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Monday, 21 November 2016

NBA November Picks 2016 (November 21-27)

The NBA season has been a little up and down for the picks, but that happens early in the season as teams are still finding their feet. Just think about it, this season is almost a month old and there are still five months to go until the Play Offs begin and seven months until the NBA Finals begin.

There is no need for any panic for teams at this moment and you seem to see more ups and downs in performances at this stage of the season than you will when you get past the All-Star Break and teams start seeing the Play Offs on the horizon.

I am going to put this week in this thread and I will have a short thread for the remaining days in November next week. Picks will be placed here daily, if there are picks that convince me they are the right play,

Monday 21st November
There were some tough moments last week, but this month is still in a position to finish with a winning record and start moving this season in the positive direction.

Memphis Grizzlies @ Charlotte Hornets Pick: It is still difficult to know exactly what you are going to get out of the Memphis Grizzlies who have a winning record on the season but have struggled to find their identity. There has been a clear decision to try and improve Offensively which has shown sparks of life, although it has been the effort Defensively which has helped the Grizzlies extend their winning run to four games in a row.

They are likely going to need another strong Defensive outing if they are going to maintain the winning run in a tough road game against the Charlotte Hornets who have shown they are amongst the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The Grizzlies will head to Charlotte without Chandler Parsons who has had an injury filled start to the his career with his new team, but Memphis have held their last two opponents to 71 points or fewer.

Memphis also have a big win over the LA Clippers who have looked one of the best teams in the entire NBA and the Grizzlies are allowing an average of 88 points per game over their last five games. They have looked better on both ends of the court and are going to challenge a Charlotte Hornets team who have had to dig deep in some close games recently.

It does look like the Grizzlies have an edge when it comes to the rebounding battle with the likes of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph splitting their minutes on the court. Their three point Defensive efforts are also going to be vital for Memphis against a Charlotte team that have shown to be very strong from beyond the arc with that likely to be a key in deciding the spread.

The Hornets are very much a team that looks to open things up for the three point shot and if they are hitting it can be tough for the Grizzlies to stay with them. However if Memphis can contest those shots and make it difficult as they have in recent games for opponents then they have every chance of earning an upset on the road.

Charlotte are 7-2 against the spread as the favourite this season, but they are 5-1 in those games where they are asked to cover between 1 and 2.5 points. This is a lot more points to cover against a team that is playing well at the moment and I will take the points with Memphis to keep this one close.

Tuesday 22nd November
I've had a few good starts to the week only to fall away in the first month of the NBA season to not get excited about one win, so hopefully I can back it up on Tuesday.

There are only four games to be played on Tuesday, but I actually have a play from each of those so this week could be decided by how those pan out for me.

Portland Trail Blazers @ New York Knicks Pick: When the likes of Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose were brought in to play alongside Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, most New York Knicks fans would have been excited and wary at the same time. If Noah and Rose could rediscover some of the lost mojo in their final days with the Chicago Bulls then the Knicks could be amongst the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

The fear was injuries and chemistry issues and while the former has yet to rear its ugly head, the latter has been a problem. So much so that the Knicks have already had a player only meeting this season despite it being a little under a month old and New York responded by blowing out the Atlanta Hawks at home.

Playing at Madison Square Garden has been much more effective for the Knicks than what they have produced on the road and they actually go for a fifth straight win here. Wins over Detroit and Atlanta show they are not just picking on weaker teams, but the Knicks are going to be tested by the Portland Trail Blazers who snapped a three game losing run by beating the Brooklyn Nets on the road.

Outside of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, the Portland Trail Blazers have struggled for consistency but the Knicks will struggle to contain those two players. However New York do have a significant edge on the boards while the Knicks have been a little better hitting their three pointers and general Field Goal percentages.

The team who controls their turnovers are likely to be the one that wins this one, but Portland have to show focus with a big game at the NBA Champions tomorrow night. That is another factor that can give New York the edge as they have played better Defense at home than on the road and I think the Knicks can move to 4-1 against the spread in home games against teams with a winning record. New York are 11-5-1 against the spread in their last seventeen at home against the Trail Blazers and I will back them to cover in another home win on Tuesday.

New Orleans Pelicans @ Atlanta Hawks Pick: The New Orleans Pelicans have been looking for some effective support for Anthony Davis ever since the season started and the return of Jrue Holiday might have come at the right time. Personal issues meant Holiday was given a chance to take some time off, but he has returned and has helped spark the Pelicans to back to back wins.

Holiday has been on a minutes limit since returning to the rotation, but there has been a few days off since New Orleans last played and those numbers could be extended. He has been a big part of the improved bench play and the Pelicans may feel they are catching the Atlanta Hawks at the right time with the home team losing two games in a row.

The improvement in recent New Orleans games have seen them looking after the ball much more effectively than they had been and they also can give Atlanta some problems when it comes to defending the three point line. That can open things up for Davis, although he will be battled by Dwight Howard for dominance in the paint and that could be a key match up as either player getting into early foul trouble could be an issue.

Atlanta have just lost some of their spark from earlier in the season and the last three teams they have faced have each reached triple digits. They were really bad in a loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday but this is a team that has performed better at home so far this season and needs to be respected.

The Hawks are 6-1 against the spread at home but only 1-1 when it comes to facing a team with a losing record like they will on Tuesday. A big game at Indiana might also take some of the focus away from this game while the New Orleans Pelicans are 3-1 against the spread when given at least 7 points this season. In this one they are getting 8 points and that looks a lot more a team that have shown improvement against one that might just struggle to get out of a recent slump.

New Orleans have also gone 4-1 against the spread in their last five trips to Atlanta and I do think they can make enough plays at both ends of the court to keep this one close. The Pelicans have to defend the three point arc as they have been and try to keep the Hawks from dominating the boards, but I feel they can do that and will take the points on offer.

Chicago Bulls @ Denver Nuggets Pick: No one really knew what would happen with the Chicago Bulls when they made some significant changes to the roster this summer. Bringing in Dwyane Wade was huge and the signing of Rajon Rondo was one that could have gone either way. So far both veterans have accepted they have joined Jimmy Butler's team and that has sparked the Chicago Bulls into looking like a real threat in the Eastern Conference.

A road trip is a great way to build team bonds and the Bulls have shown they are on the same page as one another with three wins from four games on what is a six game road trip. Two games left against teams with losing records suggests Chicago can keep the momentum going, although both the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers are no doormats.

The Nuggets do have a losing record but this is not a team that has been blown out too often and has won two of their last three home games. That includes a win over the Utah Jazz, although teams with winning records have been a big challenge for the Denver Nuggets to face.

There have been a couple of keys which have helped Chicago go on a solid run to open the season and it all begins with playing effectively on the Defensive side of the court. They might not be as strong at that end as they were under Tom Thibodeau, but Chicago have brought into what is required from them and have been busy on that side of the court to slow down the points output of opponents.

Playing Denver will give them a different look though as this is a team that is highly effective on the glass and who are averaging 107 points per game at home. However the Nuggets have a losing record here because they have not been able to come up with the big stops Defensively and that is an issue with Chicago being able to expose Defensive shortcomings in previous games. When the Bulls have met a team that struggles on that side of the court, they have been able to make big Offensive plays and that could be a key here.

Turnovers are important in these tight games and that is where Chicago have been better than Denver in recent games and could be a difference maker. Chicago don't have a good recent record in Denver as they are 0-4 against the spread in their last four visits, but I think the Bulls have been a solid small favourite to back and have performed well against teams with losing records they have been expected to beat.

It will be a tight game going into the Fourth Quarter and likely comes down to one or two big stops down the stretch, the stops I expect Chicago to make so I will back them to cover this number in another road win.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ LA Lakers Pick: The Oklahoma City Thunder and the LA Lakers made better than expected starts to the season, but the last couple of weeks have been more difficult. Neither team is under 0.500 for the season, but Oklahoma City have lost five of their last seven games and the Lakers have lost three of their last four.

With the first of a back to back on slate, both the Thunder and the Lakers will be looking to get moving in a positive direction in this one but the injury to D'Angelo Russell has come at a bad time for the home team. There is no indication whether Russell will be good to go in this one, but he was hampered when struggling in the home loss to the Chicago Bulls and facing Russell Westbrook is not going to be easy for the Lakers.

Westbrook has had a number of triple-doubles already this season, but he has admitted he needs to play better if the Thunder are to achieve their goals. It will be tough for him to do it on his own and I am not surprised the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to trade for some support for him with Rudy Gay most heavily linked with a move.

Scoring points hasn't really been a problem for Oklahoma City, but they are struggling from a Defensive point of view. With the Lakers having similar issues, this has all the makings of a high scoring game and it does feel like Oklahoma City will have an edge in that sense with a playmaker like Westbrook tough for the Lakers to match.

The big concern for the Thunder has to be the poor Defense they have shown against the three point shot and that is an area where the Lakers have thrived. That will give the home team a chance to stay with Oklahoma City while they have also gotten some solid production from the bench which could be important for them.

It might feel I am leaning towards the Lakers with the points in this one, but I think it is a tough spot for them especially if Russell can't play. They face the Golden State Warriors twice in a row after this one including on Wednesday which might be taking away some of the focus from a young group of players who want to test themselves against the very best rather than a team that is just 2-5 over their last seven games.

Looking after the ball is going to be key for both teams but I do think Westbrook calling himself out will result in a big game in Los Angeles where so many expected him to end up before he signed his contract extension with Oklahoma City. The Thunder have surprised the LA Clippers at the Staples Center already this season and I think they can perhaps take advantage of a Lakers team looking ahead and I will back Oklahoma City to cover these points in the win.

Wednesday 23rd November
Yesterday was a little frustrating because both the Chicago Bull and Oklahoma City Thunder had chances to win their games which would have given the picks a winning day. Thankfully the first two picks came in as winners as I look for a winning record on Wednesday.

Memphis Grizzlies @ Philadelphia 76ers Pick: After a slow start to the season, the Memphis Grizzlies have shown some real improvement of late to move up the standings. They are getting it done at both ends of the court, but the Grizzlies can't afford to overlook a Philadelphia 76ers team who have been much better than advertised through the first month of the season.

The Grizzlies have won five in a row though including an upset win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night. There has to be excitement at the way Memphis were able to take away Nicolas Batum and Kemba Walker in that win, but they have to change tact in this one because the front court is the bigger threat that Philadelphia have in their roster rather then the back court.

Even with that in mind, I do think the Grizzlies will have the edge when it comes to the rebounding battle and a healthier team have started to become very effective from the three point line. Recent wins have also come thanks to an impressive improvement on the Defensive side of the court as Memphis head into this game having given up an average of 85 points per game in their last five games.

I have to respect a Philadelphia team that have won three of their last four games and who have won four in a row at home with all of those wins coming as the underdog. The 76ers are still having some issues Defensively, but they have shown they can score plenty of points although that will be tested by this Memphis team who have been playing at a high level over the last couple of weeks.

And for all the positives of the Philadelphia record, they are only 1-2 against the spread at home when playing a team with a winning record. I can see Mike Conley being a big difference maker for the road team in the back court and helping Memphis make enough plays in the Fourth Quarter to come through with a win by at least five points here.

Toronto Raptors @ Houston Rockets Pick: Both the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors have winning records on the season, but they are entering this game with different mindsets. The Houston Rockets have won three in a row and look to be settled into what Mike D'Antoni wants from them, but the Toronto Raptors have lost four of their last five games and have been having a few issues they need to resolve.

Those defeats for the Raptors have mainly come against some of the better teams in the NBA and they are facing another big test on Wednesday. One of the big problems for the Raptors is their effort on the Defensive side of the court having allowed at least 100 points in eight straight games.

It is an area where Houston will think they can expose any vulnerabilities as they are averaging 109 points per game at home this season. James Harden has been in perfect harmony with the system D'Antoni has put together and Houston have the shooters to find the open shots with Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon all capable on any given day.

The Rockets should have their way from the Field, but Toronto have been solid defending the three point arc and I do think that could be a key for the game. The Rockets are a team that will look to take plenty of shots from beyond the arc and have been effective at doing that, but they haven't defended it as well and Toronto could stay in the game with their own three point shooting.

However it is Houston who should edge the rebounding battle and the Rockets also have looked after the ball a little better than Toronto while also getting more production from the bench. The return of Patrick Beverley gives them a Defender who can challenge both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan who are the biggest threats in the Raptors rotation and it might help the Rockets make enough plays to pull away in this one.

The Raptors do have a poor 2-6-1 record against the spread in their last nine games in Houston, but they are 4-0 against the spread this season in road games against teams with winning records. However I think the Rockets are scoring too many points and playing well enough on the Defensive side of the court to make some big stops in the Fourth Quarter which will allow them to pull away.

The last three home Houston games have seen the Rockets pull away for wins by 17, 17 and 9 points and I will back the Rockets to cover this number.

Friday 25th November
Thanksgiving Day is usually reserved for American Football and the NBA is smart enough to know they aren't going to win that ratings battle so give their teams the night off. It is a one day break before a huge schedule on Friday which is played through the day and I have a number of picks for today.

San Antonio Spurs @ Boston Celtics Pick: Two of the hottest teams in the NBA meet in the early game on Friday as the San Antonio Spurs look to move to 9-0 on the road against a Boston Celtics team which has won three in a row. The Spurs have dominated the Celtics in their recent games and they have a 4-1 record against the spread in the last five games while they are 12-3-1 record against the spread in their last sixteen games in Boston.

It is all about which of these teams is able to dictate their style of play on the other which will decide who is going to come out on top. The Spurs have been very good from the Field, but the Defensive side of the court is one of Boston's strengths, while the Celtics haven't previously shown the Offensive consistency that can challenge a Spurs team that hasn't played so well on that side of the court.

The Boston Celtics also hold one of the better Defensive units when it comes to protecting against the three point shot which is going to be tested the fullest by the Spurs who have the best shooting from that range so far this season. With the Celtics likely to be stronger on the boards, the three point shooting could be the deciding factor in this one but I do think San Antonio are smart enough to find the open man to knock down these shots.

They have also been protecting the ball better than Boston and I think the Spurs are going to be a little too good for the Celtics here and I will back them to continue their strong record against the Celtics. It's likely to be a close game with both teams in good form, but I like San Antonio to cover here.

Toronto Raptors @ Milwaukee Bucks Pick: The Toronto Raptors have dominated the Milwaukee Bucks in recent games including blowing them out by an average of 16 points per game while sweeping them last season. They did lose four of their previous five games before winning at the Houston Rockets, although the Milwaukee Bucks had hardly been in special form themselves after losing five of six games before narrowly beating Orlando.

The Bucks are one of the younger teams in the NBA but the expectation was that they would show improvement this season although you can't be surprised that they have also been inconsistent. If they want to win this game, they have to bring their shooting to the table because it is going to be tough to slow down a Toronto team that have been hitting a high percentage from the field and have started to get more from players not called DeMar DeRozan.

There has also been an improvement in the three point shooting from the Raptors, but the bigger challenge for them will be winning enough battles on the glass to prevent the Milwaukee Bucks having second chance shooting. That won't be easy, but Toronto have also shown improvement in that regard in recent games and that should give them enough of an edge to win this game on the road.

Protecting against turnovers is going to be important for both teams but the mental edge has to be with Toronto having gone 4-1 against the spread in the last five games in Milwaukee. I do like the stronger shooting from the Raptors to come through in this one and they look to have a little bit more consistency in their performances than the Milwaukee Bucks which can make the difference in a close game.

While this looks like a game that is going to come down to the Fourth Quarter to decide it, I do like the Toronto Raptors to make a few more plays and come through with another win and cover in Milwaukee.

Miami Heat @ Memphis Grizzlies Pick: A poor first half saw the Memphis Grizzlies in a big hole when they last played, but they rallied in the Fourth Quarter and eventually prevailed in double Overtime to beat the Philadelphia 76ers on the road. That made it six straight wins for the Grizzlies who have forgotten the poor start to the season they made and look much stronger on both ends of the court.

They return home having played five of their last six games on the road, but Memphis are back on the road tomorrow as they begin a home and home series with the Miami Heat. However being home for Thanksgiving would have been really good for the players and I expect they will come out and give the Heat all they can handle.

It has been a difficult season for the Miami Heat so far and their 4-10 record is actually far below expectations despite going through a transition from the Big Three who all are absent for one reason or another. LeBron James has gone home and won a title, Dwyane Wade also returned home this past summer and Chris Bosh is a long-term injury who potentially is going to have his NBA career ended by blood clots in the leg.

The Heat look like they could be shorthanded for at least the road game in Memphis and they have been struggling badly in the last couple of weeks. With the Grizzlies much improved from a Defensive point of view, it is going to be difficult for Miami to get their Offense on track without some key players in the rotation while their three point Defense could be exposed in this one.

Hassan Whiteside has at least helped Miami be strong on the boards, but he is going to be challenged by Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in this one and could be one of the more difficult match ups the Center faces. Miami have struggled against turnovers and they have a 0-5 record against the spread in their last five visits to the Grizzlies and I just can't see that changing with the way both teams have been playing.

I am looking for Memphis to make some big stops Defensively which gives them a chance to pull away in this one and I will back the Grizzlies again this week and look for them to cover this with a win by close to double digits.

New Orleans Pelicans @ Portland Trail Blazers Pick: Last season there was no doubt the Portland Trail Blazers overachieved on their way to the Western Conference Semi Finals, but they look to be a team taking a step back this time around. While Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum give them a very Offensive back court, the Trail Blazers have simply not been able to control the Defensive side of the court.

Portland have lost five of their last six games and they were embarrassed by the Cleveland Cavaliers in their last game with Kevin Love scoring 34 points in the First Quarter on his own. The Trail Blazers have seen their average points per game allowed swell to 113 points over the course of the season but that number has reached 118 points per game in their last five games.

The Trail Blazers have struggled to do much defending in recent games and they are going to be challenged by the New Orleans Pelicans who have been trending in a positive direction. Anthony Davis has continued to produce the big numbers, but he has to be excited about the return of Jrue Holiday which has given the Pelicans another Offensive punch.

Recent games suggest the New Orleans Pelicans should have plenty of success when it comes to scoring points, but they have also become a little stronger Defensively which can give them a chance to earn an upset here. While Portland have scored plenty of points, it can be tough when games are close to continue making the plays if there is little faith with the way the Defensive side of the court is being operated and it could be another difficult game for the Trail Blazers.

New Orleans have been looking after the ball much better recently and you can't ignore Portland being 1-6 against the spread at home this season. They are 0-3 against the spread when hosting a team with a losing record and I like the chances of the Pelicans to snap their 0-4 record against the spread in their last four visits to Portland and will take the points being offered.

Golden State Warriors @ LA Lakers Pick: The LA Lakers quickly found out that embarrassing the Golden State Warriors will not be forgotten by arguably the best team in the NBA. After beating them by 20 points earlier this month, the Lakers visited the Warriors and were crushed by 43 points and gave up a ridiculous 149 points in that game.

It must have been an enjoyable Thanksgiving Day for the Lakers players knowing they are going to be hosting Golden State on Friday.

That loss at The Oracle Arena did come on a back to back, but it was also a shorthanded Lakers team which might not change in a couple of days. D'Angelo Russell has been ruled out but Julius Randle could sit again which will mean Luke Walton has to really try and find holes in the team where he excelled as an Assistant Head Coach last season.

The Warriors should be able to take advantage for the second time in a row against the Lakers as their big players are all focused and got their eye in from the field. The three point shot deserted them in the loss at the Staples Center earlier this month, but Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant have found their feet from that range and I am not sure the Lakers can do enough to prevent Golden State hitting their marks.

This is an unselfish team that will make the extra pass to find the open man and I do think they will be able to score a lot of points again in this one. Golden State have been playing better Defensively in recent games and they have been winning the rebounding battle which allows them to get into transition quickly across the court while they have been turning the ball over to create fast break points.

The Warriors have improved to 11-5 against the spread in the last sixteen against the LA Lakers and I think they are going to pull away for the win in this one. That defeat earlier this month really bothered Golden State and I can see them clearing the double digit spread for the second time in a week against the Lakers who are likely to be missing some key contributors again. Playing the Warriors with a full rotation is difficult enough, but doing it shorthanded can't really end well for the Lakers and I will back Golden State here.

Saturday 26th November
Today has been a busy day, but you can find the NBA Picks from the games to be played today below.

MY PICKS: 21/11 Memphis Grizzlies + 5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
22/11 New York Knicks - 1.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
22/11 New Orleans Pelicans + 8 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
22/11 Chicago Bulls - 1 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
22/11 Oklahoma City Thunder - 2.5 Points @ 1.86 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
23/11 Memphis Grizzlies - 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
23/11 Houston Rockets - 4 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
25/11 San Antonio Spurs - 3 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
25/11 Toronto Raptors - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
25/11 Memphis Grizzlies - 5.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
25/11 New Orleans Pelicans + 4.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
25/11 Golden State Warriors - 13 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
26/11 New York Knicks + 7 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
26/11 Golden State Warriors - 13.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

November 21-27 Update: 8-6, + 1.32 Units

November 14-20 Final4-5-1, - 1.32 Units
November 7-13 Final7-6, + 0.49 Units
November 1-6 Final2-5, - 3.18 Units

November Update13-16-1, - 4.01 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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