NBA Weekend Shootaround: February 20-21

by Sean Murphy

We went 4-1 on leans recommended inside this column last Friday so we'll try our luck again this week with a full slate of games on deck Saturday and Sunday. Here are five situations to consider as you handicap the weekend board.

Saturday

Pacers at Rockets


The Rockets should be thrilled to get back home following a tough road trip that saw them go winless in three games. In fact, Houston hasn't posted a victory since back on February 4th in Memphis. As much as I'd like to back the Rockets in this clear bounce-back spot at home, the matchup doesn't suggest such a play. The Pacers will undoubtedly get up for this one after scuffing their heels in their last two games, losing at home against Chicago before needing overtime to defeat the lowly T'Wolves in Minnesota. Dealing with a number of key injuries and struggling to find any consistency with the personnel they have in place, the Rockets just appear unworthy of our dollars right now.

Suns at Grizzlies

Phoenix recently went through a rebuilding phase of sorts similar to what Memphis is in the midst of right now. The Grizzlies have made positive strides this season, entering last night's action with a .500 record. With that being said, I see this as a tough back-to-back spot, even with the Suns in the exact same situation (except needing to travel as well after playing in New Orleans on Friday). Phoenix will be looking for revenge here after letting down their guard in a 108-104 loss in Memphis back in January.

Sunday

T'Wolves at Knicks


This looks like a layup for the surging Knicks at home against the T'Wolves on Sunday. I'm just not convinced they take the matchup seriously enough to cover what is likely to be an inflated pointspread. New York had a wrench thrown in its schedule with Saturday's game against the Spurs postponed. The last time we saw New York play it got off to a fast start but couldn't keep it up and ultimately got squashed by 18 points in Orlando. While Minnesota still isn't winning many games, it has been competitive in virtually every contest since late January (entering Friday's action at least).

Nuggets at Hawks

The Hawks have played well for stretches this season but limped into their two-game set in Boston earlier in the week. Give them credit for rising to the occasion in the first of those two contests, winning on the strength of a huge night from Trae Young. I like the spot for them here, returning home to host an uneven Nuggets squad that might already have one foot on the plane, looking forward to returning home after a four-game road trip out east. Denver will host Damian Lillard and the Blazers on Tuesday night.

Nets at Clippers

Brooklyn is rolling along right now but most will be anticipating a letdown here after a couple of days off in La-La Land following Thursday's win over Lebron and the Lakers. I'm not sure that letdown will be in the cards against a Clippers squad that has had so many key pieces in and out of the lineup in recent games and comes off a tough two-game set against the red hot Utah Jazz. As long as Kawhi Leonard is in the lineup the Clips will undoubtedly earn the 'favorite' tag for this one but I wouldn't count out the Nets as they're finally playing a cohesive brand of basketball. 

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