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NBA Daily Picks: Lakers Need Easy Win Against Pistons, Suns Face Kings In Wild Wild West

Fadeaway World did not have the best outing for the post-Super Bowl 10-game slate the NBA on offer last night, going 4-6 in a night of upsets and controversial referee decisions. Tonight’s six-game slate brings a lot of excitement as the NBA heads closer to the All-Star break. Our picks’ record this season has been 211-115, predicting games at a 64.7% accuracy rate. 

Tonight’s lineup won’t be as filled as last night’s but features quality clashes with major implications on the standings. The Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks will meet in a playoff rematch while the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns meet in a pivotal clash for the top-six in the West. The Los Angeles Lakers return to the court to host the league-worst Detroit Pistons.

The Boston Celtics will face the Brooklyn Nets while the Oklahoma City Thunder will be hosted by the Orlando Magic. The West-leading Minnesota Timberwolves will be in action against the Portland Trail Blazers. Here are our expert picks and predictions for the contests on offer.

Boston Celtics At Brooklyn Nets – 7:30 PM EST

Celtics Last 10 Games: 8-2

Nets Last 10 Games: 4-6

Celtics Injuries: Kristaps Porzingis – Day To Day (Back), Xavier Tillman – Out (Knee), Jaden Springer – Out (Ankle)

Nets Injuries: Cameron Johnson – Out (Adductor), Dariq Whitehead – Out (Shin)

Last 5 Meetings: Celtics Lead 4-1

The Boston Celtics (41-12) are solidifying themselves as the best team in the NBA and the measuring stick in the East. They’re on a four-game winning streak with inspiring performances by both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, along with Kristaps Porzingis as the third star of the team. Trade additions Xavier Tillman and Jaden Springer won’t be available, so Boston will rely heavily on their core rotation.

The Brooklyn Nets (21-31) have been streaky and inconsistent. They’re coming off a win over the San Antonio Spurs with new addition Dennis Schroder filling a much-needed hole at point guard. Mikal Bridges hasn’t been the ideal No. 1 scoring option, but the Nets will hope he and the likes of Cam Thomas have a strong night, with Ben Simmons also in action. Even with that, the Nets likely won’t have enough firepower to hang in with Boston.

Prediction: Celtics def. Nets 124-107

Oklahoma City Thunder At Orlando Magic – 7:30 PM EST

Thunder Last 10 Games: 6-4

Magic Last 10 Games: 6-4

Thunder Injuries: Bismack Biyombo – Out (New Signing), Gordon Hayward – Out (Ankle)

Magic Injuries: N/A

Last 5 Meetings: Thunder Lead 3-2

The Oklahoma City Thunder (36-17) shook off a one-sided loss to the Mavericks with a win over the Kings on Saturday. They’re chasing the Timberwolves for the No. 1 seed in the West but a loss could drop them to the same record as the Clippers and Nuggets below them. The core team is all healthy with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looking to go off for another defining performance in what may be an MVP season.

The Orlando Magic (29-24) have struggled with inconsistency after a hot start to the season. They’re looking to add a third consecutive win against OKC and will fancy their chances. The team is fully healthy and will hope the combination of Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner is too much for a thin OKC frontcourt. In addition, star perimeter defender Jalen Suggs will be a tough matchup for OKC. But the Magic’s inability to string string performances over multi-game stretches means we’ll go with the stable and healthy Thunder.

Prediction: Thunder def. Magic 123-119

Miami Heat At Milwaukee Bucks – 8 PM EST

Heat Last 10 Games: 4-6

Bucks Last 10 Games: 4-6

Heat Injuries: Duncan Robinson – Day To Day (Elbow), Jimmy Butler – Out (Personal), Terry Rozier – Out (Knee), Josh Richardson – Out (Shoulder), Dru Smith – Out (Knee)

Bucks Injuries: Khris Middleton – Out (Ankle)

Last 5 Meetings: Heat Lead 3-2

The Miami Heat (28-25) are in the midst of another rough regular season, struggling to remain in the top six of the East. The team has been depleted with injuries and other problems all year but has managed to stay competitive. They suffered a close loss to the Celtics in their last outing but will feel confident that they can still be a dangerous steam without Jimmy Butler and Terry Rozier.

The Milwaukee Bucks (35-19) have been transformed defensively under Doc Rivers. While the coach struggled to string together wins in his first seven games in charge of the franchise, he’s led them to their first two-game winning streak under him. Giannis Antetokounmpo is producing at an MVP level, but Damian Lillard is struggling to fit into the offense. The Heat are a tricky matchup, but they’re far too depleted for us to pick them in a game against the Bucks, especially with Giannis’ current form.

Prediction: Bucks def. Heat 118-113

Minnesota Timberwolves At Portland Trail Blazers – 9:30 PM EST

Wolves Last 10 Games: 7-3

Blazers Last 10 Games: 3-7

Wolves Injuries: Jaylen Clark – Out (Achilles)

Blazers Injuries: Anfernee Simons – Day To Day (Ankle), Duop Reath – Day To Day (Knee), Scoot Henderson – Day To Day (Foot), Malcolm Brogdon – Out (Elbow), Shaedon Sharpe – Out (Abdomen), Moses Brown – Out (Shoulder), Robert Williams III – Out (Knee)

Last 5 Meetings: Blazers Lead 3-2

The Minnesota Timberwolves (37-16) picked up the best win of their season so far last night against the Clippers. On the second night of a back-to-back, the Wolves will hope they can prove their championship mettle with another road win. Despite Anthony Edwards‘ inconsistency over the recent games, the Wolves have stayed strong and separated themselves from the chasing West pack by one game, with the opportunity to add another win.

The Portland Trail Blazers (15-37) are in the part of their tank process where most of the lineup is unavailable, prompting the franchise to give minutes to G Leaguers and two-way contract players. While the Blazers will play with the likes of Jerami Grant and Deandre Ayton, they’re simply not the caliber of players that can lead Portland to a win against a defensive juggernaut like Minnesota. The result of this should be fairly straightforward.

Prediction: Wolves def. Blazers 109-100

Sacramento Kings At Phoenix Suns – 9:30 PM EST

Kings Last 10 Games: 6-4

Suns Last 10 Games: 6-4

Kings Injuries: Chris Duarte – Out (Ankle), Sasha Vezenkov – Out (Ankle)

Suns Injuries: Damion Lee – Out (Knee)

Last 5 Meetings: Kings Lead 4-1

The Sacramento Kings (30-22) might regret staying pat with their roster from last season. The playoff locks from last year have regressed into being a play-in team and have struggled to find the same periods of consistency they enjoyed last year. But they’re a very competitive roster nonetheless, with star duo De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis among the best pairs in the league. They’re always in games with that duo sharing the floor, making them a playoff contender.

The Phoenix Suns (31-22) overcame a slow start to the season after finding injury luck swing over to their side. The almost entirely healthy roster will be motivated to beat Sacramento and get some space from the chasing back for the sixth seed. The Kings don’t have the defensive options to stop Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, but just limiting theirs and Bradley Beal’s production will be enough. I don’t think they can get it done and will drop a big game to rivals Phoenix.

Prediction: Suns def. Pistons 134-128

Detroit Pistons At Los Angeles Lakers – 10:00 PM EST

Pistons Last 10 Games: 4-6

Lakers Last 10 Games: 6-4

Pistons Injuries: Evan Fournier – Day To Day (Trade), Malachi Flynn – Day To Day (Trade), Quentin Grimes – Out (Knee), Isaiah Stewart – Out (Ankle)

Lakers Injuries: LeBron James – Day To Day (Ankle), Anthony Davis – Day To Day (Hip), Max Christie – Out (Ankle), Cam Reddish – Out (Ankle), Jarred Vanderbilt – Out (Foot), Gabe Vincent – Out (Knee)

Last 5 Meetings: Lakers Lead 5-0

The Detroit Pistons (8-44) have in many ways, turned their season around. They have amassed half of their season total wins in the last four games, looking more cohesive and competitive as the season goes along. Despite shedding talented players like Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks, the Pistons look to be more cohesive around Monty Williams, giving almost every team a run for their money.

The Los Angeles Lakers (27-26) need an easy win more than other teams in the NBA. Not only are they trying to woo LeBron James into staying with the franchise beyond the end of this season they’re hoping to make the most of a healthy year from LeBron and Anthony Davis. The Lakers’ strong form against lower-ranked opposition should continue, as the likes of Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey will see their recent strong play come to an end with a loss against the veteran Lakers.

Prediction: Lakers def. Pistons 112-104

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