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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

NBA Picks 2017 (February 1-5)

The NBA season has not been one I have particularly enjoyed when it comes to the picks as I have yet to have a winning month. However the only silver lining I am seeing from a very dark cloud is I haven't had a ridiculously poor month which means the season is irretrievable already.

In saying that, the last two months have been disappointing with one step forward and two steps backwards the way the picks seem to have gone. I partly blame myself for maybe missing a couple of big spots that I liked all day and then decide to step back, but I have not received too much fortune either which doesn't help.

February tends to be a staggered month with the All Star Break right in the middle of the month- that usually signifies the change in mentality of the teams with the Play Offs very much in sight at that point, while the trade deadline also hits in this month. That trade deadline is around a week after the All-Star Game and we will then be less than two months from the end of the regular season and the start of the Play Offs.

In that time Seeding can become very important while other teams look to build some momentum and team chemistry that could potentially take them deep into the Play Offs.


Wednesday 1st February
Indiana Pacers @ Orlando Magic Pick: The Indiana Pacers are making a move up the Eastern Conference standings and they have won three in a row to move three games above 0.500 for the season. It has been a mixed season for the Pacers as they can look very, very good at times, but then they are just as likely to produce a nothing performance and lose games they should not be.

Hopefully they can avoid that fate when they visit the Orlando Magic on Wednesday as I think this is a good chance for the Indiana Pacers to make it four wins in a row. The next team on deck is the poor Brooklyn Nets and the Pacers have won on their last four visits to Orlando, while the Magic have not played that well at home all season.

Orlando have lost four of their last five games, although they have been much more competitive in their last two games. Their Head Coach is also Frank Vogel, the Indiana Pacers Head Coach from the last few years, and you have to think the players might be motivated to perform at a higher level for Vogel. That hasn't happened in the two previous games between these teams this season, but both of those were played in Indiana and being at home might at least encourage the Orlando players a little more.

However they are just 6-16-1 against the spread at home this season and Orlando are 3-5 against the spread when set as an underdog of less than 3 points on the season. Indiana have been shooting the ball well enough to think they can take advantage of some of the lapses Defensively the Magic have had, although the key for both teams will be the success they have on the boards, an area in which both have had some difficulties.

Indiana are 9-1 against the spread in the last ten in the series between these teams and they have covered in their last four wins in Orlando. I will back Indiana to win and cover on Wednesday.


Philadelphia 76ers @ Dallas Mavericks Pick: Joel Embiid suggested the Philadelphia 76ers could make the Play Offs at the beginning of January and I think most people would have laughed off the notion. The Process has clearly given his teammates some confidence though as he helped Philadelphia put together a strong month and now even his absence is not affecting the play of the 76ers.

Embiid has missed out with injury, and looks set to miss this one too, but the 76ers keep finding ways to win games and that means they are only 4 games out of the Number 8 Seed in the Eastern Conference. They head to Dallas having won six of their last nine games, but this is going to be a challenge against an improving Mavericks team who come into the game having knocked off the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers in succession.

Even more impressive is the fact that Dallas have done that on a back to back, but I like the Philadelphia 76ers with the points in this spot. Those wins will have given Dallas confidence, but they could easily overlook the 76ers after beating two of the top three teams in the NBA in consecutive games. Add in the fact that this is the joint biggest spread that Dallas have been asked to cover as a favourite this season (they did cover the first time) and I like the road underdog to keep this close.

Dallas have been thriving on the Defensive side of the court, but that should be tested by the 76ers who have shot very well from the field and have averaged 116 points per game over their last five. The concern for the road underdog is how their own Defense has been playing with too many points being given up, but Dallas are not really a team that is built to blow out others.

They are missing Andrew Bogut too which may give Philadelphia a chance to win the battle on the boards even without Embiid in the line up. I have to give credit to the way the Mavericks are playing as they are now just 3.5 games outside of the Play Off spots in the Western Conference, and they are 7-1 against the spread as a favourite this season. However I think this 76ers team can keep this one competitive and I will take the points.


Memphis Grizzlies @ Denver Nuggets Pick: The Denver Nuggets slipped in the second half of their loss to the LA Lakers and blew a half time lead to keep the teams below them interested in their Number 8 Seed spot in the Western Conference. It is going to be a real battle to finish in the Play Off spots for Denver unless they have a healthy roster to call upon, but they could be missing two key performers on Wednesday night in the second half of a back to back.

On the other side of the court is a Memphis Grizzlies team who very much think they can secure a First Round series at home in the Play Offs. The Grizzlies have been a little inconsistent of late, but they have won two in a row on their current road trip after dropping the first game, and scoring points hasn't been too much of an issue for them.

That part of their game is expected to hold up against the Denver Nuggets who have not been able to slow down too many teams in recent weeks. While the Nuggets have held a couple teams to 98 points or fewer, they have allowed at least 112 points in thirteen of their last fifteen games which makes it tough on the Offensive side of the court.

Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic look to sit for another game and that is a big blow for the Denver Nuggets, especially losing Jokic who looks a star in the making for Denver. They will remain strong on the boards which makes Denver dangerous, but the question becomes whether they can produce enough efficient shooting to come through and win this game.

Memphis might only be 2-5 against the spread in their last seven visits to Denver and the altitude the Nuggets play in, but they are 5-2 against the spread when favoured by less than three points this season. The Grizzlies have also gone 3-1 straight up in their last four visits to Denver and I think this might be a good time to play the Nuggets who look to be shorthanded on a back to back spot. I will take the road team to cover what looks like a small spread.


Thursday 2nd February
It was a solid enough start to February with two out of the three picks coming in on Wednesday, but I've had these false dawns before and need to back up the start effectively.

LA Lakers @ Washington Wizards Pick: I don't usually like backing teams to cover some of the big numbers you see in the NBA, but I am going to pick Washington to beat the LA Lakers by double digits on Thursday. Much of that has got to do with how well the Wizards have been playing as they now not only look like a potential top four team in the Eastern Conference, but one that could challenge for a much higher Seeding.

Washington have won twelve of their last fourteen games to make a real move up the Eastern Conference standings and they have been really strong at home. The Wizards average 109 points per game at home and that is going to be an issue for the LA Lakers who have been struggling for consistency over the last couple of months which has seen them slip away from the Western Conference Play Off picture.

The Lakers did beat the Denver Nuggets a couple of nights ago but are beginning a road trip on Thursday but they might be more focused on the Friday night tilt at the Boston Celtics. That is an old rivalry and will be the one the fans want to win, but the form of the Washington Wizards might keep the players intensity on this game.

They have been struggling on the Defensive side of the court and the Lakers might not be able to slow down the efficient shooting Wizards. The reason Washington have been playing and winning so many games of late is how well they have played Defensively and this young Lakers roster might just have some issues staying with them over the course of 48 minutes.

The Wizards are 1-1 against the spread when favoured by double digits this season and the Lakers have an 11-4-1 record against the spread in their last sixteen trips to Washington. Those are not the best stats to oppose, but Washington have won four of their last five home games by at least 16 points and I will back them to get over this big number.


Golden State Warriors @ LA Clippers Pick: Only last week the Golden State Warriors humiliated the LA Clippers and the latter will be making a quick stop at home before heading back on the road in a bid to earn revenge over their rivals. This hasn't been a competitive rivalry in recent games between them as the Golden State Warriors have won eight in a row against the Clippers and the Warriors are 5-2 against the spread in last seven of those games.

Injuries have affected the Clippers over the last couple of months and injuries have prevented them from having a real impact in the Play Offs in recent seasons. Chris Paul remains absent, but Blake Griffin should be a little healthier having returned last week and putting some game time on the court.

However this is a tough back to back for the LA Clippers who battled past the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night and now they face one of the hardest games they could have. The Golden State Warriors were also winning comfortably on Wednesday night, but they are less likely to be concerned with the health of the roster as the Clippers will be, while the Warriors have been in great form as they have averaged 119 points per game on 50% shooting over their last five games.

I do anticipate the Clippers will keep up with Golden State much better than in their 46 point loss last week, but it still feels like a game in which the Warriors can pull away in the second half. The Warriors have not been a great team to back on the spreads because they are always being asked to cover big numbers and this game is no different, but I do think they have measure of the LA Clippers and deep dislike for one another means it isn't hard to motivate themselves to play in this one.

The Warriors have been a little stronger on the boards and I will look for them to cover this number on the road.


Friday 3rd February
The Washington Wizards proved why I hate asking teams to cover big spreads in the regular season as they blew a 14 point lead from half time, and an 11 point lead going into the Fourth Quarter because of a lapse of concentration in the early part of the Fourth. They still won the game by 8 points and all Washington care about is the 'W' at the end of the day, but at least the Golden State Warriors didn't take their eye off the ball too much in a comfortable win over the LA Clippers.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Detroit Pistons Pick: The Minnesota Timberwolves looked to have turned a corner as they headed into this two game road trip with five wins from their last six games. However they were brought crashing back down to earth in a crushing loss at the Cleveland Cavaliers, although I am looking for the young Timberwolves to bounce back when they head to the Detroit Pistons.

The first thing that surprised me is that there is only a 2.5 point difference between the number of points they are getting in Detroit as the number of points Minnesota were receiving in Cleveland. I don't think there are many that will suggest Detroit are only just better than Cleveland even if the Cavaliers are coming off a losing month so the spread feels out of place immediately.

Detroit are coming off a huge win over the New Orleans Pelicans and they are clearly better at home than on the road, but this still feels like it could be a lot of points for Minnesota on Friday. The Timberwolves have to show they can perform better on the Defensive side of the court which is a real problem area, but the Pistons have not been that strong in that aspect of their game and it feels like Minnesota have a real edge when it comes to the three point shooting out of recent games.

It can be a problem that Detroit are likely to be stronger on the boards but the Pistons are just 3-6 against the spread when hosting a team with a losing record and they are 6-8 against the spread when favoured by less than 5 points. The Timberwolves also hold a 5-1 record against the spread in their last six games in Detroit and I think an improving team can bounce back from a bad loss by keeping this one closer than the public think.


Phoenix Suns @ Sacramento Kings Pick: I have a policy that backing bad teams will equal bad results, but I can't help look at the Phoenix Suns and see a good spot for them to at least keep things competitive against the injury hit Sacramento Kings. Credit the Kings for being able to fight through the issues that are depleting the roster, but this does feel like a game they could overlook considering how well they have handled the Suns in recent games.

Sacramento have won four in a row against the Phoenix Suns, including a 19 point blow out on the road earlier this season, and they have won six of the last seven in the series. In each of those wins the Kings have covered, but they do head into this game off the back of an eight game road trip which makes the first game back at home something of an issue for teams.

That has been a trend in recent years in the NBA when teams have returned home from long road trips, while you can't underestimate the fact that the Kings are hosting the Golden State Warriors tomorrow. It would not be a huge surprise if the players are focused on that game instead of this one against the team with the worst record in the Western Conference and that can make the Suns dangerous.

For all their problems, Phoenix can score points but allowing at least 112 points in their last five games has meant an average of 110 points scored in that time has been wasted. DeMarcus Cousins is a huge match up problem for the Suns, but they have to try and get the ball out of his hands and force someone else to step up after Garrett Temple became the latest player to go down with an injury.

There is still some scoring power playing for the Kings, but this looks a good spot to oppose them if the focus is on Golden State off this long road trip I have mentioned. It isn't a huge amount of points, but it could be enough for the scoring power of the Phoenix Suns to try and stay with Sacramento in this one and I will back the road underdog with the points.


Sunday 5th February
Portland Trail Blazers @ Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: Today is Super Bowl Sunday so the NBA games have been given the early afternoon spot so they can all be concluded before the Super Bowl kicks off. The last of those comes from Oklahoma City and I like the Thunder to get the better of the Portland Trail Blazers.

It is no surprise the Thunder have had so many inconsistent results from week to week when you think how much they rely on Russell Westbrook. The Point Guard has proven to be huge for Oklahoma City, but Westbrook can only carry a team so far, although they are much better placed in the Play Off picture than the Portland Trail Blazers who have been underachieving to say the least.

Portland are still half a game out of the top eight in the Western Conference and they have really struggled on the road despite having some talented players in the back court to rely upon. The Thunder have also been much better at home and I do think they can improve their 10-3 record against the spread when they have hosted teams with a losing record.

The Trail Blazers are 1-4 against the spread in their last five visits to the Thunder and I can see the home team having enough success on the boards, even without Enes Kanter, to come through with a win and cover.

MY PICKS: 01/02 Indiana Pacers - 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
01/02 Philadelphia 76ers + 6 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
01/02 Memphis Grizzlies - 1 Point @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
02/02 Washington Wizards - 11 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
02/02 Golden State Warriors - 8 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
03/02 Minnesota Timberwolves + 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
03/02 Phoenix Suns + 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Coral (1 Unit)
05/02 Oklahoma City Thunder - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)

February 1-5 Update: 5-3, + 1.59 Units

January Update: 26-28-1, - 4 Units
December Final19-23, - 5.51 Units
November Final24-25-1, - 2.92 Units
October Final8-9, - 1.72 Units

Season 2017: 58-62-2, - 8.64 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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