November 8, 2016
There are two picks tonight.
#1: Take Dallas Mavericks +5 spread against LA Lakers for 3% of the bankroll.
The Mavs are off to a poor start this year. They started the season 0-5 before finally securing that elusive first 'W' in their last game against the Phoenix Suns! They got that monkey off their back and can finally play with a little more confidence and a little less pressure. They are obviously not happy with their start and will be looking to put together a winning streak but the fact that they got that first victory means they aren't feeling an insurmountable amount of pressure, as they were, heading into the previous contest.
Their win over Phoenix came in overtime and that made it all the sweeter. For a squad that has already been written off by everyone and were doubted by even large sections of the home crowd, the players rallied and gutted out a win. That type of victory brings the entire locker room closer as it helps a team bond. It was also a much-needed morale booster, at a time when some of the young players on this team were starting to lose confidence. We expect them to carry over the momentum from that OT game to Los Angeles with them where they have excelled in recent years. It's worth noting that the Mavs have won 7 straight games against the Lakers! They haven't lost to them over the last 3 seasons and we don't see that necessarily changing tonight. We believe they are live underdogs and more than capable of winning outright and that even if they do fall short, it'll be by a very slim margin.
Coach Rick Carlisle has been in charge of Mark Cuban's Mavericks for over a decade now in what is a symbol of continuity and stability. The players have the utmost respect for their coach and have long bought into his philosophies. Their poor start to the year is more due to injuries than team cohesion. Carlisle knows how to motivate his players and is great at putting a hardworking team on the court with the emphasis on sharing the ball and playing as a unit as opposed to relying on individual skills. Harrison Barnes has already become the 'go-to' guy for times when this team needs isolations to create baskets, in the absence of veteran Dirk Nowitzki. Barnes had a career night in the game against Suns and is a player that when feeling confident, can be very difficult to stop. That's because he can drive to the basket or pull back and hit jump-shots, helping keep the defense honest and worried both about his shotmaking abilities as well as athleticism. His career-night performance last time out should give him and the rest of this Dallas basketball team the self-esteem required to edge this game.
The Lakers have surprised people early in the season with some strong performances and while they deserve credit so far, we don't see them being able to keep it up. You'd have to go back a long time before you see LA put up 4 wins in a row and we don't see it happening tonight. They are coming off 3 straight wins, and that might have some of the young players on this team 'content'. Let's not forget, this is still a rather youthful squad with a cast of characters that aren't necessarily the most 'professional'. Costly turnovers in the 4th quarter might give the visitors the edge in this contest but even if they don't, we just don't see Luke Walton's squad pulling away for a decisive victory. Take the generous 5 points in this matchup as they may come into play with the plucky live underdogs.
#2: Take Minnesota Timberwolves -4 spread against Brooklyn Nets for 3% of the bankroll.
While the opening two weeks of the season has definitely not been the start to the year that the Timberwolves or new head coach Tom Thibodeau were expecting, tonight presents a real chance for the Wolves to get back on track and start to turn their season around. Despite being just 1-4 on the season it's important to remember that the Wolves had been competitive in 3 of those losses and could easily be staring at a 4-1 record had a couple of extra bounces gone their way.
The Brooklyn Nets are a team that has been in complete disarray for the better part of the last two years. Since the 2013-2014 season, the Nets are just 61-109 and a less than impressive 34-51 at home and it doesn't look like things are going to get any better this year. Injuries have started to mount up on this team and it is going to severely impact their ability to win games. Starting PG Jeremy Lin is out with a hamstring injury. As if that wasn't a big enough blow to the offense, his backup, Greivis Vasquez will also be sidelined with an injury. That means that the rookie, Isaiah Whitehead will take over the ball handling duties of this team. While he was impressive at the collegiate level, this youngster still has a lot to learn about running the point at an NBA level.
It's also important to note that the Nets last played on November 4th! This early in the season, fatigue is not typically a huge factor. The struggles of most teams are in creating the chemistry on the court with new additions to the roster. The biggest point of emphasis should be to log as much court time as possible. As the season wears on days off become precious and a huge factor, however in this case, time away from the court could actually be looked at as a huge negative.
While the Timberwolves will be playing on the road in this contest, we don't believe it is going to affect their performance as much as many may expect. They are (in our opinion) the better overall team at this point in the season. Brooklyn is also a team that hasn't completely won over their fan base. Each game played in Barclay's Center consists of hundreds if not thousands, of fans from the opposing team. While some teams own a huge home advantage, Brooklyn is not one of them. The Nets are also just 4-16 ATS after playing 3 consecutive home games over the last 3 seasons.
This Wolves team is young, talented and most importantly; hungry! They will have the motivational edge in this contest and while we expect this game to be close, we do expect the Wolves to pull away in the second half and go on to get the much-needed win while covering the spread in the process.
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