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Monday, 5 December 2016

NBA December Picks 2016 (December 5-11)

The first few days of the December NBA Picks have come back with a positive return, but I am looking to kick on this week with plenty of games scheduled.

The picks will come out every day as I look to put a winning month on the board to start the 2016/17 season moving in the direction I will be wanting.

Monday 5th December
Washington Wizards @ Brooklyn Nets Pick: There might not be too many bigger disappointments to open the 2017 NBA season than the Washington Wizards who were expected to be challenging for a place back in the Eastern Conference Play Offs. They missed out last season and made a change at Head Coach, but the Wizards have opened 6-12 this season which has left them in the third lowest spot in the Conference.

There have been some signs that the Wizards can improve with close losses at the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs in their last couple of games. Bradley Beal looks back to full health and has combined effectively with John Wall, but Washington would love to see more efficiency from Wall at Point Guard.

Both players will feel they can have a big night against the Brooklyn Nets who have lost some of the competitiveness that they opened the season with. Aside from a stunning upset of the LA Clippers, Brooklyn have suffered nine losses in their last ten games and all of those defeats have come by at least seven points.

It has been difficult for Brooklyn to find some consistency Offensively with their roster suffering injuries and not having the depth to be really competitive. That is going to be an issue against an improving Wizards team who should be able to expose holes in the Brooklyn Defense too and it could be another tough day for the Nets.

Washington have shown improvement when it comes to making plays off the boards and they have also looked after the ball better in recent games. Both of those factors can play into this game with the Nets and the Wizards can end this three game road trip with a momentum building win to take back home.

The Wizards have gone 4-1 against the spread in their last five visits to Brooklyn and I do think they can get the better of them and cover what looks a big number on paper.

Boston Celtics @ Houston Rockets Pick: The Houston Rockets and the Boston Celtics are two teams who will be expecting to not only reach the post-season, but also make some real noise in the Western and Eastern Conference respectively. Both teams have offered their fan bases glimpses of how good they can be this season, but finding the consistency is going to be key if they are going to upset bigger teams in their respective Conferences.

It is the Rockets who have the more eye-catching performances of late as they have concluded a five game road trip with a 4-1 record. That is more impressive when taking in the fact they have won game at Portland and Golden State and the Mike D'Antoni system seems to be right up James Harden's street.

There is no doubt that Houston have room for improvement Defensively, but the Offensive side of the court has been working effectively. They should have some success against a Boston team that have still to find their consistency on the Defensive side of things which has been a strength for them in recent seasons. A problem for the Celtics will be keeping Houston quiet from the three point range and I think the Rockets are going to be tough to stop.

Boston should have success too because they have shown they can score plenty of points, although it does have to be pointed out that their recent Offensive performances have come against some of the weaker teams in the NBA. The Rockets have struggled Defensively but Boston will be under pressure to keep up the scoring against them and Houston should also win the battle of the rebounding which can help them clear this number.

The Celtics don't make too many mistakes in the turnover department so Harden and company have to look after the ball. Doing that will give them every chance to extend their 4-1 record against the spread at home against Boston and I think the Rockets make a few more shots down the stretch to win this by at least six points.

Tuesday 6th December
I have to laugh at the way both picks went down on Monday with Washington missing the cover by one thanks to a really poor second quarter, and the Houston Rockets then laying an egg in the third quarter to allow Boston to hang around and stay within the cover despite the loss.

I truly believe both should have been winners so you can understand my annoyance that neither produced one. Hopefully that is the low point of the luck this week and I can bounce back in the coming days. I just hope there aren't too many more bad breaks down the stretch as I seemingly had on Monday.

New York Knicks @ Miami Heat Pick: The Miami Heat have shown signs of improvement in recent games, but they are in for a big challenge against the New York Knicks who have been better than advertised. Both teams will be hoping to make their way into the Eastern Conference Play Offs at the end of the season and this is an interesting game for both as Miami and New York have struggled at home/away respectively.

Those issues have played out in the head to head too with the road team winning five of the last seven games in the series, and this should be a fun game with two teams who have shown they can find a way to win games now.

A better Miami team has had a really strong record against the Knicks as they are 9-1 against the spread in the last ten games between them. However that was a Miami team that had LeBron James or Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh to call upon, but none of those three players are still on the roster. With Dion Waiters also injured, the Heat have to keep finding the Offensive groove they have in recent games although it has come to the detriment of the Defensive side of the court.

The Knicks might not have been shooting as well as Miami, but they have been playing well Defensively and this game is going to come down to which of the teams can control the boards the best. New York may also feel they can stay in this one with their superior three point shooting which has been evident in recent games, especially as Miami have struggled to defend the three point arc.

However I do think Miami have looked after the ball a little better and have a big threat in the paint with Hassan Whiteside as they look to take some of their solid road performances into their home games. There is no doubt in my mind that this is going to be a close game, but the Knicks could easily be looking ahead to returning home to face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Taking away that little focus is enough for me to back the Heat and oppose the public in this one as I look for the home team to record a narrow win and just about cover this number.

Wednesday 7th December
Denver Nuggets @ Brooklyn Nets Pick: The Denver Nuggets are in the midst of a road trip where they take on some of the teams in the Eastern Conference with a losing record as they try and get closer to 0.500 following a slow start. They were easy enough winners at the Philadelphia 76ers last time out and Denver are favourites to win at the Brooklyn Nets despite their 1-4 record against the spread in their last five visits to Brooklyn.

It is a very similar spread for this game as Denver were asked to cover at the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets haven't played much better than the 76ers. I actually thought Brooklyn might be given a couple more points in this one and I do think believe the Denver Nuggets can earn another win on the road here.

They are a healthier roster than the Nets who are missing some key players, while another factor in play is the three point shooting from Denver which has improved in recent games. The Nuggets have to defend the three point arc better than they have in those games though as Brooklyn are a team that will use a heavy dose of three point shooting even when they are not quite on target like they haven't been during their poor run.

If the Nets get hot from the three point line, Denver will have a tough day, but misses should mean the Nuggets can win the rebounding battle. The Nuggets will have to produce their best to win this game despite how many losses Brooklyn have taken in the last couple of weeks and many of those by wide margins. The key for Denver is to keep their own three point shooting going at the current rate and that should mean they can pull away in the Fourth Quarter and ensure a win by at least five points and also an improvement on the 3-1 record against the spread when playing a road game at a team with a losing record.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Milwaukee Bucks Pick: There have been a couple of adjustments made by the Portland Trail Blazers on both sides of the court which has helped them get back on track after some heavy losses. Defensively they are still not up to the standards that you would expect of a team that reached the Western Conference Semi Finals last season, but four wins in their last five games has given them renewed confidence.

After winning at the Chicago Bulls last time out, Portland have another big challenge on the road when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks who only just went down to the San Antonio Spurs in their last game here. The Bucks have beaten Cleveland at home though and they have been really tough on the Defensive side of the court under Jason Kidd which is giving them a chance to win games.

Milwaukee have the Offensive strength to expose any vulnerabilities that the Trail Blazers continue to show and the Bucks have really managed to get up for the better teams having recorded a 4-1 record against the spread when hosting a team with a winning record. I do think the Bucks can find some spaces from the three point line which will give them a chance to match any scoring outbursts that you have to expect from Portland also a chance to win this game.

It also has to be said that Portland have not been quite as effective on the road despite the win in Chicago last time out. The Bucks should have a slight advantage on the boards and they are 8-2 against the spread in the last ten in this series. Add in the fact that Portland are just 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games against a team with a winning record and I think Milwaukee have a little too much on Wednesday and cover this number.

Golden State Warriors @ LA Clippers Pick: The LA Clippers were considered the team most likely to challenge the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference a few weeks ago, but they continue to produce too many inconsistent results to be taken seriously. A team who is capable of beating the Cleveland Cavaliers should not be losing as a double digit favourite to teams like Brooklyn and Indiana but that is where the Clippers find themselves.

No one wants to peak now so Doc Rivers might not be as upset about those results as people outside of the team, but it does have to be a concern for the Head Coach. They have raised their game agaisnt the better teams in the NBA but those successes against the spread have come on the road and the Clippers are just 2-4 against the spread when hosting a team with a winning record.

They will be tested to the fullest by the Golden State Warriors who have settled in as a team and will have plenty of motivation to show they are still the team to beat in the West. Even at this stage of the season that can be important and it is going to be a big test for the Clippers Defense to slow down th Warriors who have been scoring plenty of points in their recent games.

The Golden State athleticism and length has also meant they have been winning the three point shooting battles with their opponents and that is huge for them when looking to win games. The Warriors have also shown improvement on the boards, although the Clippers will provide a big challenge on the glass, and overall Golden State look strong.

They have also been looking after the ball better than the Clippers of late, although the Clippers have played much better at The Staples Center. However the turnover battle is likely to be won by the Warriors and I think the high-powered Offense helps Golden State cover this number in what should be a fascinating game.

Thursday 8th December
It looked like being another difficult day for the picks when Denver laid an absolute terrible performance on the court at the start of both halves against the Brooklyn Nets. With Portland shooting lights out in the first half against the Milwaukee Bucks I really felt it was going to be a week to shut down and refocus.

However it proved to be a day when the picks did turn the way I wanted thanks to the Bucks and Golden State Warriors and gives me some momentum to take into Thursday.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Memphis Grizzlies Pick: I picked against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, but I think they can be looked as a team that can produce a cover on their back to back on Thursday. This has not been a good spot for the Trail Blazers having gone 0-6 against the spread the last six times they've played the second of a back to back situation.

However they are facing a shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies team who are favoured to win this game despite likely dressing nine players again. The Grizzlies have won four in a row despite missing the likes of Vince Carter, James Ennis, Chandler Parsons and Mike Conley and they don't expect any of those players back, while the team will continue to rally around Zach Randolph whose mother passed away last week.

It also has to be pointed out that Memphis have won their last four games by a combined eleven points and there is every chance this game with Portland is going to be very close too. The Trail Blazers have struggled Defensively, but they were shooting very well from the three point arc on Wednesday and they could have some success against Memphis who have lost some key players to protect against that shot.

I have little doubt that Memphis will have success Offensively considering how poor Portland have played on that side of the court and that does give them every chance of snapping their two game home losing run to the Trail Blazers. However I do think the Grizzlies have been overachieving with their shorthanded roster and they have not really been able to pull away from teams which means Portland's high scoring team might have a chance for the upset here.

I hate their record playing consecutive games, but I do think Portland can keep this one close. The Grizzlies have the two NBA Finalists from last season in their games following this one and that might see a little less energy for this game which might allow Portland to make use of the small amount of points given to them.

Philadelphia 76ers @ New Orleans Pelicans Pick: The Philadelphia 76ers have had a mixed season but one that has been superior to what most would have expected going into the season. They have some really good talent on the roster, but the 76ers remain a work in progress and likely will be a lottery team come the end of the regular season. However the 76ers have made been competitive in plenty of games and this really feels like they are getting too many points when visiting the New Orleans Pelicans.

You do have to say that the Pelicans have underachieved so far, but they might be shorthanded for this one which should give the 76ers a real chance to stay within this number. It looks like Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore will miss out for New Orleans which means the pressure is going to be heaped on Anthony Davis to produce at both ends of the court as he did when carrying the Pelicans earlier in the season.

New Orleans have lost five of their last six games which has seen them fall eight games under 0.500 and this is the biggest number they have been asked to cover so far. They've just had some Offensive issues in that time which won't be helped by Holiday and Moore missing this game, while New Orleans have not been as strong on the boards outside of what Davis can give them.

I am not sure the 76ers can expose those issues as much as some of the better teams in the NBA, but Philadelphia can do enough to keep this one close. The 76ers have lost eight in a row, but the last three have been by eight points or fewer while they are 3-1 against the spread in their last four games against New Orleans. With those injuries in the New Orleans roster, I will look for the 76ers to keep this one within the number.

Golden State Warriors @ Utah Jazz Pick: The Golden State Warriors saw Kevin Durant and Steph Curry struggle on Wednesday but still beat the LA Clippers by seventeen points on the road. It was Klay Thompson and Draymond Green who picked up the slack for the Warriors as they showed they are quite clearly the team to beat in the Western Conference and arguably the NBA.

It is going to be interesting to see how the Warriors can play on the back to back having that big win against the Clippers who they would have been desperate to beat. However the big margin should mean they've been able to keep their starters fresh with Thompson logging the most minutes on Wednesday at 35. Playing on a back to back might be the bigger issue for them with Golden State going 1-3 against the spread in this spot so far this season.

However they are facing a Utah Jazz team who are missing their starting back court with both George Hill and Rodney Hood expected to sit out again. Gordon Hayward has been huge for the Jazz who have won seven of their last eight games although the best team they have played in that time are the Houston Rockets and none of the others are really teams that would have been expected to create too many challenges.

Without Hood and Hill in the back court, Golden State are going to have a big edge with Curry and Thompson and that should open things up for Durant to get going. The Jazz have had some issues protecting the three point shooting of opponents and now face one of the best teams in that aspect of the NBA.

Utah have to be respected playing at home and having been hitting a really high percentage of their shots, but this is a different level of test for them. The Jazz are 2-3 against the spread when hosting a team with a winning record and Golden State are 4-1 against the spread the last five times these teams have played one another. The back to back is a concern, but I think the Golden State Warriors can win and cover on the road again.

Friday 9th December
I really have no idea how the Portland Trail Blazers didn't complete the sweep for the picks on Thursday having led by seven points with under three minutes left to play against a shorthanded Memphis team. That says a lot about this Portland team and the confidence they have at the moment, while Golden State did their best to blow a twenty-five point lead against another shorthanded opponent before barely covering the number.

It has at least moved the week back to a position to get back into the black, but there are three days to go.

Atlanta Hawks @ Milwaukee Bucks Pick: The Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks seem to be trending in opposite directions at the moment and I am surprised that the Bucks are not being asked to cover a slightly bigger number. They have been playing very well at home and the Hawks have been in a poor run after what was an exciting start to the season.

The Bucks don't have a great recent record against Atlanta, but they are playing their basketball at a higher level and won't have too many better chances to beat the Hawks. Milwaukee have been shooting the ball very well and I do think they can expose the vulnerabilities on the defensive side of the court for Atlanta where they are simply allowing teams to shoot at a very high percentage.

On the other side of the court Milwaukee have been very good in recent games and they should find a way to slow down Atlanta and that gives them a considerable edge in this game. The Hawks have to be worried by how they have protected the three point shooting and Milwaukee have shown they are capable of hitting from that mark.

I do believe the Bucks will have the edge on the boards too and they can keep the momentum going by putting another win in their column. The Atlanta Hawks are better than they have shown, but the confidence isn't close to what Milwaukee bring to the table and I will back them to cover the number.

Detroit Pistons @ Minnesota Timberwolves Pick: The Detroit Pistons look to be the beneficiaries of a kind schedule spot when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. While the Pistons were getting much needed rest after a poor showing in Charlotte, Minnesota were facing the Toronto Raptors on the road on Thursday and were investing plenty of energy into that game.

The Timberwolves actually led going into the Fourth Quarter before falling apart in a big loss and there has to be an emotional setback to that game. Coupled with the fact the Timberwolves face the Golden State Warriors next and I do see a situation where they overlook the Detroit Pistons, although I would have loved the road team to have been set as the underdog.

However the Pistons have beaten Minnesota twice in a row as the favourites and are facing a team that would have had some confidence knocked from their run of six losses in seven games. Detroit have been playing well on the defensive side of the court and have made sure teams have had to work for the points they achieve, but they can also expose the Timberwolves on the other side of the court as they continue to struggle with the expectations Tom Thibodeau has of his Defense.

The Pistons should have an advantage on the boards and have been looking after the ball while also can call on Reggie Jackson now that he is back from his injury. It will take Jackson a little time to get up to speed, but Detroit look in a good spot to take advantage of the Timberwolves in this one.

I do have to say Minnesota have played well in these back to backs and covered the spread in four of their last five games in this situation. However this game coming between Toronto and Golden State might be a bad schedule spot for them and I will take the Pistons to cover the number.

MY PICKS: 05/12 Washington Wizards - 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
05/12 Houston Rockets - 5.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (1 Unit)
06/12 Miami Heat - 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
07/12 Denver Nuggets - 4.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
07/12 Milwaukee Bucks - 1.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (1 Unit)
07/12 Golden State Warriors - 4 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
08/12 Portland Trail Blazers + 1.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
08/12 Philadelphia 76ers + 9 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
08/12 Golden State Warriors - 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
09/12 Milwaukee Bucks - 3 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
09/12 Detroit Pistons - 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)

December 5-11 Update: 5-6, - 1.41 Units
December 1-4 Final4-3, + 0.68 Units

November Final24-25-1, - 2.92 Units
October Final8-9, - 1.72 Units

Season 201732-34-1, - 4.64 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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