Mike’s Twitter: @MOConnor_NBA
After two straight 4-2 weeks, we took another step forward with a 5-1 showing that was one Nikola Vučević three-pointer shy of perfection. Let’s keep the good times rolling and hopefully achieve perfection this week. There’s a great slate of NBA games tonight, and here are my picks to help make you some money.
Smart Money NBA Betting Picks for Tonight’s Action
One of the most profitable endeavors you can find around this time of year is betting on teams fighting for playoff positioning going against teams that are blatantly tanking. The Rockets are banged up, trying to lose, and simply horrible. The Bucks are playing great basketball and would love to secure the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference over the Nets. They have every reason to play hard in this game.
What a mess the Lakers are right now. In an absolutely crucial battle for playoff positioning, they will almost certainly be without Dennis Schröder, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Talen Horton-Tucker. In other words: they have no shot creators left on the team.
To make matters worse, the handful of healthy players remaining on the Lakers just played last night against the Clippers and had to fly to Portland to take on the Blazers tonight. Frankly, I’m not sure how this line isn’t larger. Perhaps Vegas is holding out hope that one or both of Davis or Horton-Tucker could play. I’m dubious.
Once again, take into account the psyches of both teams. Portland smells blood and will desperately want to win this game in order to seize the sixth seed. The Lakers will be beat-up, tired, and shorthanded. This has all the makings of a blowout. Take the Blazers to win handily.
Both teams will be without their star guards in this game. Jamal Murray, obviously, is out for the season, and Donovan Mitchell is still out for at least another few days, as well. The Jazz are also missing Mike Conley.
With both teams being short on shot creation, I’m betting on Denver to be better equipped to overcome that burden. Nikola Jokić has been simply dominant, Michael Porter Jr. is playing the best ball of his life, and Aaron Gordon has found a nice role for himself. The Utah Jazz have been able to stem the tide impressively well since the Mitchell injury, but going against a Denver Nuggets team that will be able to ride the likely MVP, I don’t like their chances in this game. Take Denver to cover the spread.
The Spurs have been in a tailspin lately, but I’m expecting their luck to change tonight. For starters, they’ve been banged up, and they’ve also had an absolutely brutal schedule of late. Now getting to face a mediocre Sacramento team that is without De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, and Harrison Barnes, and I think this is the night San Antonio ends their losing streak.
The Spurs are 1.5 games up on New Orleans for the last play-in spot in the Western Conference, so you have to figure that they’ll be motivated coming into this one. Finally healthy, with a rough patch in the schedule behind them, playing for their playoff lives, San Antonio will come out with a win tonight.
Top Player Props for Tonight’s NBA Action
This line is obscenely low for Simmons. On the year, he’s averaging 28.7 combined points, assists, and rebounds. I cannot figure out why, going against a terrible defensive team in New Orleans, Simmons’ line would be listed this low.
Simmons thrives offensively against teams that have tight defenses who can keep him out of the lane. New Orleans is… not that type of team. They rank 25th in the league in defense currently. I’m expecting Simmons to get out in transition early and often, and hit this over with ease.
As usual, I like to take one player prop on a team that I also bet on. In this case, I like Porter Jr. to have a big game against Utah. Going against an elite defensive team, Denver will have to lean heavily on their individual shot creators, essentially meaning that Jokić and Porter Jr. will have to shoulder much of the burden.
Throw in the fact that Porter has exceeded 21 points in six of his last eight games, and I feel confident in this bet.