Pregame

Thursday NBA: Chicago vs. L.A. Lakers

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It is obvious that the Chicago Bulls are clearly superior to the Los Angeles Lakers, but this looks like a difficult spot for Chicago to be giving this many points on the road. For starters, the Bulls are coming off of a huge emotional overtime win at Golden State, beating the team with the best record in the NBA while snapping the Warriors’ 19-game home winning streak. That would make this a treacherous letdown spot in any event, but to compound matters it is also the start of a back-to-back with a perceived tougher matchup for the Bulls coming up in Phoenix tomorrow, so Chicago does not figure to run up the score. Meanwhile the Lakers covered the spread in a 98-92 home loss to Washington Tuesday, the same Wizards team that beat these Bulls twice earlier this month. The Bulls are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games vs. teams with losing records.

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Pick: Lakers +8½

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Wednesday NBA: Portland vs. Cleveland

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have caught fire since LeBron James returned as they have won seven straight, but this is not the best of spots vs. the Portland Trail Blazers. Cleveland is on a back-to-back after winning 103-95 at Detroit last night while Portland has been off since beating Washington at home 103-96 Saturday in the unexpected return of LaMarcus Aldridge. And remember the Blazers are the third seeds in the stronger Western Conference at 32-13 and they have been a very good road team going 12-8 straight up away from home. Furthermore the Blazers are 18-3 straight up vs. Eastern Conference teams including 6-1 straight up on the road, making them seem like even bigger overlays getting this many points. Portland romped past Cleveland 101-82 in the first meeting this year at home. The Cavaliers are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games vs. teams with winning records.

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Pick: Trail Blazers +6

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Tuesday NBA: Washington vs. L.A. Lakers

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The Washington Wizards are averaging 106.8 points their last four games thanks to John Wall snapping out of his slump, as he scored 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting in Portland Saturday and then tallied 19 points and 16 assists in Denver Sunday. Look for the Washington offense to stay hot vs. the Los Angeles Lakers, who are ranked 29th out of 30 NBA teams in points against while ranking 28th in field goal percentage allowed and 29th in three-point defense. The Wizards won the first meeting this season 111-95, meaning that Washington has averaged 114.7 points in the last three meetings. Yes, Kobe Bryant is out for the season with a torn rotator cuff, but Kobe was injured when these teams met here at Staples last season also, but the game was still a shootout with Washington prevailing 117-107. The ‘over’ is 6-1 in the last seven meetings in Los Angeles.

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Pick: ‘over’ 195

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Monday NBA: Boston vs. Utah

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Offense is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz, but this total seems deflated enough that the ‘over’ may have value. Both of these teams have been involved in higher scoring games lately than earlier in the year. The last nine Boston games have averaged a combined 204.3 points with eight of the nine producing 195 points or more, good enough to go ‘over’ here. The Jazz are just 23rd in the NBA in scoring with 95.8 points per game, but they have suddenly topped 100 points in back-to-back games and are capable of doing so again against a Boston defense ranked 25th in points against at 103.9 per game. These teams went easily ‘over’ in their last meeting when the Jazz won 110-98 here in Utah last January. The ‘over’ is 4-0 in the last four head-to-head meetings in Utah.

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Pick: ‘over’ 194

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Sunday CBB: Northwestern vs. Maryland

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The Maryland Terrapins figure to drop from their 12th ranking after their 89-70 loss at Indiana and they could now have another tough battle vs. the Northwestern Wildcats. Northwestern has lost five straight but four of those losses were by single-digits with three being by five points or less and the fourth being by seven points in overtime at Michigan State. In fact Northwestern is 11-5 ATS this season including 5-0 ATS on the road! The Wildcats figure to slow this game to their preferred pace that ranks 316th in tempo rating, which is a desirable trait for a double-digit dog, as they are above average in offensive turnover percentage at 18.2 percent vs. a national average of 19.5 percent while Maryland is 284th in defensive turnover percentage at only 17.4 percent. Northwestern is 5-1 ATS in its last six road games vs. teams with a home winning percentage greater than .600.

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Pick: Northwestern +11½

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