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Monday, 20 November 2017

NBA Picks November 2017 (November 20-30)

The Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns made up for a couple of bad breaks I had a couple of nights earlier when they decided to get into a position to score a meaningless basket as time was beginning to run out.

It means another winning week in November and I am going to put the remaining NBA Picks for this month in this one thread. It will be the featured post for much of the remainder of the month, although later this week the College Football, and NFL Weekly Picks will take that spot for a few days.

Monday 20th November
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Detroit Pistons Pick: The Cleveland Cavaliers continue getting into big holes and rallying effectively enough and that has led to four straight wins heading in this new week. That has helped the Cleveland Cavaliers move two games above 0.500 after a really inconsistent start to the season although this is a different level of competition to the majority they have faced in their winning run.

While the New York Knicks have been playing well, the wins over the Dallas Mavericks, Charlotte Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers are not as good as they may look on paper. Both the Hornets and the Clippers had the chance to knock off the Cleveland Cavaliers if they had played with more belief in the second half and belief is not going to ever lack from the Detroit Pistons.

Detroit are 11-5 this season and showed their belief in what they are doing by rallying from a big deficit to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday evening. I do wonder if that is going to have sapped some energy for a team playing a back to back and for the third time in four nights, especially when you think there has been travel involved too.

It won't take a lot of motivation to get up for playing the Cleveland Cavaliers, but this is a tough spot for the Pistons with the limited rest and at the beginning of a tough run of games. A quick stop back home before heading off for more road games is never a comforting experience for players although a 7-1 record on home court has to give the Detroit Pistons more reason to believe they can produce a statement win.

Visiting Detroit has been difficult for the Cleveland Cavaliers in recent games here, but the Cavaliers should be well rested as they continue searching for the first truly solid 48 minute experience on the court. There have also been definite signs that the Cavaliers are beginning to get onto the same page on the Defensive side of the court, even if the quality of opposition have contributed to the improving numbers.

Cleveland have continued to shoot the ball well enough and their three point shooting could be a real difference maker in this one. The Pistons will like to dominate in and around the paint and can be effective there, but the three point shot is a big part of modern day NBA and the Pistons have not been as clinical from that distance as their visitors have been.

I would expect Detroit to get the better of the rebounding, but the turnover problem for the Cleveland Cavaliers may not be exploited as well as the Pistons would like.

The Cavaliers do tend to pick up their play in games like this one and they are 10-4-1 against the spread in their last fifteen road games at a team with a winning record. While Detroit have tended to play well in the second of a back to back spot, the emotional win at the Minnesota Timberwolves has to have caused some fatigue which makes this a tough spot for them.

Opposing Detroit at home has not been a very good move so far this season for anyone as the Pistons are 5-2-1 against the spread at the window in their eight home games. The home team has covered in the last five in this series, but the Cavaliers look in a good spot to break that run and I will back them to win on the road as the small favourites.

Los Angeles Clippers @ New York Knicks Pick: This has been a really trying time for the Los Angeles Clippers who have lost their last eight games in a row including the first two on their current road trip. They should have won at the Cleveland Cavaliers a few days ago, but the Clippers ran out of energy in a blow out loss to the Charlotte Hornets and I do have to be concerned for them.

Defensively it has been a mess in recent games for the Clippers who traded away Chris Paul in the off-season as they looked to just transition a team who had fallen short in the Western Conference. Doc Rivers usually preaches the importance of the Defensive side of the court, but the Clippers have allowed triple digits in each of their eight losses and have not had the Offensive output to prevent defeats.

There is some encouragement for Rivers and the Clippers on Monday as they should have Patrick Beverley back in the line up. While Beverley is a solid enough Point Guard Offensively, his real strength lies on the Defensive side of the court and the return may just help the Clippers close a few holes that have been really opened up in his absence.

Beverley is probable for this one and the Clippers will need him when they face off with the New York Knicks. The Knicks are another team who should have knocked off the Cleveland Cavaliers over the last week, but like the Clippers they blew a big lead and were beaten late on.

It has been a positive start to the season regardless of that setback, but the Knicks are looking to bounce back from a blow out loss at the Toronto Raptors. Being back at home helps as the players have thrived in the intensity of Madison Square Garden where they are 7-3 this season and a return home may be the boost the Knicks are looking for.

This is a team who have played better on the Defensive side of the court than most expected, while they have found a groove Offensively through Kristaps Porzingis who has taken over as the 'King of New York' from Carmelo Anthony. Porzingis has been shooting the ball very effectively for much of the season and the New York Knicks will also feel they have the size to dominate the boards which makes them a very difficult team to knock off at the moment.

New York have been very good to back at home where they are 8-2 against the spread this season and I do think being an underdog in this one will not be an issue for them. That will change the mindset of the players when they read that they are being dogged at home and I think it may be the extra inspiration the Knicks need to win this game outright.

Los Angeles Clippers do have a very good record against the New York Knicks here, but better versions of their teams have arrived here in recent years. The Knicks have covered in their last six at home and their last four off a loss while the Clippers are 1-7 against the spread in their last eight games.

At the moment I feel the Clippers are a touch over-rated and even a returning Patrick Beverley may need a couple of games to get himself back to full tilt. Taking the points with an underdog who I think can win this one outright has to be the way to go.

Tuesday 21st October
Two blow out wins for the teams I picked made it a very good start to the final NBA Picks thread in November.

There is only the one game scheduled on Tuesday, while there won't be any games played on Thanksgiving Day when the NFL takes centre stage. I do have a pick from the one game to be played on Tuesday.

Chicago Bulls @ Los Angeles Lakers Pick: They may be two of the biggest names in the NBA, but the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls are some way away from the glory days. Both teams have decided to blood some young, talented players, but that has led to some tough results to open the 2017/18 season and neither team looks like one that will be playing in the post-season, as least not this time around.

Out of the two teams, it does feel like the Lakers are a little further along the evolution of creating a strong team than the Chicago Bulls who began their transition this offseason. That has shown up in the early season results, although you can't ignore the fact that inconsistent performances have been the norm for both teams.

The Lakers did win their last game against the Denver Nuggets and they will be feeling better than Chicago who lost at the Phoenix Suns in the opener of another road trip for the young team. There were some positive moments from the Bulls, but they continue to suffer Defensively and that could be a problem for them in this one.

The Bulls are allowing too much room from the field and giving up over 50% in terms of field goals is simply not going to get the job done for Chicago. They have struggled from when it comes to defending the three point shot too, although the Lakers have been erratic from that range and may not be able to exploit those problems as much as they would like.

However I do think the Lakers can enjoy the shooting lanes that they will see in this one while they have been a little stronger than Chicago on the Defensive side of the court. A problem can be the turnovers, but the Lakers should have plenty of success when they are looking after the ball.

Los Angeles also should have an edge on the board with Brook Lopez likely to have the bigger impact than brother Robin Lopez in this game. With the Defensive problems Chicago have been having, losing out on the number of possessions battle with the Lakers is not likely to pay off for them.

The underdog has been barking loudly in recent games in this series with a 19-9 record against the spread in the last twenty-eight. Neither team has been good at the window when it comes to facing teams from the other Conference, but I do like the Los Angeles Lakers as the home favourite in this game.

It can be difficult to trust a young team like the Los Angeles Lakers who won't be used to winning back to back games, but I like them more then current Chicago Bulls team. The Lakers have played more effectively in more games than the Bulls and I will back them to cover the spread here.

Wednesday 22nd November
There won't be any Thanksgiving Day games in the NBA this week, but there is a full schedule on Wednesday after just a sole game was played on Tuesday. It was a good day as the week moves to 3-0, but there is still plenty of time to go in the remaining days of the month and I hope to keep the momentum going.

Brooklyn Nets @ Cleveland Cavaliers Pick: The Cleveland Cavaliers are rolling and coming off what may be the best win they have produced this season when blowing out the Detroit Pistons on the road. There were factors in play with the Pistons having rallied from a big deficit the night before that would have taken away some of the energy from the home team, but the Cavaliers won't care about that as they have produced their fifth win in a row.

It was the most complete performance from the Cleveland Cavaliers and they come into this Wednesday game looking for revenge over the Brooklyn Nets who embarrassed them earlier this season. The Nets might have lost some of the momentum of the early days of the season, but the team remain competitive as they showed when giving the Golden State Warriors all they could handle a couple of days ago.

With a day of rest Brooklyn should be ready to compete, but I do wonder if they can produce another big effort against the other team that played in the NBA Finals in June. The Nets don't tend to be blown out though and that has put me off backing the Cavaliers to cover what is a big number, although I won't oppose a team who I feel are getting on a roll at the moment.

Instead I am looking for the improving Cleveland Defense to show up again and help the two teams finish under the total points line for this game. Immediately I felt this was a lot of points for the teams to combine especially with Cleveland improving on the Defensives side of the court and Brooklyn having a few more issues when it comes to scoring points.

Both teams can get hot from the three point range which has to be a concern when looking to back the 'under' in the total points line. However I think Cleveland have improved Defensively and only one of their last five games have seen them finish over this total line set and even that came in Overtime.

In Brooklyn games there had been six straight games where they would have finished under this total line before their last game against the Golden State Warriors which landed at 229 total points. This series has also produced a 2-7 record in the over-under in the last nine in the series and reads 6-13 in the last nineteen in Cleveland.

I will look for the Cavaliers to make sure this is a game that finishes under the total line with the way they are playing Defensively and that may see Cleveland happy to play a slower game. It is a big total line and I will back the under here.

Golden State Warriors @ Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: The Oklahoma City Thunder lost Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors fifteen months ago, but they have kept hold of Russell Westbrook. This offseason it was decided that the Thunder would try and go all in to bridge the gap to the NBA Champions and they have signed Carmelo Anthony and Paul George to do that.

It has been a learning curve for the Thunder as the trio of star players try and work out how to become comfortable on the court together. That has led to unsurprising inconsistent results and we have seen in the past the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat begin slowly when quickly putting together a team to try and make significant steps.

This is the kind of game where Oklahoma City will really want to show how much better they have become as they face the Golden State Warriors for the first time. The fans will be ready to spit their venom at Kevin Durant again, although Durant is questionable for the game, while you can't underestimate how much the Warriors will want to show they are still the team to beat in the Western Conference.

Regular seasons rarely mean as much as this one will to both teams and I think this could be an intense game. The Warriors have been in good form with only the blowing of a huge lead over the Boston Celtics leading to a loss in the last couple of weeks. Even without Durant there is so much talent in the Golden State rotation which is going to make it very difficult for the Thunder barring Westbrook, George and Anthony suddenly all getting on the same page and producing their best game of the season.

Both teams are actually pretty good Defensively despite the flashy Offensive talent they have. However I do think the Golden State Warriors are the better shooting side with more chemistry on the court between one another, and they also have the energy around the boards to make sure they are not allowing too many second possession points for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Hot three point shooting may also be a factor in this one and the Warriors are better and more consistent from that range. While I do think Oklahoma City can get hot in this one, I do like the Golden State Warriors here and they are 7-0 against the spread in the last seven in the series.

The Warriors are 14-4 against the spread in their last eighteen road games against a team with a winning home record. Oklahoma City are 2-8 against the spread in the last ten games against the Western Conference and I think the Warriors will be looking to make a statement here.

Friday 24th November
Charlotte Hornets @ Cleveland Cavaliers Pick: I have two picks from the NBA on Friday and I will just write a few words about both.

The first is I am looking for the Cleveland Cavaliers to beat the Charlotte Hornets for a second time this season and cover the spread. The game against each other in Charlotte was close, but Cleveland are home and they have been building momentum.

Slow starts have been an issue, but I like the way the Cavaliers keep responding and Charlotte could be without Nicolas Batum. Neither has been a good team to back at home/away respectively, but I will look for the Cavs to cover for the first time at home.

Detroit Pistons @ Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: The Oklahoma City Thunder blew out the Golden State Warriors a couple of days ago, but they have still been a little inconsistent this season and might not be able to produce the same emotional level.

It was a hugely important game for the Thunder and now they take on the Detroit Pistons who have a been a decent underdog to back. The Pistons are capable of making life difficult for their hosts and they are 5-0 against the spread when given 4 or more points this season.

The Thunder have played really well at home, but Detroit are 5-2 against the spread in the last seven and I will take the points and look for the road team to keep this close.

Saturday 25th November
Orlando Magic @ Philadelphia 76ers Pick: It looks like Ben Simmons is going to be missing for a few games for the Philadelphia 76ers which could be an issue for them, but I think there is plenty of confidence in this squad of players to make up for the absence of their revelation.

Even without Simmons, the Philadelphia 76ers should be confident of seeing off the Orlando Magic who have really fallen back since their strong start to the season. Another loss on Friday night means the Magic have lost seven straight games to drop to 8-11, although there have been times they have been competitive and been close to snapping that run.

A third game in four days with the travel is a tough spot for the Orlando Magic and they have struggled on the Defensive side of the court in recent games which has to be an issue for them. It has been highlighted with a few more struggles on the Offensive side of the court and that is a big issue for them against the Philadelphia 76ers even without Simmons.

One area that the 76ers are unlikely to exploit are the struggles Orlando have had in defending the three point line, but I still do think the 76ers are in a good spot to beat the Magic here.

The strength on the rebounding stats is where Philadelphia can take over this game and snap what has been a long poor run against the Magic. Orlando are 25-10 against the spread in the last thirty-five games played in Philadelphia, although I do think the home team are much improved now and look to have gone past Orlando.

The 76ers are 7-0 against the spread in their last seven games played with two days rest between games and I think they can keep the poor Orlando run going.

Boston Celtics @ Indiana Pacers Pick: Both the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers had winning efforts on Friday night, but the edge has to be given to the road team in their Saturday meeting. All credit has to be given to the Indiana Pacers for their recent run which has seen them win five games in a row to move above 0.500, but Victor Oladipo looks set to miss out for them.

Oladipo has been great for the Pacers since coming in from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the off-season in the trade that took Paul George to the Thunder. However he was forced out of the Friday night win over the Toronto Raptors and it looks unlikely that he will be risked to be suited up for this one.

The Celtics are also short-handed for this one with Jaylen Brown set to miss out as he is going to be attending a funeral, but Kyrie Irving and Al Horford have sparked the successes the Boston Celtics have had this season. They bounced back from their sixteen game winning run being snapped by beating the Orlando Magic on Friday night and the Celtics should be confident for this difficult looking trip.

Defensively they continue to make life very difficult for opponents and I think Indiana may have some issues without Oladipo on the court. The Pacers have not played as well Defensively and that should mean the Celtics have the edge in this one, although a lot may come down to how well the Pacers shoot the ball from the three point range.

If they can get hot from that distance, the Celtics could have some issues, but I do think Boston are the superior team and can show that off.

Boston are 4-1 against the spread in the last five meetings between these teams and the favourite has covered five times in a row. Both teams have poor records in the second half of back to back games when it comes to the spread, but I do think the effort Indiana made to beat the Toronto Raptors might have sapped some of the energy and the Boston Celtics have shown they can be very tough all season.

There is no doubt it will be close, but the Boston Celtics can have the edge and I like them to cover the spread.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Dallas Mavericks Pick: Which Oklahoma City Thunder team will turn up on Saturday? I backed the Detroit Pistons on Friday night to cover against the Thunder because of the emotional let down factor that the Thunder may have had following a big win against the Golden State Warriors, but I did not anticipate them losing the game outright.

The Thunder have the chance to make immediate amends when they travel to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night and they should have too much for one of the weakest teams in the NBA.

The Mavericks do come into this one well rested having not played since earlier this week, but the quality of the two teams should come to the fore. Of course it is tough in the second half of a back to back like the Thunder are facing, especially off a close loss, but that should just get them focused for a response.

There is still work for the Oklahoma City Thunder to do as they are trying to find the consistency they want with their new look team. This is the kind of game they should be able to show off the talent they have, but both teams have had their issues on the Offensive side of the court which makes spreads like this one a difficult one for the Thunder to cover.

However the strength in the rebounding numbers should give the Thunder every chance to do that if they can find even a semblance of consistency on the Offensive side. Oklahoma City have played well Defensively which should see them trouble the Dallas Mavericks and I do like the Thunder to produce a rare cover on the road.

The favourite is 5-2 against the spread in the last seven in this series, while Dallas are just 3-10 against the spread in their last thirteen at home. The Oklahoma City Thunder have some poor numbers of their own, but I do like them to bounce back and cover the number in this one.

Sunday 26th November
Saturday proved to be a good day for the NBA Picks thanks to the Boston Celtics making a big comeback in the second half to knock off the Indiana Pacers. There aren't as many games on Sunday, but I do have one pick from the games that have been scheduled.

Miami Heat @ Chicago Bulls Pick: The Miami Heat have won back to back games to move back to 0.500 but they will be looking to get back into a winning record when they visit the struggling Chicago Bulls.

The one concern for the Heat has to be the distraction of visiting the Cleveland Cavaliers in their next game, but Miami are not really good enough to take a day off against any team. They have been able to remain focused against good teams like the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves, but it is a different challenge when facing a team who have struggled as much as the Chicago Bulls have.

A four game road trip came to an end for the Bulls who have suffered a couple of blow out losses in that time as a young team tries to find their way. The Bulls have had some major issues Defensively which Miami can exploit, while they haven't got the 'go to' scorer on the Offensive side to at least stay with teams when they do begin to have their problems.

The Heat will have the edge when it comes to the rebounding numbers and I think they are the superior team and expect that to show up here. Miami have a strong 6-3 record against the spread when they have played on the road this season and I think they can extend that.

Miami are also 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games against the Chicago Bulls. They have also covered in their last five visits to the Chicago Bulls and Miami have been a very strong team to back on the road in recent months.

It is a big number for any road team, but the Heat can do enough to get over it and I will look for them to win and cover.

Monday 27th November
Orlando Magic @ Indiana Pacers Pick: The Indiana Pacers may be playing better than expected when they lost Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but they were given an idea as to how far they are from the very best teams when beaten by the Boston Celtics last time out. They had a big lead in that game before the Celtics rallied, but the absence of Victor Oladipo didn't help and it looks like he will be out again.

Fortunately for the Pacers they are not playing one of the elite teams in the NBA on Monday. Instead the Pacers host the Orlando Magic who have lost their last eight games in a row and who are concluding a road trip in which they have taken some big hits.

Fatigue has to be a factor for the Magic having played three straight road games and this being the fourth in the space of six days. It doesn't help the physical issues the players will be having when they have lost all of those games and I think that plays a part in this one even if Indiana are short-handed without Oladipo.

The major problems Orlando have been having are on the Defensive side of the court and the Pacers are playing well enough to be the latest to take advantage. Orlando have given up 120 points per game in their last five games and they are having some real issues stopping teams from getting what they want from the field and I expect the Pacers to do their damage from inside and outside the three point line.

Those Defensive struggles has put pressure on Orlando on the other side of the court and they have yet to respond in the right way. With the Pacers likely to have the edge on the boards too, I do think they are going to be a little too good for their visitors here.

Indiana are now 18-5 against the spread in the last twenty-three against Orlando and they are 6-1 against the spread in the last seven at home against them. The favourite is also 10-2 against the spread in the last twelve in this series which are all pointing to the Pacers here.

The Pacers are also 22-6 against the spread in their last twenty-eight games following a double digit loss at home and I like Indiana to win and cover against Orlando here.

Detroit Pistons @ Boston Celtics Pick: Usually a team who sees a long winning run snapped will have a few games trying to refocus, but that has not been the case for the Boston Celtics. They had won sixteen in a row after opening the season 0-2, but the Celtics have bounced back from the loss to the Miami Heat by winning back to back games.

They now host one of the more surprising teams in the NBA this season when taking on the Detroit Pistons who have thrived as a road underdog for much of the 2017/18 campaign. The Pistons have been particularly effective when they have taken on a team with a winning record and they are 4-0 against the spread in those games on the road so far this season which are some impressive numbers.

It is the main reason the Pistons have been able to secure a 12-6 record early in the season and they certainly look like a team that could be a pain to deal with in the Play Offs. Stan Van Gundy won't be looking that far ahead in a year in which he has to deliver, and the Head Coach also has to be looking for Detroit to have a much better performance against one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference in this one.

Last week they were blown away by the Cleveland Cavaliers at home, but the Boston Celtics may be even better at the moment. Defensively the Celtics may be amongst the best in the NBA and they are going to make it difficult for a Detroit team who can be inconsistent shooting the ball, although the big battle will come from the three point range where the Pistons have been strong, but the Celtics have been very good Defensively too.

I expect Boston to find a bit more room Offensively with Kyrie Irving showing why Boston gave up so much to trade for him from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving is thriving as the main player on the Celtics roster and Jaylen Brown should be back in the rotation too.

Both teams have been money at the betting window this season, while the concern for Boston has to be some of the slow starts they have made before turning things around. However I do think Detroit may not have enough Offensively to pull away from the Celtics and that gives Boston every chance to make another big second half run to help them cover the spread in this game.

Detroit do have a strong recent record against the spread in Boston, but I will look for the Celtics to get the better of them here.

Tuesday 28th November
Miami Heat @ Cleveland Cavaliers Pick: There are a couple of big trends which makes it a concern to back the Cleveland Cavaliers to continue what has been a strong run of form. They have not had the best time covering the spread in the second of back to back games, while the Cavaliers have yet to cover in ten home games this season where they are 0-9-1 against the spread.

In fact Cleveland's poor record at the window at home stretches back a lot further, but I do think the Cavaliers have found some momentum and I want to back them once again this month. They host the Miami Heat on Tuesday in what should be a good game with the Heat improving in recent games too, but the Cavaliers are off a blow out of the Philadelphia 76ers and I think that should mean a rested team is able to take the court.

The Heat have to be respected as a team who have won their last three games against Cleveland and their last three overall heading into this one. That run began with a win over the Boston Celtics and Miami have to feel confident they can beat the other big team in the Eastern Conference which will only increase the belief in the players that they are heading in the right direction.

Both teams have really improved Defensively which has improved their fortunes in recent games. The key to the outcome of this one may be the superior performances Cleveland have had when moving teams off the three point arc, while their own three point shooting has been working very efficiently of late.

Miami have been shooting the three ball well, and they take plenty of their shots from that range, but the outcome of this one may be determined by how well the Cavaliers can get out there and defend that shot. The Heat do have a slight edge on the boards which can make up for an under-par performance from the three point arc, but the Cavaliers will live with that if they can take Miami out of their comfort zone.

I do really like the way the Cavaliers have been playing of late, and I do think they are capable of winning and covering here. The home team is 10-2 against the spread in the last twelve in this series and Miami are 1-5 against the spread in their last six visits to Cleveland.

The Heat are also 2-10-1 against the spread in their last thirteen games against teams from the Eastern Conference and I like Cleveland to win and cover here.

Denver Nuggets @ Utah Jazz Pick: The Western Conference is going to be a tough one to break into the Play Offs with so many quality teams throughout to make it difficult to pick a top eight. There are a few teams you would expect to be there like the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, but I think the bottom half of the Play Offs will be a little tougher to determine.

Both the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz will have Play Off ambitions at least and these are two teams that may end up being very close in the final standings.

Inconsistent results have bothered the Denver Nuggets who have been as good at home as they have been as disappointing on the road. On the other hand the Utah Jazz have just begun to find some chemistry on the court, even in the absence of Rudy Gobart, and three wins in four games have got them moving a little closer to getting back up to 0.500.

You can see the issues Denver have had with their average points per game and points per game allowed both trending in negative directions on the road compared with their season average. Now they have to face a Utah team who are looking like one that is improving Defensively and finding an Offensive groove which is not a good look for a Nuggets team who have given up over 50% shooting from the field over their last five games.

The Jazz have been hitting the three point shot very effectively and that may be the reason they are able to win this one on Tuesday. It is all about efficiency from the field for the Jazz though as they are going to be facing a Denver team that may dominate the glass to produce second chance points, but I do think Utah are playing well enough on both ends of the court to do that.

Utah are 8-4 against the spread at home and Denver are 2-7 against the spread on the road. The two teams are 3-2 and 1-4 respectively when facing a team with a winning/losing record at home/road so far this season too.

I also like the fact that Utah have a dominant 7-1 record against the spread in their last eight at home against Denver. The favourite is 11-1 against the spread in the last twelve in the series and I am going to back the Jazz to make it three wins in a row overall.

Wednesday 29th November
Charlotte Hornets @ Toronto Raptors Pick: The NBA season has been spread out a bit more in the 2017/18 season to ensure teams and players are given enough rest between games in the regular season. The decision to reduce the number of back to back games has been important for teams, and the Charlotte Hornets will underline that having been blown out by the San Antonio Spurs the day after coming within a point of breaking the Cleveland Cavaliers winning run.

Tiredness and fatigue was an issue for the Hornets that day, but they have had three full days of rest between the last games with the Spurs and this one in Toronto.

Charlotte will be hoping that has given Kemba Walker enough time to get over a shoulder issue and the expectation is that he will suit up for this one. Walker is a key for the Hornets against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, especially as the Toronto Raptors have also been given three full days of rest between games and should have DeMar DeRozan available.

The Raptors are off a blow out win over the Atlanta Hawks which has given them the opportunity to rest their starters. The additional three days between that game and this one should mean Toronto are ready to go as they begin their latest home stand, and I do understand why the Raptors are favoured to win this one.

Defensively they have been performing at a high level and this Hornets team have been a little inconsistent shooting the ball. Walker and Dwight Howard are big weapons, but the Raptors will feel they can play the Defense to limit the damage, although it does have to be said that Charlotte's Defensive play is a little under-rated.

I do expect the Hornets to get the better of the rebounding numbers and that can help them keep this close as long as they don't allow Toronto to make a really quick start. Battling them on the boards should provide Charlotte the chance for extra possessions and they should be able to make those count.

Charlotte are 13-4 against the spread in the last seventeen games in Toronto although my concern in recent weeks is their poor record on the road at the betting window. However the Hornets haven't been given this many points in too many games and they were only 5 point underdogs when they visited Cleveland last week which makes me feel this is an inflated number.

Jeremy Lamb likely missing this game has contributed to the number of points the Hornets are getting, but it still feels like too many and I will back Charlotte here.

Memphis Grizzlies @ San Antonio Spurs Pick: David Fizdale has made some big decisions as the Memphis Grizzlies Head Coach with the team moving away from their traditional strengths into a more free-flowing basketball team. For the most part Fizdale had been well supported, but the fall out with Marc Gasol, one of the best players on the Memphis Grizzlies, ended his tenure as Head Coach.

Fizdale decided to sit Gasol through the last eighteen minutes of the loss to the Brooklyn Nets and it was a decision that did not go down well with the All-Star Spaniard. The front office clearly got the message from Gasol and Fizdale was fired a day later.

No one can deny it has been a difficult period for the Memphis Grizzlies who have lost their last eight games in a row and a visit to the San Antonio Spurs can't come at a much worse time. It is actually a home and home series with the Spurs coming up and this is a team who are getting healthier with Tony Parker back in the rotation.

San Antonio have been shooting the ball efficiently enough without Parker, but the veteran Point Guard may just make things a little easier for the Spurs. The absence of Rudy Gay could be a blow, but San Antonio look like they should have their way from the field and could be very effective from the three point range.

That is a big problem for the Memphis Grizzlies who have been struggling with their own Offense and averaging under 90 points per game in their last five games. Inefficient shooting and struggles on the glass are not going to be eased with a game against the Spurs and I think the home team are going to be able to dominate this one.

The Spurs have been very good against the spread as the home team this season while they are 5-2 against the spread in the last seven against Memphis at home. San Antonio are also 8-2 against the spread in their last ten games against a team with a losing record on the road.

There are also some really poor trends going against the Memphis Grizzlies including being 3-13 against the spread in their last sixteen games and going 7-18-1 against the spread in their last twenty-six following a double digit loss at home. The firing of Fizdale may just extract a big performance from the players, but it looks a big task for them and I think the San Antonio Spurs can get the better of a big spread.

Thursday 30th November
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Atlanta Hawks Pick: The only negative from the Cleveland Cavaliers latest blow out win in their current nine game winning run was seeing LeBron James ejected for the first time in his career. James was not very happy with the call to throw him out of the game either when it happened or in the cold light of day, and an angry LeBron James does not normally mean good news for his opponents.

There won't be a suspension so James will be ready to go on Thursday as the Cavaliers play for a third time in four days. However the bonus of having a blow out in hand by the Fourth Quarter is that the starters receive plenty of rest and that should set Cleveland up for another big performance here.

They face the Atlanta Hawks who look like one of the weakest teams in the NBA as they continue the transition of the franchise. The Hawks have lost four of their last five games and they were blown out by the Toronto Raptors in their last game here, while the Cleveland Cavaliers have to be playing with some revenge on their minds having lost a home game to Atlanta earlier this season.

It does look the Cavaliers match up pretty well with the Atlanta Hawks in this game with the Hawks really struggling on the Defensive side of the court. A highly confident Cleveland team won't have too many issues exploiting that if they come out as hot as they did against Miami a couple of days ago, while the Cavaliers continue bringing the intensity on the Defensive side of the court which is helping them pull away from opponents.

Difficulty defending the three point arc is not helped by the fact that Atlanta have lost some intensity on the boards and I think Cleveland will prove to be too good on the day and can record yet another double digit win.

The Cavaliers have been a much better team to back on the road than they have at home so far this season, while they are 5-2 against the spread in the last seven in Atlanta. Cleveland are now 15-5-1 against the spread in their last twenty-one road games, while the Hawks have some poor numbers going against them when facing teams with strong winning records like the Cavaliers have.

It does look a number that could be problematic if Cleveland are not focused, but an angry LeBron James can guid them to win ten in a row and cover this number.

Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Clippers Pick: The Los Angeles Clippers have been inconsistent this season since deciding to trade Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets, but the second of their 'Big Three' from last season will now be missing for a few weeks. Blake Griffin went down with a knee injury and that leaves the Clippers without their top scorer in the tough Western Conference.

They are hosting the Utah Jazz who have been in good form at home but yet to take that onto the road. They have also suffered some key injuries, but the Jazz have found a way to bounce back from that and set their team up in a way to cover for those.

After blowing out the Denver Nuggets at home, Utah should be well rested in this one and I think they can take advantage of the issues the Clippers are having. The Jazz have really picked up their play on the Defensive side of the court which is going to make life tough for the Clippers without their top scorer, while the Jazz have been really good shooting the ball in recent games that can give them the edge in this one.

Utah are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games in Los Angeles and the road team is now 6-2 against the spread in the last eight in this series. My one concern is that Utah have not been as strong on the road as they have been at home, but Los Angeles have struggled in their home games too and I will look for the Jazz to win as the favourite on Thursday.

MY PICKS: 20/11 Cleveland Cavaliers - 2 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
20/11 New York Knicks + 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
21/11 Los Angeles Lakers - 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
22/11 Cleveland Cavaliers-Brooklyn Nets Under 228.5 Total Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
22/11 Golden State Warriors - 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
24/11 Cleveland Cavaliers - 5 Points @ 1.95 BoyleSports (1 Unit)
24/11 Detroit Pistons + 8 Points @ 1.95 BoyleSports (1 Unit)
25/11 Philadelphia 76ers - 5 Points @ 1.95 William Hill (1 Unit)
25/11 Boston Celtics - 3 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
25/11 Oklahoma City Thunder - 6 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
26/11 Miami Heat - 6 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
27/11 Indiana Pacers - 3 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
27/11 Boston Celtics - 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
28/11 Cleveland Cavaliers - 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
28/11 Utah Jazz - 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
29/11 Charlotte Hornets + 8 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
29/11 San Antonio Spurs - 8 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
30/11 Cleveland Cavaliers - 7.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
30/11 Utah Jazz - 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

November 20-30 Update: 13-6, + 5.91 Units (19 Units Staked, + 31.06% Yield)

November 13-19 Final: 6-5, + 0.46 Units (11 Units Staked, + 4.18% Yield)
November 6-12 Final: 5-4, + 0.55 Units (9 Units Staked, + 6.11% Yield)
November 1-5 Final: 2-0, + 1.82 Units (2 Units Staked, + 91% Yield)

October Final: 12-10, + 1.05 Units (22 Units Staked, + 4.77% Yield)

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