Friday night’s NBA schedule on ESPN features four teams in the Western Conference doing battle. The first game has the Denver Nuggets visiting the Oklahoma City Thunder, while the late game has the New Orleans Pelicans in Portland to take on the Blazers.
Friday Night ESPN NBA Picks
By Tom Wilkinson
Friday night’s NBA schedule on ESPN features four teams in the Western Conference doing battle. The first game has the Denver Nuggets visiting the Oklahoma City Thunder, while the late game has the New Orleans Pelicans in Portland to take on the Trail Blazers. Denver is battling for second place in the conference while the Thunder are battling for sixth place. The game between the Pelicans and Trail Blazers is for survival, as both teams are currently out of a playoff spot. Let’s look at both games and Friday night ESPN NBA picks.
Denver Nuggets at Oklahoma City Thunder
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This is the first game out of the All-Star break for both
teams, so we really don’t know how each team will do. The Nuggets are unlikely
to catch the Lakers for first in the West, so it is all about holding onto
second place. On the other side, the Thunder are doing much better than
expected this season. It is amazing the Thunder are in a playoff spot
considering they traded away their two best players before this season began.
Head coach Billy Donovan has done a great job and OKC is not an easy team to
play against. They have Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, Shai
Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder. Paul is averaging 17.4 points, 6.7
assists, five rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game, while Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging
19.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. Schroder is averaging over
19 points off the bench.
Denver is averaging 110.4 points per game and giving up 106.7 points per contest, while Oklahoma City is averaging 110.6 points per game and giving up 108 points per contest.
This series has been all Denver of late, as they have won 9 of the last 10 meetings and covered all 10. Six of those ten went under the total. Denver has also won the last three at Oklahoma City, with five games going over, four going under, with one push.
Nuggets vs. Thunder Free Picks
The first game out of the All-Star break is always tricky. I know the trends favor the Nuggets, but I am leery. I will avoid a side and take the game under the total.
New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers
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Can you say a game in mid-February is a must-win game? I think you can say that this game is a
must-win for New Orleans if they are to have any real chance of making the
playoffs. New Orleans is 5.5 games behind Memphis for the last playoff spot in
the West and they are two games behind Portland who is in 9th place.
The Pelicans also have to jump over the Spurs. There is no question the Pelicans are a better
team with Zion Williamson in the lineup, but making up 5.5 games is going to be
really difficult. They simply can’t afford to be losing games against teams they
are competing against.
New Orleans needs to improve their defense and they need to take care of the ball. They rank 28th in the league in turnovers, averaging 16 turnovers per game. The Pelicans also are poor in free throw shooting, as they rank 27th in the league. If the Pelicans are going to make the playoffs, both of those numbers must improve.
New Orleans is averaging about 116 points per game and giving up about 117 per contest. The Blazers are averaging about 113 points per game and giving up about 115 points per contest.
New Orleans has won 7 of the last 10 in this series, with five games going over and five going under. The teams have split their last ten in Portland, with five games going over and five going under.
Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers Free Picks
I will take the points with New Orleans and also play the game over the total.
Check out the latest NBA odds at the online sportsbook.