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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

NBA Picks March 2017 (March 1-5)

Last month was a really strong one for the NBA Picks and I am looking to build on that in March in the final month of full regular season games in the NBA.

This is the time of the season when motivation is high throughout the Association, both in a positive and negative manner. There are some teams that might move into 'tank' mode over the course of the month to improve their lottery positions for the Draft, while the top teams are looking for the positive momentum that will get them ready for the Play Offs which begin in six weeks time.

I will have the first week of the March NBA Picks in this thread and look for a good start to the month after a really strong February.

Wednesday 1st March
New York Knicks @ Orlando Magic Pick: It has been another hard season to live through as a New York Knicks fan and there are signs that the franchise is looking to become one of the teams fighting for a decent position in the lottery. Releasing Brandon Jennings indicated that and there were reports that Derrick Rose would be the next Guard to be released, although the Knicks won't hear anything about 'tanking' just yet.

They are still 'only' 5 games out of the Eastern Conference Play Off picture, but the Knicks suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Toronto Raptors last time out. It was one where Carmelo Anthony displayed his frustration having missed an open look to win the game, while rumours about his future continue to dominate the headlines despite the trade deadline coming to a close this season.

Kristaps Porzingis is expected back for the Knicks in this game and this is going to tell us all we need to know about what New York are expecting the rest of the season. They are facing an Orlando Magic team who are one of three teams below them in the Eastern Conference standings although the Magic are well rested having not played since Saturday.

However Orlando have been a terrible favourite to back and are just 2-9 against the spread when laying points this season. The Magic might have blown out the Atlanta Hawks in their last game here, but the Knicks do look like they match up with them pretty well at both ends of the court and I do think they can win this game if they are focused on a strong end to the season.

New York are 6-2-1 against the spread in their last nine visits to Orlando and I will take the points on offer in this one knowing the last two Knicks games have been decided by a single point each time.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Miami Heat Pick: There has to be some excitement in the Philadelphia fanbase that their 76ers are on the right road with all of the experiences of this season likely to make them better next time around. The 76ers have started giving their younger players more minutes with some trades made before the deadline and they have responded with some competitive performances, although finding wins is still just beyond their grasp.

They showed plenty of heart in their last game, which was a defeat to the Golden State Warriors, and it does feel like this Philadelphia 76ers roster are not going to give up easily in any game they play. Joel Embiid might still be out, but his enthusiasm has filtered through the roster and produced some big performances from the rest of the players.

It will be a difficult game on South Beach as Philadelphia travel to face the incredibly hot Miami Heat who are just 2 games out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference. The Heat will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Dallas Mavericks last time out, and they will have revenge on their mind having seen their long winning run snapped by the 76ers before the All-Star Break.

The Heat do look a little stronger at both ends of the court which should produce a win, but asking them to cover this number won't be easy. Miami have only been favoured by 7 or more points twice this season and they are 1-1 against the spread in that spot, but they are 8-1-1 against the spread in their last ten at home.

However I like the fact that Philadelphia have a 4-1-1 record against the spread in their last six visits to Miami and the way they have been competing of late. I will take the points on offer and look for the 76ers to keep this one relatively close.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Utah Jazz Pick: The Utah Jazz put in a huge effort on Tuesday but they came up short at the Oklahoma City Thunder and now face a young and hungry Minnesota Timberwolves team who are desperate to get into the Play Offs. The Timberwolves have made a few mental errors which has cost them some games, but they can't afford to allow the Utah Jazz to pull away in this one.

While the Jazz have been a little up and down Offensively, they are one of the tougher Defensive teams in the NBA and won't allow Minnesota to score the kind of points they have been used to. The fact that the Timberwolves have struggled as much as they have Defensively over the course of the season makes this a dangerous number for them, but I do think they can cover with the points being given to them.

The emotional and physical effort Utah put into the loss at Oklahoma City has to play a part here and the Jazz are now 1-6-1 against the spread in the second of back to back games. The Timberwolves can match them on the rebounding statistics which will give them every chance of staying with Utah and Minnesota have been shooting efficiently enough to give Utah something to think about.

The focus at the beginning of the game is all important for Minnesota as they can show Utah they are in for a battle on Wednesday and that can wear down the hosts. Minnesota are also 5-2 against the spread in their last seven visits to Utah and I do think they are going to be prepared for this one as they try and close the 3 game gap between themselves and the Denver Nuggets in the Number 8 Seed.

I will take the points being given to the road underdog here too.

Houston Rockets @ LA Clippers Pick: The LA Clippers are finally getting healthier and they are still in a position to earn a home series in the First Round of the Play Offs. This is a chance for the Clippers to show they are going to be able to compete with the best teams in the Western Conference as they host the Houston Rockets who look like a team who will likely settle into the Number 3 Seed in the Conference.

Mike D'Antoni is still looking for his Houston Rockets team to show they are capable of going all the way to the NBA Championship. While the Rockets have played well this season, they are looking for the consistency against the top teams that will make them a genuine threat to knock off the likes of the Golden State Warriors, although it does have to be said they are 9-5 against the spread when playing on the road against a team with a winning record.

Houston do look like they match up well with the LA Clippers with their superior shooting, but the Rockets are very reliant on the three point shot working to get them going. If that shot is off, the Rockets can struggle and that was the case when going down to the Indiana Pacers a couple of nights ago. However there is a depth in the roster that makes them a threat against any team, although Houston need to show more Defensively.

The LA Clippers can expose some of those Defensive vulnerabilities, but they are still working the returning Chris Paul into the rotation and I think this game might come a little too soon for that.

Being well matches against the Clippers has seen the Rockets go 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games against each other. I will take the road underdog in another game on Wednesday as I look for the Rockets to perhaps earn the upset.

Thursday 2nd March
Golden State Warriors @ Chicago Bulls Pick: There is no doubting that the big news in the NBA a couple of days ago was the injury suffered by Kevin Durant and to what extent the damage to his knee had occurred. Fortunately for the Golden State Warriors it looks like their big off-season acquisition is going to be healthy enough to return by the Play Offs even if they have stated that Durant is out indefinitely.

The Golden State Warriors haven't really suffered too much adversity with injuries and the likes over the last couple of seasons when they have looked the best team in the NBA. However there is enough quality in the rotation to think the Warriors can overcome the absence of Durant at least the rest of the regular season and try and get him healthy for the Play Offs which are just six weeks away.

You have to imagine the rest of the players left will want to show that they are more than capable of playing without Durant and it can't be forgotten that the likes of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are still making up the starters. The Warriors can show that they are ready to go when they travel to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, a team barely hanging on to a top eight spot in the Eastern Conference and looking to bounce back from a loss of their own.

Chicago were blown out by the Denver Nuggets in their last game here which snapped a four game winning run for the Bulls. That means they are also just 2.5 games clear of the teams chasing Play Off spots and I do think the Warriors are going to be too good at both ends of the court for them.

Golden State also have the size and energy to challenge Chicago on the boards, especially with Taj Gibson moved on to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Warriors have recovered from previous losses with a 4-1 record against the spread and I do think they will be motivated to show the rest of the NBA that it is a 'next man up' philosophy they hold now that Durant is out for the foreseeable future.

The Warriors are also 4-1 against the spread in their last five games with Chicago and I will look for them to cover this big number on the road.

Friday 3rd March
New York Knicks @ Philadelphia 76ers Pick: There are still plenty of noises coming out of the New York Knicks locker room when it comes to the Triangle Offense and whether the players are truly on board with that system. Derrick Rose, who will likely leave New York at the end of the season when entering Free Agency, was the latest player to voice his dissatisfaction with the system that took Phil Jackson to his numerous NBA titles, but the main focus is to keep the Knicks moving in a positive direction.

The bottom of the Eastern Conference is not very good in all honesty and the New York Knicks are only 5 games behind the Chicago Bulls who currently hold the Number 6 Seed. That has kept the likes of Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis to continue to tell the media that the Knicks are far from 'tanking' this season but actually believe they can make the Play Offs.

They can't afford to drop games like this if they are to do that as the Knicks get set to visit the Philadelphia 76ers who may have lost some belief with the news that Joel Embiid is out the rest of the season. While the rest of the players were producing big performances in anticipation of Embiid coming back, the news he was out led to a blow out loss at the Miami Heat last time out.

It looks like the 76ers might be lottery bound, but they did challenge the Knicks all the way last week when losing by a point in Madison Square Garden. I think there is every chance this game will be close, but the Knicks might just have a little more down the stretch and can pull away for a win by a wider margin than they had at home.

The Knicks should match up well with the 76ers on the court and a better rebounding day will make things a little easier and the return of Porzingis can help in that regard. New York are 11-4 against the spread in their last fifteen visits to Philadelphia and I will look for them to cover as the favourite here.

Toronto Raptors @ Washington Wizards Pick: Home and home series can be tough to get a read on because you have to think the team that lost the first of those games is going to be extra motivated in the next game. The zigzag theory which applies to the Play Offs seems to be at play here, but I think the Washington Wizards have the edge over the Toronto Raptors at the moment and I like them to frank their win in Canada by winning on Friday too.

That win on Friday actually snapped an eight game losing run to the Toronto Raptors, but this current Washington team is playing with the kind of confidence that is hard to build. Wins over the Golden State Warriors and the Raptors will have increased that confidence as Washington look to secure a top three finish in the Eastern Conference and perhaps even chase down the Boston Celtics for the Number 2 Seed.

The injury to Kyle Lowry is a huge blow for the Raptors and being without one of their star back court players is tough when faced with Bradley Beal and John Wall. There is only so much DeMar DeRozan can do and he will need help from some of the role players if the Raptors are going to reverse their home loss a couple of nights ago.

Washington have looked good though and they have also found increased production for the bench despite missing out on a move for Lou Williams prior to the trade deadline. The Raptors size will keep them in this game for a while, but Washington are big enough to earn their own rebounds which can see them pull away in this one.

The Wizards have been very strong at home and they have a stellar 16-6 record against the spread when favoured by less than 6 points so far this season. Toronto are just 3-8 against the spread in their last eleven against the Wizards, despite winning eight in a row straight up, and I will look for Washington to frank their win in Toronto by covering in a win here.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Atlanta Hawks Pick: Usually a loss in close fashion to the Boston Celtics would not raise a smile for fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they have to like the way they performed despite a couple of key players like JR Smith and Kevin Love being missing. The Celtics had to give their absolute best to win the game and even then the Cleveland Cavaliers had a chance to win it at the end.

The arrival of Deron Williams and the impending arrival of Andrew Bogut has made LeBron James very happy and gives the Cavaliers the kind of depth he has been asking for all season. Now they feel they have the tools to defend the NBA Championship they won last June and a well oiled team is looking to cement their place of the Number 1 Seed in the Eastern Conference.

Cleveland have a 3 game lead over the Boston Celtics at this time, but this is another tough road game for them at the Atlanta Hawks who have won two in a row and are looking to close the 1.5 game gap to the Toronto Raptors as one of the top four Seeds in the East. The Hawks had a really impressive win at the Boston Celtics on Sunday, but this is another big test for them to see where they actually stand in the Conference.

The superior three point shooting of the Cavaliers should play a part in this game and I am looking for them to bounce back from their loss last time out. The Atlanta Hawks are just 4-6 against the spread when given less than 4 points as the underdog this season, and they are just 4-9 against the spread when hosting a team with a winning record on the road.

Add in the fact that the Cavaliers are 4-1 against the spread in their last five visits to the Hawks and I think James and company can put a statement win in the books as well as covering this number on the road.

Memphis Grizzlies @ Dallas Mavericks Pick: The third road favourite I am backing on Friday night is the Memphis Grizzlies when they visit the Dallas Mavericks even though Memphis have a big game at the Houston Rockets to come on Saturday night. While some teams might be in a look ahead spot, I think the Grizzlies are motivated to try and finish as high as the Number 4 Seed in the Western Conference and losing games like this will prevent them from doing that.

There has been some inconsistency in the play from the Grizzlies over the last month, but they look to be in one of their peaks with back to back wins ahead of this one. They may also be catching the Dallas Mavericks at the right time with this team beginning to slip away from the Western Conference Play Off spots after losing four of their last six games.

Dallas will play tough with some veterans they have on the roster, but they have actively tried to get younger by allowing the likes of Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut be released from their contracts. Younger means inconsistent results and I do think Memphis have been more efficient at both ends of the court in recent games.

The Grizzlies should also have a size advantage which gives them the edge in the rebounding statistics while Memphis are 8-5 against the spread when favoured by less than 4 points this season and Dallas are 7-11 against the spread when given less than 4 points.

The favourite has also gone 4-1 against the spread in the last five games between these teams and I will look for Memphis to remain focused on the task at hand by concentrating on this game and winning and covering the spread.

MY PICKS: 01/03 New York Knicks + 1.5 Points @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (1 Unit)
01/03 Philadelphia 76ers + 9 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
01/03 Minnesota Timberwolves + 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
01/03 Houston Rockets + 2 Points @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (1 Unit)
02/03 Golden State Warriors - 7.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
03/03 New York Knicks - 2 Points @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (1 Unit)
03/03 Washington Wizards - 5 Points @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (1 Unit)
03/03 Cleveland Cavaliers - 3 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
03/03 Memphis Grizzlies - 3 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

March 1-5 Update: 4-5, - 1.28 Units

February Final: 32-20-3, + 9.69 Units
January Final26-28-1, - 4 Units
December Final19-23, - 5.51 Units
November Final24-25-1, - 2.92 Units
October Final8-9, - 1.72 Units

Season 2017109-105-5, + 1.05 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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