After an 11-4 night across our free and premium NBA picks, we are riding high and aren’t looking to slow down any time soon!
We have seeding implications in nearly every game of the night so we have handpicked the five best clashes to provide you with an in-depth analysis and the winner of each of them!
New Orleans Pelicans @ Philadelphia 76ers – 7PM ET
We open up the night with the Philadelphia 76ers putting their league-leading six game winning streak on the line against the New Orleans Pelicans. These sides actually met just under a month ago, in New Orleans, with the Pelicans winning by seven points despite the Sixers having their full roster available. The positive for Philly is they get back home for this clash and have incredible form of late.
While the Sixers play much better at home, 25-7, than on the road, their last three wins have all been away from the Wells Fargo Center. After wins in San Antonio and Chicago, Philadelphia picked up a massive 135-115 win in Houston on Wednesday night. Joel Embiid continued his late push for MVP with 34 points and 12 boards to lead all players in the game.
Embiid had just 14 points and nine rebounds when he last saw the Pelicans, with his poor game being the main factor in the outcome. Another reason was Zion Williamson’s incredible performance, with the dominant forward finishing with 37 points, 15 boards and eight assists against Philly, who have the second best defense in the league.
The Sixers are now 3 games ahead of the Nets in the loss column for the top seed with 6 games to go and hold tiebreaker 👍🏼👍🏼 pic.twitter.com/XXpoA7CSDr
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) May 7, 2021
It was a similar story against Golden State on Tuesday, with Williamson putting in a big game to help the Pelicans get the win. One night after losing to the Warriors, Williamson’s 23 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and four steals gave New Orleans the extra edge they needed to turn the result around. We can’t overlook Lonzo Ball’s performance though, scoring seven points on 16.67% shooting on Monday before tying a career high with 33 points in the win.
However, Philly are a much better defensive team than Golden State, allowing nearly five points per game less this season. On top of that, they average over six points per game more when playing at home while the Pelicans average slightly less on the road. Every game New Orleans plays is a must win for them, sitting just 1.5 games behind San Antonio, who are currently 10th in the west, but this one seems like it will be too much to ask for. Philadelphia wants to lock up the top spot in the East and at home, they should be winning this.
Boston Celtics @ Chicago Bulls – 7:30PM ET
The Chicago Bulls are looking to make it two wins in two nights when they host the Boston Celtics this evening. While he didn’t have the best game, Zach LaVine’s return to the lineup got the Bulls offense firing in a big win over Charlotte. The 21 point difference was big, but not as big as Boston’s pounding of Orlando on Wednesday night.
With Jaylen Brown sitting out, the Celtics still managed to put up 132 points in Orlando, winning by 36. Kemba Walker led all scorers with 32 points on 61.1% shooting while Jayson Tatum is doing everything he can to convince voters he deserves an All-NBA slot, putting up 27 points, seven boards, two steals and two blocks.
The Celtics have now won three of their last four and need to keep winning, currently tied with the Heat for a locked in playoff spot, sixth in the East, while sitting a game behind the Hawks, who are fifth. Chicago also still has life, while extremely improbable. Their win last night sees them sitting 3.5 games behind Washington with just six games remaining, meaning they have to be perfect to finish the season.
Last night was a good start, with Nikola Vucevic dominating in the 120-99 win over the eighth placed Hornets. The big man finished with 29 points and 14 boards, leading seven different Chicago players who scored in double figures on a dismal Charlotte defense. The worry is that they are just 5-10 on the second night of back to backs this season whilst also being 5-13 as home underdogs.
Boston is 7-4 when playing with a rest advantage however their chances are hindered by the fact that Brown has already been ruled out with his lingering ankle injury. That certainly gives the Bulls a big chance in this one but with all five starters playing over 26 minutes last night, including two playing over 30, there will be some tired bodies. The Celtics, if they are taking themselves seriously as contenders, simply need to win this.
Denver Nuggets @ Utah Jazz – 9PM ET
The matchup of the night with massive playoff implications as the Denver Nuggets head to Salt Lake City to take on the league-leading Utah Jazz. Denver has gone an incredible 10-2 over their last 12 games, being the hottest teams in the league over that stretch, but both their losses have been on the road and the Jazz have won three straight, all at home.
With Mike Conley joining Donovan Mitchell on the sidelines for the last week, Utah has needed the entire squad to step up and that is exactly what they did. Monday’s win over San Antonio saw Bojan Bogdanovic and Rudy Gobert dominate while Jordan Clarkson was the star of the show in the second meeting between the two sides on Wednesday. In their 126-94 win, Clarkson finished with 30 points in 24 minutes off the bench.
Denver on the other hand has been relying on just one player to carry their hopes and dreams. Nikola Jokic, the -1300 favorite to win MVP, has been dominant for the Nuggets over their recent hot stretch and Wednesday was no different.
The Joker had 24 points in just the first quarter against a Knicks defense that allows the fewest points per game in the league. He finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks while Facundo Campazzo keeps playing at an incredible level in the absence of Jamal Murray, putting up 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a massive five steals in the win.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) May 6, 2021
Utah are currently three point favorites for this clash but we think this should be closer to a pick ‘em. Both teams have beaten the other this season, splitting the previous two matchups, both of which were in Denver. Given this one is in Utah, where the Jazz are 29-4 on the season, it obviously gives the home side a massive advantage but the Nuggets have the fifth best road record in the league and will be no easy beats in this one.
The Nuggets have now become the fourth team to be in the top 10 for both offensive and defensive rating, but Utah has been there all season and is currently ranked third for both. The Jazz average more points while allowing fewer when playing at home and even without Conley and Mitchell, we like them to get the job done and keep their noses in front of the Suns on top of the West.
New York Knicks @ Phoenix Suns – 10PM ET
The New York Knicks continue their West-coast road trip against the Phoenix Suns tonight, with both teams looking to bounce back after disappointing losses last time out. New York had their three game winning streak ended by Denver while Phoenix had their five game winning streak cut off in Atlanta.
The Suns were on the second night of a back to back, after needing overtime to beat the lowly Cavs, but that is still no excuse for their performance. The best road team in the league, and at the time the best team in the league, allowed the Hawks to put up 135 points, losing by 32. Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges were the only ones who got going offensively, scoring 30 and 18 points respectively, but the defense was the worry.
The 135 points is the most that Phoenix has given up all season, but they might get some respite in this one. They return back home and New York averages the sixth lowest points per game in the league this season, a number that gets even worse when they are on the road.
In their incredibly disappointing showing against the Nuggets, Immanuel Quickley top scored with just 18 points while their All Star, Julius Randle, managed just 14 points on 5/15 shooting from the floor. The 97 points that the Knicks managed is their lowest tally for over five weeks, which is never a good sign when playing another top 10 defense tonight.
These sides met just over two weeks ago, in New York, where the Knicks play a lot better basketball. Phoenix still managed to pick up the win, getting over the line by eight points and that performance along with the change in locations is more than enough for us to side with the Suns in this one.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Portland Trail Blazers – 10PM ET
One night after a demoralising loss to the Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers are backing it up in a very important clash against the Portland Trail Blazers this evening. The two sides have the exact same record with just six games remaining and the season series, which would be a tiebreaker if needed, is currently tied 1-1. The winner of this game essentially ensures that they avoid the play-ins and secure the sixth seed, or better, in the West.
Portland comes into this one a lot healthier and with much better form. The Blazers have won five of their last six games, including a massive win in Cleveland on Wednesday, but they have lost six straight at home and that has to be alarming. Damian Lillard thrived against the Cavs, putting up 32 points and nine assists, helping the Blazers score 141 for the game.
— NBA (@NBA) May 6, 2021
That sort of offensive output is something that the Lakers simply won’t be able to keep up with. With LeBron James and Dennis Schroder already sidelined, Anthony Davis lasted just 9 minutes last night before turning his ankle and then getting ruled out with back spasms. Given that was just last night, despite him saying he plans to play, you can imagine that the Lakers will play it safe on the short turn around, meaning they will be using the entire rotation for this clash.
As stated, this is a must win game for both sides but the Blazers are better prepared and better equipped to get the job done tonight. Given how shorthanded we expect the Lakers to be, Portland should be able to overcome their recent troubles at home and get the win while jumping up to sixth in the standings.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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