After NBA All-Star Weekend, America’s professional basketball league is back to its normal weekend schedule. I’ve analyzed 4 games, one on Saturday and 3 on Sunday, from a sports betting perspective. On Saturday, Feb. 24, the Oklahoma City Thunder head to Golden State to battle the Warriors. Then, on Sunday, Feb. 25, the New Orleans Pelicans battle the Milwaukee Bucks.
I also analyze San Antonio Spurs at Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76’ers at Washington Wizards. Check out my analysis of all 4 games along with my picks!
2018 NBA Week 19 Weekend
Saturday, Feb. 24
Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors
When: 8:30 pm ET
The Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA. Nobody can doubt that. Golden State averages a ridiculous 115.8 points per game off over 51% shooting from the field. As a team, Golden State shoots 39.3% from the field. The Warriors also shoot 81.8% from the charity stripe. What it means is that Golden State ranks first in points per game, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and free throw percentage. The best team in the NBA? I think so!
If that wasn’t enough of a reason to call the Warriors the best team in the NBA, think about this: Golden State ranks third in field goal percentage allowed. Opponents average 44.2% from the field versus the Golden State Warriors. That’s how fantastic of a team Golden State is.
However (there’s always a but, isn’t there?), the Warriors aren’t all that great against the spread. As of Feb. 21, GS is 26-31-1 against the spread overall this season. The Warriors are 13-15-1 against the spread in home games. Golden State is 13 and 16 against the spread in away games. Why? No matter home or away, Golden State is favored, which brings me to my point about this game on Saturday.
Golden State will be favored versus Oklahoma City even though the Thunder are 2 and 0 straight up against the Warriors this season. Oklahoma City beat Golden State 108 to 91 last Nov. 22. The Thunder then put a 125 to 105 beat down onto the Warriors on Feb. 6.
Unless Oklahoma City goes into this battle injured, it’s difficult to see Golden State even beating the Thunder straight up, much less covering the spread as a home favorite. I like the Thunder both against the spread and on the money line.
Sunday, Feb. 24
New Orleans Pelicans at Milwaukee Bucks
When: 3:00 pm ET
Since trading for Nikola Mirotic, the New Orleans Pelicans have been unbeatable. Before their Feb. 23 game versus the Miami Heat, the Pelicans have gone 3 and 0 straight up and against the spread since acquiring Mirotic from the Chicago Bulls. Mirotic’s stats lines have been incredible: 21 points, 1 assist, 16 boards, and 5 blocks in 49 minutes versus Brooklyn, 21 points, 1 assist, 12 boards and a steal in over 28 minutes versus Detroit, and 16 points, 2 assists, 7 boards, 2 blocks, and 2 steals in over 29 minutes versus the Lakers.
New Orleans beat Brooklyn 138 to 128 in overtime. They beat Detroit 118 to 103. They crushed the Lakers 139 to 117. The Pelicans beat both the Brooklyn Nets and the Detroit Pistons on the road. But, Mirotic isn’t the only reason the Pelicans have become a fantastic basketball team.
Anthony Davis is playing at an NBA MVP level. Davis averages 27.4 points, 10.7 assists, over a steal, over 2 blocks, and over 2 assists per game. He’s a fantasy basketball fan’s dream. Davis is easily one of the Top 5 players in the NBA.
Guard Jrue Holiday has also put things together. Holiday now averages 18.6 points. He’s grabbing 4.3 boards while dishing the rock 5.5 times per. In addition to Mirotic, Davis, and Holiday, 3 other Pelican players have stepped it up.
E’Twaun Moore, Emeka Okafor, and Dairus Miller are all providing minutes and production. Okafor, filling in for the exceptional DeMarcus Cousins, averages 6 rebounds per game. It doesn’t matter whether Okafor plays 14 minutes or 20 minutes, he’s good for 6, 7, or 8 boards. Moore has developed into a nice swing forward. He plays anywhere from 14 minutes to over 30 minutes depending on the match ups. More averages 12.5 points per. Darius Miller comes off the bench. He can really put the hoop in the basket.
New Orleans’ opponent on Sunday, the Milwaukee Bucks, have improved only slightly since firing Jason Kidd. The Bucks have some talent. The problem is that they rely way too much on Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo. Giannis averages 27.8 points, 4.8 assists, and 10.4 rebounds per. He shoots over 54% from the field.
Antetokounmpo is great. But, the fact that he leads the team in assists with only 4.8 per game, means that Milwaukee doesn’t have a true distributor point-guard. I see that as the biggest problem for the Bucks versus the Pelicans on Sunday.
Even if The Greek Freak plays lights out, he won’t be able to match Jrue Holiday’s production. When Holiday must rest, the Pelicans can play veteran PG Rajon Rondo. New Orleans has become the type of team that can match up with most any squad in the NBA.
Milwaukee most definitely cannot. I think New Orleans punishes the Bucks on Feb. 25. I’m looking for at least a 10-point Pelicans’ win.
San Antonio Spurs at Cleveland Cavaliers
When: 3:30 pm ET
ABC’s marquess game on Sunday has the San Antonio Spurs heading to Cleveland to battle LeBron and the Cavaliers. As of Feb. 21, the Spurs have a 35 and 24 record. That’s okay for most NBA teams. For the San Antonio Spurs, that doesn’t come close to expectations.
Life post Tim Duncan hasn’t turned out to be as fruitful as Spurs’ fans have hoped. To compound issues, San Antonio has been without their best player, Kawhi Leonard, for most of this season. Leonard has suffered from a quadricep issue.
With all that being written, the Spurs, amazingly, lead the NBA in points allowed per game. San Antonio only gives up 98.5 points per. The Spurs’ defense is the sole reason they’re 11 games above .500 as of Feb. 21. The reason I write that is because San Antonio’s offense averages 101.6 points per. That ranks twenty-seventh in the NBA.
Only scoring 102 points versus the en fuego Cleveland Cavaliers won’t cut it. Not counting the Cavs’ battle versus the Washington Wizards on Feb. 22, Cleveland is undefeated since making the trades that brought over Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., George Hill, and Jordan Clarkson. The Cavaliers have 5 players on their bench that have starter experience with other teams.
LeBron’s having fun again because this group of Cavalier players are on the same page with him. The King should have no trouble rallying his knights to a big spread cover win on Sunday. There’s a good chance that Cleveland blows out the San Antonio Spurs by close to 20 points.
Philadelphia 76’ers at Washington Wizards
When: 5:00 pm ET
Philly battles the Wizards on Sunday a day after taking on the Orlando Magic at home. The Magic aren’t a very good team. That means Philly might be okay when they actually do battle Washington. One thing to note is that Washington point-guard John Wall is out until late March. That means Philly’s two-headed monster point-guard of Ben Simmons and T.J. McConnell could have their way with Washington’s back court.
The 76’ers have started to play the brilliant Ben Simmons and McConnell in the back court at the same time. McConnell is a more traditional point-guard. Simmons is the closest player to LeBron’s skill set that we’ve seen in a long time.
Washington doesn’t match up well with Philadelphia. The 76’ers beat the Wizards 115 to 102 the last time these two teams played against each other. I’m looking for a similar score on Sunday. If the Sixers are dogs, even better. They could be the best money line bet of the entire weekend.