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Monday, 14 November 2016

NBA November Picks 2016 (November 14-20)

Another week in November has passed through in the NBA season and this is still the time of the season when teams are trying to find some chemistry and their identity.

With a number of new Head Coaches it is no surprise that there have been some inconsistent results for those teams while no one is looking to get up to full speed at this moment.

I had a winning week last week, but I am looking to find a little more consistency out of the picks. Both weeks have started positively but then taken a step backwards, but this is a long season and there is plenty of time to find the improvements in the picks.

Once again I am putting this week's picks in this one thread which will run through Monday to Sunday and I will update on a daily basis. Sometimes the picks will come out a little later as the layers get their lines out, but generally I will have the picks out with plenty of time before games are due to tip off.

Monday 14th November
The final pick from last week saw the LA Lakers blown out by the Minnesota Timberwolves as they couldn't find the energy to keep up in the first half despite a decent second half run.

There are a few games scheduled for Monday, but I have made picks from two of them.

Dallas Mavericks @ New York Knicks Pick: The Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks have both made slow starts to the new season as injuries and a lack of cohesion has cost both squads. The Dallas Mavericks could be shorthanded in Gotham with Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams and Devin Harris all expected to miss this game and their 2-6 record has shown up the slow start the Mavericks have made.

The Mavericks are missing those three key Offensive players and that has shown up with their difficulties in scoring enough points to keep up in games. They have struggled on the boards, while the Mavericks are not as strong Defensively as they would like to be.

Dallas have had a few days rest to give Rick Carlisle the time to make the adjustments at both ends of the court. It also means their rested players should be ready to go against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden against a 3-6 team that have plenty of work to do.

Offensively there are still questions about the Triangle that is favoured by Phil Jackson, but the big issues have been Defensively where the Knicks are giving up too many points. Only once have the New York Knicks been able to hold teams to under 100 points this season, while they are still trying to get Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah on the same page as Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.

The Knicks have chances in this one and they have an edge in the rebounding battle while they have done enough Offensively to challenge the Mavericks in this one. New York have been close in recent games to get back to winning ways and they are 2-1 against the spread as the favourite this season.

At the same time the Dallas Mavericks are 0-3 against the spread when given 3.5 points or fewer this season and I am going to back my Knicks to win this game and cover.

Memphis Grizzlies @ Utah Jazz Pick: Many people tipped the Utah Jazz to take some big steps in a positive direction in the Western Conference this season as a young roster has plenty of talent and experience behind them. Despite some injuries which has seen Utah miss some of their key players, the Jazz have opened the season with a 7-4 record and they have to be feeling very positive about how things are.

They return home from a five game road trip in which Utah have gone 4-1 and the return of Gordon Hayward has been very important for them. There are still some injury issues that Utah need to resolve with George Hill banged up and Derrick Favors also having some problems, but it does look like the latter will be available for this one.

Their opponents the Memphis Grizzlies have really been having a hard time to open the season and they won't be giving too much sympathy to their hosts. Injuries have hurt the Grizzlies with Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons and Tony Allen either banged up or out of this game.

David Fizdale is taking time getting his methods across to the Grizzlies and they have not shown the Defensive toughness that we have become accustomed to seeing from this team. The last three opponents have all reached at least 100 points while Memphis have been inconsistent Offensively and these are areas that the Utah Jazz have been playing well enough to take advantage of.

Memphis have really struggled Defensively on the road and I like the Jazz who look like they will be strong enough on the boards and Offensively to pull away from the Grizzlies. Utah are 5-1 against the spread as the favourite this season and 5-1 against the spread in their last six home games against the Memphis Grizzlies.

So far it has been tough work for the Grizzlies when visiting the teams who have opened the season with a winning record as they are 0-2 against the spread in those games and I like the chances of Utah coming away with a win by around ten to twelve points in this one.

Tuesday 15th November
It was a mixed set of results on Monday, while there isn't a lot of games scheduled for Tuesday this week. However I do have one pick today as I look to move into the black for the week.

Chicago Bulls @ Portland Trail Blazers Pick: The Portland Trail Blazers have been sparked by how well Damian Lillard plays and they will need him at his best if they are going to make it three wins in a row since being blown out by the LA Clippers. Playing at home has always been an edge for Portland even during their down seasons and they have opened 4-2 here this season.

The Trail Blazers are scoring plenty of points for the most part (the LA Clippers game was an exception) but Defensively they have struggled and the last four teams have all scored 105 points or more. One of the issues they have is being dominated on the glass and that is an area this veteran Chicago team will feel they have the edge.

There is also a lot of pressure on the starters for Portland as they not getting the production off the bench that can help ease the demands of Lillard. The Chicago rotation has been better although Doug McDermott looks likely to sit in this one, and the Bulls can keep this one close if they can get enough from Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade who will be challenged by Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Chicago have picked up their play on the Defensive side of the court too and they should have enough to stay with a Portland team who are just 1-5 against the spread at home this season. Neither team has really played well when facing the better teams in the NBA to open this season, but I do think Chicago having the edge on the rebounding stats as well as the Defensive side of the court swings the pendulum their way just enough with the points.

Wednesday 16th November
The sole pick made on Tuesday was never in doubt after Chicago pulled out a 21 point lead at the end of the First Quarter and never allowed the Portland Trail Blazers to get a foothold in the game. That moves the picks up to 2-1 this week, but on Wednesday there are three games that catch my eye as I look to get a run going to get this month turned back in my favour.

New Orleans Pelicans @ Orlando Magic Pick: The New Orleans Pelicans have to be one of the poorer rosters in the NBA with the injuries they are having to contend with, but they have begun to show some fight in recent games. Anthony Davis is one of the best players in the NBA but he has lacked support for most of the season although the fact they have won two of their last three games suggests the Pelicans are finding some chemistry.

And although I accept New Orleans are not a great team at this moment, I don't think the Orlando Magic should be favoured to beat anyone by as many as these points as they have been Offensively challenged. Three times in their last five games the Magic have scored 80 points or fewer and that is not going to get it done against any team in the NBA.

There has been some positives about the Defensive side of the court, but the Pelicans will feel they can have some joy in this one considering they have scored 94 points or more in six straight games. New Orleans should be able to have an edge when it comes to the battle for rebounds while their bench have been playing pretty well in recent games.

The concern for the Pelicans is the lack of Defense at the three point arc which has seen teams hurt them. However they won't believe Orlando can take full advantage of that and the Magic are 0-2 against the spread when being favoured by 3.5 points or fewer this season. Frank Vogel has admitted there is a lot of work to do for Orlando after another poor performance in the loss to the Pacers and this feels too many points for them to give up.

Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: Both the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder have six wins this season and have winning records, but there is a definite different feel for both teams coming into this one. While the Rockets have won three of their last four games to move to 6-4, the Oklahoma City Thunder have dropped four in a row to fall to 6-5 and the absence of Kevin Durant is becoming more noticeable.

There was little doubt the Thunder would feel the loss of one of the best players in the NBA, but Russell Westbrook's energy helped them make a fast start which perhaps raised hopes. Now it feels like they have come back down to earth as teams key in on Westbrook and see if someone else on this roster can beat them.

Aside from the blow out in Detroit, the Thunder have had some close losses which will keep them believing, but they would dearly love a big win over a rival like Houston. James Harden was the first member of the Thunder that surprisingly moved on although his departure looks worse in hindsight as he was a Sixth Man of the Year with Oklahoma City rather than a starter. He has been on a tear since moving to Houston and Harden has been in fine form to open the season which makes his match up with Westbrook intriguing to say the least.

The difference is that Harden does receive some solid support from this team mates and the Rockets are also Defensively better than the numbers particularly slowing down the three point shot. That is likely to be a big part of this game with the Thunder a little more susceptible to the deep shot and that can be a big reason why they fail to stay with the Rockets.

Both teams would like to look after the ball better, but I think Harden and his team mates offer more Offensively which can be key in a high scoring game. The Rockets are 6-0 against the spread against Oklahoma City and they are 2-1 against the spread when given 2.5 points or fewer this season. I will take the points again here.

Golden State Warriors @ Toronto Raptors Pick: When you play the team that beat you in the Eastern Conference Finals and then went on to win the NBA Finals it doesn't take a lot for players to be motivated. The Toronto Raptors threw the kitchen sink at the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday but ultimately came up short and now the schedule is sending them the Western Conference Champions and NBA winners from two seasons ago, the Golden State Warriors.

The Raptors lost narrowly to the Cavaliers for the second time this season and picking themselves from that is going to be tough. Of course the motivation to take on the 'evil' Golden State Warriors should get the legs pumping, but you would be a fool to consider this anything but a really tough test for the Raptors.

It is one thing preparing for the Warriors, but Toronto were desperate to get the better of the Cavaliers and prove they can threaten them in the Eastern Conference having fallen apart when it mattered last season. Some may say it was almost a surprise to the Raptors that they had the Warriors on a back to back and it is tough work for teams to deal with all of the Offensive pieces Golden State will bring to the court.

The Warriors are still finding their chemistry, but they have been hitting the ball from the three point line with regularity in recent games and I am not sure Toronto can keep up with them on a back to back. The two games last season were competitive, but Toronto would have been focused on the defending NBA Champions and I have a feeling this game came second to the Cleveland one on Wednesday.

Golden State are well rested and hitting a high percentage of their three point shots and I am not sure Toronto have the Defensive pieces and the energy to contain Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Playing on the road is difficult though so this won't be easy for the Warriors, but they are 2-0 against the spread when favoured by between 5 and 6.5 points this season.

Add in their strong record against Toronto where they are 19-7 against the spread in their last twenty-six games and I think the factors are all combining for a Warriors impressive win on the road. I'll back the Warriors to win this one by double digits on the road.

Thursday 17th November
The picks went 1-1-1 on Wednesday, but I can't help feeling I've had a couple of winners robbed from me. The Anthony Davis absence came out after the pick had been made, but the New Orleans Pelicans still felt they should have beaten the Orlando Magic and so it is frustrating they didn't cover having led in the Fourth Quarter.

Houston might have given me a push, but they were up by 6 points with 6 minutes left and didn't score another point until the last second of that game. That's a kick in the teeth and Golden State almost blew a 18 point lead in the final 4 minutes of their game but barely got over the line.

I hope I am going to get some jammy covers over the coming weeks to make up for that day and missing out at least two more winners.

New York Knicks @ Washington Wizards Pick: It has been a long time, but there are reasons to be excited about being a New York Knicks fan these days, mainly thanks to Kristaps Porzingis who looks like a Superstar in the making. He is only in his second year, but looks very comfortable around some big names in the Knicks starting rotation and Porzingis was once again the main man in the win over the Detroit Pistons.

Playing on back to back days is tough, but the Knicks are not the only ones in that situation with the Washington Wizards also having played on Wednesday. While the Knicks were winning, the Wizards were going down to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday and injuries and a new voice at Head Coach are just slowing down a team that were expected to improve after last season's failure to reach the Play Offs.

John Wall will be played on a back to back for the first time, but Bradley Beal looks set to be absent again and the Knicks are certainly capable of winning here and getting back to 0.500. There have been a couple of Defensive adjustments that have helped the Knicks win two games in a row and they should have the edge on the glass which can be important in games to separate close teams.

Washington have struggled on the Defensive end of the court and have had problems defending the three point arc which has to be a concern for them. The bench play has also been important for the New York Knicks and I am surprised they are being given the points in this one despite being just 2-7-1 against the spread in the last ten against the Wizards.

The Knicks are on the road where they have been blown out in their last two at Boston and Toronto, but Washington are not one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference at this moment. The Wizards should get better but they have lost three in a row and I don't think they should be asked to cover this many points against a team in decent form like they are facing on Thursday.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets Pick: I don't think it is possible for me to know exactly how the Houston Rockets blew their chance to win at the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. They missed so many open looks and James Harden struggled massively from the field, but I am going to back them on their back to back to cover against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Only going cold in the final six minutes prevented the Rockets from winning that game at Oklahoma City, but the Portland Trail Blazers have been having a really hard time Defensively. The Trail Blazers were blown out by the Chicago Bulls in their last game and have now allowed 105 points or more in five consecutive games.

One of the problems for the Trail Blazers has been their struggles when it comes to defending the three point arc and I can't see Houston missing all their looks like they did on Wednesday. Portland have also been dominated on the glass and giving Houston second looks will only break down that three point Defense even more with the likes of Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza all able to join Harden in being effective from that range on a more usual day from the field.

The Trail Blazers don't have the same depth as Houston and while Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will have their moments, it might be tough to stay with the Rockets. Portland do have a 6-2 record against the spread in their last eight in Houston and have at least had a rest day between their last game and this one, but I think the Rockets will be focused to bounce back after blowing their game at the Thunder on Wednesday.

I think Houston are going to be able to score too many points for the Trail Blazers to stay with them as the Rockets have also been showing better signs Defensively. All of that should play in for a Houston win by around seven to ten points and I will back them to cover the points.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Minnesota Timberwolves Pick: There are some inconsistent results being produced by the Minnesota Timberwolves under Tom Thibodeau and the former Chicago Bulls Head Coach is still trying to preach the importance of Defense to his young roster. It hasn't quite settled in for the Timberwolves who have allowed at least 102 points in six of their last seven games including in their home loss to the Charlotte Hornets a couple of nights ago.

Now they are being asked to cover a huge number against the Philadelphia 76ers who secured their second win of the season on Wednesday when knocking off the Washington Wizards at home. That was achieved without Joel Embiid who is expected to be back in the rotation on Thursday in this road game and the front court is a huge advantage for the 76ers.

Jahlil Okafor should be in the rotation for the 76ers and between him and Embiid the Philadelphia 76ers may feel they have enough to at least stay with Minnesota on the boards. The Timberwolves do have a significant edge in the back court which does make it difficult to imagine how they can be upset in this one, but the struggles Defensively means this still looks a very big number on paper.

With the rotation as it is, the 76ers do have a big edge from the bench, but their starters have to find a way to stay with the Timberwolves at the start of both halves. That has been an issue for a roster that simply isn't that deep but the Minnesota Timberwolves have not been asked to cover such a big number this season and are still a work in progress themselves.

The 76ers have given them problems in recent meetings too despite being amongst the worst teams in the NBA in recent seasons. In fact Philadelphia are 4-0 against the spread against the Minnesota Timberwolves and I think they can do just enough at both ends of the court to get within this number even if my concern is that the 76ers have been blown out in back to back road games.

In both Philadelphia were totally outclassed when it came to the rebound battle, but this one should be much closer on the glass to keep them within striking distance of the Timberwolves.

Friday 18th November
I had two pretty poor picks on Thursday as both the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers produced a dud performance. Thankfully the Houston Rockets recovered from a poor Second Quarter to beat Portland comfortably at home, but that does mean the week has hit a negative number.

Phoenix Suns @ Indiana Pacers Pick: The Indiana Pacers are looking for three wins in a row at home having bounced back from their first home defeat of the season. They were perhaps a little fortunate to face the Cleveland Cavaliers without LeBron James, but the Pacers will still feel it was a big win for them and now they face one of the poorer teams in the NBA.

The Phoenix Suns have been beaten by double digits in each of their three game losing run and two of those losses have come against teams with losing records. Much of their problems have come on the Defensive side of the court where the Suns have given up triple digits in every game they have played this season while Phoenix have allowed at least 119 points in five of their last six games.

That is a big problem for them when you think they are facing a Defensively strong Indiana team and one that has been improving over their last couple of games. The Pacers are still not quite up to the standard of previous seasons, but they have recognised the work done on that side of the court to spark their wins in the last week.

Phoenix have had big issues when it comes to defending the three point line in recent games and their only real hope in this game is looking for second chance points by dominating the glass. They haven't been able to do that consistently though and this looks a game where the Indiana Pacers will pull away in the second half and come through by double digits.

Indiana do have a poor record against the spread against Phoenix in recent games, but I will back them to win this one by around eleven points and ask them to cover the number.

MY PICKS: 14/11 New York Knicks - 3 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
14/11 Utah Jazz - 6 Points @ 1.90 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
15/11 Chicago Bulls + 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
16/11 New Orleans Pelicans + 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
16/11 Houston Rockets + 2 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
16/11 Golden State Warriors - 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
17/11 New York Knicks + 3 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
17/11 Houston Rockets - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
17/11 Philadelphia 76ers + 11.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
18/11 Indiana Pacers - 7.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

November 14-20 Update: 4-5-1, - 1.32 Units
November 7-13 Final7-6, + 0.49 Units
November 1-6 Final2-5, - 3.18 Units

November Update9-11, - 2.69 Units
October Final8-9, - 1.72 Units

Final Season 2016150-143-7, - 5.37 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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