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Monday, 12 November 2018

NBA Picks November 2018 (November 12-18)

The NBA season continues and this remains a time of the season when the League flies under the radar with the bigger headlines saved for the NFL and College Football regular seasons which are much closer to a conclusion.

One trade that has garnered some big headlines for the NBA was the Philadelphia 76ers move for Jimmy Butler to place alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. It is a bold move from the 76ers to sign Butler while trading away some good pieces of the roster to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but they felt it was a necessary one to add another strong component to the roster and create their own version of a 'Big Three'.

Jimmy Butler comes back to the Eastern Conference and joins a leading contender to make the NBA Finals, although I am not sure the 76ers have the depth to beat the Boston Celtics in a best of seven series. The Celtics handled Philadelphia pretty easily in the Play Offs without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward and they remain my favourites in the Eastern Conference with my expectation being we will see some of the best basketball much later in the regular season.

The 76ers could be improved as far as the starting unit goes, but I do think they have lost some depth and that can be critical in the Play Offs as Boston showed last season. The next three months is going to be important for Philadelphia to find some consistency and chemistry with Butler alongside Simmons and Embiid, while Butler has something to prove too with a stain on his character with how he forced his move out of Minnesota.

The Timberwolves were not likely to be a Western Conference contender, but I think they could have brought in some key players who can help them reach back to back Play Offs. That would constitute a success for the team, but Tom Thibodeau's seat must be feeling much warmer at Minnesota and I can see a Coaching move made next summer barring Minnesota somehow making the Western Conference Semi Finals.

Monday 12th November
Utah Jazz @ Memphis Grizzlies Pick: These teams are already meeting for the third time in the 2018/19 season and the Memphis Grizzlies have put up two road wins in visits to the Utah Jazz. They get to host the third game of the series between these teams and the Grizzlies have won every game played at home this season which will give them confidence to produce another upset against one of the better teams in the Western Conference.

It has been a much more positive start for the Grizzlies this season compared with last when they were decimated by injuries, and the return of Mike Conley along with Marc Gasol has given the team a veteran boost. Conley in particular has looked much more like his old self and Memphis will believe they can go as far as the Point Guard can take them.

The Grizzlies have won back to back games and both of those have come at home where they have shown they are a superior shooting team. Their three point shooting has been more effective in home surroundings and much of the successes Memphis have had this season is down to being very careful with the ball.

They will need to do the same against the Utah Jazz who have been a little better on the road than at home which is a big surprise. The Jazz have the size to really give Memphis some difficulties on the glass and that has happened in the first two games with the Grizzlies being out-rebounded, but Utah will want to be a little more efficient shooting the ball.

Utah have snapped a four game losing run by winning back to back home games before heading back out on the road. That will inspire the players and having double revenge on their minds could also be a motivating factor.

However it does feel that Memphis match up well with the Jazz with their Defensive performances being very important. The Grizzlies are also 6-1 against the spread in the last seven of this series while they have also covered in their last eight home games as well as going 8-3 against the spread in the last eleven when hosting a team with a winning record on the road.

The Jazz are a very good team, but this feels like a Defensive game and I will take the points with the home underdog.

Golden State Warriors @ Los Angeles Clippers Pick: Injuries are hurting the Golden State Warriors but this is a team that can cope without a couple of their star players as they proved in a comfortable win over the Brooklyn Nets last time out. The standard of opposition is someway higher in this game when they head to the Staples Center to take on the Los Angeles Clippers, and the home team will also be highly motivated to give their fans something to cheer in a time where California wildfires are causing huge amounts of damage nearby.

It can be difficult for teams to concentrate when outside factors like these fires are having such a profound effect on the community at large. As much as we want to say sports can distract the minds for a couple of hours, the Clippers are likely to have friends and possibly homes in the Malibu area which have seen the community devastated by events outside of their control.

The Clippers showed toughness and real grit to overcome the Milwaukee Bucks in Overtime on Saturday and they have moved two games clear of 0.500. They will be looking to keep the momentum behind them as they take on the favourites in the Western Conference and no one associated with the Clippers will really believe the Warriors are so weakened even with Draymond Green and Steph Curry expected to sit out.

At the end of the day the Warriors still have Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in their starting line up and Golden State will be greatly encouraged by the performance of Quinn Clark in the win over the Brooklyn Nets. Clark is going to get more minutes in the absence of Curry and his team-mates are convinced he can fill in for an All-Star which shows how highly he is rated.

The Warriors are not too concerned by how things are going Offensively even without Curry, but the Defensive side of the court has not really see them play up to the standards they have set. Steve Kerr will be looking for an improvement on that side of the court although there won't be no immediate concern with the performances the Warriors have put together.

They will be tested by the Clippers who have got Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams playing wonderfully at the start of the 2018/19 season. They have an Offensive surge that can cause any team problems but Golden State have covered in their last four visits to the Clippers and the road team have covered in six straight games in this series.

The spread underlines the absence of a couple of key players for the Warriors, but I will back the NBA Champions to win and cover here.

Tuesday 13th November
It wasn't a very good Monday, but both selections had been in a position to win so it is a disappointment.

Tuesday has only got three games scheduled, but there is one team who I leaned towards.

Charlotte Hornets @ Cleveland Cavaliers Pick: I am not a big fan of backing a team that is about to end a road trip and return home nor one that is being heavily backed by the public like the Charlotte Hornets are on Tuesday.

However it is hard to see anything other than a Hornets win and I can see them being far too good for the Cleveland Cavaliers on both ends of the court. While Charlotte have been in some decent form, Cleveland have dropped five in a row to fall to 1-11 and the departure of LeBron James is clearly having a big effect on the team.

The Cavaliers haven't been helped by their veterans going through injury problems meaning they are short-handed and relying on players that don't have the experience in the NBA that they need to compete. Kevin Love, Kyle Korver, George Hill and JR Smith are all expected to miss this game with the Hornets, while Cedi Osman is another expected to sit out.

It doesn't bode well for a Cleveland team who were blown out by 32 points in Charlotte earlier this month.

The Charlotte Hornets have shown improvement Defensively in recent games and I do think Cleveland will find it tough to find consistency on the Offensive side of the court to challenge them here. As long as the Hornets remain focused on the task at hand, Kemba Walker can spark the starters and Tony Parker could pick up from where he left off in the win over the Detroit Pistons with the second unit to give the Hornets a chance to produce another dominant win over the Cavaliers.

Charlotte are also showing more energy around the boards and I think they are the right team here even if the spot is not quite ideal.

Cleveland do have the positive recent trends against Charlotte, but the majority of those games came during the LeBron James ere and it was the Hornets who covered when they met earlier this month. The Hornets have improved to 7-2 against the spread in their last nine road games having covered twice in a row on this three game road trip and I will lay the points with them to earn a victory on Tuesday.

Wednesday 14th November
It has been a miserable start of the week, but the first really bad pick came yesterday as far as I am concerned.

The game was up at the end of the First Quarter which hurts, but Wednesday does offer a chance of recovery.

New York Knicks @ Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: Injuries have become the way of life for the Oklahoma City Thunder and their fans, but the team have rallied together without Russell Westbrook. Wins in three of four games since Westbrook suffered an injury means the Thunder have the luxury of giving him as much time as he needs to recover and return at full health, particularly as they are not scheduled to return to the court until Saturday following this one.

The Thunder are a big home favourite to see off the New York Knicks on Wednesday and the visitors begin this road trip having lost four of their last five games. That includes an embarrassing home blow out against the Orlando Magic, but Knicks fans are very much behind the team this season even though it is expected to be one of struggle.

Rebuilding the right way will always encourage fans and there look to be one or two young pieces of the roster that look like they could develop into more than just competent NBA players. With Kristaps Porzingis sidelined, the Knicks are giving plenty of opportunity for those young players to develop, although you do have to watch out for them hitting a rookie wall later in the season.

Porzingis could soon return to the rotation having been absent for much of 2018, but the Knicks are not going to be fools and rush a player that could be a huge part of the roster in 2019 when New York are expected to bring in a major Free Agent or two to sit alongside Porzingis.

The Knicks are having just one or two issues at both ends of the court at the moment which is not a major surprise and they are going to have it tough at the Thunder who have picked up their Defensive intensity. Paul George has been leading the way Offensively and Oklahoma City have some momentum behind them after what was a miserable start to the new season.

Oklahoma City's three point shooting could be the difference maker as far as the spread is concerned for this game while they have presence around the glass to win the battle on the boards.

New York are just 1-4 against the spread when given 6 or more points as the underdog this season. The Thunder have covered as a single digit favourite in every game played so far this season and they have some very strong trends in their favour compared with the Knicks who have struggled when playing on the road against the better teams in the NBA.

The Thunder are 4-1 against the spread in their last five at home against the New York Knicks too and I will back them to cover a big point spread.

Utah Jazz @ Dallas Mavericks Pick: The Utah Jazz showed at first hand how difficult it can be to beat the same team in the NBA three times in a row when they finally got the better of the Memphis Grizzlies in their last game. It is even more difficult when you are playing the same team three times in a very small period and that is what the Jazz will face on Wednesday as they head to the Dallas Mavericks to try and beat their opponents for a third time in the 2018/19 season.

There is some momentum behind the Utah Jazz with three straight wins as they continue a tough road trip, but you can't rule out Dallas who looked to have turned a corner with three wins from their last four games. Defeats to the likes of the Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks would not have inspired much confidence for the Dallas Mavericks fans, but they have won back to back home games against the Washington Wizards and surging Oklahoma City Thunder which will make everything look much rosier in the garden.

Dallas should and will be given plenty of respect from the Jazz because they have been playing pretty well and those results have been improving.

Wesley Matthews is expected to be in the rotation which will help and Dallas have been playing some decent basketball at both ends of the court which should challenge the Utah Jazz.

Being focused is going to be very important with both having big games on deck, and I do think this has every chance of being a competitive game. However it is the Utah Jazz who should have the big mental advantage having knocked off Dallas in eight of their last nine games including both played this season, although they don't have the best record of cashing at the window when playing on the road in Dallas.

I do think the two wins over Dallas may just see Utah relax a bit and the Mavericks are playing better now than when these teams last met. The Jazz have back to back road games against the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics to come which may be where the focus is after finally beating the Memphis Grizzlies for the first time a couple of days ago.

The last game here between these two ended with a 9 point win for Utah, but slightly better shooting from the Mavericks should give them a chance to at least get within the number. It is tough to oppose the Utah Jazz after they got the better of my selection earlier this week, but I do think Dallas are playing well enough to keep this close at home.

San Antonio Spurs @ Phoenix Suns Pick: You've got to get the disclaimer out of the way early and that is I recognise what a horrible road team San Antonio Spurs have become when it comes to cashing at the window.

With the first of a back to back nights play on deck, the Spurs could be in a pretty poor schedule spot ahead of the visit to the Los Angeles Clippers. However there has been a real search for consistency from the Spurs and losing their last game at the Sacramento Kings should keep them focused.

With those issues out of the way, I do think the Spurs are facing a struggling Phoenix Suns team who have been pretty miserable on the spread in their home games as well as struggling outright. The Suns have lost four straight games and given up triple digits in each of those losses while three of those losses have come by at least 17 points per game and all four by at least 7 points per game.

The Spurs won here easily earlier this season, but they have lost back to back road games against the Miami Heat and Kings and neither team is amongst the best in the NBA. However both are playing much better basketball than the Phoenix Suns who have had Devin Booker struggling from the field since he returned from an injury, although Booker is likely going to turn things around sooner rather than later.

It has been an inconsistent season for the Spurs and they have not been very consistent from the field which does make it very difficult to trust them. I do think the game plan will be to start quickly and try and get into a position to rest key players in the second half in anticipation of the game with the Clippers coming up, and San Antonio could do that considering starts made by the Suns and the 50% shooting they have allowed from the field in home games.

As poor as San Antonio have been on the road, they have covered in their last four games against a team with a losing record at home. They have also recovered from a loss by going 4-1 against the spread in their last five games in that spot and Phoenix are 5-14 against the spread in their last nineteen against a team with a winning record.

San Antonio crushed Phoenix here earlier this season to improve to 4-1 against the spread in the last five in the series and I will back them here.

Thursday 15th November
After a couple of rough days to open this week, Wednesday was a better day with a 2-1 record meaning a positive return for the first time.

I am looking to build on that with two more picks on Thursday in what has been the busiest week of the 2018/19 season as far as my NBA Picks go.

Golden State Warriors @ Houston Rockets Pick: The Western Conference Finals of the 2017/18 season was a memorable one and most picked the Houston Rockets as the team most likely to prevent the Golden State Warriors making it to a fifth consecutive NBA Finals this time around.

The addition of Carmelo Anthony was supposed to complement Chris Paul and James Harden, but it has not worked out for the former New York Knick and the entire Houston franchise as they would have hoped. A decision has seemingly been made in the last week that the Anthony addition will be a short-lived experiment, despite his willingness to come off the bench, and he is set to be cut from the team any time now.

The team have responded with back to back wins over the Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets and Houston can back up to 0.500 with a win on Thursday in what is a primetime game.

The Rockets are not the only team with some drama going on behind the scenes, although the Golden State Warriors issues were much more front and centre for a short time. Draymond Green and Kevin Durant sound like they have had a major falling out and it was serious enough for Green to be given a one game suspension by the team before he is likely going to be restored to the starting line on Thursday.

Durant refused to get involved by taking the dispute to the journalists hoping for a sound-byte, but it is going to be very interesting to see if the Warriors are on the same page. They have been a little inconsistent over the last week with two wins and two losses and Golden State continue to have to make do without Steph Curry whose injury is going to keep him sidelined at least another ten days.

The expectation is that the Warriors will respond in the right way with Green and Durant playing together again, but they will have to show some cohesiveness to make sure questions don't linger around the franchise. And no matter what the layers seem to feel, the Houston Rockets still have plenty to prove themselves which makes it hard to see them as a favourite to win this game.

It means a lot to Houston to prove they can compete in the Western Conference after falling a little short last season. That is a motivation that can't be ignored, but Golden State should be plenty motivated too and the Rockets are just 3-7 against the spread as a favourite this season.

Houston also have some poor trends going against them when playing a team with a winning record or when they have played against a fellow Western Conference team (1-6 against the spread in the last seven in that situation). The Warriors are 11-5 against the spread in the last sixteen between these rivals in Houston, but I am a little concerned at how poorly Golden State have played against the number when they have been set as an underdog despite being the dominant team in the NBA over the last five years.

However I think the Warriors still have enough shooting to challenge the Rockets and they will want to end any questions about the Green-Durant falling out by winning in the first game together since the obvious disagreements a couple of nights ago. I am yet to be fully convinced that the Houston Rockets are completely back and I will take the points in this one with the road team.

San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Clippers Pick: The poor road form displayed by the San Antonio Spurs continued on Wednesday as they were clipped by the Phoenix Suns. It is hard to work out whether they were just not interested in beating a team they crushed earlier this season or whether there is a deep issue for the Spurs when going on the road, but three consecutive road losses is not a good look as they complete a three game road trip.

It is one thing to lose to the Suns, but it is another altogether that the Spurs did not lead once in that game. Defeats at the Suns and Sacramento Kings is not a good look and now they have to face the hot Los Angeles Clippers who have beaten the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors in their last two games.

Both of those wins came as the home underdog so the situation will feel a lot different for the Clippers in this one, but they are 6-1 at home this season and the Clippers are playing with some real confidence here.

This looks to be a very tough test for the Spurs especially as Los Angeles look to be playing better than them at both ends of the court. On Wednesday night the Spurs allowed the Suns to do what they want from the field and that will not cut it against a Clippers team who have a good shooting percentage from the field and especially from three point range to pull away from opponents.

There also looks to be an edge as far as the boards go and putting those together suggests the Clippers can get the better of San Antonio in this one.

As much as I said the situation is different for the Clippers from being a back to back home underdog to a home favourite, this is a team who have gone 5-0 against the spread as the favourite in 2018/19. They have covered in their last six home games and look to be playing with more confidence than the San Antonio Spurs who are in a tough spot of playing for the third time in four nights.

The Spurs are now 1-10 against the spread in their last eleven games against a team with a winning record at home and they are 3-9 against the spread in their last twelve when playing the second of a back to back. The home team has also improved to 7-3 against the spread in the last ten in this series and there is a chance San Antonio could be distracted about heading back home following this one, especially with the defending Champions next up on deck.

Los Angeles look to have another factors in their favour for this one and I will back them to cover the spread before they head out on an Eastern Conference road trip.

Friday 16th November
Well that was a pretty terrible day- Golden State were blown out and now will be on my list to avoid for the next couple of weeks, while the Clippers missed the cover by a single point.

To say it is has been a disappointing week is an understatement, but the NBA season is a long one and there are a host of games on Friday that are of interest.

Utah Jazz @ Philadelphia 76ers Pick: The Jimmy Butler era with the Philadelphia 76ers has begun, but it was not all positive as the team were beaten by the Orlando Magic on the road. We have seen many times in recent years that top players do need an adjustment period to play with one another and it is could be the case for the 76ers too.

They return home on Friday for a brief stop before heading back on the road to take on the Charlotte Hornets, but the 76ers should be greeted by a hugely positive atmosphere despite dropping two of three on their recent road trip.

Looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance will also be on the minds of the Utah Jazz players who produced the worst defeat in the franchise history since this franchise has played in Utah. They were a big road favourite yet they were blown out by the Dallas Mavericks and the Jazz now have to play two of the better Eastern Conference teams back to back.

I fully expect a reaction from Utah because they are a far better team than what they showed in Dallas, but this is a tough place to play and the 76ers are 7-0 at home this season. There is no doubt that Utah need to pick up the pace Defensively if they are going to start beating some of the better teams in the NBA and they do have a chance here with Philadelphia finding their feet with Butler in the line up.

It was the lack of Offensive efficiency which cost the 76ers a chance to beat the Orlando Magic in the first game with Butler in the line up, but they have shown they are much better at home and that should see Philadelphia produce a strong effort on that side of the ball.

A lack of consistency Offensively has bothered the Utah Jazz all season and I think that could show up in this game.

The Jazz have been a little streaky in the last couple of weeks too so bouncing back from the Dallas game won't be easy, even if I am expecting a much better effort all around. The favourite has improved to 9-4 against the spread in the last thirteen in the series between these teams and I do like the Philadelphia 76ers as a home team where they have been cashing at the window at a high rate.

The energy of the crowd should be one that inspires the Philadelphia 76ers and they can be the team to bounce back from the losses both they and Utah suffered in their last game and I will back the 76ers to cover.

Brooklyn Nets @ Washington Wizards Pick: They are still 5-9 in the early part of the regular season so there is work to do, but Scott Brooks must be feeling better about his job as Head Coach of the Washington Wizards. A run of three consecutive wins looks to be a turning point for one of the most underachieving teams in the NBA and they are favourites to make it four in a row when they face the slumping Brooklyn Nets.

The last two Wizards wins have come at home against Orlando and Cleveland, but Brooklyn are not better than both of those teams and expect to join the Cavaliers as a lottery team at the end of this season.

The Nets have lost three in a row and they were blown out by the Miami Heat in their last game which is the first they have played since Caris LeVert went down with a serious injury that is going to cost him much of the regular season.

LeVert was showing signs of really developing into something special for the Brooklyn Nets but his injury coupled with another two players being banged up do leave the Nets short-handed at the moment.

Defensively it was always going to be a tough game for the Nets and that is expected to be the case on Friday, but they need to find something Offensively to challenge the home team. Over the last five games Brooklyn have just had some difficulties from the field and losing LeVert is not going to help them even if the Wizards need to show a lot more effort on that side of the court to really start moving in a positive direction with some consistency.

There looks to be a definite edge for Washington as far as the three point shot is concerned and I do like the home team to keep their strong run going through another game.

Washington are 3-0 against the spread when favoured by 6 or more points this season and they are 12-3 against the spread in their last fifteen home games against the Nets. The Nets have to be respected with how competitive they can be on the road, but they may not have enough Offensively to stay with the home team here and I think the favourite can be backed.

New York Knicks @ New Orleans Pelicans Pick: No one associated with the New York Knicks is going to be too downbeat with the way the team are playing as they look to get the younger members of the roster some vital experience. It won't surprise when those same young players have an off night and they are likely in for another difficult experience when they head to the New Orleans Pelicans.

The three game road trip comes to a close this weekend and New York were dominated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in their opening game of this trip. After being competitive earlier in the month, the Knicks have actually suffered three blow out defeats in a row and they are having some difficult at both ends of the court.

The Knicks have to be hoping their hosts are perhaps not as focused on this game as they should be, especially with New Orleans hosting the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs following this one. However the Pelicans were beaten in their last game at the Minnesota Timberwolves and the team are well aware they have been streaky in terms of wins and losses this season and won't want that to carry over into a tough home stretch by losing back to back games now.

New Orleans are playing well enough Offensively to think they can put the Knicks under pressure here and they are shooting well from the three point mark to really underline that point. They will need to do that if they are going to cover what is a big spread of points, but the size and energy around the boards helps all the more for the home team.

It should be noted that the Knicks have yet to cover as a double digit underdog and New Orleans have been good against those teams they should beat by going 12-3 against the spread in their last fifteen against a team with a losing record. The Pelicans are also 13-6 against the spread in their last sixteen at home and I think they can get this home stand off to a good start with a big win over the struggling Knicks.

MY PICKS: 12/11 Memphis Grizzlies + 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
12/11 Golden State Warriors - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
13/11 Charlotte Hornets - 7 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
14/11 Oklahoma City Thunder - 8.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
14/11 Dallas Mavericks + 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
14/11 San Antonio Spurs - 5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
15/11 Golden State Warriors + 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
15/11 Los Angeles Clippers - 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
16/11 Philadelphia 76ers - 3 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
16/11 Washington Wizards - 7 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
16/11 New Orleans Pelicans - 10 Points @ 1.85 Bet Fred (1 Unit)

November 12-18 Update: 2-6, - 4.18 Units (8 Units Staked, - 52.25% Yield)

November 5-11 Final: 4-3, + 0.68 Units (7 Units Staked, + 9.71% Yield)
October Final: 3-1-1, + 1.73 Units (5 Units Staked, + 34.60% Yield)

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