NBA: Pacers and Nets headline Thursday’s picks
We’re starting to get an idea of what teams are capable of this season, so with only four games on the slate tonight, I’m going to have a look at them all.
Kings (1-5) @ Pacers (3-3)
The Pacers are one of the surprise teams so far this season given they are playing .500 basketball without Myles Turner. Victor Oladipo has been the standout, averaging 25.5 points on 50 percent shooting with the rest of the starting five all averaging over 11 points per game.
Victor Oladipo has been named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week. https://t.co/UXTw1ZLE7H
Congratulations, Vic! pic.twitter.com/VDbtWlJAhD
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) October 30, 2017
Their 111.2 points per game is good for fifth in the league, but they’ve struggled defensively at times, giving up 112 points per game.
Meanwhile, the Kings are 28th in points (96 per game) with their lone win coming against the Mavericks – the only team with a worse record in the West.
Turner has been ruled out for Tuesday’s game, while George Hill was rested and Zach Randolph missed the Kings’ game on Sunday with a sore left foot.
I like the Pacers at home in this one. They’ve remained consistent and produced some incredible shooting performances of late. Their win over the Timberwolves last week followed by another at home against the Spurs on Sunday is enough to convince me the 3-3 record isn’t a fluke.
Pick: Pacers -5
Suns (2-4) @ Nets (3-4)
The NBA fan that loves an active defense has no business tuning into this one. Brooklyn (118.3 per game) and Phoenix (117.2 per game) allow more points than any other two teams in the league.
After a hot 2-2 start scoring 123.5 points per game, the Nets have cooled off, going 1-2 and averaging 103 points per game over their last three. In those first four games, the Nets shot 46.6 percent from the field, which had them in the top 10. In their last three, they’ve shot 41.3 percent, which would rank 29th.
The Suns are scoring 102.5 points per game, but their only two wins have come against the 28th (Kings) and 29th (Jazz) teams in points per game.
With the Nets cooling off and their 3-1 record against the spread at home, I like them to cover and keep the total under 230.5 points.
Pick: Nets -3 and Under 230.5 points
Thunder (3-3) @ Bucks (4-2)
In what feels like a trap game, the Bucks are home dogs despite sitting toward the top of the Eastern Conference. With the current favorite for MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo on an absolute tear, their opening line at +1 looked too good to be true before moving to +1.5.
The Thunder have had their moments but too often look dysfunctional trying to work out the logistics of having Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony all on the court simultaneously. It’s all starting to look better, but they aren’t close to consistently putting it together just yet.
Oklahoma City’s three wins have hardly been blockbusters, too. Wins over the Knicks, Pacers and Bulls aren’t sparking fear into any of the top teams in either conference.
Milwaukee has been one of the NBA’s best performers playing at home tonight ahead of 10 days on the road. I’m picking the Greek Freak to lead the Bucks to an important home win ahead of what will be a tough four-game road trip.
Pick: Bucks +1.5
Pistons (5-2) @ Lakers (2-4)
If there’s one game I’m going to avoid making a play on tonight, it’s this one.
I was always pretty high on the Pistons coming into the season, but not beating the Timberwolves, Clippers and Warriors back-to-back-to-back sort of high.
Far from convinced this Pistons team is legit so early in the season, determining what the Lakers are is proving even harder.
With Luke Walton’s inconsistent rotations and the fact he’s playing two of his team’s best performers in Kyle Kuzma and Julius Randle off the bench, getting a gauge on the Lakers is proving difficult.
If I had to choose, I’d take the Pistons, who are currently 6-1 against the spread.
The Lakers can run a bit, but rank dead last in the NBA half court offense. pic.twitter.com/LZuvuGcxr0
— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) October 29, 2017
Detroit has the best turnover percentage in the league and is forcing the fourth-most turnovers per 100 possessions. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is 28th in turnover percentage and 29th in turnovers at 19.2 per game.
With a top-four pace so far this season, the Lakers are going to give the Pistons too many opportunities to turn the ball over and score.
Pick: Pistons -4