NBA predictions, picks today: Can Nuggets survive Knicks without Nikola Jokic?

Once again, we cashed on just one of our three NBA bets against the spread on Tuesday, nailing the under between the injured Grizzlies and Pelicans but falling short on the Jazz and Nets. Who saw the Kings’ 153-point explosion coming against one of the league’s best defenses over the last couple of weeks?

Alas, we’re back on the grind for Wednesday’s slate, which features a whopping 10 games for the midweek bettor. Here’s a look at which teams we’re betting at BetMGM:

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NBA Wednesday odds, lines, picks (via BetMGM)

  • Magic +6.5 vs. Timberwolves
  • Mavericks -5.5 vs. Rockets
  • Knicks +2.5 @ Nuggets

Magic vs. Timberwolves prediction and analysis

Entering this season, I had high hopes for the Timberwolves and their new-look lineup featuring two elite big men. A month later, I’ve seen enough to know this is an absolute trap to lay this many points on the road against a team with similar underlying metrics.

That may sound hard to believe, but it’s true: Minnesota has only outscored Orlando by 1.2 points per 100 possessions this year, with both teams boasting near-identical efficiency metrics on offense and defense. That probably says less about the Magic than it does about the Timberwolves, who have been among the NBA’s biggest disappointments so far.

Sunday’s win against the Cavaliers – who were without Donovan Mitchell or Jarrett Allen, among others – was just the second win for this team in its last eight games, with the other coming against the embarrassingly bad Rockets. I just don’t see the gap between these two teams that oddsmakers do.

Magic vs. Timberwolves pick

Magic +6.5 (BetMGM)

Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic
Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic
NBAE via Getty Images

Mavericks vs. Rockets prediction and analysis

Speaking of those lowly Rockets, few teams have been a better bet to consistently fade than Houston, which is 6-7 ATS on the year despite consistently dealing as a sizable underdog.

That includes a 3-6 ATS run over the last nine games with five double-digit losses in that span, including two straight losses by at least 13 points. It’s easy to see why: the Rockets rank 29th in net rating (-8.6) with the fifth-worst offense and second-worst defense on a per-possession basis entering Tuesday.

The Mavericks enter this one without superstar Luka Doncic (rest), who was surprisingly ruled out in the hours before tip-off. Still, Dallas has been a top-10 team all year long and has the supporting talent to emerge victorious against one of the worst rosters in the NBA.

Mavericks vs. Rockets pick

Mavericks -5.5 (BetMGM)

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Nuggets vs. Knicks prediction and analysis

How will the Nuggets look without Nikola Jokic? That’s the big question hanging over Tuesday’s tilt with the reigning two-time MVP entering the COVID-19 protocols ahead of this matchup with the Knicks.

Historically, Jokic’s absence has been bad news for Denver, which owns a troublesome 2-6 record without its superstar center over the last four seasons. It’s not like those games have been close, either: the Nuggets have been outscored by seven points on average in those eight contests and scored fewer than 110 points in all but two of them.

Jalen Brunson of the New York Knicks
Jalen Brunson of the New York Knicks
NBAE via Getty Images

With forward Aaron Gordon (illness) also questionable to play on Thursday, that gives the Knicks a massive advantage down low, while guard Jalen Brunson should have a field day against Denver’s defensively challenged backcourt. Don’t be surprised to see an outright upset here.

Nuggets vs. Knicks pick

Knicks +2.5 (BetMGM)

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