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February 7, 2017

There are two NBA pick tonight!

#1: Take Portland Blazers -2 spread against Dallas Mavericks for 3% of the bankroll.

This is a big time revenge game for the Trail Blazers! They were beaten by the Mavs no their home court just four days ago and now get to return the favor. Dallas walked out of Moda Center with a narrow 4-point victory on Feb 3rd but don't let that fool you, that game was full of anomalies. The fact that the Mavericks more than 50% of their 3-point attempts says it all. They hit 17 triples on that night but as if that wasn't strange enough, consider the fact that they turned the ball over only 4 times! This is a team that averages 11 turnovers per game and yet on that night, despite the inexperience of Yogi Ferrell who was on a 10-day contract at the time, they played almost flawlessly.

Everything went their way that night but we don't expect them to be as fortunate tonight. The Mavs played in the high altitude of Denver last night in a double-digit loss before flying back home to Texas. This is the second night of a back-to-back schedule for them and that makes it tough as many of the players including the young guards Ferrell and Curry as well as SF Harrison Barnes each logged 35 minutes! They expended a lot of energy trying to mount a comeback, and nearly did at one point, only to fall short at the end. Blazers are the more rested team tonight and we believe that'll show, especially in the second half.

Portland was overtaken by the Nuggets last night and suddenly finds itself outside the post-season picture! This is a team that was in the Western conference semifinals last season and expects to make the playoffs. We believe they have a good core and it's only a matter of time before they find their rhythm. They don't have selfish players that like to hog the spotlight and not share the ball. They are at their best when the ball is moving around and everyone's getting a touch. Obviously they need the dynamic play of back-court duo CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard but Evan Turner and company will have some ball-handling duties as well. Lillard has been playing below-par in recent weeks and that has coincided with the Blazers' slump. He's a leader for this team and takes responsibility. He's admitted that he's not ben at this best and will need to improve his performances. While he's a game-time decision tonight, we fully expect him to take the court and have a solid outing.

One of the primary reasons the Trail Blazers are suddenly in the 9th spot in the Western conference and in danger of falling even lower is the play of the Dallas Mavericks and that recent loss to them. The Mavs are now just 1.5 games behind the Blazers and inching ever closer. Look for Terry Stotts and his players to put a temporary stop to that tonight by exacting revenge. And in doing so, putting some daylight between the two playoff hopefuls. Portland is not only the better team in our opinion, they will also be the more fresh and motivated group on the court tonight. At this short spread, there's value in backing the visitors as they win the game and cover the spread in the process.

#2: Take Brooklyn Nets +10.5 spread against Charlotte Hornets for 3% of the bankroll.

These two franchises are both mired in extended losing streaks at the moment. They head into this matchup eager to snap what is the NBA's current two worst streaks with the Nets having lost 9 in a row while the Hornets have dropped 7 straight themselves! There is no doubt that both are struggling right now and confidence is low. We believe this line is inflated and presents underdog value. To install a team that has just finished a West-coast roadtrip and lost 7 in a row as double-digit favorites is excessive! Sure, the Hornets are likely to end their current slump and record a 'W' tonight but we don't believe it'll be a walk in the park. They'll have to work for it in what may turn out to be a more competitive game than many anticipate, and if that's the case, the 10+ points are extremely precious and should come into play.

Kemba Walker is a quality PG and should have a big game tonight but he may not be at his best. He was dealing with an illness over the last few days, which limited him to just 25 minutes against the Warriors. He sat out of Saturday's practice and then had a subpar showing in the following game. We believe he'll do better tonight but could still be dealing with lingering issues which prevent him from an optimal performance. The fact that backup PG Ramon Sessions has suddenly picked up an injury will likely keep him on the court even longer which may not be best for his health. If not, Brian Roberts will serve as deputy, a player that hasn't had many minutes on the court this season.

Everyone knew that Brooklyn would be in rebuliding mode this season and quite possibly struggle. However, Kenny Atkinson, as a 1st-time NBA head coach needs to mix in a few victories here and there to not completely alienate the fanbase. If he wants to continue as a head coach in the association, not only at Brooklyn but potentially other teams later, he needs to beef up that CV a bit and right now, in his first few months in charge, it includes far too many losses (42) and less than 10 wins! We don't necessarily believe his team will get him a 'W' tonight but we do believe he'll demand a better effort from them. The Nets and Brook Lopez in particular are capable of playing better than they have so far and should stay within the generous point-spread tonight.

First game back home after a lengthy roadtrip is often difficult for teams as players have been away from their families for awhile and come home to certain errands and distractions. Their attention is sometimes divided at times like this and not fully focused on the task at hand given that there are other matters that have come up that needed taking care of when they were away and they have to attend to those now. Given Charlotte's 7-game losing streak, we don't believe they'll be distracted tonight. They should be up for the job and will likely pick up the 'W' but they may just play down to the level of their competition or have trouble closing out the game, given that confidence is low and victories have been rare. When teams are slumping the way these two have, they often need a couple of close wins first before they can back in form and put away teams easily. It's also worth noting that Charlotte has actually lost 12 of 13 games this season when Cody Zeller has not started! Now they are being asked to not only win this game but do so easily by double-digits. Zeller is a game-time decision and may get some minutes on the court tonight but given his lengthy absence, he might be rusty and more of a liability in his first game back. We don't see him being at his best tonight which gives Brooklyn's frontcourt an edge to keep this game close.

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