It was a 2-for-3 Tuesday night on my NBA picks, and one miss I had was the one miss I kind of figured would blow up in my face. Go figure.
Chris Paul and Michael Porter Jr. performed as expected, as Paul went off for 29 points and Porter blocked just one shot. While that secured a fair bit of points, Ja Morant was a letdown. He went off for 28 points and seven rebounds (a season-high), sprinting past his prop of 20.5 PTS + REBS.
I don’t think the process was bad, but being that down on a player of Morant’s caliber was probably a mistake. We learn from it and move on. Let’s check out who to play on Wednesday’s 10-game slate.
21.5 PTS @ Golden State — OVER (110 PTS)
This is simply too low of a prop total to pick against Jimmy Butler, even if the point total would indicate a reasonable level of risk involved.
Butler’s coming off a 30-point night against the Clippers, and he’s playing nearly 35 minutes per game this month. He’s taking 13.5 shots per game and getting to the free-throw line 11.1 times per game in February. All of this is adding up to a very easy path to more than 21 points.
Golden State is a pretty good defensive team (106.9 points allowed per 100 possessions), but the Warriors also play at a high pace (105.5 possessions per game). This puts Butler in a good position to at least get his usual diet of attempts — and perhaps more.
A player of Butler’s caliber should almost always have an easy path to at least 21 points. I’m smashing the Over here.
17.5 PTS + REBS vs. Portland — UNDER (105 PTS)
Steven Adams’ minutes and shot opportunities have dropped noticeably since January. He was seeing 30.6 minutes and 6.1 shot attempts per night in January, and those numbers are down to 25.6 and 5.3, respectively, in February. He’s scored in double figures in just three of eight games this month — and he secured double-digit rebounds in those same three games.
His opponent Wednesday isn’t exactly a defensive juggernaut. Portland allows 112.8 points per 100 possessions (tied for 28th in the league), but center is the one position the Blazers can boast at least a solid defender. Enes Kanter has been strong on the glass, which could further complicate things for Adams.
Adams is day-to-day after a lower back injury he suffered Tuesday night, so it’s unclear if he’ll even suit up in the second game of a back-to-back. If he does, that gives me even more pause. A lower back injury for a big man, even if it’s just of the nagging variety, can be difficult to deal with.
20.5 PTS @ Minnesota — UNDER (110 PTS)
Malcolm Brogdon’s minutes are down to 33.4 per night in February, which is still a healthy number, but it’s down considerably from January’s mark of 37.7. He’s also been incredibly inefficient this month, shooting 38.7 percent from the floor.
In an overtime loss against Chicago on Monday, he played 42 minutes and scored 23 points — but he also needed 25 shots to do it. That was his first 20-plus-point game since Feb. 2, a span of six games.
Minnesota isn’t a stellar defensive team, but Brogdon’s play lately isn’t sparking much confidence. I’ll take the “L” if he hits his over, but I’m playing the trends here and going Under.
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