NBA weekend best bets: Warriors, Cavs will bounce back vs. weak foes
After dropping both games Thursday, we find ourselves in a curious 0-5 slump against the spread after a 20-8 ATS run entering Wednesday. Let's get back on track with our weekend picks.
Grizzlies @ Nuggets (-3.5, 224.5)
Jan. 21, 9 p.m. ET
We've made a killing this year betting on the Grizzlies, who carry a 30-17 ATS record into Friday's contest. And while two recent losses snapped Memphis' stellar 11-game win streak, this is still a screaming value on the road 'dogs.
The Grizzlies won't be at full strength for Friday's tilt with five players on the injury list, including starters Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks, as well as key reserves Kyle Anderson and Tyus Jones. Yet this team has shuffled payers in and out of the lineup all season long and still boasts the NBA's top net rating since Nov. 28 (plus-10.3).
Ja Morant is still playing at an MVP level, and center Jaren Jackson Jr.'s elite defense should slow reigning MVP Nikola Jokic down low, which is the best way to neutralize this big-heavy Nuggets lineup.
Pick: Grizzlies +3.5
Rockets @ Warriors (-10.5, 228.5)
Jan. 21, 10 p.m.
What used to be one of the NBA's best rivalries is now one of the league's biggest mismatches, with the Warriors owning the best net rating (plus-8.1) and the Rockets ranking 28th (-7.8) through the first half of the season.
Golden State hasn't looked as proficient as of late, but this is still an elite defensive group, especially along the perimeter. Stephen Curry is playing the best defense of his storied career, while Klay Thompson's 105.3 defensive rating is his lowest since 2014-15, albeit in a small sample.
The Rockets are scariest when their array of young guards gets hot. When they don't, things tend to fall apart, as evidenced by a league-high 16.7% turnover rate. Expect the Dubs to neutralize this young Houston lineup in a key bounce-back spot.
Pick: Warriors -10.5
Thunder @ Cavaliers (TBD)
Jan. 22, 8 p.m.
Is it time to buy into the Cavaliers again? After taking the league by storm early in the season and then faltering following Ricky Rubio's season-ending injury, Cleveland won five straight games before Wednesday's loss to the shorthanded Bulls.
Still, this looks like a different team with the way Darius Garland has played as of late. The third-year guard is averaging 20.7 points and a league-leading 12.5 assists since Jan. 10, the start of the Cavaliers' winning streak. He was also the team's lone bright spot with 20 points and 12 assists in Chicago.
I'd expect another high-level showing from Garland against the Thunder, whose loss to the Cavaliers on Saturday sparked a three-game skid. We should be in for a similar result a week later.
Pick: Cavaliers (TBD)
Bulls @ Magic (TBD)
Jan. 23, 6 p.m.
It's hard to know what we should expect from these Bulls, who've suffered four double-digit losses in their last seven games but have also pocketed a pair of blowout wins in that stretch, too. That includes Wednesday's 13-point victory over the Cavaliers despite Chicago missing a litany of star players.
The Bulls will be without Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball on Saturday, too, while Javonte Green and Derrick Jones are also expected to sit this one out. Even still, Chicago will likely be a sizable road favorite against the Magic, who tend to hang around even when the mismatch is big on paper.
This is a tough spot to back a team without the bulk of its scoring production, in a road game against an also-ran opponent that nearly beat the Bulls the last time these two played. Take the points.
Pick: Magic (TBD)