Three at 3 wraps up the week with three more picks for Friday night's NBA action.
1. Washington Wizards at Philadelphia 76ers (-8)
7:00 pm ET
Despite being an impressive 15-8 to start the year, the Sixers are 0-7 against the spread when coming off back-to-back wins this season. Meanwhile, a Wizards team that was downright terrible early on has begun to right the ship in recent weeks. Washington is still below the .500 mark at 8-13, but the team is 6-4 straight up and 5-4-1 against the spread in its last 10 games. Dwight Howard is set to be out indefinitely with a gluteal injury that has hampered him thus far—he’ll be getting surgery on it shortly—but the Wizards should be just fine without him. It helps that they have been moving the ball a lot better recently, because the Sixers are a lousy 4-10 against the spread this season when facing teams that average 23 or more assists per game. The one issue the Wizards could run into in this game is their lack of size. Howard hadn't been great this season, but Washington has little else that can prevent Joel Embiid from dominating inside. At the same time, though, the Wizards have the better guards in a game where that really should matter. And in Otto Porter Jr., Kelly Oubre Jr. and Markieff Morris, Washington has the type of length on the wing that could give both Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler some trouble. The Sixers will likely win this game, but the Wizards can stay within shouting distance.
Pick: Wizards (+8)
2. Utah Jazz at Charlotte Hornets (-2)
Despite the fact that the Jazz lost 121-88 as 4.5-point home favorites against the Indiana Pacers on Monday, the team isn’t playing as poorly as it may seem. That bad loss was sandwiched in between two impressive wins, as Utah beat the Sacramento Kings and Brooklyn Nets by a total of 31 points. Surprisingly the 10-12 Jazz are now 8-6 straight up and 7-7 against the spread when playing on the road this season, which is interesting because they’re typically a better team at home.
The Hornets are playing some good basketball coming into this game, having gone 4-2 straight up and 5-1 against the spread in their last six games. The problem is that this Utah team presents some serious matchup problems for them. For as incredible as Kemba Walker has been this season, Ricky Rubio is a feisty defender that is capable of making him work hard for his buckets. And a big part of Walker’s game is attacking the rim, where Rudy Gobert will be waiting to send his shots away. Even if Walker were to go off—that’s clearly always a possibility—the Jazz have the type of supporting cast that is capable of slowing down Walker’s lackluster group of teammates. Utah will also be playing with a sense of urgency here, as the team knows it needs to start stringing together some wins soon.
Pick: Jazz (+2)
3. Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers (-2.5)
The Blazers have been a Three at 3 favorite this season, but they’ve been struggling as of late. Portland is coming off of a 115-112 win over Orlando on Wednesday, but the Blazers were 10-point favorites in that game. They have now lost three of their last four games and failed to cover in five straight. Their biggest issues have been on the defensive end. After looking solid defensively early in the year, Portland has allowed its opponent to shoot at least 50% from the floor in five of its last seven games. If that doesn’t change soon, they are going to keep slipping in the Western Conference standings.
Meanwhile, Denver comes into this one on a four-game winning streak both straight up and against the spread. The Nuggets have held each of their last four opponents to less than 45% shooting from the floor, so these teams are clearly in different places defensively. That’s going to come into play here. It’s also worth noting that the Nuggets are 8-0 against the spread after back-to-back unders this season—so when they get rolling defensively, they tend to build on it. Also, it seems like a real possibility that Gary Harris will return from his Achilles injury tonight. The Nuggets have been just fine without him, but he possesses the ability to make things hard on either Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum here. And on the other end, Jamal Murray will be looking to quiet what is usually a loud Portland crowd.
Pick: Nuggets (+2.5)
Overall Record: 50-43-3