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NBA Expert Wednesday Picks
Better NBA Betting Predictions
By Liam Davis
New York Knicks (+4.5) vs. Miami Heat (-4.5)
The Miami Heat are coming off an exhaustive Tuesday night victory over the Detroit Pistons—a borderline season-saving win that allowed them to maintain control of the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. It's unclear if they'll have enough juice left in the tank to take down a New York Knicks squad that deconstructed those same Pistons on Monday night.
Still, the Heat are 25-8 since Jan. 17, good enough for the second-best record in the NBA during that time, behind only the San Antonio Spurs. Their net rating on the road for this stretch is an impressive plus-1.7 points per 100 possessions—the sixth-best mark in the league.
If the Heat lose, it won't be by a lot, largely because they're probably going to lose. The Knicks are still bad even when they play all their key guys, and the Heat are the billboard for gritty efforts on a daily basis.
The Pick: Miami Heat (-4.5)
San Antonio Spurs (-4.5) vs. Golden State Warriors (+4.5)
This line does not suggest the Golden State Warriors will be resting a few guys. Andre Iguodala indicated how important this game was to his team following its Tuesday night W over the Houston Rockets.
The Spurs are just this good.
At the same time, the Warriors are winners of eight straight games. Stephen Curry has regained his ball-handling swagger with Kevin Durant watching from the sidelines, and Draymond Green continues to key what is one of the best defenses in basketball.
Make no mistake, this game should be close wire-to-wire. But the Warriors have already dropped two contests to the Spurs, one of which featured scrubs playing scrubs. With the ability to basically clinch the West's top seed with a win, expect them to leave San Antonio victorious.
The Pick: Golden State Warriors (+4.5)
Memphis Grizzlies (-4.5) vs. Indiana Pacers (+4.5)
Paul George was pissed after the Indiana Pacers fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves, at home, on Tuesday night. His frustration could translate to an inspired effort from his squad on the second night of a back-to-back, or it could disastrously backfire.
We're betting on the ladder.
Indiana has a bottom-10 net rating on the road, and the Memphis Grizzlies need this one if they want to eliminate the possibility of falling to eighth in the Western Conference playoff standings.
The Pick: Memphis Grizzlies (-4.5)
Boston Celtics (-8) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (+8)
The Boston Celtics own the Eastern Conference's best record. Not the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Celtics. Think about that for a second.
Also think about how the Celtics have not been rip-rolling oppoinents. Their average margin of victory during their current four-game winning streak falls just under eight points. The Milwaukee Bucks, meanwhile, have been absolute terrors during the month of March. They're 12-4, with a top-10 offense. Their defense has slipped a bit, but they've shown guts on the road, winning six of their eight contests away from home for the month.
This is to say, the Celtics shouldn't be enjoying a blowout win. The Bucks are a worthy opponent vying for a top-five playoff seed. They'll bring the heat, even if they lose.
The Pick: Milwaukee Bucks (+8)
Orlando Magic (+5.5) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (-5.5)
The Orlando Magic are the wild card of lottery-bound wild cards, but they shouldn't stand a chance against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook and crew are just a game back of the fifth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers and could end up in a virtual tie for fifth place if a victory here gets paired with a Clippers loss against the Washington Wizards.
Plus, the Magic don't have much of an incentive to win. Both the Philadelphia 76ers and Knicks are hot on their trail for the NBA's fourth-worst record. Their effort shouldn't be reflective of a team trying to do anything other than sustain their draft position.
The Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder (-5.5)
Philadelphia 76ers (+2) vs. Atlanta Hawks (-2)
Join us out on this limb, won't you?
Both the Atlanta Hawks and Sixers are working off Tuesday night victories, so they're on even ground as far as back-to-backs go. But the Hawks are still missing Millsap, who they are 1-8 without on the season. The Sixers are scrappy, and they should have a bigger cast available than the eight-man faction they rolled with last night.
Though this game means something to the Hawks, it means something to the Sixers, too. They're playing for late-season bragging rights without Joel Embiid, and that appears to have resonated with them.
The Pick: Philadelphia 76ers (+2)
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