Sunday’s Results: 1-2
All Time Results: 49-49-2, +3.9 Units
Golden State Warriors @ New Orleans Pelicans Under 235.5 – .25 units
Excluding 1 overtime game in Minnesota, no Warriors game has had a combined total of over 235 in the past 17 contests. The Under is 13-4 over that time span. Their defense has been stout. Plus if their offense is clicking then, more often than not, none of their best offensive players are in the game for very long in the 4th quarter.
Kevin Durant is set to be rested for this contest and the Under has hit in 7 of the last 8 GSW games without KD. The average combined total in those 8 games is only 199.9.
Houston Rockets -2 @ Oklahoma City Thunder – .25 units
The Thunder’s 3 game winning streak feels somewhat like Fools Gold, considering they beat three under .500 teams and struggled at various points against all three. The Thunder are 5-8 against playoff teams since the All Star break.
Meanwhile the Rockets are hitting on all cylinders, setting records and taking names on their 6-game winning streak. Houston has won 20 of their last 23 contests. Coach Mike D’Antoni is set to rejoin the team after fighting a stomach bug, and the Rockets have a very real chance of stealing the #2 seed should the Nuggets fall in Utah tonight.
Just like Giannis Antetokounmpo had his one last virtuoso performance to cement his MVP case against the 76ers last week, James Harden would love nothing more than to end his historic regular season with a dominant performance against a quality playoff team.
Utah Jazz -2.5 vs. Denver Nuggets – .25 units
After the Rockets, the Jazz have had the best record in the NBA since the All Star break. Given Denver’s recent swoon and the Jazz’s stellar play, I have these two teams very close in my power rankings, and homecourt advantage has proven crucial in this match-up. The Home team is 10-1 SU in the past 11 match-ups in this series. The lone road win over the past 3 years among these two was when the Jazz beat the Nuggets in Denver on February 28th as they were beginning their late season ascendancy.
In three games against the Jazz this season, Nikola Jokic has struggled to score against Rudy Gobert. The Joker is averaging only 17 ppg against the Jazz, along with a +/- of -6.6. In 14 games against the Jazz for his career, Jokic is averaging only 12.1 ppg, his lowest scoring output against any team.
Memphis Grizzlies +3.5 1Q @ Detroit Pistons – .25 units
With the prospect of an epic collapse hanging over their heads, I expect a nervy start for the Pistons whether Blake Griffin plays or not. Blake Griffin returned from injury with a bang Friday night, dropping 45 including 9 made threes against the Thunder. However, he followed up that performance with one of his worst games of the season (5/18, 16 points) in a bad home loss to the Hornets. After the game all reports indicated that his knee was bothering him and contributed to his poor play.
The fact that Griffin is still questionable for this game – despite two days rest and no obvious setback – indicates that his knee is a long way from 100%. Whether or not he plays, he is so instrumental to the Pistons success, I think it will be a challenge for the Pistons to feel comfortable again in their offensive program.
Conversely, the Grizzlies have no pressure on them and will come out of the gate with aplomb. Memphis is 7-2-1 SU in its last 10 opening periods, including impressive starts against playoff teams such as Rockets, Magic, Thunder, Warriors & Trail Blazers. Detroit is 3-7 SU in its last 10 1Qs, including some complete offensive clunkers: scoring 15, 11 and 9 in the opening 12 minutes of 3 different games.
Cleveland Cavaliers +8 vs. Charlotte Hornets – .25 Units
Hornets are mounting and improbable late season rally to have an outside shot of making the playoffs after looking dead in the water for most of the last month. Young players like Frank Kaminsky, Miles Bridges and Jeremy Lamb have made the most of their increased minutes and have lead the Hornets to a 7-3 record over their last 10.
However, these young players have not yet played the role of big favorites. Against a Cleveland squad playing for pride on their last game of the season, I like Collin Sexton and the young Cavs to keep things interesting throughout. The Hornets are 1-3 SU & ATS when favored by more than 4 points on the road this season. The last time they were favored by more than 6 points on the road was back on November 13, when these same Cavs drilled them by 24 coming into the game as 9 point underdogs.
Los Angeles Lakers +9.5 vs. Portland Trail Blazers -.25 units
CJ McCollum looked like he still has some rust to shake off in his first game back from a knee injury Sunday night. Plus, the Blazers still have a giant defensive hole in the middle with Jusif Nurkic done for the season. Looks like it will be the Alex Caruso show for at least one more night in LA, and he could earn himself millions with continued stellar play. Luke Walton is likely coaching for his next job – and his ragtag team has responded, beating two playoff teams in their last 2 outings at Staple Center. I like them to keep it close.
Toronto Raptors @ Minnesota Timberwolves Over 229.5 – .1 Units
The Raptors offense is humming heading into the playoff, averaging 116.5 points over their last 8 games. The Timberwolves defense has been equally bad, allowing their opponents 109 or more points in each of their past 7 games. In their last home game of the season, I don’t imagine the Wolves breaking out of their bad habits now. I see an entertaining up and down game, where the Wolves make several electric comebacks before ultimately coming up short.
Boston Celtics +4.5 @ Washington Wizards – .1 Units
Celtics supporting cast will get their chance to shine with no Irving, Horford, Tatum, Smart or Morris in the lineup. Wizards shouldn’t be substantial favorites to any professional basketball squad right now. The Wiz have dropped 6 of their last 7 at home. Their ATS margin in the 3 games since Ernie Grunfeld was fired is -9.3. Bradley Beal has played limited minutes in those three games as the Wizards have protected their sole remaining asset.
Philadelphia 76ers +2 1Q @ Miami Heat – .1 Units
The 76ers have been the 4th best team in the league in 1st Quarter scoring margin and a big reason why is because of the explosiveness and size that Ben Simmons brings to the table to start the game. On an emotional night, where Heat Legend Dwyane Wade will likely play his last home game, I expect the Heat to get off to a slow start. Fellow Marquette-alumni, Jimmy Butler is set to return for Philadelphia in this one – and he would like nothing more than to spoil the night for Wade, with whom he’s always had an icy relationship. Wade will relish the challenge – but the Heat will be digging themselves out of a hole early.
Phoenix Suns +8 @ Dallas Mavericks – .1 Units
The line is about fair here given the Suns woes in general and especially without Devin Booker this season. I expect emotions to be high as the Mavericks say goodbye to Dirk Nowitzki, their talisman for nearly the past two decades. Mark Cuban has mentioned “special guests” coming into the building throughout the night to celebrate Dirk. These distractions may be good for the well being of the franchise, but will take away from any momentum Dallas gains. I like Josh Jackson to have some fun and continue to grow as a primary offensive weapon as the Suns wrap up another frustrating season.
New York Knicks +1.5 @ Chicago Bulls – .1 Units
Knicks have more NBA caliber players. And the coaching staff and management who select these players will surely want to avoid the ignominy of posting the worse Knicks record ever. The Knicks need a win here to avoid that designation.