The madness is creeping up as we hit selection Sunday in the college realm, but the NBA still has three awesome games on national TV: Knicks vs. Nets (1 p.m. ET), Mavericks vs. Celtics (3:30 p.m. ET) and Lakers vs. Suns (9 p.m. ET).
Our NBA analysts break down their favorite picks from today’s matinee and tonight’s nightcap below.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|New York Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets||1 p.m. ET|
|Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns||9 p.m. ET|
New York Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets
|Tipoff||1 p.m. ET|
Kenny Ducey: The Knicks are on a roll, having won three out of their last five games and covering in each of them. They beat the Clippers, Kings and Mavericks by 16 or more points. New York managed to yet again take a lead into the fourth quarter, before Memphis managed to outscore them 31-18 in the period to pull away late on Friday night.
The Nets, who were starting to build some momentum on the road, head home where Kyrie Irving is not yet eligible to play. Irving went for 50 points in an 11-point win over Charlotte and 22 in a monumental defeat of the Sixers in Philly, lifting Brooklyn’s offense to new heights.
Of course, the Nets still have Durant — who is very good — but there will be a sizable hole left by Irving. The Nets are a staggering 4-19-1 against the spread (ATS) as home favorites this season and 6-24-1 ATS at home overall.
The issues the Nets have had at home are no surprise given they haven’t been able to play any of those games with Irving, but covering in just six of them is a special kind of bad. The trends are certainly in the Knicks’ favor after five straight covers while also considering how poorly the Nets have performed against the number this season at the Barclays Center.
New York is also playing some brilliant defense and should have no issues winning the rebounding battle against a Nets team which was already weak down low and now doesn’t have Aldridge.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns
|Tipoff||9 p.m. ET|
Raheem Palmer: A lot has changed since last spring when the Suns eliminated the Lakers from the postseason as these teams are clearly headed in different directions. Phoenix holds the best record in the league at 53-14, while Los Angeles is in danger of missing the postseason all together with a 29-37 record.
It speaks volumes about the state of the Lakers that they need James to score 50 points in order for them to win these days. They’re just 2-6 in their last eight games and 3-9 in their last 12 outings. One of those victories was a double-digit comeback against the Utah Jazz; the other required James to put up 50-point outburst.
Meanwhile, the Suns are 5-4 without Chris Paul since the All-Star break, but they’re still eighth in Net Rating (4.6) in this time frame with a huge quality road win over the Miami Heat last Wednesday. It’s worth it to note Booker did miss four of those games and the Suns went 3-1 in that span, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks as road underdogs.
The Suns have the wings to throw at James to make him work in Bridges and Crowder, while having a big in Ayton to protect the rim. You can still expect James to get his, but this is still an elite Phoenix defense. Given the struggles of the Lakers on both sides, I think this number is short.
My model makes the Suns at -10 even without Paul, so I’ll lay the points.