NBA picks: Monday, March 3

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NBA picks: Monday, March 3

Safe sides

Knicks (+4) at Pistons

There are pride games, gut-check games and those that determine if a team has truly quit on its season. All of the above could be applied to the Knicks, a team that has free-fallen to the tune of six straight losses yet has actually managed not to lose ground on the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs because the Hawks have dropped nine of 10. With Detroit currently sitting 1.5 games ahead of New York in the East, playing nearly as bad (four straight losses, 1-7 over last eight games) and boasting a substandard 13-19 home record, the formula is there for the Knicks to take at least one small step toward salvaging a season that remains nominally alive because the East is simply that bad.

Nuggets (+5.5) vs. Wolves

Laying significant points with a road team is not advisable to begin with, let alone a middling squad like Minnesota. Sure, the Wolves have played better recently, winning five of their last six, including a 3-1 mark on their current five-game road swing. But ending a road trip at altitude in Denver is no easy proposition, particularly against a Nuggets contingent that’s already won two of the three meetings between the teams this season. That last point is key, as both Denver wins came with star point guard Ty Lawson in uniform, whereas he was sidelined during Minnesota’s lone victory. Lawson is set to return after a nine-game absence with a rib fracture – during which the Nuggets went 1-8. And while he will certainly be limited, the effects of Lawson’s return should carry over to the rest of the team in their building.

Wizards vs. Grizzlies – over 190

There aren’t many hotter teams than the Wizards, whose six-game win streak trails only Miami’s current seven-game run. One thing they’ve been doing consistently during the surge is dictate tempo: Washington has put up at least 94 points in each win while averaging a hearty 107.8 points in regulation. Four of those six contests have gone over the total, a trend that’s actually been more prevalent for Memphis lately. The Grizzlies are 6-0 to the over in their last six games, putting up 102.3 points per. Contributing to the string of overs has been a lack of their trademark defense, as Memphis has surrendered at least 92 points in each of those contests, and an average of nearly 99. Against a clicking Wizards squad that will have its home crowd rocking, it’s hard to see that pattern changing in this one.

Overall picks: 6-8-2

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