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Monday, 6 November 2017

NBA Picks November 2017 (November 6-12)

The NBA has moved through another week as the opening of the season continues to fly under the radar.

The biggest story over the last week has to be the struggles of the Cleveland Cavaliers who have had issues out of the gate and don't look as strong as they were a few months ago when Kyrie Irving was still in the locker room. It is far too early to have any kind of panic about the chances of the Cavaliers to improve though as they are trying to build some chemistry with the new players that have arrived and no prizes are handed out in mid-November.

However I do think the Cavaliers have failed to bridge the gap to the Golden State Warriors and I would be worried, if I was a fan, that this is the last season LeBron James will play with his home town team. James has given a title to the franchise which will mean he has accomplished what he wanted, but I am not sure the ageing Cavaliers team is going to give him another and that is what James is playing for these days.

The Eastern Conference looks like it has some contenders that could challenge the Cavaliers, but at the moment the Warriors look to be a step ahead of them and the biggest obstacles for Golden State remain in the Western Conference.

The NBA Picks have made a solid start to the season, but it can be a little up and down at this point and the key is to continue to avoid the really poor weeks. Last week I only had the two picks which both returned as winners and hopefully this week will be a positive one too.

Monday 6th November
Boston Celtics @ Atlanta Hawks Pick: Both the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks were involved in winning efforts on Sunday although it is the Celtics who look like one of the superior teams in the Eastern Conference. The same can't be said for the Atlanta Hawks who have to show they can back up an impressive win on Sunday when they held off the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road.

Automatically you have to wonder about the spot for Atlanta who have a team that is in rebuilding mode and who are off an emotional win like they managed on Sunday. Snapping an eight game losing run will have been important for the Hawks but backing that up against one of the other top teams in the Eastern Conference would be a challenge for most teams on a back to back.

The Celtics are also playing on back to back nights, but they had a much easier day in the office as they dismissed the Orlando Magic. Some of the starters would have gotten more rest than anticipated with the manner of the win and the Boston Celtics have won eight in a row thanks to some strong Defense.

It will be the Defensive side of the court where Boston can really begin to pull away in this one as Atlanta have simply not been as strong when it comes to stopping teams. The Hawks are a team that can score points, but it is a challenge when you are constantly trying to keep up with an opponent and especially one playing the kind of basketball Boston have been.

The superior three point shooting and what should be a clear dominance on the boards should mean Boston have the edge in this one and I think they can produce a double digit win on the road.

Atlanta may have a 4-1 record against the spread in the last five in the series, but this team is not as good as recent editions have been. The Celtics have not been at their best when it comes to playing in back to back situations but I do think Boston can find a way to get the best out of the Hawks in this one and I will look for them to cover on the road.

Tuesday 7th November
Milwaukee Bucks @ Cleveland Cavaliers Pick: The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a disastrous start to the new season, at least relatively to the standards that LeBron James has set for this team since returning home. James has been back on social media to underline his 'mood' at the moment as Kyrie Irving continues to thrive with the Boston Celtics, but the Cavaliers have got to get on the same page and start producing some consistency on the court.

At the moment they all seem to be singing from different hymn sheets and that has seen Dwyane Wade criticise the starters as Cleveland continue to open games with a lack of motivation or urgency. That was a problem in the latest loss to the lowly Atlanta Hawks and it all adds up to making the Cavaliers a hard team to trust.

I have been fortunate to avoid backing them to win and cover a game this season with the sole Cleveland game I have picked from coming back as a winner as I took their opponent as the underdog. That is not the case here as I think the Cavaliers could be in a mood to win this game by a big enough number to cover the spread.

They are facing a Milwaukee Bucks team who have had their own early season troubles which has seen them move into the trade market as they look set to bring in Eric Bledsoe from the Phoenix Suns. That will see Greg Monroe move on, although Bledsoe is not going to be available for this game as the Bucks look for a measure of revenge having been crushed at home by Cleveland earlier this season.

Both Cleveland and Milwaukee have really struggled on the Defensive side of the court and this has all the makings of a high scoring game. It might not reach the total points line that has been set by the oddsmakers, but you have to think the teams will be dominant on the Offensive side of this one.

The ability the Bucks have on the three point arc has to be a concern for the home team as the Cleveland Defense has not been able to shut down teams from outside the arc. That is a problem for the Cavaliers, but I think the starters will make a much better start than they have in recent games.

Cleveland have covered in four of the last six games against Milwaukee. The Bucks are also 1-8 against the spread in their last nine games when playing with three days rest between games and they could struggle here considering their own recent lack of form.

The Cavaliers have a terrible home record against the numbers in recent games here, but I will look for a rare cover as they try and turn around their early season struggles.

Los Angeles Clippers @ San Antonio Spurs Pick: The San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers have made inconsistent starts to the season but at the moment it looks to be the Spurs on the rise and the Clippers on the decline. This season was always going to be a transitional one for the Clippers with the likes of Chris Paul and JJ Redick moved on as they looked to have taken a step back in the Western Conference.

For the Spurs the early season struggles can't be as much of a surprise as it may be for people looking in as both Tony Parker and, more importantly, Kahwi Leonard are absent. Both of those players are expected to miss a few more games, but the Spurs snapped a four game losing run to knock off Charlotte and Phoenix in their last couple of games.

No will be mistaking those two teams for being amongst the elite in the NBA, but the Clippers have fallen in four of their last five games. This is now the start of a tough stretch on the road and losses to the likes of the Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat does not bode well for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Both teams have had their issues Offensively, but they could find a few more avenues in a game against this opposition. While both Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers will work on the Defensive side of the court, the Spurs and Clippers have yet to really show complete dominance there.

San Antonio could have the edge in this one with their superior shooting from outside the three point line especially if that means that can cover some of the rebounding problems they have been having. The Spurs have also looked after the ball better than the Clippers and the potential extra possessions as well as shooting ability from outside the three point line could prove to be the key for San Antonio to make it three wins in a row.

Gregg Popovich's team are now 4-0 against the spread when favoured by less than 5 points this season. The Spurs are also 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games following a straight up win and I think they can snap a recent poor home record against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Wednesday 8th November
Tuesday was a good day with both NBA Picks coming back as winners to get this week back into a positive position. On Wednesday I have another two Picks which look worth backing to hopefully keep the momentum going.

Indiana Pacers @ Detroit Pistons Pick: One of the more surprising teams over the first few weeks of the new season are the Detroit Pistons, although I am not sure how good they actually are. While they have recorded some big wins, the Pistons have to start showing they are capable of knocking off those teams they should be beating to prove they are a Play Off team in the making in the Eastern Conference.

It is a wide open Conference outside of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics and Stan Van Gundy has to believe his team are capable of a top eight finish at the minimum. Anything less may cost the Head Coach his job but so far the Pistons look to be on the same page with the disfunction in recent years effectively holding them back from reaching their full potential.

The Pistons are a big favourite on Wednesday to beat the Indiana Pacers who blew a lead in the Third Quarter of their eventual home loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday. Playing a back to back is tough for a Pacers team who are in transition having traded away Paul George during the off-season.

Indiana made a decent start to the new season, but they have lost three in a row to drop under 0.500 and they have just hit a wall Defensively which has to be a concern. They will be challenged on that side of the court by a Detroit team who have been efficient in the field and have been shooting the ball efficiently from the three point range too.

It should be the Detroit Pistons who are the superior team on the boards and they are well rested to get the better of the Indiana Pacers who have dominated the recent series.

The Pacers have covered in the last six in the series between these teams, although the home team is 5-2 agains the spread in the last seven. The concern for the Pacers has to be the poor 6-13-1 record against the spread in their last twenty games playing a back to back.

You should note that Detroit have not been used to covering such big numbers as they have yet to be favoured by 4 or more points this season. However they have some strong numbers and I will look for the Pistons to get the better of a tired Indiana team in the second half which should allow them to pull away for the cover.

New York Knicks @ Orlando Magic Pick: There wasn't a lot of expectation for the New York Knicks or the Orlando Magic in the 2017/18 season, but both have made surprising starts. How many would have tipped up the New York Knicks and the Orlando Magic to both enter this game with a 6-4 record? The players might have been the only ones, but no one is getting carried away with a long regular season still to be played.

The Knicks really have surprised the most as they have bounced back from a couple of blow out losses in a 0-3 start to win six of their last seven games including three in a row. They were in action on Tuesday night, which may be a concern considering the effort the Knicks put in to overcome the Charlotte Hornets in the Fourth Quarter.

That is different to the Orlando Magic who have had a couple of days of rest since losing back to back games. However that has not allowed the likes of DJ Augustin and Elfrid Payton to recover from injuries and both are expected to sit in this one which means Orlando's depth at Point Guard is compromised for this game.

Augustin is likely to be sitting out his third game in a row and the Magic have not scored more than 88 points in their last couple of games. Now they have to face a New York Knicks team who have shown better Defensively than many expected from this team and that could be a key in helping New York win a fourth game in a row.

On the other side of the court the New York Knicks have been very efficient shooting the ball and they should be able to take advantage of some of the issues that Orlando are having. The size of the Knicks should also give them a chance to dominate the boards and there is every chance the road team can win this one outright.

Orlando have some really poor numbers against the spread including going 8-21-1 against the spread in their last thirty home games against a team with a losing record at home. The Magic are 0-2 against the spread as the favourite this season and they are 1-7 against the spread in their last eight when having at least two days rest between games.

The Knicks may not have great numbers when playing on a back to back, but they have been money in their last seven games and I will take the points in this one.

Thursday 9th November
I made my NBA Picks from the Wednesday games early in the day before the news that Kristaps Porzingis was not going to play for the New York Knicks. They were beaten by 13 points on the night, but the absence of Porzingis did make a big difference and it would not have been a Pick I would have made if having an inkling he would be out.

That can be a problem when making NBA Picks early in the day, but you have to take the rough with the smooth as I got a solid number on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday which came back as a winner compared with a push to the closing line.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Houston Rockets Pick: There will be a more positive feeling around the Cleveland Cavaliers having won their last game against the Milwaukee Bucks, but there will be more expected from them. Being under 0.500 in November is not a concern for the top teams who want to be playing their best basketball in May, but the Cavaliers have had some big questions to answer with the new players arriving yet to have the kind of impact that was expected of them.

After beating the Milwaukee Bucks a couple of nights ago in another high-scoring game, the Cleveland Cavaliers still have some real work to do on the Defensive side of the court. Now they are facing the Houston Rockets who have won eight of their opening eleven games and have continued to produce strong numbers Offensively even without Chris Paul.

Paul is expected back sooner rather than later, but for now James Harden will look to continue putting the team on his back after a huge performance in the win over Utah Jazz. That has helped the Rockets to three straight wins and Houston have scored at least 119 points in each of those wins which will not be offering a lot of encouragement for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It looks like a game where both Houston and Cleveland should have plenty of success Offensively and that should mean another fun game for the fans with a lot of points being scored. Neither team has really shown they can knuckle down completely on the Defensive side of the court, although at the moment it is the Rockets who have made a few more plays.

The Rockets have the edge when it comes to the boards and their superior shooting from the three point range could be a key. That is still an area in which Cleveland have struggled to work out when it comes to defending the three point shot and Harden and Eric Gordon could be part of a barrage of threes in this one.

One of the other issues Cleveland have had is their poor starts and making a poor one in Houston could be very tough to recover from. The Rockets are 10-2 against the spread in their last twelve home games against Cleveland and Houston have also covered in their last five games when having at least three days rest between games.

I have to respect the fact that the Cavaliers have covered in both games as an underdog this season and both of those came on the road. However there is still work to be done here and Houston have the Offensive power to highlight that and I will be looking for the Rockets to cover this number too.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Denver Nuggets Pick: It has been clear in recent years with the emergence of the 'super team' in the NBA that it can take top players time to really understand their place on the court with one another. That has to be part of the reason the Oklahoma City Thunder have had a difficult start to the new season as they are trying to gel not one, but two new big name players into their starting line up.

Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook are finding a way to get their shots, but this is all a learning curve for the three players as they look to get on the same page. None of the three are worrying about a losing record at this moment in time, but they do recognise the work that needs to be done to ensure the Thunder are successful and capable of challenging the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference.

Three losses in a row and all as the favourite, in some cases a big favourite, makes it hard to see why the Thunder are being favoured to win here in Denver. The Denver Nuggets have always had a strong home advantage thanks to playing in the altitude they do, and they have won three of their last four games which means they should be a confident team going into the game.

A few problems in Defensive situations in recent games, despite the winning, has to be a concern for the Denver Nuggets and certainly gives the Oklahoma City Thunder a chance of the win on the road. However it should also be noted that Denver have been much better Offensively than the Thunder and it will come down to which team can impose their style on the other.

The rebounding battles should be a lot of fun to watch with both teams capable of dominating the boards when they get going while both teams try plenty of three pointers which could lead to a high scoring game. My problem with that is that neither team has shown the efficiency from that range that they would have liked and I am going to go against the trend and look for the total points line to fail to be surpassed.

The Thunder might not be winning games, but they have had more problems Offensively than Defensively. In fact they've been one of the better Defensive teams with the speed of Westbrook going with the athleticism of George and they may look to their Defensive plays to spark what has been a struggled Offense.

Both teams tend to be rated quite highly when it comes to the Offensive side of the court and these struggles have seen them go a combined 6-15 in the over/under total. The Thunder are 1-5 over/under so far this season in their road games and the under is 14-3 in the last seventeen games Oklahoma City have played with just a day of rest between games.

Western Conference games tend to have high total points lines and Denver have seen the under go 7-1 in the last eight against opponents from the West. With the Thunder just having some struggles Offensively and playing well enough Defensively, I will back under the total points here.

Friday 10th November
Milwaukee Bucks @ San Antonio Spurs Pick: There are still some things that the San Antonio Spurs want to work on, especially on the Defensive side of the court, but they will be pleased to be on a three game winning run during this six game home stand. The Spurs dropped the first of those six games, but they will be a favourite to win the remaining two games to make it five straight wins.

The San Antonio Spurs host the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday as the road team search for a better Defensive effort of their own. While the Spurs have managed to overcome some of the issues they have had to produce the wins, the Milwaukee Bucks have lost four in a row as they look to conclude a four game road trip on Friday.

Milwaukee have given up at least 105 points in their last five games and that is a tough number to overcome when having the pressure to try and keep up with opponents. The Spurs have also allowed triple digits in four of their last five games which has the players looking to improve on the Defensive side of the court, although the return of Kahwi Leonard will give San Antonio a big boost in that department.

Unfortunately there is no telling when Leonard is expected back and Tony Parker is also ruled out for this one. That didn't stop San Antonio scoring at will in their last game against the Los Angeles Clippers and they should be able to find plenty of shooting holes in the Milwaukee Defense.

I also am expecting the Bucks to have their successes Offensively which should see them trouble San Antonio, but I have to wonder if the players are just looking forward to getting home after a difficult road trip. Eric Bledsoe has been traded from the Phoenix Suns to offer Milwaukee more ammunition for this game, but he will need his time to get used to the rhythm of the new team mates he is going to have to join.

San Antonio should be the better team when it comes to at least restricting the damage from the three point line too. The bench should provide the Spurs a boost and this is a team who are 5-1 against the spread at home so far this season. The Spurs are also 7-3 against the spread in the last ten in this series and should have a little more motivation in the spot with Milwaukee looking forward to heading home after this game.

The Bucks are 2-6 against the spread in the last eight games on the road against a team with a winning record at home and I will look for the Spurs to win and cover this one.

Orlando Magic @ Phoenix Suns Pick: The Orlando Magic snapped a two game losing run and much of that was down to the return of Elfrid Payton to give them a focal point for the Offensive unit. Payton was dominant in the win over the shorthanded New York Knicks and really sparked the Orlando Magic who had been struggling to find an Offensive groove in back to back losses to the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics.

There is every chance the Magic can get this Western Conference road trip off to a strong start as they get set to face the Phoenix Suns on Friday. The Suns have lost four games in a row and they have really had problems Defensively which has made it tough for a young team to keep up with opponents.

Eric Bledsoe has moved to the Milwaukee Bucks and while the Suns have gotten some Defensive help through Greg Monroe coming their way, the big man is still dealing with a calf injury and not expected to play on Friday. A young team has struggled for the consistency required on the Offensive side of the court, although Phoenix may have more shooting lanes against the Orlando Magic who have had their own issues on the Defensive side of the court.

However the consistency of the shooting from the Magic, especially with Payton back to run the Offense, should mean Orlando have a chance for a road win here. The Suns have to show a little more dominance on the boards to try and keep this game a little closer as earning second chance points could be the key for them, but it looks a tough game for Phoenix all around.

I am not a big fan of taking the Orlando Magic as the favourite, especially not on the road. They were just 1-3 against the spread in that spot last season, but Orlando are 5-1 against the spread in their last six visits to Phoenix.

The home team have been struggling but they have been a solid home underdog against the spread. It does make the Suns a hard team to oppose here, but they have been beaten by Brooklyn and Miami in their last two home games and Orlando are shooting the ball well enough to win and cover.

MY PICKS: 06/11 Boston Celtics - 8 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
07/11 Cleveland Cavaliers - 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
07/11 San Antonio Spurs - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
08/11 Detroit Pistons - 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
08/11 New York Knicks + 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
09/11 Houston Rockets - 5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
09/11 Denver-Oklahoma City Under 215.5 Total Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
10/11 San Antonio Spurs - 5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
10/11 Orlando Magic - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

November 6-12 Update: 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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