their 4-1 record against the spread in Minnesota and I will back them.
Tuesday 29th November
Both picks had to ride out some difficult moments on Monday with Washington coming through thanks to some late Free Throws and Utah coming back from a slow start to see off Minnesota. That was good news for me with the two picks winning and getting the final three days of November off to a positive beginning.
A strong Tuesday and Wednesday may turn this month right around and also start moving the season totals in the direction I want.
Detroit Pistons @ Charlotte Hornets Pick: Two teams that are expected to make the top eight this season in the Eastern Conference meet in an early regular season game and there is no doubt that these games can back to haunt the losers in April. Tiebreakers in tight races are the key to deciding Play Off positions come April and the Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons could be battling for spots in the top eight of the East in a few months time.
The start to the season for the Hornets has been a lot more positive than it has for the Pistons and Charlotte have won two in a row after a slippery run last week. Blowing out the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday has given Charlotte the chance to rest some of the starters ahead of this back to back as they return home and the return of Jeremy Lamb from an injury has boosted a rotation that might have been relying too much on Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum.
Batum struggled with his shot in the last game, but Lamb has 39 points and 26 boards in the last two games to keep the Hornets moving forward. With a game against the woeful Dallas Mavericks next up on deck, Charlotte can put all of their focus into beating the Detroit Pistons who have really been a Jekyll and Hyde team through the season.
Detroit are a solid team at home, but they have struggled on the road and it is a point of concern for them. Injuries in the back court haven't helped and Reggie Jackson's return can't come soon enough for them. Jackson is getting closer, but he is unlikely to suit up here as the Pistons try to improve on both sides of the court when they are on the road.
The Pitsons have had issues rebounding the ball on the road and their Offensive and Defensive sets have not been as strong as they have been at home. One of the other big issues the Pistons have had on the road is defending the three point arc and Detroit have been blown out on the road in the last couple of games they have played.
It would surprise if they are blown out here, but I do think the Charlotte Hornets can get the better of them. The Hornets are 7-2 against the spread when favoured by 3.5 points or fewer and they are facing a Detroit team who have gone 0-4 against the spread when facing a team with a winning record on the road. Charlotte are also 4-1 against the spread in the last five home games against the Detroit Pistons and I will back the home team to cover.
Wednesday 30th November
Washington Wizards @ Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: The return of Bradley Beal to partner John Wall in the back court is supposed to spark the Washington Wizards who have not made a great start to the new season. After missing out on the Play Offs last season, Washington made changes at Head Coach and were expected to be one of the best eight teams in the Eastern Conference.
That change from Randy Wittman to Scott Brooks is going to take time for the players to adjust, but the inconsistent beginning to the season has been below expectations. Brooks will be keen to get the best out of his Wizards in their trip to the Oklahoma City Thunder where he had much success as Head Coach before being let go as the Thunder could not quite get over the hump and win the NBA Championship.
It will look different for Brooks as he faces a roster that is much changed since he moved on. There is no Kevin Durant to back up Russell Westbrook, and the Thunder are not quite as good as they were a few months ago, but Westbrook has been on fire. After extending his contract with the Thunder, Westbrook has set a huge benchmark for this season as he is averaging a triple-double and carrying much of the effort for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder will need Westbrook at his best against Beal and Wall, but Oklahoma City hold the edge in this game with what they can get from their bench players. They also look stronger when it comes to the rebounding battle and have been looking after the ball better than the Wizards in recent games and these factors can add up to give the home team the edge.
Washingon have a 0-3-1 record against the spread in their last four games in Oklahoma City while they are 0-2 against the spread when visiting a team with a winning record. Oklahoma City have been a little better defending the three point arc at home and I think that helps them come away with a win and a cover in this one.
LA Lakers @ Chicago Bulls Pick: The LA Lakers started this season in such form that some of the fans might have believed Luke Walton would turn around this one proud franchise immediately. Walton would have been the first to tell you that there was going to be plenty of work to do with a young roster that is sprinkled with some grizzled veterans, especially if the Lakers were to be restored to the level of being able to challenge for NBA titles.
That is a work in progress and recent games have shown there isn't a lot of depth on the roster as the Lakers have lost D'Angelo Russell and struggled. Julius Randle made his return on Tuesday as the Lakers were blown out by the New Orleans Pelicans and this is a very difficult back to back with some considerable travelling as they head to the surprising Chicago Bulls.
The Eastern Conference looks like it will be dominated by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the Chicago Bulls might be a surprising challenger as Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade have come in to help Jimmy Butler. This was a situation that many doubted would end well for Chicago as the team found its chemistry together having allowed Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to move on to the New York Knicks in the off-season.
However that has not been the case and the Bulls have a solid 10-6 record, although my one concern for Chicago has to be their focus considering the Cavaliers are next up on deck in two days time. However they have had four days off after a long road trip and I do think the Bulls will be excited to be returning home and building on the third best record in the Eastern Conference.
There is enough here to like the Bulls including how well they are playing on the Defensive side of the court compared with the Lakers. I would expect the Bulls to win the rebounding battle more often than not when they face this Lakers team and Chicago have been looking after the ball a lot better than their opponents in recent games which can be critical.
If the Bulls can stay with the Lakers output when the benches are on the court, I do think they will eventually prove too good for them. Chicago have a 5-1 record against the spread in their last six home games against the Lakers and I like the fact that the Bulls are 2-0 against the spread when favoured by between 9-10.5 points so far this season.
Three of the last four games the LA Lakers have played have been lost and all of those by double digits and I will look for the Bulls to take control and pull away for a big win to take into the home game with Cleveland later this week.
San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks Pick: There are likely to be some players given the night off for the San Antonio Spurs who were beaten at home yet again on Tuesday and now have to make the short trip to Dallas on a back to back. They had similar ideas when they last played the Dallas Mavericks, but Gregg Popovich was furious with what he felt was a lack of effort in a two point win over their shorthanded opponents.
The Mavericks remain without some key contributors and it looks a difficult season for them despite Mark Cuban stating that they will not be tanking for better lottery positions already. However it is a tough ask for a roster that is missing the likes of Deron Williams and Dirk Nowitzki from the rotation in what was expected to be a tough year for them anyway.
There will be some more confidence having snapped a long losing run by beating the New Orleans Pelicans last time out, but they are facing a Spurs team off a loss and who have won all ten road games they have played this season. After the way things went down against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, this San Antonio team will want to show they can recover in the way they used to when Tim Duncan was still around, especially against an overmatched opponent.
It has all been a struggle for Dallas when it comes to Offensive output, and Rick Carlisle's famed Defensive strength has not been helped by the injuries and lack of talent that he has had to work with. The Mavericks are still giving themselves half a chance in games on that side of the court, but they haven't been able to score enough points to stay with teams and I don't think the Spurs take them lightly for a second game in a row.
Dallas can give themselves a chance by winning the rebounding battle, but that is not going to be easy against the size of the Spurs, while the Mavericks have not looked after the ball as they would have liked. The Mavericks are just 1-3 against the spread when hosting a team with a winning record so far this season and their best hope might be San Antonio taking them lightly as they did a couple of weeks ago.
I can't see that happening after the way Popovich tore into his team for their lack of respect the last time they met the Mavericks and I expect the Spurs to come out with more focus after losing to Orlando. Games between these Texas rivals tend to be close, but Dallas will do well to stay with the Spurs for a second time this season and I will back San Antonio to record a win much more to the satisfaction of their Head Coach this time.
MY PICKS: 28/11 Washington Wizards - 4.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
28/11 Utah Jazz - 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
29/11 Charlotte Hornets - 3 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
30/11 Oklahoma City Thunder - 6 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
30/11 Chicago Bulls - 10.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
30/11 San Antonio Spurs - 8.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
November 28-30 Update: 3-3, - 0.23 Units
November 21-27 Final: 8-6, + 1.32 Units
November 14-20 Final: 4-5-1, - 1.32 Units
November 7-13 Final: 7-6, + 0.49 Units
November 1-6 Final: 2-5, - 3.18 Units
November Update: 21-22-1, - 2.69 Units
October Final: 8-9, - 1.72 Units
Final Season 2016: 150-143-7, - 5.37 Units