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NBA Picks and Predictions for January 20th

Cross New Jersey off the “Carmello Watch” list; according to reports this morning on NBA.com. It is unlikely the trade rumors will subside until after the trade deadline, but for now, again, it appears Anthony will remain a Denver Nugget.

It’s a good thing for Denver too. Without Anthony’s 35 point performance last night it’s hard to envision them knocking off Oklahoma City, even at home. Assuming he is not dealt before the offseason, the playoff picture in the West is going to remain tight for all eight positions as well as jockeying to qualify.

Tonight features the typically-thin Thursday night schedule of games, however the TNT doubleheader should be a real treat. Let’s breakdown those two matchups for today’s free picks.

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Today’s Free NBA Picks:

Dallas Mavericks @ Chicago Bulls -3.5 (Total: 187)

What on Earth is going on in Dallas? Three weeks ago they were in lockstep with the Spurs atop the Eastern Conference, on a pace to win a franchise-record 70 games, and certainly a viable candidate to dethrone the two-time defending champion Lakers. An untimely injury to Dirk (not that there is ever a good time…), an injury to Caron Butler, and next thing you know the Mavs are in an absolute free-fall, dropping six consecutive games.

That made last night’s double-digit win over the Lakers about as important a regular season game you can have in January. The media, the coaches, even the players approached last night’s game as if it were a “must-win.”

Now, less than 24 hours later the need to tee it back up tonight in Chicago. Stats aside, beating the Lakers, flying across the country and stepping back onto the court against an upper-echelon team is a lot to ask of any NBA team.

The three point line says Vegas considers these two teams pretty even on a neutral floor. With the fatigue factor, both physically and mentally, getting the Bulls and only having to lay three points seems like too good of a value pick to pass up.

PICK: Chicago Bulls -3.5 (-105 @ BetED.com – $250 sign up bonus)

Los Angeles Clippers @ Portland Trailblazers -3.5 (Total: 195)

Is there any better ticket right now than Blake Griffin? Even as his double-double streak was snapped last night at 27 games (good for fourth longest in NBA history), the Clippers continued to roll. Not that Griffin didn’t contribute; his streak snapped on a 29point, 8 board evening, but the team is becoming more than just the Blake Griffin show. Eric Gordon is quietly developing into an All-Star caliber shooting guard and Baron Davis seems to be rejuvenated by the recent success and is looking more like the Baron Davis circa 2006-2007.

The Clips have won four straight overall and last night recorded their highest point total of the season (126). Portland also prevailed last night, winning a hard-fought overtime contest with Sacramento.

Complicating things for the Blazers is, you guessed it, more injuries. The seemingly snake-bitten Blazers bid farewell to another important contributor this week when Marcus Camby tore his meniscus. It’s been a long time since the Clips won in the Rose Garden, but if they were ever going to snap that streak, the cards certainly align well for them tonight.

The Clippers average just under 100 points scored per game, but during their latest stretch winning six of seven, that output has leapt up to nearly 110 points a night. The Clippers are beginning the gel and have incredible potential if they continue to grow.

Since the Clippers disastrous 1-13 start they have gone a more than respectable 15-12. Tonight’s game has a little extra meaning for the young Clippers as they are beginning to see Portland and the #8 spot in the playoffs come into focus. They will be ready to play tonight on the road and get an important win.

PICK: Los Angeles Clippers +3.5 (-105 @ BetED.com – $250 sign up bonus)

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