Weekend Notes

  • After rubbishing the Knicks on Friday and reliably fading them to start the season, they came out and smacked the Nets by 21 and Cavaliers by 19. Who knows which Knicks team will turn up to play Denver tonight…

  • Karl Anthony-Towns handed the Thunder an L, dropping them below .500

  • The Cavaliers have lost three in a row – all to relatively average opposition.

Spurs @ Celtics

I feel dirty for going against the usually reliable Spurs, but I like the Celtics at -3.5 for this one.

Even with the new rules surrounding resting players for nationally televised games, Coach Pop isn’t going to need much convincing to reduce the minutes his stars play. If the Celtics develop a somewhat healthy lead in San Antonio’s second night of a back-to-back, I expect to see LaMarcus Aldridge and company to head to the bench.

At 1-2 against the spread away from home, the Spurs have also lost their last two straight up heading into tonight’s game against the defensively savvy Celtics.

Boston has kept their last four opponents to less than 93 points to be ranked third in defensive rating (95.3) and fourth in opponent points (95 per game). I’m expecting the Celtics to embrace their new defensive identity and move to 6-1 against the spread tonight.

Pick: Celtics -3.5

Timberwolves @ Heat

Hassan Whiteside is listed as doubtful, but Ira Winderman – a reliable Heat reporter – isn’t giving him much of a chance to play on the bone bruise on his left knee.

Whiteside has only played in one game this season. The on/off court numbers don’t suggest they are exceptionally better with him suiting up, but tonight against Karl Anthony-Towns, it’s undeniable the Heat would be much better off with him on the floor.

Anthony-Towns is coming off his best game of the season after putting 33 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks on the Thunder on Friday. Jimmy Butler also had his best night of 2017-18 so far with 25 points, five rebounds and seven assists.

The Heat have yet to cover the spread this season, and the public doesn’t expect them to start tonight, with 62 percent liking the Timberwolves at -3.

Pick: Timberwolves -3

76ers @ Rockets

The Rockets are slowly creeping back up the 3-point shooting rankings, now ranking 26th on 31.1 percent shooting, but they’ve only managed to surpass their 2016-17 average of 35.7 percent three times this season. Their best night was on Saturday, when they connected on 36.8 percent of their long-range attempts. But compared to last season when they cracked 40 percent 20 times, the Rockets are way behind their best.

Being so young and inconsistent toward the end of games worries me when it comes to the Sixers, but with Joel Embiid on the floor, their defense is relatively reliable.

In the five games Embiid has played – he missed the 34-point loss to the Raptors – the Sixers are giving up 104.3 points per game, which would be middle of the road amongst the 30 teams. Their opponent 3-point percentage is in the top 10 in the league at 32.4 percent, and it will need to be tonight given the Rockets throw up 42 shots from beyond the arc each night.

If Houston’s line drops a touch from -6, I like that at home, but am more confident in going with the under, where the Rockets are 1-6 so far this season.

Pick: Under 215.5

Nuggets @ Knicks

  • Both playing second night of a back-to-back
  • Knicks are scoring 100.2 points per game (24th)
  • Nuggets are scoring 103 points per game (16th)

Magic @ Pelicans

  • Magic playing the second night of a back-to-back
  • Magic are scoring 117.2 points per game (second)
  • Pelicans average 46.3 rebounds per game (seventh)
  • Magic opponents average 13.3 offensive rebounds per game (30th)

Hornets @ Grizzlies

  • Hornets playing the second night of a back-to-back
  • Hornets are 0-5 vs. the under
  • Grizzlies are 0-5-1 vs. the under

Mavericks @ Jazz

  • Jazz are 0-5-1 vs. the under
  • Jazz are 4-2 against the spread
  • Jazz are scoring 94.5 points per game (29th)
  • Mavericks are scoring 99.6 points per game (25th)

Raptors @ Trail Blazers

  • Raptors are 4-1 against the spread
  • Raptors are scoring 111 points per game (seventh)
  • Trail Blazers are scoring 111.3 points per game (fifth)
  • Raptors have a 99.6 defensive rating (fifth)
  • Trail Blazers have a 100.3 defensive rating (seventh)

Warriors @ Clippers

  • Warriors playing the second night of a back-to-back
  • Warriors are scoring 118.1 points per game (first)
  • Clippers are allowing only 92.4 points per game (first)
  • Warriors are 1-5 against the spread
  • Clippers are 4-1 against the spread

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