Happy Tuesday, all! I’ll be posting my picks for various games throughout the week – with everything from totals, spreads, and money lines to player props and futures for NBA Playoff games. Today I have covered the games of February 28th:
Bulls @ Raptors: Raptors -4
I feel bad for the Bulls. This could’ve been another promising season. Instead, Lonzo Ball has missed the whole year, and the team never really gelled as they did at the start of last season. With each passing day, the trade for Nikola Vucevic looks worse each day. The Bulls gave up on a promising young big man in Wendell Carter.
The picks they traded also turned into All-Rookie First Teamer Franz Wagner and a 2023 first-round that is only protected 1-4. Giving up effectively three top-ten picks for a player who doesn’t move the needle in the postseason is rough.
That said, Fred VanVleet is expected to be out for the Raptors, and that hurts them a lot. He’s their best non-Pascal Siakam player. The Bulls have two players capable of scoring 25+ every night Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. The Raptors will need a secondary scorer to step up to stay in this game.
In the end, I’m taking the team with more depth to win, and that team is Toronto. I’ll take the Raptors -4 behind a balanced quartet featuring Siakam, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, and Scottie Barnes.
Bucks @ Nets: Bucks to win
The Bucks ran their win streak to 14 games with a win over the Suns on Sunday. They did so without their best player, star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Excellent outings from Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez covered their missing star, with the duo combining for over 50 points. At this time, two months ago, this would’ve seemed like a marquee matchup. But the Nets have since traded Kevin Durant AND Kyrie Irving.
As I mentioned in the header, I’ll take the Bucks to win outright.
Lakers @ Grizzlies: Grizzlies -5
The Lakers have been better since adjusting their roster with moves and trades at the deadline. Russell Westbrook is gone, and D’Angelo Russell is back in play. Russell fits their roster strengths and weaknesses better than Westbrook. However, LeBron James got injured in the Lakers’ comeback win over the Mavericks, and LeBron at anything less than 100% will make winning for the Lakers extremely difficult. He’s their best player (at age 38, no less) and the piece that makes their whole team function.
The Grizzlies play hard-nosed basketball, and they’re also a lot younger than the Lakers. Give me the Grizzlies -5 as they’ll try to blow this game open early.
Spurs @ Jazz: Spurs +9.5
The Spurs have lost 16 straight games as they try to tank their way into contention for Victor Wembanyama. There’s little to suggest they can beat the Jazz again, as they just lost by 16 on Saturday. However, this game could see the return of Devin Vassell, a key starter who excels on both ends of the floor. I’m not saying San Antonio wins this game, especially as the Jazz remain in the playoff hunt. But with a nearly double-digit spread, it wouldn’t shock me to see this game be decided by nine points or fewer.
As a result, we’ll take the Spurs +9.5 and hope that a three-point barrage can keep them in play here.