I’ve got NBA picks for Friday, March 2, Saturday March 3, and Sunday, March 4. The lone Friday game I like has the Golden State Warriors headed to Atlanta to battle the Hawks. Can Golden State dominate Atlanta the way so many other teams have?
I’m picking two games on Saturday, March 3. The Boston Celtics battle the Houston Rockets while the Oklahoma City Thunder travel to Oregon to take on the Portland Trailblazers. The game I analyze on Sunday has the Philadelphia 76’ers traveling to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks. Who wins in a battle between teams with two of the best young players in the NBA? Keep reading to find out!
2018 NBA Week 20 Weekend: Picks for March 2, 3, and 4
Friday, March 2
Golden State Warriors at Atlanta Hawks
When: 7:30 pm ET
Not counting their game versus the Washington Wizards on Feb. 28, the Golden State Warriors have gone 7 and 3 straight up in their last 10. The Warriors lost to the Denver Nuggets 115 to 108 on Feb. 3. In their very next game on Feb. 6, the Warriors lost 105 to 125 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Then, on Feb 14, Portland beat the Warriors 123 to 117.
Does that mean Golden State is susceptible to possibly losing to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night? Nope. The Warriors should definitely beat the Atlanta Hawks, who are 18 and 43 straight up before their Feb. 28 game versus Indiana. But, just because the Warriors project to beat the Hawks, it doesn’t mean they project to beat the Hawks by the likely point spread.
In fact, I’m going to side with Atlanta against the spread in this Friday night match up. The Hawks are 16 and 15 in their home games this season. Golden State is 14 and 16 against the spread in away games this season. The last time these two faced each other, the Warriors only beat the Hawks by 8 points, 119 to 111.
The spread should be out of control in this match up. That gives Atlanta a big shot to cover as huge home dogs.
Pick: Atlanta Hawks
Saturday, March 3
Boston Celtics at Houston Rockets
When: 8:30 pm ET
The last time Boston battled Houston, the Celtics took down the Rockets 99 to 98. James Harden posted 34 points, 10 assists, and 6 boards. It wasn’t enough. The Celtics beat the Rockets 99 to 98. What was disconcerting for the Rockets is that they held a 62 to 38 lead at halftime. The Celtics outscored Houston 31 to 16 in the third. In the fourth, Boston outscored Houston 30 to 20.
Could Houston possibly bounce back after such an alarming way to lose? The Rockets absolutely could! Houston played without future hall of fame point-guard Chris Paul. CP3 is a pure point-guard. When CP3 is on the court, it becomes almost impossible to stop James “The Beard” Harden.
Not only that, but Houston’s been hotter than any other team in the NBA. Before their Feb. 28 game versus the L.A. Clippers, Houston has won 13 in a row. They’ve gone 20 and 22 straight up in their last 22 games. Houston averages 114 points per game. Harden leads the team with 31.4 points per. Harden also leads the team in assists with close to 9 per game.
That doesn’t mean Chris Paul isn’t doing his job. Paul averages 8 assists, 19 points, and close to 6 boards per game. Paul and Harden work together perfectly in Mike D’Antoni’s backcourt. Both can shoot, rebound, and dish the rock. CP3 allows Harden to excel. The Beard allows Chris Paul to excel.
The defense has gotten much better for a D’Antoni coached squad. The Rockets only allow 105.1 points per game. That ranks a decent eleventh in the NBA. Houston is the second best defensive rebounding team in the NBA. The Rockets average 41.2 rebounds per.
Boston doesn’t have much chance of keeping this one close. Houston is firing on all cylinders. Because the Celtics have the reputation of being a strong defensive team, the spread shouldn’t be out of control in this match up. I see Houston rolling all over the Celtics on Saturday.
Pick: Houston Rockets
Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trailblazers
When: 10:00 pm ET
The Oklahoma City Thunder head to Portland to battle the Trailblazers in a key Northwest Division game on Saturday night. As of Feb. 27, the Minnesota Timberwolves lead the Northwest with a 38 and 26 record. Portland is in second place with a 34 and 26 record while Oklahoma City isn’t that far off the Blazers. The Thunder have a 35 and 27 record.
That’s how important this game might be. The winner could end up in sole possession of second place in the Northwest Division. This is also a game between two of the best point-guards in the NBA. Damian Lillard shows the way for the Trailblazers. Lillard averages 26.3 points and 6.5 assists per. He also grabs close to 5 boards per.
One of the reasons Lillard is so effective is because backcourt mate C.J. McCollum averages 22 points, 4 boards, and 3 assists per. Both Lillard and McCollum try to set up center Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic averages 14 points, 8 boards, and 2 assists per.
The Thunder counter Lillard and McCollum with the great Russell Westbrook. Last season’s NBA MVP hasn’t missed a beat this season. Westbrook averages 25 points, 10 assists, and close to 10 rebounds per game. He hasn’t garnered as many triple-doubles this season as he did last season. That’s not a big deal.
Thunder player Paul George has also been fantastic while center Steven Adams shoots 63% from the field. On paper, Oklahoma City appears to match up well with Portland. That’s good news. The reason it’s good news is because the Blazers should be over 4-point favorites on Saturday night.
Portland beat Oklahoma City 117 to 106 the last time the two teams battled each other. I’m willing to roll the dice on OKC on the money line. I believe they’ll be close enough to possibly upset the Trailblazers at decent above even money odds.
Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder
Sunday, March 4
Philadelphia 76’ers at Milwaukee Bucks
When: 8:00 pm ET
As it stands now, the Philadelphia 76’ers are in third place in the Atlantic Division. Philly has played very well in their last 10. Before their game versus the Miami Heat on Feb. 27, the 76’ers have won 8 out of their last 10. Philly had won 7 in a row, beating Washington, New Orleans, the L. A. Clippers, New York, Miami, Chicago, and Orlando. The 76’ers lost 94 to 109 to Washington before their Feb. 27 match up with the Heat.
That makes Philadelphia one of the hottest teams in the NBA. That’s good news for Philly fans. The 76’ers must stay hot to beat Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounempo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. The last time the two teams battled each other, it didn’t turn out well for Ben Simmons and the other 76’ers.
The Greek Freak went off for 31 points, 18 boards, and 6 assists. Giannis got some help in that game. Five other Bucks scored in double-figures: Khris Middleton, John Henson, Tony Snell, Matthew Dellavedova, and Sterling Brown. More importantly, Milwaukee’s defense held Ben Simmons to 16 points, 5 assists, and 6 boards.
However, Joel Embiid didn’t play in that game. Could Embiid be the difference on Sunday?
The answer is “yes”. Embiid averages 24 points and 2 blocks per game. He also grabs 11.2 boards and dishes 3 assists per. He’s one of the very best centers in the NBA. The Bucks have nobody that can play with Joel Embiid.
Almost as important is the fact that Embiid will open things up for Dario Saric, Simmons, and sharp-shooter JJ Reddick. Embiid’s presence should make all the difference for the 76’ers in this game. I like Philadelphia to upset the Milwaukee Bucks on the money line in this Sunday, March 4, battle.
Pick: Philadelphia 76’ers