After a week-long All-Star break, the NBA returns for the stretch run of the season. The NBA season is definitely a grind, this writer appreciated the break and I’m sure that the players did too. Navigating the final games of the season can be tricky. Some teams go into full tank mode, while others press the pedal to the metal in order to secure their playoff position. Let’s take a look at tonight’s action to find winning NBA picks.
Memphis Grizzlies vs Minnesota Timberwolves
We will start today’s article with two teams that we know will be making the strong playoff push. The Memphis Grizzlies have been one of the more inspiring stories of the season and are currently in third place in the Western Conference at 41-19. This breakout season is following last year’s playoff berth in which they were the 8th seed. Memphis has definitely improved as a team, as well as having their star, Ja Morant raise his play to an MVP level.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are trying to emulate the Memphis Grizzlies in making a playoff appearance to build upon. Minnesota is currently 31-28, 7th in the Western Conference, and could be looking to end their playoff drought. Minnesota has only made the playoffs once in the past 17 seasons.
Both teams should be quite motivated and of course, rested in this matchup tonight. The injury reports are fairly clean, with Memphis’ Xavier Tillman as a game-time decision. Minnesota should be at full strength. Minnesota’s Karl Anthony Towns is coming off a surprising win in the All-Star three-point competition this weekend and should be looking to show off his range this evening against Steven Adams and Jaren Jackson Jr.
Unfortunately for Towns, Memphis has an excellent one-two punch to try and defend Towns. Steven Adams is an excellent post defender and Jackson has the quickness and versatility to defend him on the perimeter. Memphis will have the ability to give Towns different looks and this could frustrate the Timberwolves star. This will make the Timberwolves more reliant on Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell. Yet Memphis plays excellent perimeter defense and this will be a tough matchup for the Timberwolves.
With both teams rested at full strength, I like the Memphis Grizzlies to get it done here tonight. We are laying very short NBA odds, so this game is a “just pick the winner”. I like the Memphis Grizzlies to continue their hot streak and reaffirm themselves as one of the elite teams in the Western Conference. Today’s Banker is the Memphis Grizzlies – 2.
2 Team Parlay
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Detroit Pistons
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the success story of the Eastern Conference this season. Their addition of Evan Mobley has moved them from a perennial lottery team to currently fourth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 35-23. Mobley and Jarett Allen form an excellent defensive duo. Their size, length, and athleticism have propelled them to be a top team in the Eastern Conference.
The Pistons hope that a Cavaliers-like turnaround is in their future but they are still a year or two away. They do have the foundation and building blocks, however, in this year’s number one overall draft pick, Cade Cunningham. Cunningham has proved to be every bit as good as advertised this season. Cunningham has an excellent feel for the game and understands how to use his size when driving the ball to the basket. Unfortunately, Cunningham does not have enough talent around him and the Pistons often fall short. At 13-45, the Pistons will probably be drafting another blue-chip talent to help Cunningham in his quest next season.
I like taking the Detroit Pistons at home when we are getting a bunch of points, which is the case tonight. With both teams being rested, this should be a good opportunity for the Pistons’ young players to keep it close against an established Cavaliers team. I like to take the Pistons at home and fade them on the road. The first half of our 2 team parlay will be the Detroit Pistons +8.5.
Golden State Warriors vs Portland Trail Blazers
When the Trail Blazers traded off many veterans at the trade deadline, including team leader CJ McCollum, many assumed that the tank was on. The Portland Trail Blazers’ young players had different ideas, however. Portland has won four in a row, including wins over top teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks and the Memphis Grizzlies. The trade of McCollum has opened up opportunities for Afernee Simons, and he’s taking every advantage of his opportunity. Simons is averaging 23 points per game since McCollum has been traded. He has been in the engine of the Blazers’ offense. Simons emergence made McCollum expendable
The Golden State Warriors have always played well against the Portland Trail Blazers and they’ll be coming off Steph Curry’s MVP performance in the All-Star Game. Curry definitely found his shooting form, making 16 three-pointers en route to winning the MVP award. Curry’s sharpshooting will be on the line again tonight, but will there be a slight letdown going from the bright lights of the All-Star game to a regular-season game in Portland? The Warriors are still missing Draymond Green as well, but they do have excellent depth to absorb his absence as of right now. Still, with the way the Blazers are playing right now, I am happy taking points with them at home. The second half of the two-team parlay is the Portland Trail Blazers +7.