NBA Monday best bets: Fade favored Clippers after early struggles
We've gotten off to a 9-4 start on our NBA picks against the spread this season. Can we keep that momentum going into the second week? Here are our best bets for Monday:
Entering the season, we knew the Magic would be hard-pressed to generate offense without a proven shot-creator in the backcourt. So far, that's proven to be true - Orlando scored 97 points and 96 points in its first two contests, respectively, and it needed a Herculean effort from Cole Anthony to reach 110 points on Sunday against a Knicks defense it saw just two days prior.
Don't expect to see a showing like that against the Heat, who held the Bucks to 95 points in their season opener and kept the Pacers to 86 points in regulation before overtime pushed their total higher. Orlando has scored fewer than 100 points in four of its last six games dating back to last season and will struggle to crack that number against Miami's defense.
Pick: Magic team total under 99
The Nuggets were my favorite value bet to come out of the West entering the year and they've looked the part through two games, blitzing the Suns on Wednesday before closing out a sneaky Spurs team on Friday despite a pedestrian night from beyond the arc.
Denver enters this game well-rested ahead of its first contest at home, where it boasted the NBA's seventh-best record (25-11) in 2020-21 and went a perfect 6-0 straight up as a double-digit favorite, winning by an average of 10.8 points. The Cavaliers have exceeded expectations but will struggle to own the paint against Nikola Jokic and Co. in this one.
Pick: Nuggets -10
Is it too early to be concerned about the Clippers? Sure, it's only been two games, but Paul George's heroics have been spoiled in a pair of losses to the Warriors and Grizzlies - the latter winning outright as a 4-point road underdog.
Los Angeles shot 43% from the field in both contests and will need to do better to keep pace with the Trail Blazers, who dropped 134 points in Saturday's rout of the Suns. CJ McCollum (28 points, 6-of-11 from three) was the catalyst in that one and has been Portland's best source of offense early on, much like he was early in the 2020-21 season. If he's firing again on Monday, watch out.
Pick: Trail Blazers +3