Another great weekend is on tap in the NBA. I’ve got two picks each on March 23, March 24, and March 25. Things are starting to heat up in the professional round ball league. Check out my picks for this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
2018 NBA Week 23 Weekend
Friday, March 23
Utah Jazz at San Antonio Spurs
On Friday, Utah takes on the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio. The last time Utah battled the Spurs, they beat them 101 to 99. In that game, Utah held San Antonio to 22 points in the first quarter and 22 points in the fourth quarter. That’s how the Jazz sneaked by with a win. One thing to note is that the game took place in Utah.
Could things be different in San Antonio on Friday night? I’m not so sure. Heading into their March 20 game with the Atlanta Hawks, the Jazz have won 9 of their last 10. A couple of the wins were downright impressive like beating New Orleans 116 to 99 in New Orleans on March 11, or dominating Detroit at home 110 to 79 on March 13.
With that being written, San Antonio could be a tough out for the Jazz. The Spurs have gone 3 and 0 straight up and against the spread in their last 3 games before their March 19 battle with Golden State. If San Antonio escapes the game with Golden State intact, they might be the team to back against the spread.
I like the Spurs.
Pick: San Antonio Spurs ATS
Boston Celtics at Portland Trailblazers
The Boston Celtics travel to Portland to take on the Blazers in another interesting match up on Friday, March 23. The Celtics have been on a downturn. Boston has gone 1 and 3 straight up in their last 4. Boston’s next game is versus Oklahoma City on March 20.
Battling Russell Westbrook, Melo, and PG-13 at home before taking on the Portland Trailblazers on the road is not a recipe for success. Boston only beat Portland by a single point the last time they faced the Trailblazers. The score was 97 to 96. That game took place in Boston on Feb. 4.
Portland played well enough to win. The Blazers shot close to 40% from three. That’s not why they lost. Portland lost because they shot less than 40% from the field. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum were a combined 15 out of 40 versus the Celtics in the loss.
I don’t see Lillard and McCollum having as bad of a shooting night at home as they did versus the Celtics on the road in February. I like Portland to take it straight up and against the spread.
Pick: Portland Trailblazers ATS
Saturday, Mach 24
New Orleans Pelicans at Houston Rockets
The Pelicans head to Houston hoping they can turn around their recent bad form. New Orleans has gone 2 and 4 straight up in their last 6. This is before the Pelican’s march 20 game versus the Dallas Mavericks. If you’re a Pelicans’ fan you mustn’t feel comfortable facing The Beard and CP3 in Texas on Saturday.
The last time New Orleans battled Houston, the Rockets beat them 107 to 101. That game took place on March 17. New Orleans played well enough to win. The Pelicans shot 50.6% from the field. Anthony Davis dominated. He hit 11 of 18 shots and went 4 of 4 from the free throw line. Davis scored 26 points, grabbed 13 boards, had a block and an assists.
But, that’s just it. New Orleans’ best player had a great game and the Pelicans still lost. Does New Orleans have any shot of turning things around versus the Houston Rockets on Saturday?
Before answering that question, it’s important to note that Houston continues to excel as the best team in the NBA. That’s right. Right now, as of March 19, Houston is better than the Golden State Warriors. The Rockets have lost 3 games since January 8. On January 15, the Clippers beat them 115 to 102. The Pelicans upset the Rockets 115 to 113 on January 26.
Houston’s only other loss since was 105 to 108 to the Toronto Raptors on March 9. Toronto has turned out to be the best team in the Eastern Conference. Since the loss to the Raptors, Houston has beaten Dallas 105 to 82, San Antonio 109 to 93, the L.A. Clippers 101 to 96, New Orleans 107 to 101, and Minnesota 129 to 120.
Since January 8, the Rockets have a 29 and 3 straight up record. Will New Orleans beat Houston Saturday? I don’t think so. But, beating a team straight up is different than beating a team against the spread.
The Pelicans won’t beat Houston straight up. They’ll definitely cover the spread because the Rockets figure to be at least -11.5 home favorites on March 24. Houston’s going to lay off after they build a big league. New Orleans will do just enough to score a victory ATS.
Pick: New Orleans Pelicans ATS
L.A. Lakers at Memphis Grizzlies
The Lakers aren’t the worst team in the NBA. As of March 18, L.A. has a 31 and 38 record. The Lakers actually have a nice record against the spread. L.A. is 37 and 32 ATS as of March 18. Normally, that would give the Lakers a shot to cover the spread. The reason is because the Lakers are often big underdogs ATS.
The last time L.A. battled Memphis, they lost 123 to 114. Memphis was favored by 3.5 points. Could the Grizzlies beat L.A. by a similar score on Saturday? Sure, they could. That’s not the way I’m going, though. Memphis could beat L.A. The Lakers could beat Memphis.
Memphis is a terrible 15-21-1 against the spread at home. Also the Grizzlies battle Brooklyn on March 19, Philadelphia on March 21, and Charlotte on March 22. The onus is on the Grizzlies to show up on Saturday after battling in 3 games during the week.
I think Memphis is ripe for an upset. I’m backing the Lakers on the moneyline.
Pick: L.A. Lakers moneyline
Sunday, March 25
Portland Trailblazers at Oklahoma City Thunder
As of March 18, the Portland Trailblazers are ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Northwest Standings. Portland has a 44 and 26 record. Oklahoma City has a 43 and 29 record. This game means something on Sunday, March 25.
Portland will attempt to beat Oklahoma City for the second straight time. On March 3, the Trailblazers beat Oklahoma City 108 to 100 as a -4.5 home favorite. Portland got 28 points out of C.J. McCollum. Damian Lillard scored 20 points.
Russell Westbrook, the reigning NBA MVP, had 30 points and 11 boards. He only produced 6 assists while McCollum had 6 assists and Lillard had 7. That’s how Portland battles Oklahoma City. Both their starting guards count as one player versus Russell.
I don’t see why Portland would change anything in Sunday’s match up. The Trailblazers ride a 13 game winning streak going into their battle with the Houston Rockets on March 20. Portland has beaten Golden State twice, OKC once, and Cleveland once during the 13 game winning streak.
The Blazers look good versus Oklahoma City on March 25.
Pick: Portland Trailblazers
Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors
Golden State has lost 3 out of their last 5 games. Things have gotten so bad that the San Antonio Spurs are -8 favorites over the Warriors in Golden State’s March 19 game. That’s pretty bad. However, Golden State does have a reason for the ineptitude.
Arguably, the Warriors’ 3 best players are out until late March. Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Kyle Thompson won’t hit the court until the final week of March. That means the Warriors could get demolished in this game.
That’s the way I’ll play it. I know the Warriors are at home. Draymond Green can’t beat a decent Jazz team all by himself, though. I think the Utah Jazz win by 6 to 10 points unless KD, Steph, or Kyle ends up on the court.
Pick: Utah Jazz