Monday’s Results: 1-3
All Time Results: 26-32-2, +0.25 Units
Miami Heat +6 @ San Antonio Spurs – 1 Unit
Miami Heat +220 @ San Antonio Spurs – .25 Units
1. Motivational edge here for the Heat. Hovering 1.5 games over the Orlando Magic for the 8th slot in the East & with a tougher schedule remaining, Miami is just below a 50/50 proposition to make the playoffs according to 538’s predictive model. If they win this one, those odds jump way higher than a coin flip. Teetering between a failed season and a respectable swan song for the Dwyane Wade era, the Heat need this game like blood.
On the other hand, the Spurs have done it! After beating the Warriors Monday night, San Antonio have clinched their 22nd straight winning season and secured a spot in the playoffs for the 3rd decade running.
“It is time to acknowledge the truth: Chicago has disappointed her enemies and astonished the world”, New York Reporter, Charles T. Root, reflecting on the success of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
It is time to acknowledge the truth: the Spurs have disappointed her enemies and astonished the world. While other teams might have let go of the rope, the Spurs snapped out of a funk to win 9 straight immediately after their Rodeo road trip. The consistency of Pop’s squads is officially the stuff of legends.
Despite their success – there is a reason many analytical models as well as independent observers – like Nate Duncan, Bill Simmons and myself – predicted the Spurs would win between 38-43 games before the season. The Spurs have average talent. They have two stars that don’t particularly complement each other. They lack a single physically imposing big. They somehow have replacement-level guards playing like willy Vets.
When pitted against playoff-like competition, I expect the Spurs’ coaching edge to be mitigated. In do or die scenarios, the Spurs’ average talent will yield more average-ish results, as other teams rise to match their level of focus and discipline. These two teams are close in my power rankings and I’ll take the points and the team that needs the game more.
2. More public team: While the Spurs have gotten some well deserved recognition as the hottest team in the league after 9 wins on the trot, Miami has quietly won 7 of 9 as well. If you look back at these two teams last 17 games, both are 10-7 SU.
3. Miami is better on the road than at home. The Heat are a league best 22-11 ATS on the road, including 16-7 ATS as a road underdog.
Toronto Raptors +5 @ Oklahoma City Thunder – .5 units
The most optimistic view of the Thunder in my opinion is that they are “as good” as a team like the Raptors. In which case, we would expect the line to be about OKC-3 to -3.5. In actuality, I think the Raptors are about 1 point better, and other power rankings I follow have them between a half to 1.5 points better as well.
Given this, there are couple reason the number may be drifting up for the Thunder.
1. Argument: OKC has a scheduling edge playing their 3rd home game in 5 days while the Raptors are on their 3rd game in 4 nights, 2nd on the road.
Counter: The Raptors have been somewhat immune to tough schedule stretches this season, both because of how deep they are and also because of how often they rest their best players. Kawhi, for example, sat out their blowout win over the Knicks Monday night. Toronto is second in the NBA at 9-3 on 0 days rest.
2. Argument: Kyle Lowry is questionable with a sore ankle.
Counter: Free roll here, in my opinion: If Lowry doesn’t play, we still have a fair bet at +5. Without, Lowry the Raptors are 3-1 in their last 4 SU & ATS, including big wins vs. the Clippers and @ the Bucks. In addition: If Lowry’s turnaround is quicker than expected and he does suit up, I expect this line to quickly move to +3 and we’ll have 2 points of value built in.
3. Argument: Motivational Edge here for OKC. The Thunder after losses 3 in a row will be desperate to get right before the playoffs to avoid a road series against the best of the West.
Counter: The Raptors will be max motivated as well. The Milwaukee Bucks are depleted and looking vulnerable after their starting shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon went down for two months with injury. The Raptors are in fine position to make a late push at the crucial #1 overall seed in the east.
Plus there are two ways to look at a desperate team: 1. They will play with intensity, 2. They may be overeager to perform and become nervous if the game doesn’t go there way. We saw nerves affect OKC in their game against the Warriors last week. After a tough first quarter, Westbrook and OKC never were able to lock in. Westbrook went 2-16 against GSW, forcing up a lot of shots trying to rescue the game. He will again feel pressure to elevate his team after contributing to their losing ways by missing out on their last game with suspension. If Westbrook’s shooting touch is a little shaky, it will be asking a lot of Paul George to carry the way. Not only is George dealing with his own post-all star break struggles, he will be matched up with Kawhi Leonard – for my money still the best 1 on 1 defender in the league.
Dallas Mavericks Team Total Under 104 @ Portland Trail Blazers -.25 units
1. For the first time all season, the Mavericks have put up 120+ in consecutive games. However their past two results do not suggest their offensive woes have turned around, for two reasons: 1. The second game went to overtime. 2. Both games were against teams in full tank mode: the Cavaliers & Pelicans.
Since Dallas shipped off the majority of their starting line up in the Porzingis trade, the Mavericks are 28th in the NBA in offensive efficiency.
2. Without sharpshooter CJ McCollum in the lineup, the Blazers will feed post players Enes Kanter and Jusif Nurkic more. More interior scoring and post play will lead to a slower pace, grind-it-out game, which will limit Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway’s transition opportunities.