Today’s Top Picks: Big underdogs rule the day as NBA teams deal with key injuries

March is a weird time in the NBA. Good teams start to get extra cautious when it comes to injuries. Bad teams let their freak flags fly and start tanking with players you’ve never heard of. On a night-to-night basis, it’s extremely difficult to know who exactly you’re betting on in the hours leading up to a game. 

We’re still at the tail end of February, but tonight’s games are littered with absent superstars, and that should serve as a nice barometer for what the next couple of weeks will look like. So let’s dive into tonight’s slate and attempt to navigate these injury-riddled matchups with today’s top picks.

All lines via William Hill Sportsbook.

1. Portland Trail Blazers at Indiana Pacers: Blazers +10

The Pacers may have snapped the six-game losing streak that nearly took them into the All-Star break, but its root causes are still very much alive. Although he’s missed the past two games, Victor Oladipo is still struggling offensively, and with Jeremy Lamb now out for the year, the Pacers can’t afford to be patient with him any longer. Prior to Tuesday’s explosion, the Pacers had shot only 30.5 percent on 3-pointers since Oladipo’s return, which is ranked 29th in that time span. Considering they were also 25th in attempts in that span, the Pacers essentially start every game at an enormous mathematical disadvantage. With C.J. McCollum averaging 32 points on over 45 percent shooting from behind the arc since the All-Star break, that mathematical disadvantage makes a double-digit spread impossible to swallow.

DFS millionaire Mike McClure saw multiple huge cashes again early in the 2019-20 NBA season and got 2020 off to a blistering start with his optimal lineup returning at least 7x on DraftKings on three of the first five days of the year. See tonight’s picks only at SportsLine.  

2. New York Knicks at Philadelphia 76ers: Over 210.5

No amount of injuries could actually convince me to pick the Knicks to win a game. The absences of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, however, at least change the complexion of the game enough a bet involving them doing something good to be viable. The 76ers have allowed 111 points per 100 possessions with both Simmons and Embiid out. While the Knicks are hardly world-beaters offensively, they’ve at least played faster of late, rising from 26th in pace up until Dec. 31 to 20th in the new year. Nearly half of their games (12 of 25) have hit this marker in that span, and most of those involved teams playing with at least one of their two best defenders.

SportsLine pro football expert R.J. White has nailed 11 of his 12 against the spread picks in the XFL, and he’s back with four more for the Week 4 slate. Get all his XFL picks only at SportsLine.

3. Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors: Warriors +10

The Lakers without LeBron James shouldn’t be favored by 10 points against anyone. They’ve played with Anthony Davis but without James once, a 24-point loss to the Denver Nuggets, and while the other game they played without James was a 15-point win over the Oklahoma City Thunder without Davis as well, that should hardly be viewed as sustainable considering the Lakers shot 47 percent on 3s. Without James this season, the Lakers have been outscored by 2.6 points per 100 possessions. Their greatest weakness as a team is the few minutes every night he has to go to the bench. They can certainly still win this game. Doing so by double-digits is just a tall order.

SportsLine MMA analyst Kyle Marley is up nearly $18.000 in the past year on his MMA selections. Check out his selections for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 169 card over at SportsLine.

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