Three NBA games will be nationally televised on Thursday, Jan. 17. The first is between the New York Knicks and suddenly entertaining Washington Wizards, which starts at 3:00 pm ET on NBA TV. The other two televised games will be shown on TNT’s NBA Basketball Thursday night telecast. Those two games also happen to be the most interesting of the night are are worth a dive in my NBA Free Picks.
In the first, the Philadelphia 76ers head to Indiana to battle the Pacers. The 76ers are 4 games behind Toronto in the Atlantic. Indiana is only 2 games behind Milwaukee in the Central. Both have played above expectations this season. Philadelphia has all the makings of a championship team, but haven’t properly mixed the ingredients of their formula together at all times. Indiana, as you’d expect, are building towards a potential spoiler run in the playoffs.
In the other TNT televised matchup, the Lakers battle Russell and PG-13 in Chesapeake Energy Arena. LeBron’s already been declared out. But, Los Angeles has slowly figured out how to be competitive without The King. Will the Lakers play well enough to keep it close?
A couple of other interesting games has two of the worst battling two of the best. Phoenix-Toronto should be a laugher. Then again, oddsmakers know this. The Suns might have a shot to win against the spread versus the mighty Raptors.
Denver, who’s only a half a game behind Golden State for the best record in the Western Conference, hosts the awful Chicago Bulls. The Nuggets should win. Will they cover?
[Thursday, Jan. 17]
New York Knicks at Washington Wizards -7.5 (3pm ET)
The Knicks are 1-12 in their last 13, so, no doubt they should lose, but they have a shot to cover based on at least one trend. NYK has gone 4-2 ATS in their last 6.
Unfortunately, that’s the only positive trend in the Knick’s favor. The Knicks are 2-9 ATS in the last 11 meetings while the favorite is 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings. Washington is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 road games and 7-1 ATS in their last 8 overall.
The Wizards implode against bad teams, though, going 1-5 ATS in their last 6 against a team with a win percentage below .400. That’s a strong enough trend to back New York, even with Washington’s stock rising in recent weeks since the John Wall injury. Simply put, this is just too large of a number for Washington.
NBA Free Picks: Knicks ATS
Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers -2.5 (7pm ET)
While it’s no surprise that the 76ers are in the thick of the Eastern Conference Championship run, the Indiana Pacers are right there with them. The Pacers are tough because 5 guys off their bench, including instant offense Tyreke Evans and underrated Domantas Sabonis, play 10 minutes or more most games.
The Pacers have leaned on the bench to come up with a winning 23-20 against the spread record. Indiana also steps it up against top competition, going 4-1 ATS in their last 5 versus a team with a winning percentage above .600.
Philadelphia’s the opposite. They’re 3-12 ATS in their last 15 on the road versus a team with a winning percentage above .600. The Pacers should cover. The fact that they’re home favorites against a relatively public team speaks volumes.
NBA Free Picks: Pacers -2.5
Sacramento Kings at Charlotte Hornets -3.0 (7pm ET)
These two have similar records. Charlotte is 20-23 while the Kings are a surprising 23-21. On the road, Sacramento has gone 10-10 ATS. The Kings have really stepped it up lately, going 3-1 SU over their last four games.
They’re most definitely the play against the spread, but, why not go for the bigger money? Sacramento just beat Charlotte 104-97 on Jan. 12. A repeat performance is likely.
NBA Free Pick: Kings ML
Phoenix Suns at Toronto Raptors -13.0 (7:30pm ET)
Toronto is 9-1 ATS in their last 10 after playing on 0 days of rest. The Raptors lost a battle against Boston, where they stumbled down the stretch. No matter whether they win or lose, Toronto will be an overlay against Phoenix on Thursday. The Suns basically don’t have a shot against the Raptors, who should be undervalued after their game against Boston. Toronto’s the team to back.
NBA Free Picks: Raptors -13.0
Chicago Bulls at Denver Nuggets -13.0 (9pm ET)
Although the Bulls appear horribly overmatched in this one, it’s worth noting that Chicago beat Denver 108-107 in overtime in the last game between these two. It’s also worth noting that the Nuggets are 0-3 ATS in their last 3.
Denver should turn around their form against the spread on Thursday, though. The Bulls are 2-7 ATS in the last 9 meetings. They’re 1-5 ATS in the last 6 meetings in Denver.
NBA Free Picks: Nuggets -12
L.A. Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder -10.0 (9:30pm ET)
The Lakers are a decent 3-2 in their last 5. They’ve gone 2-2-1 ATS in those last 5, but just winning’s an accomplishment with LeBron James on the bench.
Oklahoma City’s actually 1-4 SU in their last 5. The Thunder are also 1-4 ATS. Based on the trends, this could go either way until we look at the head-to-head. The Lakers are 4-10 ATS in the last 14 meetings and 5-16 ATS in the last 21 meetings in Oklahoma City.
The 10 points feels like a lot, but the Lakers have nobody who matches up with Paul George. So, unless Russell Westbrook doesn’t show up at all, OKC should win and cover.
NBA Free Picks: Thunder -10