Saturday's Results: 1-2
All Time Results: 19-17, +0.75 Units of Profit
Sacramento Kings +1 @ Washington Wizards - 1 unit
1. The Kings have feasted on bad teams this year, boasting a 22-8 record against those below .500. Good for 7th best in the NBA. Much like the Brooklyn Nets - the Kings success against the NBA's worst comes from the fun & excitement replete within the squad. Whereas many good teams fail to match the intensity of a team they are better than on a given night, the Kings just love to play basketball with one another right now. Over the course of a few months, these young players have grown from an afterthought into an above average NBA team. That's exciting.
Whether it be the Golden State Warriors or the Washington Generals, these players just want to get out there and run and test their ever-growing super powers. Despite the playoffs becoming a more distant aspiration - the Kings will be eager to make the most of the rest of their breakout season.
2. De'Aaron Fox has continued his hockey-stick like progression in his sophomore year in the NBA. At Madison Square Garden last game, Fox displayed one of his best quarters of the year, going 5 for 5 from the field in the 4th as the Kings pulled away. Bradley Beal is unaccustomed to manning up against point guards with Fox's elite athleticism. If the Wizards chose to pin Tomas Satoransky against Fox, I like the match-up even more. Satoransky has the length (6'7) to bother shots in the half court, but is not agile enough to stay in front of Fox in transition. The 240 Over/Under Total set for this game suggests a track meet. Fox will break for lay-ups and hit Buddy Hield and Nemanja Bjelica for tons of trailing 3s.
3. The Wizards have played their last few games without a traditional center. Kings C Willie Caulie Stein actually thrives in this environment, which renders his lack of experience and poor post defense largely irrelevant. He loves to rim run and finish - and the Wizards won't play anyone in this tilt keen on getting in his way.
4. Caution: Over the last few hours the line here has moved from Kings +2 to Kings -1, proving once again the value of getting bets in early in the NBA. I still like the Kings here as moving through 0 isn't as large of a move, as the game cannot end on 0.
Boston Celtics -130 @ Los Angeles Clippers - 1.3 units
1. Both of these teams come into this game riding a winning streak. I'm fading the streak I find to be fraudulent and playing on the streak I think to be telling.
The Clippers have been playing great ball since the All Star break, but much of it against inferior competition and against teams in disarray. In the three games, they played against good teams, they got blown out by the Nuggets, barely beat the Kings - who have their own problems against playoff competition - and narrowly beat the Thunder thanks to an incredibly friendly whistle all night. (46 Free Throw Attempts, OKC's 3 best players all fouled out). Unlike the Thunder, the Celtics are not on a back-to-back and haven't made any comments to the media recently questioning refereeing decisions. (Smart).
The Celtics have won 3 straight after a difficult stretch. They bonded on the 5 hour plane ride from Boston to Oakland, and are finally rounding into form. They are playing for another - not by deferring but by taking on their individual match ups with fervor. Gordon Hayward suddenly looks like a top 30-50 player again. If Jayson Tatum rests with his sore shoulder, I'll be just as excited to see Hayward out there in the starting line up showing what he can do.
2. The Clippers are 2-4 straight up and ATS against the top 5 Eastern Conference teams. 1 of those 2 wins included a 28 point road comeback after Kyrie went down in the 2nd quarter with an injury. The Celtics will want to redeem themselves for that blunder. The other one came in overtime against the Bucks, who were due for a let down after a 20-point blow of the Warriors two days prior.
Charlotte Hornets +370 @ Houston Rockets - .2 units
1. Flat spot for the Rockets: After a narrow road win last night, and before a statement game against the Warriors on Wednesday, the Rockets find themselves in a match up they will struggle to care much about against the Hornets.
After seeing the Warriors humiliating home loss to the lowly Suns last night, the Rockets must be salivating at the notion of improving to 4-0 this year against the defending champs. During their quick flight home across Texas, they must have imagined being NBA champions. They might have even started discussing the Warriors weaknesses and how they're going to attack them both now and in the playoffs. When they woke up this morning, they might have hardly remembered they have this awful Hornets team to dispatch before they can start preparing for a potential statement win Wednesday.
2. The Hornets blowing a 14-point lead over the Milwaukee Bucks likely ended any slim hopes of the Hornets making a post season push in the last 15 games. One might argue that was their "dream-crusher" game, as their season-long goal now seems unattainable. In reality, though, I think that game happened several games earlier when they lost to the Miami Heat at home. I think the Milwaukee loss allows them to relax, and start focusing on positives they can take with them as the season wraps up. The biggest, most headline-grabbing thing Kemba Walker and the Hornets can do for the rest of the season is show out and pull off either this upset or one against the Warriors on 03/31. That's a decent carrot to chase. Wouldn't be surprised if they won one or both of these games.