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Thanksgiving brought us plenty of surprises around the National Basketball League, as we saw Cleveland and New York beat Philadelphia and Boston on the road, while New Orleans and Portland dropped three games in a row each. We had a rough start, backing the heavy-loaded contenders who mostly struggled to meet the expectations, but that will have to change eventually, as some upsets were shocking. Hereof, let's take a look at our top five games for Week 7.
Orlando Magic at Portland Trail Blazers – Wednesday, November 28th
The Portland Trail Blazers (12-8; 11-9 ATS) were on the top of the Western Conference last Monday, but after three losses in a row, they dropped to 6th spot. The Blazers couldn't cover in four straight games and are 2-5 straight up and 1-6 ATS in their previous seven outings, so they need to regroup and get back on the right track as soon as possible. Their first clash of the week versus the Orlando Magic (10-10; 11-9 ATS) seems like a good chance to bounce back, as the Blazers will have a few days to rest and prepare for the matchup.
This will be the second head-to-head duel of the season between these two teams, and the Blazers thrashed of the Magic 128-114 at Florida on October 26th. Orlando is playing well recently, winning six of their last ten games including a 108-104 victory over the Lakers in LA, while the Magic is 4-4 straight up and 5-3 ATS in eight road games this season. However, they struggled against Damian Lillard at home, allowing 41 points to the Blazers' superstar, and I expect to see more of the same on this one. D.J. Augustin and Evan Fournier are not defenders who can cope with Lillard's skills.
The Blazers are 7-3 straight up and ATS in ten games at home this season, and they are 5-1 straight up and 4-1-1 ATS in the last six meetings with Orlando, while Portland is 11-2 straight up and ATS in its last 13 home games against the Eastern Conference. Hereof, I'm backing the Blazers to cover on this one. For those who like streaks, whether to bet on or contrary to the one, the under is 6-0 in Portland's previous six games at home.
My Pick: Portland ATS
Washington Wizards at Philadelphia 76ers – Friday, November 30th
The Washington Wizards' agony continues as they are 7-12 straight up and ATS at the moment, while the Wizards' defensive rating is the second-worst in the league with 114.1 points allowed per 100 possessions. Washington is allowing 117.2 points per game (28th in the league), but they are also capable of putting some points on the scoreboard, as the Wizards are scoring 112.2 points per game (11th) whilst their offensive rating is 16th-best in the league (109.1).
On the other side, the Philadelphia 76ers are getting along with their new addition Jimmy Butler, but the Sixers are still playing fast, averaging 101.9 possessions per 48 minutes. They are scoring 114.1 points per game (9th), and that is exactly the amount that Washington is allowing per 100 possessions. On the other side of the ball, the Sixers are conceding 114.1 points per contest (25th) which is already an interesting fact. Hereof, the stats are suggesting a bunch of points on this one.
This will be the first H2H duel of the season between these two sides, and the over has hit in 15 of Phila's 22 games and in 13 of Washington's 19 outings thus far. The over is 4-1 in the last five H2H meetings, and it is 5-2 in the last seven duels at the Sixers. We saw 240.0 points on average in Phila's last five games and 232.0 points on average in Washington's previous five outings. Hereof, I'm backing the over.
My Pick: Over on the totals
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics – Friday, November 30th
As I've already mentioned, there were some huge upsets in Week 6 including the Cleveland Cavaliers' 121-112 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on the road and the Boston Celtics' 117-109 defeat to the New York Knicks at home. Hereof, I don't expect to see another surprise at TD Garden, so I'm backing the Celtics to smash the Cavs in front of the home audience.
The Boston Celtics (10-10; 7-13 ATS) are still the worst team in the league against the spread, but they are 5-3 ATS at TD Garden and 15-5 ATS in their previous 20 outings on the home court. On the other side, the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-14; 10-8 ATS) are 1-8 straight up and 6-3 ATS in their nine games on the road this season, and they are 2-4 straight up and ATS in the last six H2H meetings with the Celtics on the road.
The Celtics are struggling since the start of the season, but they should build up their form in further weeks. The Cavaliers' wild game is a perfect matchup for the Celtics' team basketball, and if the hosts pit on a strong defensive performance, they should easily shut down the Cavs' offense to cover a certain double-digit spread. Boston is just 1-5 ATS in the last six home games as a double-digit fave, but the Celtics should have a strong motive to hammer the Cavs and get a payoff for the last season's defeat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
My Pick: Boston Celtics ATS
Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers – Saturday, December 1st
The Los Angeles Lakers (11-8; 7-12 ATS) have won seven of their last ten games and four of their previous five matchups at home, as it seems like LeBron James is finding the synergy with his new teammates. On the other hand, the Lakers are struggling against the spread, covering four times in the previous ten games and just three times in their ten home games this season. Likewise, the Lakers are scoring 114.2 points per game (8th in the league), while conceding 112.7 points in a return (22nd), but the under has hit in ten of their last 12 games overall.
On the other side, the Phoenix Suns (4-15; 8-11 ATS) have won just one of their last five games, upsetting the odds at the Milwaukee Bucks 116-114 as double-digit underdogs to earn their first victory on the road this season. The Suns are 3-7 ATS in their ten road games this term, while the over is 4-1 in their previous five outings away from home. Likewise, the over is 9-10 in Phoenix' 19 games so far while the Suns are allowing 114.3 points per contest (26th).
These two teams have already met each other once in this campaign, and the Lakers have beaten the Suns 131-113 in Phoenix, thanks to excellent shooting night with 52.0% from the field. The Lakers will try to speed up the tempo, so I expect to see a lot of run-and-gun basketball here. They shouldn't be listed as massive favorites, and with the margin around eight points, I'll take the hosts and the over.
My Pick: Lakers ATS & Over on the totals