Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant reacts after an assist in the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant reacts after an assist in the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)|Associated Press
NBA

NBA Tuesday: With Lakers-Clippers taking off tonight for Kobe, picks include Knicks vs Hornets, Nuggets vs Grizzlies and Suns vs Mavericks

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

1-0 Monday, 77-77-1 overall

Knicks (+1.5) @ Hornets (208.5)

Pick: Hornets -1.5

I’ll start by saying this is clearly the worst game on the NBA card. If you’re looking for a reason to watch, you’ve come to the wrong place. However, our job is just to give you reasons to bet on games and that I can give you here. Charlotte comes into this game at 15-31, three ahead of the Knicks in the loss column. There’s nothing impressive at all about 15-31 in most cases and without context it’s an objectively bad record. But, the Hornets had a chance to be the worst team in the NBA this season. With Kemba Walker departing for the Celtics in free agency, a mediocre team at best was set to bottom out. Not only are the Knicks worse than the Hornets, but so are the Cavaliers and Hawks with 2.5 months left in the regular season. I figured if the Hornets are at least run-of-the-mill bad instead of a dumpster fire, they must win enough games like tonight against other bad teams. Charlotte has played 12 games against teams in the East that are not currently in a playoff spot. In those 12, the Hornets are 8-4 straight-up and 10-2 against the spread. In these kinds of games, it’s often a question of who wants it more and we’ve seen enough of them with the Hornets to think that they will want this one too. It’s a lot of players trying to prove their worth in bigger roles and that can be a good thing to bet on against other bad teams. With RJ Barrett sidelined for the Knicks and only needing to give a point and a hook, we’ll certainly take the home team tonight.

Nuggets (+1) @ Grizzlies (224.5)

Pick: Under 224.5

This will be a very similar handicap to our under winner on Friday night in the Nuggets @ Pelicans game. Denver is down several key pieces and while Gary Harris has recently returned to action, Jamaal Murray, Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee remain out. Denver has always been a team that wants to play slow and wear down opponents and that gets emphasized further when it is down scorers like Murray and Millsap. This is also the fifth game in five different cities for the Nuggets. Denver concluded a three-game road trip last Friday in New Orleans, came home for a game Sunday against Houston and now travels to Memphis. Extended travel can wear anyone down so it might be a factor for the Nuggets if they’re sluggish at times tonight. All of this makes us like the game under the total.

Suns (+6.5) @ Mavericks (227)

Pick: Suns +6.5

It’s getting close to put up or shut up time for the Suns. Phoenix is three games south of the playoff cut line right now in the West and if it falls further out of the picture in February, March and the first couple weeks in April might not mean much for a Suns team that would probably love to return to the postseason. Getting points in away games has been a pretty profitable spot for Phoenix this year as the Suns are 10-5 against the number as a road pup. Dallas is finishing up a back-to-back tonight and has recently played playoff teams in the Clippers, Jazz and Thunder within the last week. Additionally, the Mavericks have played six straight games decided by 10 points or less. While we’re only catching 6.5 here, it’s enough for us to take the Suns.

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