Toronto Raptors vs. Chicago Bulls
NBA Betting Prediction: Toronto -7 (February 14th 2017)
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The Raptors have been struggling but isn’t wasn’t too long ago that the team seemed capable of challenging the Cavs for the East’s No. 1 seed. However, the Raptors limp into Chicago losers of 10 of their last 14 games. They have currently fallen four games back of the Celtics in the Atlantic Division and overall in the East, are tied with the Hawks at 32-23, for the conference’s fourth-best record (Toronto would lose the tie-breaker right now, meaning the Raptors would be the East’s no. 5 seed!).
The Bulls own their fare share of woes too, dealing with significant nagging injuries to their two-best players in Butler (24.5-6.4-4.9) and Wade (19.1), along with also having role players Nikola Mirotic (9.0 & 5.1) and Paul Zipser (4.1 & 2.3) listed as day-to-day as well. Butler has sat out four of the last five games with heel and head contusion issues, with head coach Fred Hoiberg telling reporters after Sunday’s loss that he isn’t certain if shutting Butler down for games this week against the Raptors and Boston Celtics is the solution. As for Wade (wrist), he’s missed two of the last three games.
The good news is that Chicago actually owns 10 straight wins over Toronto but are the Bulls in any shape to take on this high-scoring team (Raptors average 109.1 PPG to rank 5th) right now? The Bulls dropped the final three games of their recently completed six-game road trip by margins of 31, 18 and 28 points! The Toronto backcourt of DeRozan (27.9) and Lowry (22.8-4.7-7.0) is an All Star duo but other than center Valanciunas (12.4 & 9.9), steady contributions by the remaining roster have been few and far between.
The Raptors watched (helplessly?) as they squandered a 16-point fourth quarter lead in a 1012-101 home loss Sunday to the Pistons but a strong bounce-back against the injury-riddled Bulls is in the cards. Lay it with the road favorite.
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Michigan State Spartans
Basketball Prediction: Spartans +1 (February 2nd 2017)
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The Nebraska Cornhuskers finally ended their 5-game losing streak with an upset home victory over Purdue as 7-point dogs on Sunday. Now the Huskers are clearly in a letdown spot off their biggest win of the season. I think they are running into Michigan State at the wrong time as the Spartans always improve as the season goes on under Tom Izzo, and they’re coming off a solid 70-62 home victory over the Michigan Wolverines. The Spartans are going to be a dangerous team moving forward and they should not be dogs here. They can’t afford losses after their poor start against a brutal schedule, and they won’t be taking Nebraska lightly after losing the past two meetings with the Huskers by a combined 3 points. Michigan State is 6-0 ATS in February games over the last 2 seasons. The Huskers are 8-21 ATS in their last 29 games off an upset win as a home underdog. The Spartans are 9-1 ATS versus teams who average 12 or fewer assists per game over the last 2 seasons. Take Michigan State.
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New York Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets
Point Spread Pick: Nets +2.5 (February 1st 2017)
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When you’re the Brooklyn Nets, the goals are modest. Beating their cross-town rival and much more glamorous opponent, the Knicks, is a big deal for the Nets. The timing is ripe for Brooklyn to do just that. Surprised by how short this line is? Shouldn’t be. New York averages 106.1 points per game. Brooklyn averages 105.8 points and is the superior free throw shooting team. The Nets play hard, get good ball movement and often are unselfish. They just don’t play any defense. So the major part of this handicap is a fade on the fading Knicks. New York is at low ebb being a season-worst eight games under .500. The Knicks have key injuries – Derrick Rose is out with an ankle injury and Kristaps Porzingis is questionable after missing last night’s loss to the Wizards due to a stomach virus – are racked with internal strife, including distracting daily Carmelo Anthony trade rumors that the New York tabloids play up big and the team carries a major fatigue rating. It’s no wonder the Knicks went 5-12 in January.
This marks the Knicks’ third game in four days. They lost to Atlanta in four overtimes on Sunday and fell to Washington, 117-101, Tuesday night. The Nets are going to bring energy to this game. The Knicks need to dig deep to find any energy and necessary motivation to match Brooklyn’s. The Nets’ roster is unimposing. But the Knicks’ roster is mediocre at best not good enough to beat any opponent without playing at least above average. Injuries have robbed Rose of his one-time stardom, but the Knicks’ starting backcourt without Rose is Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee. Jennings has played 90:55 minutes the past three days, while Lee has logged 79:36 during this short time frame. They are going to have problems keeping up with the run-and-gun Nets guards. The Knicks have lost 10 of 11 times when playing without rest going 4-7 ATS. They also have failed to cover the last six times when going against a foe with a below .400 winning percentage. This has been a home series, too, with the host covering the past six times.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns
Over-Under Betting Prediction: Over 220 points -110 odds (February 1st 2017)
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A pair of struggling teams square off in Phoenix where the Los Angeles Clippers visit the Suns. Game time is 9 PM ET at Talking Stick Resort Arena where LA is favored by -4. The total is 220.5.
The Clippers (30-18, 23-25 ATS) have lost four of their last five games including a 144-98 beat down at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.LA has been without point guard Chris Paul (thumb) for the last five games and just recently got Blake Griffin (knee) back from an 18-game absence. Griffin scored 20 points in 23 minutes on Saturday against the Warriors in his second game back.
The Suns (15-33, 24-23 ATS)suffered its fourth straight setback on Monday dropping a 115-96 decision to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday. The defense has struggled allowing 119.3 points during the stretch. One bright spot for the Arizona ballers has been the play of Devin Booker. The former Kentucky suffered through a porous 6 of 30 shooting night against Memphis but still scored 22 points for his 13th consecutive 20-point outing.
The two teams are a combined 59-37 to the OVER. Los Angeles is 16-8 to the high side on the road while Phoenix is 14-7.
The Clippers are 15-7 to the OVER in their last 22 games overall. The Suns are 5-1 to the OVER in their last six against the Pacific Division, 16-5 to the high side in their past 21 home games, and 23-6 last 29 against the Western Conference.
Los Angeles are 1-4 ATS in its last five games overall and 2-10 ATS last 12 overall. Phoenix is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 home games but just 6-16-1 in its last 23 vs. the Western Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Utah Jazz
NBA Basketball Pick: Bucks +8 points (February 1st 2017)
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The Milwaukee Bucks are slumping big time, winning just one of their last nine games. Here they’ll visit a Utah Jazz team that had won six on the bounce before dropping three of their last four, and I think the Jazz are asked to cover way too many points here.
Milwaukee played well its last time out and forced overtime in a 112-108 loss to Boston on Saturday, despite playing on the second night of a back-to-back set. The Bucks will come into this contest well rested and looking to build on that performance.
Utah is a low-scoring team, and it’s tough to cover large spreads averaging fewer than 100 points per game. Take the points on the visitors.
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Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns
NBA Point Spread Pick: Clippers -3.5 (February 1st 2017)
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Rickenbach Free Pick NBA Game #519 Wednesday Los Angeles Clippers (-) @ Phoenix Suns @ 9:05 ET – The Clippers are not only off of a loss, it was their worst defeat in a very long time. Los Angeles got crushed at Golden State on Saturday by a margin of 44 points! They have had 3 days off since then and you can bet that they’ll be ready to go here. Even though the Clips have a rematch with the Warriors set for LA tomorrow night, there is no way they’re going to look past this game. When professionals lose a game by a 142-98 final, they respond and this is especially true when you’re a team that entered that game with a 30-17 record on the season. The Clippers are use to winning and, even though Chris Paul is out, Los Angeles did recently welcome back Blake Griffin. Additionally, big man DeAndre Jordan is likely to own the paint tonight against the Suns Tyson Chandler. The Phoenix big man just got dominated by Memphis center Marc Gasol on Monday and I expect more of the same here. The Suns just are not a very good team. They are 15-33 on the season and only 8-15 at home. As you can see from those records, home court hasn’t been a huge benefit for Phoenix this season and the Clippers come in with a fire burning inside them after having to wait a full three days off before having this chance to atone for Saturday’s extremely ugly loss. In terms of additional support for this play, note that LA is 16-6 ATS the last 3 seasons and 49-20 ATS long-term when they are a road favorite in a range of 3.5 to 6 points. Also, this is a very small number for the Clippers to cover here so any straight-up win is likely to also be an ATS win and the Suns are only 1-7 SU this season and 13-27 SU the past three seasons combined in divisional games. The past two years in February games Phoenix has gone 4-17 and I don’t expect this one to get off to a good start for them either. Lay it! Free Pick on the Los Angeles Clippers minus the short number Wednesday. Best of luck, Scott “The Bulldog” Rickenbach