TheSpread.com NBA Picks and Predictions 2/18

TheSpread.com NBA Picks and Predictions 2/18

Our team of writers and handicappers hand out their NBA picks and predictions for Wednesday, February 18.

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Chicago Bulls at Milwaukee Bucks, 8:05PM ET

The Chicago Bulls didn't have a player compete in Sunday's All-Star game, but they still generated a lot of news during the break.

The Bulls look to put aside trade rumors and reports of their general manager stepping down Wednesday night with a strong effort against the Milwaukee Bucks, one of the teams they're chasing for a playoff spot.

While Chicago (23-30) didn't have lofty expectations this season, many believed they could be competitive after selecting Derrick Rose first overall in the draft. For most of the first half of the season, though, the Bulls struggled.

General manager John Paxson has been criticized for the team's performance and on Friday, a published report said he would step down - something the team has denied. First-year coach Vinny Del Negro said he spoke to Paxson over the weekend and they joked about the rumors. Del Negro also said he expects Paxson to stay on the job for the rest of the season.

Power forward Tyrus Thomas, who is averaging 17.8 points and 10.6 rebounds in five games this month, has also been the focus of several trade rumors. With the deadline looming on Thursday, his name has been mentioned in potential deals with Phoenix and Toronto.

NBA Free Pick: Milwaukee  – Best Line: +1.5 Sports Interaction

Denver Nuggets at Philadelphia 76ers, 8:05PM ET

Barely a week into the 2008-09 season, the Denver Nuggets pulled off a blockbuster trade for Chauncey Billups. It not only made them one of the league's biggest first-half surprises but also a potential title contender.

Billups looks to help the Northwest Division-leading Nuggets carry their first-half momentum into the stretch run when they play their first game since the All-Star break Wednesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wachovia Center.

Denver (36-17) opened the season with three losses in its first four games, but is 35-14 since trading Allen Iverson to Detroit for Billups.

Billups has made an immediate impact with the Nuggets, averaging 18.0 points and 6.2 assists. The veteran point guard also directs the league's sixth-highest scoring offense (103.5) and is efficiently distributing the ball to Carmelo Anthony, who is averaging a team-high 21.8 points.

The Nuggets, who have a 3 1/2-game division lead over second-place Portland, have been eliminated in the first round of the last five postseasons. They appear primed for a different result in 2008-09.

NBA Free Pick: Denver – Best Line: -1.5 Sports Interaction

Orlando Magic at New Orleans Hornets, 8:05PM ET

Barely a week into the 2008-09 season, the Denver Nuggets pulled off a blockbuster trade for Chauncey Billups. It not only made them one of the league's biggest first-half surprises but also a potential title contender.

Billups looks to help the Northwest Division-leading Nuggets carry their first-half momentum into the stretch run when they play their first game since the All-Star break Wednesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wachovia Center.

Denver (36-17) opened the season with three losses in its first four games, but is 35-14 since trading Allen Iverson to Detroit for Billups.

Billups has made an immediate impact with the Nuggets, averaging 18.0 points and 6.2 assists. The veteran point guard also directs the league's sixth-highest scoring offense (103.5) and is efficiently distributing the ball to Carmelo Anthony, who is averaging a team-high 21.8 points.

The Nuggets, who have a 3 1/2-game division lead over second-place Portland, have been eliminated in the first round of the last five postseasons. They appear primed for a different result in 2008-09.

NBA Free Pick: Orlando – Best Line: +1.5 Sports Interaction

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