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Wednesday, 4 January 2017

NBA Picks January 2017 (January 2-8)

A poor third week in December coupled with the fact that time was going to be spent with family and friends between Christmas Day and the New Year meant I decided it was a good time to take a break from the NBA picks. It has been a really difficult start to the season for me and I took a step back when analysing that Houston only lost twice in December and one of those was when I picked them with the points, while another loss was the LA Lakers winning one of their two games in December when I picked against them.

That stung a little and made me wonder if I just needed a re-think with the way I was approaching these games.

We move into January when the NBA starts receiving more attention around the NFL Play Offs and the College Football National Championship Game. Hopefully this month will begin the long turn around for the 2017 season which has opened up disappointingly beginning with the thread for the first week of the New Year.


Wednesday 4th January
Milwaukee Bucks @ New York Knicks Pick: The top half of the Eastern Conference Play Off picture looks like it is going to be locked up in the coming couple of months, but the battle to make the top eight could easily go down to the wire. The Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks will be expecting to be amongst those challenging for a Play Off spot in April, but both will be looking for some consistency ahead of this home and home series against one another.

Recent games have been a big struggle for the Knicks on the Defensive side of the court and it has led to criticisms from the Head Coach. Jeff Hornacek has gone so far as to say he doesn't know if the Knicks are simply incapable of defending better than they have and it will certainly be tested at Madison Square Garden when facing the hot shooting Bucks.

Milwaukee have been scoring at over 50% from the field in their recent games and it is no surprise they have won three of their last four games. They have also been very strong from the three point range which is another area where the Knicks have been struggling as they have slipped to five losses in a row and the home team are expected to miss Kristaps Porzingis in this one too.

The majority of those losses have been on the road, but New York have also been defeated in their last two games at The Garden. The amount of points being given up on the Defensive side of the court is a big concern for New York and Milwaukee have been better on that side of the court in recent games.

Recent seasons have seen Milwaukee match up well with the New York Knicks and I think they are catching them at the right time in this one. I will back the Bucks to cover in this one with a win on the road.



Portland Trail Blazers @ Golden State Warriors Pick: The Golden State Warriors have a very strong 15-2 record at home, but they have struggled against the spread as they have consistently been asked to cover huge numbers at The Oracle Arena. I am going to back them to cover on this occasion though as they face a Portland Trail Blazers squad they have blown out twice already and who will be missing Damian Lillard.

The Warriors have bounced back from blowing a Christmas Day big lead at the Cleveland Cavaliers by winning three in a row, but all have been competitive wins. While they are not worried about being in Play Off mood already, the Warriors have been disappointed by some of their recent efforts and I think that will see them produce a better all around game in this one.

They are facing a Portland team who have looked to stiffen on the Defensive side of the court without Lillard's scoring output to be relied upon. However the Trail Blazers are an underachieving squad of players who have struggled when playing the best teams and were beaten by 16 points by the San Antonio Spurs a few days ago. That means the Trail Blazers have dropped to 6-12 against the spread against teams with a winning record this season and that includes going 0-2 against the spread when facing the Warriors.

The three point Defense has not been as good as the overall performance for the Trail Blazers and they are facing a team that can expose those vulnerabilities very quickly. Golden State should have an edge on the boards and their two previous wins against the Trail Blazers have come by 23 and 45 points this season.

Portland are also 3-9 against the spread in their last 12 games against the Golden State Warriors in this Arena and I will take the home team to cover the big number.


Thursday 5th January
It seems my luck hasn't turned just yet with the games yesterday proving that- how Milwaukee played so badly in the Third Quarter and still won the game, but missed the cover, is beyond belief to be perfectly frank. I didn't hold up much hope for the second pick when the first had that little luck attached to it and instead I was focused on getting things right for Thursday.

Utah Jazz @ Toronto Raptors Pick: The last game the Toronto Raptors played saw them embarrassed at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, but a return home to face the Utah Jazz is expected to see them bounce back. The sharps have taken the road underdog with the points early in the spread being released, but I think the Raptors can be backed against a Utah team who have a strong record, but who haven't played well as the underdog.

Utah are just 3-7 against the spread as the underdog this season and they are coming off a blow out loss of their own when beaten at the Boston Celtics. For the most part the Defensive side of the court has been looked after by Utah, but they did give up 115 points to the Celtics and one of the concerns has to be the way they dealt with the Boston back court.

Now they are facing the Toronto Raptors who have DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry ready to rediscover their form after a couple of sketchy outings for the Raptors who have lost three of their last four games. Those two players have to be at their best if Toronto are going to get back to winning ways and they are expected to match up well with the Jazz.

That has been the case for Toronto against Utah in recent seasons as they have gone 7-0 against the spread against them and five of those games have been covered as the favourite. A couple of weeks ago the Raptors won by six points in Utah and I think they match that margin in this home game so I will back them to cover here.


Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets Pick: Russell Westbrook is doing his best to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder competitive and I think he has a big shout to win the MVP award if he can take this roster to the Play Offs in the Western Conference. There is some talent left in Oklahoma City, but they go as far as Westbrook can carry them and I do think this is a team who would have a losing record without him.

It is going to be tough for Westbrook to produce another strong day on a back to back while playing the Houston Rockets who have a pest in Patrick Beverley that loves doing the Defensive work to try and slow down the Point Guard. Beverley is expected to play in this one having missed a couple of games and that is going to be a challenge for Westbrook on the back to back having dug deep in the loss to Charlotte on Wednesday.

Overall this is going to be a big challenge for the Thunder who are facing a hot-shooting Houston Rockets team with a five game winning run behind them. Houston are shooting very well from the field and have the three point shooting that should find the room to make big plays in this one with the Thunder having some issues Defending from that range.

The hope for the Thunder has to be dominating the boards and hoping that can give them enough second chance points to keep this close. However Oklahoma City have not been as strong as an underdog as they perhaps should be and the Thunder are 0-8 against the spread in the last eight against the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets are averaging 124 points per game in their last five games and I think they will have too much for Oklahoma City in this game. It is a big number, but Houston are scoring enough to cover and I will back them to do so.


San Antonio Spurs @ Denver Nuggets Pick: The San Antonio Spurs were beaten in Overtime in their last road game, but they bounced back by embarrassing one of the top Eastern Conference teams, the Toronto Raptors, at home a couple of days later. Now they go back out on the road in a bid to knock off the Denver Nuggets and stay with the Golden State Warriors at the top of the Western Conference.

Outside of that loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the San Antonio Spurs have won five of their last six games and all of those wins have come by double digit margins. They have to be excited about playing this Denver Nuggets Defense which has been criticised by the Head Coach and that can't be a surprise having allowed 110 points per game over the course of the season and at least 120 points in each of their last three games.

The Nuggets have been scoring freely though and that makes them a danger when it comes to spreads because there is always a feeling they can do enough to stick with a team. They shoot well from the three point mark as well as being able to get into the paint and have success on the boards, but the rebounding battle will be a tougher one than normal for Denver as San Antonio are strong on the glass too.

I like San Antonio because of the professionalism they do tend to display and the manner in which they have been winning games of late. They are 8-0 against the spread in their last eight games against a team with a losing record while they are 5-2 against the spread on the road against a team with a losing record.

The Spurs are also 20-7 against the spread in their last twenty-seven games in Denver and I think they make enough stops on the Defensive side of the ball to get back to winning ways here having lost last April in their last visit to Colorado. It is a number that can be dangerous, but I expect San Antonio can keep up their current run of winning games with some margin behind them.


Friday 6th January
The Oklahoma City Thunder fought back from a huge deficit in the Fourth Quarter to earn the cover and prevent the sweep of the picks, but at least it was a winning Thursday to move the update in a positive direction. I hope Friday can follow suit.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Washington Wizards Pick: We have not yet reached the halfway mark of the regular season in the 2017 NBA season so most teams won't be in a panicked state regarding their positions in the Conferences. That is definitely the case for the Washington Wizards who are currently Number 9 in the Eastern Conference but in touch with the teams in the bottom half of the Play Off standings.

The Wizards would like to get a little more consistency in their play especially on the road, but they have won eight in a row at home and the team have gone 8-0 against the spread in those games. Being back on home court will give them confidence they can snap a two game losing run having made a quick visit to Texas to lose to the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks, although there was a bit of finger pointing between the players at the effort in the loss to the lowly Mavericks.

Those players have to get on the same page to make sure they don't drop another silly game when playing the Minnesota Timberwolves who have struggled mightily with their own consistency. There is no doubting the talent in the roster, but Tom Thibodeau has had a hard time getting the best out of his players although he has at least got something going on the Defensive side of the court in recent games.

It hasn't helped Minnesota win games because they don't seem to find the balance between the Offense and Defense that they need and the manner of their defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers hurt the team. Facing a team who have been considerably better at home is going to be tough for Minnesota as they get set to return home tomorrow and I do think they will just not be able to keep up with Washington.

The Timberwolves are 2-9 against the spread in their last 11 games in Washington and I will take the home team to cover the number.


Philadelphia 76ers @ Boston Celtics Pick: The Philadelphia 76ers have the second worst record in the NBA this season, but they have been far more competitive than in recent seasons. On Friday they head to the Boston Celtics who might be considered the closest challenger to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference and the layers are expecting a big win for the Celtics who have been asked to cover 12.5 points.

There is a clear differential in the talent levels of these teams, but I think the 76ers can be backed with the points to at least keep this game competitive. They are coming into the game with two wins behind them which will give a young roster some confidence, while the Boston Celtics players could be thinking about potential trade moves that could be affecting their own futures.

Jae Crowder admitted he wasn't happy with the home fans when they cheered an opponent who is rumoured to be a trade target for Boston and that hearing those cheers made him play better. It certainly sparked something as the Celtics have now won four of their last five games, but this is a big number and it has to be noted that Boston are 0-3 against the spread this season when favoured by 9 points or higher.

The Celtics are also 1-5 against the spread when hosting a team with a losing record and I do like the fact that Philadelphia have only lost 2 of their last 14 games by a number that would be enough to cover this spread. A young group of players will be looking to score enough to stay with the Boston Celtics in this one although I do think they will have to weather a couple of big runs from the home team.

However, I do like the amount of points the road underdog are getting in this one and will back them to stay within it.

MY PICKS: 04/01 Milwaukee Bucks - 1.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
04/01 Golden State Warriors - 15.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
05/01 Toronto Raptors - 5.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
05/01 Houston Rockets - 8.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
05/01 San Antonio Spurs - 7 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
06/01 Washington Wizards - 5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
06/01 Philadelphia 76ers + 12.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)

January 2-8 Update: 4-3, + 0.68 Units

December Final19-23, - 5.51 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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