Brian Scalabrine: NBA champion on why Nikola Jokic deserves to be MVP and tonight's best bet

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Brian Scalabrine

NBA· 1 month ago

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11-year NBA vet and member of the world champion 2008 Boston Celtics. I'll be writing regular columns here at Pickswise, giving my thoughts on the NBA betting market.

I’m Brian Scalabrine, 11-year NBA vet and member of the world champion 2008 Boston Celtics. Moving forward I’ll be writing regular columns here at Pickswise, giving my thoughts on the NBA betting market. It’s been a busy week in the association, and there’s a lot to digest.

Today we’ll be talking about why I think Nikola Jokic should win MVP this season, and how the Nets are likely cooked if they end up in that #9/10 play-in game. Then we’ll take a look at a couple of my favorite bets for today’s NBA slate.

Check out Pickswise’s best bets for all of tonight’s NBA games

Nikola Jokic deserves MVP

A couple of months ago, the NBA MVP race was all but over. At the time, Joel Embiid was dominating without Ben Simmons, and rightfully getting a ton of credit for it. Meanwhile, there was some voter fatigue toward Jokic after he won the award last year. But that’s all faded. A lot has changed in the past couple of months, and Jokic has now surpassed Embiid to become the favorite.

Jokic has dominated the second half of the season, and his on/off court splits are some of the biggest discrepancies for a player in the history of the game. That shows in very plain terms just how valuable he is to this Nuggets team. In part because of those on/off metrics the basketball nerds love Jokic, and I’m absolutely included in that.

He 100% deserves to be MVP. That being said, that doesn’t mean I’d put down cash on him at -310 at FanDuel. I still think Joel Embiid is going to end up winning the award even though personally I’d vote Jokic, and Embiid is available at +250.

The Nets won’t be able to beat the Heat

It’s starting to look like the Nets will be headed to the #9/10 play-in tournament loser bracket, which would’ve been unthinkable at the beginning of the season. That means they have no shot at the 7-seed, and will have to win back-to-back games just to get to be the 8-seed. If that’s the case, they have zero chance of beating the Miami Heat in the first round.

If they have to play in the 9/10 game and then face the Heat without Ben Simmons, I just don’t see them pulling it out. Miami is probably the second-most physically dominant team in the Eastern Conference. Their confidence is through the roof that they can win against anybody, and they won’t be intimated by the Nets.

I get it, Kevin Durant is the best player in the world. But the Nets don’t have the bodies to defend at a high enough level to play two play-in games that week leading into the playoffs and then out-physical and outsmart the Heat. If they can’t catch the Hawks for the 8-seed before the end of the regular season, they’re not winning a title.

NBA best bet #1: Indiana Pacers +12.5 (-115) over Philadelphia 76ers

The Indiana Pacers are getting 12.5 here against the 76ers. I know the Pacers have looked rough and the Sixers have looked strong, but getting that many points at home is very appealing. I’m not saying Indiana will win this game, but I do think they can keep it somewhat close. The 76ers don’t necessarily need this win and Doc Rivers will be conscious of the minutes he gives his players as he starts looking ahead to the playoffs. That could allow Indiana back into the game. Take the Pacers and the points.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Philadelphia 76ers vs Indiana Pacers

NBA best bet #2: Washington Wizards +11.5 (-115) over Minnesota Timberwolves

Do not overreact to the Wizards getting blasted by the Celtics by 40. This team played hard and they’re playing a style of basketball that’s not easy to guard. There’s a lot of pressure on the Timberwolves right now to get out of the play-in game. This matchup has the feel of a big-time upset and a disappointing loss for the Timberwolves. I’m not ready to go that far but I do like the Wizards covering this hefty spread. If you’re feeling really bold, take the Wizards in the money line. I’m expecting a close game down the stretch.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Washington Wizards vs Minnesota Timberwolves

Pickswise is the home of free NBA picks and predictions. Make sure to also check out our NBA parlays and NBA prop bets tabs for more expert picks. 

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