NBA picks: Pacers vs. Heat, Nuggets vs. Lakers
Two teams trending in different directions take center court for Monday’s NBA games. At 8:00 PM ET, T.J. Warren and the surging Indiana Pacers try to climb further up the Eastern Conference ladder against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat. At 9:00 PM ET, the Lakers try to end their three-game slump against the Denver Nuggets. Here’s how we think Monday’s action will unfold.
Tue, August 11 2020, 12:00 AM
Paramount to Miami’s success is finding some way to stop the juggernaut that is T.J. Warren. Warren is averaging 34.8 points per game and is giving Indiana’s fourth ranked defense a break with his offensive productivity.
Should Indiana win, the Pacers will take the No. 4 seed at the Heat’s expense. This isn’t an easy ask for the Pacers, especially with Victor Oladipo still not at 100% and Domatas Sabonis out with a foot injury. The Pacers are going to be facing the Heat at full strength come Monday, and Jimmy Butler is up to the task of cooling Warren off.
The Heat have been shorthanded with Butler and Goran Dragic sidelined, but the two will return and can cause problems for the Pacers. Miami has shot 48.8% from the field and averaged 117.5 points per game against Indiana so far this season, and they should be expected to stretch the still recovering Oladipo to his limit.
It should be a close game, but a full-powered Heat roster might be too much for Indiana to handle, even if Warren gets a hot hand. The Heat will be the fresher team and pull off a close win.
Tue, August 11 2020, 1:00 AM
There is a sense that the Los Angeles Lakers are squandering their momentum despite locking up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Since that accomplishment, the Lakers have been blasted out of the building, losing three straight. As LeBron James and the Lakers continue to sleepwalk their way towards a potential playoff calamity, the Nuggets are closing in on the No. 2 seed.
Unlike the teams that have dusted the Lakers, Denver’s defense gives up a lot of points and their line-up isn’t built to win shootouts. Nikola Jokic is sure to have his hands full trying to keep up with James and Anthony Davis.
The best chance the Nuggets have to win this game is if the Lakers continue to take it easy and treat this as another meaningless game, but I expect the Lakers’ stars to put on a show and snap their losing streak, leaving Denver in the dust.