Today's NBA Picks: Lakers vs Pacers | Bucks vs Mavs

The NBA offers up five games for our betting pleasure Saturday, including a couple of interesting inter-conference match-ups involving the top two teams in the League. Who do we like for our free NBA picks for Saturday?

Lakers -7.5 vs. Pacers, 6 pm ET, TNT

Since the re-start, Los Angeles is 2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS, after losing to Houston Thursday night 113-97. The Lakers, playing without LeBron James, trailed 33-26 after one quarter and never fully recovered. They also came up short ATS as dogs of 3.5 points.

On the night LA hit just 2/19 from 3-point range while allowing the Rockets to go 21/57 from beyond the arc.

Wednesday night, with James in the lineup, the Lakers lost to Oklahoma City 105-86.

At 51-17 overall, Los Angeles has already clinched the top seed in the upcoming Western Conference playoffs. So one has to wonder what LA's motivation is for these last few seedings games.

Indiana, meanwhile, is 3-1 both SU and ATS since the re-start. The Pacers won their first three games down in the bubble but lost to Phoenix Thursday night 114-99. Indiana led that game 75-72 late in the third quarter, then gave up a 21-0 Suns run and could not recover.

On the afternoon, the Pacers shot 44 percent from the floor while allowing Phoenix to shoot 47 percent.

At 42-27 overall, Indiana is involved in a three-team scrum for the 4-5-6 spots in the Eastern Conference, which is basically an effort to avoid Boston in the first round of the playoffs.

These teams met back in December, a 105-102 Indiana victory in Indianapolis. James played for LA that night, but C Anthony Davis did not.

Free NBA Pick: James is listed as questionable for Saturday, and we can't help but question LA's motivation for this game. So we're taking Indiana and the points here.

Bucks -5.5 vs. Mavericks, 8:30 pm ET, ESPN

Milwaukee is 2-2 both SU and ATS during this re-start, after coming from behind to beat Miami Thursday afternoon 130-116. The Bucks trailed the short-handed Heat by 23 points midway through the second quarter but used a 42-18 run to take an 82-81 lead in the third. Late in the game, Milwaukee posted a 20-0 run to take control, on its way toward the win and the somewhat unlikely cover as a nine-point favorite.

On the afternoon, the Bucks shot 53 percent from the floor, and while the defense was terrible in the first half, Milwaukee allowed just 43 points in the second half.

At 55-14, the Bucks have now clinched the top seed in the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs.

Dallas, meanwhile, is 1-3 SU, 0-4 ATS since the re-start, after losing to the Clippers Thursday 126-111. That game was tied at 101 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Mavericks got outscored 25-10 from there to lose both SU and ATS as four-point dogs.

On the night, the Mavs shot 45 percent from the field but allowed the Clippers to shoot 54 percent.

At 41-30 overall, Dallas is trying to catch Oklahoma City, Utah or Houston in the Western Conference standings, in an attempt to avoid meeting the Clippers again in the first round of the upcoming playoffs.

These teams met back in December, a 120-116 Mavericks victory up in Milwaukee. That loss snapped an 18-game winning streak for the Bucks.

Free NBA Pick: As with the Lakers, we can't help but question Milwaukee's motivation for this game. And the Bucks certainly looked disinterested in the first half Thursday against Miami. Meanwhile, Dallas would certainly like to improve on its play of late, heading toward the post-season. We're taking the Mavs and the points here.

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