NBA Picks for Sunday, January 14

Each day Contest General offers you the opportunity to pick head-to-head NBA matchups from some of the league’s top games.

Sunday offers a four-game slate, but ESPN’s nightcap of Minnesota hosting Portland features two of the top teams in the Western Conference going at it in what potentially is a playoff preview. It is easily the best game of the day, but perhaps the most entertaining tilt will be a showdown between Phoenix and Indiana.

Below is a guide on which teams to pick.

Portland Trail Blazers at Minnesota Timberwolves

If the season were to end right now, these two would match up in a 4-5 tilt in the Western Conference playoffs. At the midway point, these two seem like the surest bets outside of the Big Three in the West because of their star power.

They also excel on opposite ends of the floor.

Portland ranks seventh in scoring defense, part of a unit that holds opponents to the fifth-lowest field goal percentage in the league. The Blazers have held opposing teams to fewer than 100 points on 18 different occasions entering the weekend, posting a 14-4 record in those games.

Meanwhile, the Wolves are seventh in scoring offense, putting up at least 110 points 21 times already this season. They are 19-2 in those games.

Minnesota hasn’t been world beaters defensively, but what they have done is force opponents into turnovers – which is part of the reason this team scores so many points. The team’s 16.1 turnovers forced per games ranks third in the NBA.

If this game is anything like the first meeting, it’ll be worth your time.

C.J. McCollum hit a jumper with 44 seconds left to put Portland up one, only to see a pair of Jimmy Butler free throws with two seconds on the clock propel Minnesota to a 108-107 win. Butler finished with 37 points and the Timberwolves overcame a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit.

Minnesota has won six straight at home entering this weekend and 10 of 13 overall, and I don’t see its winning ways changing here.

Indiana Pacers at Phoenix Suns

Two weeks ago, it would’ve been clear that Indiana was the favorite. But now, that’s not necessarily the case.
While the Suns are 4-3 in their last seven games entering the weekend, the Pacers are in the midst of their worst stretch of basketball this season, losing six of eight.

Fans should be exposed to a shootout.

Both teams rank in the top half of the league in points per game. Both teams also rank in the bottom half of the league in scoring defense. No squad allows more points per game than the Suns and few allow opponents to shoot a higher field goal percentage than the Pacers.

Indiana has dropped three straight and five of its last seven games on the road. On the verge of starting a five-game Western Conference road trip, it will be imperative to get this win, especially considering Portland and San Antonio are also included.

Pacers win in a shootout.

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