|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|06-12-23||Heat +9 v. Nuggets||Top||89-94||Win||100||27 h 26 m||Show|
It's no fluke the Nuggets are on the verge of clinching the NBA championship with a 3-1 series lead. But the Heat have earned the right to be backed taking this many points.
Miami has pulled off three double-digit fourth-quarter comeback wins in the postseason. They won Game 2 in Denver down by seven points in the final period. They are a well-coached, tough team both physically and mentally.
So I will accept this many points knowing that if key role players Gabe Vincent and Max Strus combine for two points while shooting a combined 1-for-10 from the floor and 0-for-7 from 3-point range, the Heat are likely to lose by double-digits. That was the case in Game 4 with Denver winning, 108-95.
The Nuggets were sharp in their 108-95 road win in Game 4 this past Friday. They shot 49 percent from the floor and hit 14 of 28 3-point shots for 50 percent. That's going to be difficult to repeat. So is Aaron Gordon scoring 27 points while making 11 of 15 shots from the field and hitting three of four 3-pointers after he made just five 3-pointers during his previous eight games.
The Heat, by contrast, made 8-of-25 3-pointers for 32 percent in Game 4. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are playing great. Bam Adebayo, though, is producing strong numbers for Miami and Jimmy Butler is off his best all-around game in this series with 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
It boils down to faith. I have it in Butler, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra and Vincent to keep things close with their season on the brink.
|06-09-23||Nuggets v. Heat +3.5||Top||108-95||Loss||-109||20 h 1 m||Show|
Let's be realistic about the Heat. They don't have the height, nor the offense, to match up to Nuggets' superstars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
If Miami gets demoralized and its role players aren't hitting their perimeter shots, the Heat are dead in the water. That's what happened in Game 3 this past Wednesday when the Nuggets won, 109-94, on the road. The Nuggets outrebounded the Heat, 58-33, and outscored them by 26 points in the paint.
So it's easy to see why the Heat are a home 'dog for this Game 4.
Discount Miami at your own peril, however. The Heat have been resilient all through the postseason. Just when you want to count them out they re-emerge. I see the Heat doing that again in this spot. I certainly don't expect the Heat to make 49 percent of their 3-point shots like they did in their Game 2 upset. But Bam Adebayo, Gabe Vincent, Kevin Love and Max Strus should all combine to shoot much better than the 12-for-43 (28 percent) they hit from the floor in Wednesday's loss.
Jokic and Murray played their ''A'' games in Game 3. Not so with Miami's stars. Jimmy Butler couldn't even reach five assists. He and Adebayo were a combined 18-for-45 (40 percent) from the field. They are due to shoot better while Jokic and especially Murray can't play much better than they did on Wednesday.
Eric Spoelstra has bolstered his already strong reputation during this postseason. He just could be the best coach in the NBA. So the Heat have that going. I expect they'll have super defensive intensity, which they lacked in Game 3 especially when they started falling way behind.
The Heat have covered seven of the last nine times following a loss. I'm banking on a strong bounce effort from Miami.
|06-07-23||Nuggets v. Heat UNDER 214.5||109-94||Win||100||29 h 1 m||Show|
There were 219 points scored in Miami's 111-108 Game 2 win against the Nuggets this past Sunday.
This is what it took to reach that number: The Nuggets shot 52 percent from the floor. The Heat hit 49 percent from the floor and sank 17 of 35 shots from 3-point range for 49 percent. The teams combined to make 37 of 42 free throws for 88 percent.
Yet because the pace was slow, it was a major sweat for that total to go Over 216.
The tempo is going to be slow and deliberate again in this Game 3 except I don't see either team shooting nearly that well - especially the Heat from 3-point range. I also don't see 42 free throws. There were 22 free throws in Game 1 with the Heat getting to the line only twice.
Miami was 27th in 3-point field goal percentage during the season at 34.4 percent. The Heat have shot much better from beyond the arc during the playoffs at 39.2 percent. But they are not a 49 percent 3-point shooting team. No team is. That Game 2 3-point shooting was an outlier.
Erik Spoelstra did make adjustments following Miami's Game 1 loss, pressing more and using a 2-3 zone more. He also resurrected veteran Kevin Love, whose height and rebounding bothered Jamal Murray.
Murray also was burdened defensively as the Heat seemed to key on him. That might have affected his offensive game. Michael Porter Jr. has been nearly invisible for Denver. He's missed 14 of 17 3-pointers while averaging just 9.5 points. This is putting a lot of pressure on Nikola Jokic to do everything and on Aaron Gordon to produce points and Gordon isn't a big scorer being more of a rebounder, shot-blocker and defender.
Jimmy Butler isn't playing well for the Heat. Perhaps still bothered by a sore ankle and the fatigue of carrying the Heat to this late point of the season, he's averaging 17 points in this championship series while shooting 13-of-33 (39.3 percent) from the field. The Nuggets have also been keying on Butler. It's a lot to ask of unsung Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Caleb Martin, who has been under the weather, to produce big scoring games in lieu of Butler's disappointing offense.
|06-07-23||Nuggets -136 v. Heat||Top||109-94||Win||100||29 h 0 m||Show|
The Nuggets are better than the Heat. But the Nuggets learned a big lesson in their Game 2 Sunday home loss to Miami. They can't mail anything in. No overconfidence. Winning seven consecutive playoff games and being unbeaten at home during the postseason doesn't mean anything.
It's going to take maximum energy and better play from every Denver starter not named Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets have had three days to pick up on that. I believe they've learned their lesson. I see the Nuggets producing their most intense game of the series.
I also don't believe the Heat can make an astonishing 17 of 35 (49 percent) 3-pointers like they did in Game 2.
Miami has lost its last two home playoff games falling to the Celtics by one and 17 points. The Nuggets have won their last three road games beating the Lakers by two and 11 points and the Suns by 25. So don't think Denver can't win away from home.
Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope did not play up to their capabilities in Game 2. Yet Denver still only lost by three points. All three should play much better along with the Nuggets playing with far more intensity and having the best player on the planet in Jokic. Given that, it's not asking too much for the Nuggets to win this Game 3.
|06-04-23||Heat v. Nuggets OVER 214.5||Top||111-108||Win||100||49 h 28 m||Show|
This is Denver's lowest total of the season and an overreaction to the Nuggets' 104-93 Game 1 home win this past Thursday.
That was a feel-out game. The Heat were still on fumes following their Game 7 upset win against the Celtics and were not used to the high mountain altitude in Denver. The Nuggets were rusty having not played in 10 days.
All of this showed in Thursday's opener. The teams combined to shoot just 31.8 percent from 3-point range making 21-of-66 shots from beyond the arc. The Heat were only 13-of-39 from 3-point range with six of those 3-pointers coming when the game already was out of reach. This despite getting good looks throughout the game.
This was Miami's worst shooting 3-point game of the playoffs. They were shooting 39 percent from 3-point range during the postseason entering this championship matchup. The Nuggets shot 37.9 percent from beyond the arc going into the playoffs. They made only eight of their 27 3-point shots for 29.6 percent.
The Heat also only got to shoot two free throws! It was the first time Jimmy Butler didn't have a free throw attempt during the postseason. The Nuggets are not some dominant defensive team either. They ranked 20th in defensive field goal percentage. I see Butler coming out extra aggressive for this Game 2.
It was obvious in Game 1 that the Nuggets' frontcourt size was too much for the Heat. Nikola Jokic isn't just a great triple-threat talent. He's also extremely intelligent. He can find Miami's weakness and exploit it either by scoring, or passing off. Michael Porter Jr. isn't likely to miss nine of 11 3-point shots. He finished in the top 20 in 3-point shooting accuracy during the regular season at 41.4 percent.
There's not much Miami coach Erik Spoelstra can do. One option would be for him to go with his best offensive weapons playing them as much as possible. That would be the dream scenario for this Over and could happen as the Nuggets are easily capable of reaching their season average of 115.8 points. They were the No. 1 shooting team in the NBA during the regular season making 50.4 percent of their field goals.
|06-01-23||Heat v. Nuggets -8||Top||93-104||Win||100||68 h 9 m||Show|
The Heat are the first play-in team to ever make the NBA Championship Series. But they need more time to rest and recuperate after upsetting the Celtics on the road this past Monday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Even if they had ample time to prepare, though, I don't see the Heat staying within double-digits of the home Nuggets in Thursday's Game 1.
The Nuggets have been idle since May 22. They've won six in a row and are 42-7 at home this season, including 8-0 in the playoffs.
If the Heat thought Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were a load, wait until they encounter Nikola Jokic and James Murray. Jokic is the best player in the NBA and Murray had a series for the ages in Denver's four-game sweep of the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Murray led all scorers in that series averaging 32.5 points while shooting 52.7 percent from the floor, hitting 40.5 percent of his 37 3-point attempts and sinking 19-of-20 free throws.
The Nuggets outrebounded the Lakers and they surely will out-rebound the undersized Heat.
|05-29-23||Heat v. Celtics OVER 203||Top||103-84||Loss||-109||19 h 27 m||Show|
The Heat and Celtics meet in Game 7 for the Eastern Conference championship. The talk is all about how the Celtics have a great chance to be the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-0 playoff deficit.
That's fine and dandy. But when it comes to betting, I find a different angle - the total. It is the lowest of the series by far. The totals have ranged from 209-to-216 in the first six games.
This one is much lower because of the perception there will be tremendous defensive intensity.
Sure neither team will be holding back. But there is way too much good 3-point shooting in today's NBA. That offsets any extra defensive effort.
The Celtics are averaging 108.8 points in the series. Miami is averaging 110.1 points. The Celtics were the fourth-highest scoring team during the regular season at 118 points per game.
There have been at least 207 combined points scored in each of the six games.
Even if the referees let the teams play super physical, there still are going to be fouls called. If the game is called tight, there will be lots of fouls called. The Heat were the second-best foul shooting team in the league. Boston ranked sixth in free throw percentage.
Jimmy Butler shot 5-for-21 from the field in Game 6. Miami still scored 104 points. It's worth noting that Gabe Vincent, who is averaging 20.3 points during his last three games, played 41 minutes this past Saturday in Game 6. So it appears he's past his ankle injury.
The Heat are a strong defensive team. But they are dealing with a stacked deck on the road going against Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who is shooting much better going 18-for-34 from the floor the past two games. It's an added bonus if Malcolm Brogdon can play for Boston after missing Game 6 with an arm injury.
Bottom line is the oddsmaker has overcompensated on the total because it's Game 7 giving value to the Over.
|05-27-23||Celtics v. Heat UNDER 210.5||104-103||Win||100||16 h 2 m||Show|
A combination of Boston's improved defense and injuries are taking a huge toll on Miami. The Celtics have held the Heat to 97 and 99 points, respectively, during the past two games to cut Miami's once insurmountable 3-0 series lead to 3-2.
Boston has forced 32 turnovers during these past two games, 10 by Bam Adebayo. The Celtics have double-teamed Jimmy Butler much more than they did during the first two games of the series. A 53.9 percent shooter from the floor during the regular season, Butler is just 19-for-44 (43 percent) from the field during the last three games.
Losing underrated Gabe Vincent to an ankle injury has hurt the Heat more than perceived. Already without scoring wings/guards Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo, the Heat desperately need Vincent's outside scoring. Vincent averaged a combined 23 points in Games 3 and 4 hitting 16-of-24 shots from the floor. However, he missed Game 5. He's questionable for tonight's game. Even if he plays, his shooting may be off because of his ankle injury.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra doesn't have many viable options with veterans Kyle Lowery and Kevin Love each well past their primes and looking very old. The Heat's best option is to completely sell out on defense since the Celtics have stymied their offense.
Miami certainly can win relying heavily on defense. They gave up the second-fewest points in the league during the regular season. It's defense, not offense, after all that is Miami's calling card.
The Celtics are not unscathed in the health department. Guard Malcolm Brogdon has been dealing with an elbow injury. It caused him to leave Game 5. Brogdon was Boston's third-leading scorer during the regular season at 14.9 points a game. He also was fourth on the team in assists.
Both teams made 51 percent of their field goals in Game 5. Yet there were just 207 points scored. That's because it was the slowest paced game of the series.
I'm expecting another slow tempo game only this time without such outstanding shooting. That should ensure a third straight Under in the series.
|05-25-23||Heat +8.5 v. Celtics||97-110||Loss||-112||29 h 18 m||Show|
Kudos to the Celtics for staying alive with their 116-99 road win against the Heat in Tuesday's Game 4.
But it's not a fluke the Heat lead this Eastern Conference Finals series, 3-1. They are the superior team.
Forget the regular season. It doesn't matter. What does matter is the Heat peaking having eliminated the Bucks - who were perhaps the top team in the NBA - Knicks and winning the first three games against the Celtics before stumbling on Tuesday by playing a poor second half.
I like Miami because it has a monster edge in coaching, the best all-around player on the court in Jimmy Butler, the best low-post player in Bam Adebayo and is the stronger defensive team.
The Celtics are perceived to have the more talented roster. I don't buy into that. At worst, Butler and Adebayo give Miami the second and third-best players on the court if Jayson Tatum is the No. 1 player. Jaylen Brown is having a bad series. His head doesn't seem right. Al Horford is showing his age as the long season winds down for Boston, while the Heat are getting major contributions from below-the-radar rotation players Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent and Duncan Robinson.
Coaching is crucial in the playoffs. Erik Spoelstra is coaching rings around inexperienced rookie Boston coach Joe Mazzulla.
The Heat have covered in 10 of their last 13 games.
Yes, the Celtics are back home. But they are 2-5 SU and ATS in their last seven home games.
|05-23-23||Celtics v. Heat -125||Top||116-99||Loss||-125||34 h 20 m||Show|
Mike Budenholzer, Monty Williams, Doc Rivers and Nick Nurse are about to have company in the fired coaches department.
Sometime Tuesday night after the Celtics get swept by the Heat, a team they were 13 games better than during the regular season, Boston management needs to pull the plug on Joe Mazzulla.
The Celtics have shown no leadership, coaching ability and guts in losing the first three games of this Eastern Conference Finals. Boston was outscored by an average of 6.5 points in its two home games in the series and then was blown out by 26 points in Miami during Sunday's Game 3. The Celtics have surrendered an average of 120.6 points to the Heat, who were the lowest-scoring team in the NBA.
Somewhere Red Auerbach is turning over in his grave. I've closely watched the NBA for 60 years and have never seen a worse coaching job in a playoff series than what the overmatched Mazzulla has done. Every button he touches is the wrong one. Boston's confidence and morale is shattered.
So why should things be any different in Game 4? Answer: They won't be.
The Heat are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games. They are 6-0 in their six home playoff games. Mazzulla isn't suddenly going to outcoach Erik Spoelstra. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are still going to give Miami the best all-around player on the court and best big man even if Mazzulla decides he might want to finally double-team Butler a little more.
The Celtics are 31-for-106 (29.2 percent) from 3-point range. Jaylen Brown, showing he's not ready for prime time, has missed 18 of 20 3-pointers. The Celtics are due to make a higher percentage of their 3-point shots. But I have no confidence in them to do that - and sadly neither do they.
|05-22-23||Nuggets +3.5 v. Lakers||Top||113-111||Win||100||22 h 42 m||Show|
Judging by the first three games of this series, Denver clearly is the superior team. The Nuggets have a huge height advantage, they are the more physically imposing team, are getting better play from their bench than LA is and have the look of a champion while the Lakers are worn down - physically and mentally.
The Nuggets proved they could win on the road, beating the Lakers, 119-108, in LA. this past Saturday night. Denver was in control all the way. So I see the wrong team being favored.
The Lakers did a remarkable job to even reach this point. There were 12 teams ahead of them in late February. LA became the first team to advance to the conference finals after being eight games under .500.
But 13 playoff games against the Grizzlies and Warriors and now three games against the Nuggets with just one day spaced out have taken a huge toll. It's caught up to 38-year-old LeBron James, fragile Anthony Davis and the rest of the Lakers.
The Lakers don't have the height to contest the Nuggets. Nikola Jokic is averaging 27 points, 14.7 rebounds and 11.3 assists in the series. LA can't stop him. Jamal Murray is averaging 35 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists. They have been the two best players in the series. The Lakers have no answers for either one.
Denver's support cast has outplayed the Lakers, too. Michael Porter Jr., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown have hurt the Lakers not just with their scoring, but with their defense.
The Lakers are averaging 105.5 points in the last two games. That's 12 points down from their season average.
Getting points with Denver is just an added bonus.
|05-21-23||Celtics v. Heat UNDER 214.5||102-128||Loss||-110||8 h 21 m||Show|
The first two games of this Eastern Conference Finals series went Over. Now it's time for an Under with the teams playing in Miami.
The Heat were the No. 2 defensive team in the league. They've been tough defensively at home giving up an average of 97.1 points in their last six postseason games, which consisted of three games against the Knicks, two versus the Bucks and one against the Bulls.
The Celtics need to find their defense. I expect Boston to play with desperate intensity on defense down 2-0 in the series. The Celtics ranked in the top-five in scoring defense, defensive field goal percentage and 3-point defense.
|05-21-23||Celtics v. Heat +3.5||Top||102-128||Win||100||19 h 44 m||Show|
Maybe if Brad Stevens would immediately fire Joe Mazzulla and install himself as coach again the Celtics might have a chance to beat the Heat. But since that isn't going to happen, the Heat are likely to keep winning especially now that they are the home team.
There are five things we've learned from the first two games of this Eastern Conference Finals, which the Heat lead, 2-0:
Jimmy Butler is the best all-around player on the court. Grant Williams is an idiot. Jaylen Brown is not a star. Bam Adebayo is the best big man on the court. Mazzulla is hugely overmatched by Erik Spoelstra on the sidelines.
The Heat won the first two games of this series on the road by an average of 6 1/2 points. The Celtics aren't playing championship caliber defense giving up an average of 117 points to Miami.
Maybe the Celtics turn on their defensive switch. I don't see it. I have absolutely zero faith in rookie coach Mazzulla. Miami has the momentum and is the more confident team. The Heat are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games. They have won all five of their playoff home games.
Getting points with the Heat is just a bonus.
|05-20-23||Nuggets v. Lakers -5.5||Top||119-108||Loss||-110||20 h 59 m||Show|
The Nuggets and their coach, Michael Malone, believe they are being disrespected by the national media who tend to play up the high-profile Lakers.
Yes, perhaps Nikola Jokic should have won a third straight MVP award.
But the Nuggets can't be considered a great team if they can't win on the road. Denver has yet to prove that. The Nuggets finished the regular season an embarrassing 19-22 away from home and are 2-3 SU and ATS in their five playoff road games.
The Lakers are 6-0 SU and ATS at home during the postseason. They've covered five of the past six times they've hosted Denver.
The Nuggets lead the series 2-0 by virtue of winning both of their home games. However, the Nuggets didn't cover either game winning by six and five points, respectively. Denver had to hang on to win these games despite Jokic playing at the highest level and Jamal Murray averaging 34 points.
The teams have each won four of the eight quarters played. The Lakers have been to the free throw line 12 more times than the Nuggets. And this was in Denver. Now the scene shifts to LA where the Lakers are in must-win mode and the Nuggets have played much worse away from Denver.
The Lakers aren't just a two man team of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura have stepped up, combining to average 41.5 points per game.
|05-19-23||Heat +9 v. Celtics||Top||111-105||Win||100||21 h 42 m||Show|
The oddsmaker seems to be anticipating Celtics money making Boston this big of a favorite. The Zig/Zag is in full force here with the Celtics down 0-1 in the series and playing at home.
But I'm not buying into it. There's too much value on the Heat - just like in Wednesday's series opener - to turn down this inflated point spread.
The Heat are playing with tremendous confidence. They are not the No. 8 seed that had to beat the Bulls in a play-in game to even reach the playoffs. It's wrong to think of them in that context. Certainly the Bucks and Knicks don't think that way now.
Miami is an extremely well-coached, a strong defensive team - No. 2 in the league in fewest points allowed - that is being willed to win by Jimmy Butler. He's the best all-around player on the court. The Heat also have the best big man, Bam Adebayo.
These teams know each extremely well, which should portend a much closer game than the oddsmaker projects. Only twice in their last 20 games have the Heat lost by more than nine points. I certainly want Erik Spoelstra going for me rather than rookie coach Joe Mazzulla.
Miami has covered eight of the last 10 times when playing on one day's rest. The Heat also are 6-1 in their last seven games following a cover and are 14-5 ATS the last 19 times playing the Celtics in Boston.
|05-18-23||Lakers v. Nuggets -5.5||Top||103-108||Loss||-110||20 h 15 m||Show|
The Lakers shot 55 percent from the floor in Game 1 of this Western Conference Finals series against the Nuggets on Tuesday. They hit 46 percent of their 3-point shots and were 23 of 26 from the foul line. LeBron James and Anthony Davis played at their superstar best combining to go 23-for-39 from the field for 59 percent.
Yet the Lakers still lost by six points, 132-126.
The Lakers couldn't overcome Nikola Jokic - the best player on the planet - a huge size disadvantage and Denver's strong home-court edge.
The Nuggets are 7-0 in their home playoff games. The 132 points is the most points they've scored in their dozen playoff games this spring.
The Game 2 point spread, however, opened lower than it was in Game 1.
So I'm going Nuggets not forgetting Denver is a No. 1 seed. LA is a seventh-seed.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham prefers to go with a small, three-guard oriented lineup. That's not going to work against the Nuggets, who have a frontline of 6-foot-11 Jokic, 6-10 Michael Porter Jr. and 6-8 Aaron Gordon. The Nuggets slaughtered the Lakers on the boards, 47-30.
Ham isn't a moron. He knows he can't go small against the Nuggets. But to do that, he and the Lakers have to adjust on the road. LA also is trailing in a playoff series for the first time having opened with road wins against the Grizzlies and Warriors. All of this could put the Lakers out of their comfort zone.
Jokic was unstoppable with 34 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists. The Lakers have no antidote for him. Meanwhile James and Davis could be pressed to repeat their top-notch Game 1 performances particularly Davis, who was 14-of-23 from the field and made all 11 of his free throws scoring 40 points.
Denver is 7-2 ATS in its last nine home games - and that includes not covering against the Lakers in Game 1. LA is 1-4 ATS in its last five away games. The Lakers also are 4-10-1 ATS during their past 15 games in Denver.
Rui Hachimura OVER 11 1/2 points
Here's the thing about Rui Hachimura. When he plays, he's an underrated scorer. Lakers coach Darvin Ham figured out in Game 1 that he couldn't play his usual small lineup of three guards against the much taller Nuggets.
It took Ham a half to realize that. Hachimura, a 6-foot-8 rotation forward, played the entire fourth quarter. That's a strong sign Hachimura is going to draw big minutes in this Game 2. He responded by scoring 17 points in Game 1. So I look for him to score at least a dozen points in this game.
|05-17-23||Heat +8 v. Celtics||123-116||Win||100||27 h 24 m||Show|
Line value, situation, better defensive team and a huge coaching edge. Those are the four main factors that put me on Miami for this Game 1 Eastern Conference Finals series.
I'm surprised the line is this high. Erik Spoelstra, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are not Doc Rivers and choke artists James Harden and Joel Embiid.
The Heat know how to play defense - No. 2 in fewest points allowed per game - and they are rested. Miami hasn't played since Wednesday. The Celtics still could be celebrating their dismantling of the 76ers this past Sunday.
Miami is extremely dangerous with time to prepare. The Heat upset the Bucks on the road in Game 1 of their first-round series. Miami repeated in Game 1 of its second round series upsetting the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
The Heat are 39-17 (70 percent) ATS when playing on three or more days rest. They also have covered 13 of the past 18 times against the Celtics.
Spoelstra could be the best coach in the NBA. He rates a huge edge on Boston's inexperienced Joe Mazzulla.
|05-14-23||76ers v. Celtics OVER 200.5||Top||88-112||Loss||-105||16 h 4 m||Show|
So we've reached Game 7 in this 76ers-Celtics series. That means plenty of defensive intensity, right?
Yes ... but the oddsmaker has wildly overcompensated for that. The total for the first six games ranged from 211 to 215 1/2. Now it's down more than 10 from that norm. It's too much. The 76ers haven't had a total nearly this low all season. Neither has Boston.
Jayson Tatum is going to shoot better than the 5-for-21 from the field he did in Game 6 and Joel Embiid is going to get more shots than the 19 he had in Game 6, hardly touching the ball during the final four minutes. The 76ers will rectify that.
The 76ers averaged 117 points in their two road victories against Boston. If anything was reinforced to the 76ers in their 95-86 home loss to the Celtics in Game 6 it's that they must push pace in order to create open shots and better looks.
I believe the 76ers have picked up on that. The Over is 4-0 the past four times following a Philadelphia ATS loss. As for the Celtics, the Over has cashed in eight of their last 10 games.
Both teams are excellent from the foul line and from 3-point range.
The 76ers were No. 1 in free throw shooting accuracy during the regular season. Boston ranked fourth in free throw percentage.
The Celtics also were sixth in 3-point shooting percentage. The 76ers were No. 1 in 3-point accuracy.
There isn't going to be a lot of substituting here. Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Embiid and James Harden are going to be firing. I trust them to get Over this extremely low total.
|05-12-23||Knicks v. Heat -5||Top||92-96||Loss||-110||19 h 25 m||Show|
Sure the Knicks could upset the Heat in Miami. But it would take a repeat of their Game 5 performance this past Wednesday when their Big Three of Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett combined to score 88 points on 27 of 52 shooting from the floor for 52 percent, while sinking 11 3-pointers.
And, realistically, I don't see the Knicks duplicating that feat. Not in Miami where the Heat have dominated in the postseason. Miami is 4-0 SU and ATS at Kaseya Center in the playoffs. This includes two victories against the Bucks by a combined 27 points and two wins against the Knicks by a combined 27 points never trailing except for 24 seconds.
It's not a fluke either. The Heat have established they are the superior team.
The Knicks gained some self-respect and redemption with their 112-103 Game 5 victory. But that's as far as they go. The Heat have covered seven of the last 10 times they've hosted the Knicks.
|05-11-23||Celtics v. 76ers +2.5||Top||95-86||Loss||-108||16 h 26 m||Show|
The NBA playoffs often are decided by three things - superstars, coaching and defense. The 76ers have the edge on Boston in all three of these categories. That's why they are going to end this series with a home victory today. Getting points with Philadelphia is just a bonus.
Let's start with star power. The 76ers have a pair of superstars, Joel Embiid and James Harden. Tyrese Maxey is stepping up and Tobias Harris can be counted on. Boston has one superstar, Jayson Tatum. Jaylen Brown certainly is good, but he falls short of being a superstar. The Celtics don't have a reliable third wheel who can produce points the way Maxey and Harris can.
Now, let's talk coaching. Doc Rivers is a proven winner. The Celtics know that better than any team. Maybe Rivers is more of a player's coach than a master strategist. But pitted against rookie coach Joe Mazzulla, Rivers is Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich rolled into one.
From 2004 through the end of last season, the Celtics had strong coaching with Rivers, Brad Stevens and Ime Udoka. The Celtics, however, made the decision to suspend Udoka for this season for what they labeled ''violations of team policies.''
Udoka's chief assistant was 34-year-old whiz kid Will Hardy. Unfortunately for Boston, Danny Ainge poached Hardy for Utah. So the Celtics named Mazzulla, a lesser assistant coach, as their interim coach even though he had no NBA head coaching experience.
When the Celtics got off to a hot start, the team removed the interim label making Mazzulla permanent head coach. Boston may want to rethink that move. Playoff coaching is different then regular season coaching. Miami's Erik Spoelstra is a master in that difference. Milwaukee's Mike Budenholzer wasn't. Mazzulla isn't either. This is a fatal weakness. The Bucks knew it. That's why they fired Budenholzer even though he had the best regular-season winning percentage of any Bucks coach in Milwaukee history.
It's not just Mazzulla's highly noticeable deficiency in failing to take timeouts at the proper time. Mazzulla hasn't proven adept at developing the right rotation, nor in making adjustments. Udoka, aided by Hardy, were able to mitigate the Celtics' offensive inconsistencies, by stepping up defensively. The Celtics have yet to show that ability under Mazzulla.
Boston gave up an average of 122.5 points in its last four games to the Hawks during its first-round series. I have no faith in Mazzulla that he can lead the Celtics to a road victory against the 76ers with the season on the line after losing Game 5 at home by 12 points.
|05-10-23||Lakers v. Warriors UNDER 226.5||Top||106-121||Loss||-110||11 h 58 m||Show|
The strain of playing for the fifth time in nine days during this marquee playoff series, should result in an Under here. These are teams whose key players are older. So I'm expecting a slow pace with both the Lakers and Warriors playing at peak defensive efficiency and intensity.
The Under is 4-1 the past five times the Lakers have played on one day's rest. The Under has cashed five of the last seven times the Warriors have played on one day's rest.
The Lakers have held the Warriors to an average of 99 points during the last two games. There were just 205 points scored in the Lakers' 104-101 Game 4 victory two days ago.
If the Warriors were to build a big lead - which could happen judging by the point spread - the Lakers might concede early in order to rest LeBron James and Anthony Davis knowing they would have two more games to close out Golden State.
|05-09-23||Suns v. Nuggets -5||102-118||Win||100||25 h 8 m||Show|
This series has a strong Zig/Zag feel to it. The Suns returned to Phoenix down 0-2 and proceeded to win both home games. Now the Suns go back to Denver for Game 5. I want the Nuggets going for me here. It's not just the Zig-Zag either. Denver is dominant at home going 39-7 this season. This includes a 5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS playoff mark. The Nuggets defeated the Suns by 18 and 10 points, respectively, during the first two games of the series. Denver hung in against the Suns in Phoenix, but couldn't overcome the Suns' fantastic shooting. Phoenix shot 50.5 percent from the floor in Game 3 and 56.8 percent from the field in Game 4. Devin Booker shot a mind-blowing combined 34-for-43 from the floor for 79 percent in Games 3 and 4. No way can Booker and the Suns keep up that kind of torrid shooting. Denver ranked No. 8 defensively during the regular season. The Nuggets have a huge edge in the middle with Nikola Jokic dominating Deandre Ayton and Denver holding a rotation and bench edge. Chris Paul has missed the last two games with a groin injury. If Paul were to return, you have to wonder how close to 100 percent he would be. The Suns also are 0-2 against the Nuggets in this series with Paul in the starting lineup.
|05-09-23||76ers v. Celtics UNDER 214.5||Top||115-103||Loss||-110||32 h 23 m||Show|
Lost in the glare of the 76ers' dramatic 116-115 home overtime victory against the Celtics this past Sunday was this game had the slowest tempo of any game in the NBA playoffs this season. There were 214 points scored in regulation because of excellent shooting, especially from James Harden, who made 16 of 23 (69.5 percent) shots from the field. Harden shot 44.1 percent from the floor during the regular season. He was 5-for-28 shooting from the field in his two previous games.
Now the series is tied at 2-2 with the teams heading back to Boston for Tuesday's Game 5. Anticipate a maximum defensive intensity game between a pair of teams that ranked in the top-five in defensive scoring and 3-point defense during the regular season.
I'm expecting a crackdown, too, on offensive players getting away with obvious push-off fouls that weren't called in Game 4 with Jayson Tatum's 3-pointer with 38 seconds left in overtime being the most obvious example.
|05-08-23||Warriors v. Lakers -2.5||Top||101-104||Win||100||13 h 45 m||Show|
Because I don't trust the Warriors on the road.
Golden State has lost 33 of its 46 road games this season. If you go back to the end of last season, the Warriors are 17-37-1 ATS (31 percent) ATS in their last 55 away contests. They also have failed to cover during their last four road games against the Lakers.
LA destroyed the Warriors, 127-97, at home in Saturday's Game 3. That pushed LA's postseason home record to 5-0. All of the victories have been by six or more points.
The Lakers have peaked at the right time going 16-5 since March 17. I trust their defense more than the Warriors when Golden State is on the road. LeBron James and Anthony Davis received extra rest from Saturday's blowout victory.
|05-06-23||Knicks +4 v. Heat||Top||86-105||Loss||-110||14 h 29 m||Show|
Discount their two play-in games and this will be the first time in eight playoff games the Heat are favored. Justified? Yes. They are home and I fully expect Jimmy Butler to play having had five days to deal with his sprained ankle.
But this doesn't mean Miami is the right side.
The Knicks are 38-16-1(70 percent) in their last 55 road games. Julius Randle showed he was past his ankle injury by scoring 25 points, pulling down 12 rebounds and dishing off eight assists in the Knicks' 111-105 Game 2 win this past Tuesday. Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson are playing at high levels, too, for the Knicks. Josh Hart has been a key role player for New York also.
Butler was superman in leading Miami to a stunning upset of Milwaukee in the Heat's first round matchup. Butler, however, may not be as effective because of his sore ankle. Remember, too, the Heat are without their third-leading scorer and most accurate 3-point shooter with Tyler Herro out.
The Heat fluctuated from being 6-to-10 point road underdogs to the Knicks in Game 2. Now they're currently four-point favorites. So I see plenty of line value to the Knicks. Miami is 11-28-1 ATS (29 percent) in their last 40 games following a point spread cover.
|05-05-23||Nuggets +4.5 v. Suns||Top||114-121||Loss||-110||20 h 1 m||Show|
It's a given the Suns are going to win Game 3 of their series against the Nuggets, right? After all, Phoenix is down 0-2 and in must-win mode coming home. The Suns are 30-14 at home. The Nuggets are 20-23 on the road.
But on closer inspection, I can't get behind the Suns. There are too many red flags. There's also a hefty point spread tax for backing Phoenix here.
You have to go back to Nov. 11 against the Celtics in Boston to find the last time the Nuggets were this big of underdogs when Nikola Jokic was in the lineup.
Denver beat Phoenix by an average of 14 points in sweeping the first two games of the series in Denver. That's with Devin Booker and Kevin Durant - the Suns' two superstars - having strong performances. Booker is averaging 31 points and seven assists in the series with Durant averaging 26.5 points and 11 rebounds. So it's hard to ask those two to do more than they already are giving.
The Nuggets have two superstars of their own. Jokic has been the best player in the NBA for the past three seasons. He rates a huge edge on Deandre Ayton. Jamal Murray had been as hot as any player until shooting just 3-of-15 from the floor in Game 2. Yet the Nuggets still won that game by 10 points.
Denver has outrebounded the Suns by 13 in the series and has displayed a much stronger rotation and bench. Even with Booker and Durant playing up to par, the Suns have averaged just 97 points in the series.
Now the Suns are not only being asked to cover what I consider an excessive point spread, but do it without point guard Chris Paul. He's out with a groin injury putting Cameron Payne in the spotlight. Payne plays faster than Paul, but he's not nearly as talented, nor does he have big-game, big-minute experience on his resume.
Paul was injured in Monday's Game 2 loss. Payne came in and scored just two points in 17 minutes going 1-for-7 from the floor. Worse, the Suns were minus-16 when he was on the court. That translates to minus-32 if Payne's minutes are doubled from 17 to 34.
Maybe Payne will step up. But I'd rather take the points and go-against him. All the pressure here is on the Suns. Let's see how they hold up. I don't see it going well for them.
|05-04-23||Lakers v. Warriors -5.5||Top||100-127||Win||100||21 h 24 m||Show|
We saw it Wednesday night with the Celtics. We'll see it tonight with the Warriors. NBA teams down 0-1 in a series at home in Game 2 don't lose and they cover the spread. The record speaks for itself - 20-1 SU, 19-2 ATS since 2018 in that role.
The Lakers caught the Warriors coming off a Game 7 road win against Sacramento when they defeated Golden State, 117-112, this past Tuesday. The Warriors had beaten the Kings just two days before Game 1.
Golden State will be fully ready and prepared now for Game 2. The Warriors shot just six free throws in that Game 1 loss. The Lakers went to the line 29 times making 25. Even with that unstainable disparity, the Warriors had a chance to tie the game with less than 10 seconds left if Jordan Poole could have made an open 3-point shot.
The Lakers paid a price to win Game 1. They played fragile Anthony Davis for 44 minutes.
LA also upset the Grizzlies on the road in Game 1 of its previous series. The Lakers then went on to lose Game 2 in Memphis by 10 points.
The Warriors have played far better at home this season than on the road. Their home point spread record is an amazing: 40-19-1 ATS in their last 60 home games for 68 percent.
|05-03-23||76ers +10.5 v. Celtics||Top||87-121||Loss||-115||17 h 6 m||Show|
The Celtics were 10 1/2-point home favorites in Monday's Game 1. They lost to the 76ers straight-up. Boston opened double-digit favorites again for today's Game 2.
Maybe the Celtics even the series. But I won't turn down double-digit points with the 76ers to find out.
Boston lost Game 1 despite shooting 58.7 percent from the field, taking advantage of no Joel Embiid - who isn't likely to play here either - to outscore the 76ers, 66-42, in the paint and committed just 10 fouls. Yet lost.
The Celtics can talk about increasing their defensive intensity. The reality is, though, the Celtics were overconfident hosting the 76ers when Philly didn't have league MVP Embiid. Maybe Boston won't be overconfident anymore. The Celtics, however, can't be trusted to suddenly play better defense. Not when they've given up an average of 121.8 points during their last five games.
I don't expect James Harden to shoot 17-of-30 from the field like he did in Game 1. But Harden has his confidence up and he's backed by some underrated 76er scorers who were held back during the regular season by Embiid's dominance. This list includes Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris and Paul Reed.
The 76ers are 12-5 without Embiid this season. Even more impressive is they are 10-0 ATS in their last 10 away games minus Embiid. Philadelphia also is 6-0-1 ATS in its last seven games.
(Update: Since I released this play last night, the line has come down with word coming that Embiid may indeed play. I like the 76ers getting more than 6 1/2 points with or without Embiid. So the handicap holds.)
|05-02-23||Lakers +4.5 v. Warriors||117-112||Win||100||11 h 25 m||Show|
I thought the Warriors might be invincible at home. They aren't. During their last two home games, the Lakers lost, 118-99, to the Kings last Friday and just nipped the Kings, 126-125, on April 23.
The Lakers, unlike the Kings, have superstars with playoff experience. LA also is the more rested team having eliminated the Grizzlies in a 40-point blowout this past Friday.
Golden State, on the other hand, is rushed back on the court after beating the Kings in Game 7 of its series just two days ago. The Warriors are 2-7 ATS following a victory.
The Lakers received excellent contributions from a number of their rotation players stepping up, including Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura. The Lakers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings against the Warriors, who they beat three of four times during the regular season.
|05-01-23||Suns v. Nuggets -4.5||Top||87-97||Win||100||19 h 48 m||Show|
Here's the thing about the Nuggets. They were outshot by the Suns, 51.2 percent to 47.5 percent, and outscored in the paint, 60-48, by the Suns during Saturday's Game 1. Kevin Durant had a big game scoring 29 points, hitting 12 of 19 shots from the field, while Nikola Jokic made just 9-of-21 shots from the field.
Yet the Nuggets won Game 1 - and won it by 18 points, 125-107.
Denver is just so tough at home being 38-7 and is peaking. Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon are healthy. Guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bruce Brown and Christian Braun know how to effectively defend Chris Paul, who got a pass in the Suns' first-round series victory against the Clippers with LA minus Paul George and then Kawhi Leonard the last couple of games. George and Leonard not only are great scorers, but excellent defenders.
The Suns had seven more turnovers than the Nuggets in Game 1 and pulled down 11 fewer rebounds.
Then there's Jamal Murray. He's the hottest player in the playoffs during the past two games, averaging 39 points while making 25-of-47 shots from the field and sinking 11-of-20 shots from 3-point range.
The Nuggets have won and covered four in a row against the Suns, including all three games played in Denver. Phoenix is 3-7 in its last 10 road games.
|04-30-23||Warriors v. Kings UNDER 230.5||120-100||Win||100||3 h 24 m||Show|
There were just 217 points scored in the Kings' 118-99 Game 6 road win against the Warriors Friday. Sacramento's upset victory has set up today's Game 7. It's not difficult to imagine both teams playing their most intense defense and tempo being slower than perceived with this being the team's third game in five days. Certainly these teams know each other extremely well by now.
The Under has covered 62 percent of the time during the past 63 Game 7's.
The Warriors-Kings haven't scored more than 220 points during three of their last five games in the series.
|04-30-23||Heat v. Knicks UNDER 208||Top||108-101||Loss||-110||14 h 42 m||Show|
Rust, a feeling-out-process and two outstanding defensive teams with defensive gurus as their coaches. Those are among the reasons why I like this Game 1 of the Heat-Knicks series to go Under.
The Heat stunned the Bucks in a high-scoring series. The Knicks were the opposite. They disposed of the higher seeded Cavaliers in five games in their series with all five games going Under.
Both teams last played this past Wednesday. So they've had three full days to rest and game plan. Miami's Erik Spoelstra and New York's Tom Thibodeau are elite defensive coaches.
The Heat are without Tyler Herro, their third-leading scorer and most accurate 3-point shooter. The Knicks ranked No. 3 in defensive field goal percentage. They held the Cavaliers to an average of 89 points during the last three games of their series.
The Knicks' leading scorer, Julius Randle, is hobbled by a sprained ankle. He averaged 14.4 points in the Cavaliers series, down from his 25.1 points he averaged during the regular season. Miami surrendered the second-fewest points in the league during the regular season.
The teams last played a month ago. There were 193 points scored in that game.
|04-28-23||Kings v. Warriors -7||Top||118-99||Loss||-110||20 h 1 m||Show|
Great season by the Kings, but it's closeout time now for the Warriors. The defending world champions have won the past three games in the series. They need to win this one at home knowing a loss forces them to go back to Sacramento for Game 7.
The Warriors are 12-32 on the road and 35-8 at home, including 2-0 against the Kings during this series. Needless to say, they play far better at home. Their 40-17-1 (70 percent) ATS record in their last 58 home games is proof of that.
But this huge home/road split didn't stop the Warriors from inflicting a huge defeat on the Kings in Game 5 at Sacramento, 123-116, this past Wednesday.
That loss has to be demoralizing for the upstart Kings and a huge reinforced confidence boost for the Warriors.
Golden State has all hands on deck now with Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton II aiding superstar Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole. The Kings don't have the defense to keep the Warriors in check ranking 25th in scoring defense and 29th in defensive field goal percentage.
The Kings need to keep pace offensively with the Warriors to stay in the game. That's even more difficult for them now with their star guard De'Aaron Fox hampered by a broken finger. The injury affected his shooting as Fox was just 9-of-25 from the floor in Game 5 in his first game dealing with the injury.
|04-26-23||Heat v. Bucks UNDER 220.5||128-126||Loss||-110||10 h 17 m||Show|
This series has been much higher scoring than expected. The Over has cashed in each of the first four games.
The Heat have the top-seeded Bucks on the verge of elimination up 3-1 in the series. Jimmy Butler is averaging 36.5 points in the series and the Heat have made 60-of-126 3-point shots for a 47.6 3-point shooting percentage.
This blazing shooting can't continue.
The Heat ranked 27th during the regular season in 3-point shooting percentage at 34.4 percent. Butler is a great player, but he's not some insane scorer like he's been through the first four games. Only once in his 13-year NBA career has he averaged more than 23 points. He averaged 22.9 points this season.
The Bucks ranked No. 2 in defensive field goal percentage and had the fourth-best defensive efficiency in the league. The Heat were the No. 2 defensive team in the NBA. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra is a defensive guru.
The intensity should be at its highest point for this game, especially from the Bucks.
|04-25-23||Wolves v. Nuggets -9.5||Top||109-112||Loss||-110||11 h 40 m||Show|
The Timberwolves got their playoff victory coming from 12 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Nuggets in overtime at home during Sunday's Game 4 of their series.
So the Timberwolves gained a little pride. The grim reality is they are down 3-1 in the series and back in Denver where they figure to get clobbered.
The Nuggets aren't going to screw around now with this overmatched opponent that could be missing three key rotation players. Minnesota definitely is minus injured Jaden McDaniels and Nat Reid and now Kyle Anderson is questionable with an eye injury.
Expect an intense effort from the now-aroused Nuggets at home. which should insure a double-digit victory. Denver has beaten Minnesota the past three times at home by an average of 24 points, including a 29-point win in Game 1. Denver has also covered six of the past seven times following a loss.
|04-24-23||Grizzlies v. Lakers -4||Top||111-117||Win||100||22 h 34 m||Show|
The Grizzlies have been road underdogs 16 times this season. Their record in those games? 0-16 SU, 2-14 ATS.
That's powerful evidence that this isn't a good spot for Memphis.
The Lakers are peaking at the right time. Superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis are both playing at high levels. The Lakers also are getting key contributions from role players Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves and Dennis Schroder.
The Grizzlies split the opening two games of this series at home. But they couldn't hang with the Lakers during Saturday's Game 3 in LA. The final score of LA winning, 111-101, is misleading. The Grizzlies were never in the game. The Lakers buried them, 35-9, in the first quarter.
Memphis lost by double-digits despite a monster performance from Ja Morant, who scored 45 points while shooting 13-of-26 from the floor. Morant scored more than half of those points during the meaningless fourth quarter.
The Grizzlies are minus big men Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke. Adams led the Grizzlies in rebounding while Clarke was fourth.
James is at his competitive best spurred on in part by being goaded by the stupidity and dirty play of Dillon Brooks, who called James old and not worthy of respect.
|04-23-23||Celtics v. Hawks +6.5||Top||129-121||Loss||-110||7 h 59 m||Show|
The Hawks just didn't beat the Celtics, 130-122, in Friday's Game 3 of this series by riding an overdue great shooting game from Trae Young. They did it by also outscoring the Celtics by 14 points in the paint and grabbing 19 more rebounds.
Atlanta has been good at home, much better than on the road. The Hawks' confidence is up and I give them a coaching edge with Quin Snyder against playoff rookie Joe Mazzulla.
There's also a possibility the Celitcs won't have guard Marcus Smart, who is questionable with a tailbone injury.
If there's a key number in the NBA it's 6. So this is enough points for me to get involved with the Hawks.
|04-22-23||Bucks v. Heat UNDER 220.5||Top||99-121||Win||100||13 h 32 m||Show|
Playoff basketball in the NBA is where defenses step up, right? You couldn't tell that at all from watching the first two games of the Heat-Bucks series. The first two games have flown Over the total.
I'm looking for reality to get a grip in this Game 3.
It doesn't matter if Giannis Antetokounmpo can play or not. I don't see the Bucks matching their two-game playoff average of 127.5 points, nor coming close to matching their series shooting percentage from the floor of 51.5 percent. Miami is the No. 2 scoring defense in the league. Erik Spoelstra is a well respected defensive coach. The Heat are home now. The teams last played on Wednesday so there has been ample time to game plan and adjust.
The same can be said for Milwaukee. The Bucks were No. 2 in defensive field goal percentage during the regular season. However, the Heat are averaging 126 points - 13 above their league-low season average - and shooting 56.5 percent from the field. That's insane.
While Antetokounmpo's status is taking center stage, the Heat definitely will be without Tyler Herro. He's Miami's third-leading scorer, its top 3-point shooter and best free throw shooter. Herro averages 20.1 points a game. The next closest to Herro on Miami's scoring list is Max Strus, who averages 11.5 points.
So, yes, I'm expecting a huge regression in the scoring and shooting percentages of these teams beginning with this Game 3.
|04-21-23||Cavs v. Knicks -115||79-99||Win||100||10 h 21 m||Show|
I am far from convinced the Cavaliers are the better team in this series. I'm backing that belief up by taking the Knicks on the money line.
The Knicks were 23-18 at home during the regular season. They beat Cleveland both times at home. The Cavaliers have a losing road record. They also lost 13 of 16 times straight-up when they were a road underdog, which is the case here.
The Knicks upset the Cavaliers in Cleveland in Game 1. The Knicks - fat and content - mailed in Game 2 and were spanked, 107-90. Now the series shifts to Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won't be fat and happy here. Their intensity will be full bore. They are dangerous with a healthy Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson. The Knicks are going to get tremendous crowd support.
The Cavaliers are an outstanding defensive team. Their offense is heavily reliant upon Donovan Mitchell. He had trouble shooting at spacious Madison Square Garden in the two regular season games there hitting just 17 of 46 shots from the floor for 37 percent.
Cleveland has failed to cover in four of its last five visits to Madison Square Garden.
|04-20-23||Kings v. Warriors OVER 239||97-114||Loss||-110||12 h 1 m||Show|
The key to getting this Over is believing each team can score 120 points. This is playoff basketball so that may seem like a tall order. But I see it getting accomplished in this Game 3 matchup.
The Kings have shot 45.3 percent from the floor during the first two games. They shot 49.4 percent from the field during the regular season. They've made 30 percent of their 3-point shots. They made 36.9 percent during the regular season.
Yet the Kings still are averaging 120 points per game in the series. They are due to shoot better. They were the No. 1 scoring team in the NBA, while ranking No. 2 in shooting percentage and ninth in 3-point percentage.
Golden State ranked 21st in scoring defense and was below average, too, in 3-point defense. And that was with Draymond Green, its best defender. Green is suspended for this game.
Tempo is going to be huge here. The Warriors will run with anybody, especially at home. But will the Kings accommodate them? Yes, according to Sacramento coach Mike Brown. Here's what he was quoted as saying, ''We keep talking pace, pace, pace, pace. We gotta keep playing fast, fast, fast, fast, even faster than (Game 2) because that's the way we play. We generate a lot of points by just pushing the ball.''
Green gets his touches, but his presence will be missed more on defense. The Warriors have better statistics across the board when playing at home. They will look to bury the Kings down 0-2 in the series in must-win mode and needing positive reinforcement.
|04-20-23||Kings v. Warriors -5.5||Top||97-114||Win||100||20 h 25 m||Show|
It shouldn't be that shocking Golden State is down 0-2 to Sacramento. After all, the first two games of this series were in Sacramento. The Warriors were 11-30 on the road.
But now the Warriors return home. That makes all the difference. Golden State is 33-8 at home. All of the Warriors' statistics are better at home than on the road. Each of Golden State's past nine home victories have been by at least eight points. The Warriors are 39-16-1 (71 percent) ATS in their last 56 home contests.
I'm not worried the Warriors won't have Draymond Green. I'm being objective here since I haven't despised a Golden State player as much as I do Green since Rick Barry (yes I go that far back). Barry was a whiner. Green is a whiner and a dirty player.
I digress. I'll gladly accept the tradeoff of laying fewer points without Green. Because the Warriors won't need Green to produce an all-out effort at home in must-win mode while the Kings come in fat and happy having accomplished what they set out to do in Sacramento.
I'm expecting a professional, focused effort from the defending world champions without having to be concerned about Green's distractions and drama. Golden State went 2-0 at home this season when they didn't have Green.
The Kings are listing their best big man, Domantas Sabonis, as questionable with a bruised sternum. I fully expect Sabonis to play. It's just an unexpected bonus if he doesn't, or is limited.
|04-19-23||Lakers v. Grizzlies UNDER 226.5||Top||93-103||Win||100||7 h 19 m||Show|
It's a plus for the Under if Ja Morant can't play because of a right hand injury. Even if he does, though, I still like the Under.
The Lakers' 128-112 Game 1 victory in this series has some influence on why this total is too high in my view.
The Lakers shot 53 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point range in the Game 1 victory. The teams combined to make 29 of 32 free throws for 91 percent.
The Grizzlies finished first in defensive field goal percentage. The Lakers ranked 25th in 3-point shooting at 34.6 percent. LA got a huge scoring burst from role players Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves. They combined for 52 points while shooting 19 of 27 from the floor for 70 percent. I don't see a repeat of that in this Game 2.
Memphis should be applying maximum intensity and defensive pressure knowing a loss would send them to LA down 0-2 in the series.
The Lakers have been playing outstanding defense down the stretch. They've held their last four foes to an average of 106 points in regulation.
|04-18-23||Clippers v. Suns -8||Top||109-123||Win||100||13 h 30 m||Show|
I had the Clippers plus 7 1/2 in Game 1 of this series expecting a huge performance from Kawhi Leonard. So I wasn't surprised when Leonard scored 38 in the Clippers' upset victory this past Sunday.
But now I'm going the other way for this Game 2 riding the Zig Zag theory. I don't see the Suns losing a second straight home game, which would put them in serious jeopardy for the series.
Kevin Durant also played well in that Game 1. The Suns are 8-1 with Durant in their lineup. They way outnumber the Paul George-less Clippers in star power. The Suns won't be taking the Clippers lightly in this must-win spot.
The Clippers are 2-6 ATS the past eight times following a victory.
|04-17-23||Nets +10.5 v. 76ers||84-96||Loss||-115||19 h 23 m||Show|
The Nets don't have nearly the talent anymore that the 76ers have. But the Nets are pesky, spunky and will be going all out after losing, 121-101, to Philadelphia in Saturday's Game 1 playoff matchup.
That was just the fourth time in their last 21 games that the Nets lost by more than 10 points.
The 76ers made a franchise-record 21 3-pointers while hitting 48 percent of their shots from beyond the arc. The 76ers dominated the offensive glass. Philadelphia ended up getting 19 more shots than Brooklyn. The Nets committed 19 turnovers.
I'm expecting adjustments and far less sloppy play from the Nets in this Game 2.
|04-17-23||Nets v. 76ers UNDER 214||Top||84-96||Win||100||19 h 23 m||Show|
Both teams play at a very slow pace. That held firm in Saturday's Game 1 where there were fewer than 91 possessions. Yet the total went Over with the 76ers winning, 121-101.
So what happened?
The Nets shot 56 percent from the floor. The 76ers set a team playoff record by making 21 3-pointers. They made 21 of 43 shots from behind the arc. That's 49 percent. The 76ers shot 38 percent from 3-point range during the regular season.
The Nets rank fourth in defensive field goal percentage. The 76ers are third in scoring defense. If you discount a 123-point performance against the hapless Pistons, the Nets are averaging only 102 points in their last four games.
These are two strong defenses and now they've played a playoff game against each other so defensive adjustments will be coming.
"Game 2 is going to be much more difficult,'' 76ers guard James Harden was quoted as saying. "They're going to make adjustments and we're going to make adjustments, so it's going to be the most important game of the series. ...''
|04-16-23||Clippers +7.5 v. Suns||115-110||Win||100||23 h 40 m||Show|
Forget the regular season. The Clippers are in the playoffs. That makes them dangerous. They are a veteran team with arguably the best all-around player in basketball, Kawhi Leonard. Only twice during the previous two seasons did the Clippers lose by more than seven points in a playoff matchup spanning 21 games.
The Suns look far superior on paper with stars Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul and DeAndre Ayton. But The Suns aren't in sync yet due to Durant playing only eight games for them. Phoenix also doesn't have a deep bench. The Suns' reserve strength could be even more thin if injured Bismack Biyombo and Cameron Payne aren't ready to play after getting hurt during the second-to-last game of the regular season.
The Clippers have better reserves. Paul George is out, but the Clippers have Russell Westbrook along with underrated role players Norman Powell, Ivica Zubac and Nicolas Batum.
The Clippers also have proven extremely tough following ample rest. They have covered 69 percent of their last 52 games when playing with three or more days rest.
|04-16-23||Clippers v. Suns UNDER 225.5||Top||115-110||Win||100||23 h 39 m||Show|
The Suns are one of the top defensive teams in the NBA. They ranked between fifth and seventh, overall, in many of the major defensive categories, including fewest points per game, defensive field goal percentage and blocked shots.
Phoenix's defensive intensity should be at its peak, too, now that it's playoff time. They catch the Clippers without their leading scorer, injured Paul George and his 23.8 points per game average.
The season stats might not show it, but the Clippers are a strong defensive team, too, especially during the playoffs. Toss out giving up 130 points to the Suns two seasons ago and the Clippers have allowed just 99.3 points in their last six playoff games.
The teams last played a week ago. So there could be a rust factor.
The Under has cashed six of the last eight times the Clippers and Suns have met.
|04-15-23||Nets v. 76ers UNDER 214.5||101-121||Loss||-110||13 h 13 m||Show|
These are two good defensive teams. Now throw in playoff intensity, an early start time and how well acquainted they are with each other and you have the winning formula for an Under.
The Nets are a top-10 defensive team. They ranked fourth in defensive field goal percentage, too. That's not good news for James Harden. He's healthy at last. But Harden is more methodical rather than up-tempo. He holds the ball a long time taking time off the clock. Both teams rated in the bottom 10 in terms of pace.
Philadelphia had the third-stingiest defense. The 76ers rank fifth in 3-point defense. If you discount a 123-point performance against the hapless Pistons, the Nets are averaging 102.6 points in their last three games.
These teams have had six days to study each other's sets and tendencies, something they already know. They're familiar with the plays they run. This is Game 1, a feeling out process. It's an early start, too.
So don't expect a high-scoring game.
|04-14-23||Thunder +5.5 v. Wolves||Top||95-120||Loss||-110||22 h 22 m||Show|
Disrespected by the oddsmaker and marketplace all season, Oklahoma City has proven it is far ahead of schedule. The Thunder have covered 57 percent of their games this season going 46-34-3 ATS. They will reach the playoffs if they beat the Timberwolves.
The Thunder upset the Pelicans on Wednesday. I see them doing the same to Minnesota. Oklahoma City is on house money. The pressure is on the favored Timberwolves. Minnesota is banged-up and has chemistry issues. I find the Timberwolves untrustworthy. They are 2-7 ATS in their last nine home games.
Only twice in their last 10 games have the Thunder lost by more than five points. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is as big as any star Minnesota has.
Rudy Gobert is back from his one-game suspension for throwing a punch at teammate Kyle Anderson. Gobert, though, is not 100 percent due to back trouble. Jaden McDaniels, a top defensive wing, is out. So is Naz Reid. Those are two key rotation players for Minnesota.
The Thunder have covered in six of their last seven visits to Minnesota.
|04-12-23||Thunder +5.5 v. Pelicans||Top||123-118||Win||100||11 h 55 m||Show|
Few expected the Thunder to reach the postseason this season. The Thunder are on house money with all the pressure on the home Pelicans with the loser of this matchup eliminated.
The Pelicans went 9-3 down the stretch to reach this point. That took a lot of physical and mental energy.
Oklahoma City has lost only twice by more than five points during its last nine games. The Thunder have confidence knowing they defeated the Pelicans, 110-96, in New Orleans when the teams last met on March 11.
The Thunder have been strong money-makers all season going 45-34-3 ATS, the third-best spread in the NBA.
I trust them to hang in against the Pelicans.
|04-11-23||Wolves v. Lakers -7.5||Top||102-108||Loss||-110||13 h 11 m||Show|
The Lakers are hot, peaking at the right time. The Timberwolves lack the bodies, maturity and leadership to stay close on the road against the Lakers here.
LA has won nine of its last 11 games with six of those victories coming by 11 or more points. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are in sync. D'Angelo Russell is back contributing.
The Timberwolves are in disarray - and it's not just because star center Rudy Gobert is suspended for this game for throwing a punch at teammate Kyle Anderson. The Timberwolves have three underrated injuries: Jaden McDaniels, Naz Reid and Jaylen Nowell. They are all out. Those are the Timberwolves' fourth, sixth and seventh-leading scorers and key complementary players.
So without those three and Gobert, Minnesota is down four of its nine rotation players. It's too much to expect Minnesota to stay within single digits of the hot Lakers on the road minus all those components especially given their team makeup.
|04-09-23||Clippers v. Suns UNDER 225.5||Top||119-114||Loss||-110||5 h 45 m||Show|
There are a lot of insane lines today, the last day of the NBA regular season. This looks like one of them with the road Clippers opening as double-digit favorites against the Suns.
But it makes sense considering the Clippers plan on playing their starters, while the Suns will be resting their best players.
Still, there could be some gamesmanship involved on the Clippers' end.
Here's the possible scenarios: If the Clippers beat the Suns they finish as the No. 5 seed in the West. That would mean a first-round matchup against - yep, you guessed it the Suns. So neither team will want to show much here.
However, if the Clippers lose, they likely would fall to the No. 6 seed and thus draw the Kings. Playing the Kings, with their playoff inexperience, would be easier than getting the Suns. So Tyronn Lue might be bluffing when he says he'll be playing his starters. He still could start them for appearance sake, but reduce their minutes, especially Kawhi Leonard.
Phoenix is locked into the No. 4 seed. Suns coach Monty Williams is expected to sit out Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton. The Suns don't have much firepower minus those stars.
Instead the big minutes on the Suns will go to Torrey Craig, Jock Landale and Josh Okogie.
So I'm going Under the total in anticipation of these expected developments, which I see as all favoring a lower-scoring game than the oddsmaker projects.
|04-08-23||Wolves v. Spurs +14||151-131||Loss||-110||5 h 25 m||Show|
At worst, the Timberwolves are going to be involved in the postseason with a play-in game. They would rather earn the No. 8 seed in the West, which they are live to do if they beat the Spurs here, Pelicans on Sunday and things fall their way.
The Timberwolves, though, are just 5-10 against the NBA's five worst teams. That includes the Spurs, who are 2-1 versus Minnesota this season. So the Timberwolves do not have a good track record in these types of games. They lack that maturity. They also are laying an inflated number because of their playoff situation.
"We always fall short, it seems,'' Anthony Edwards was quoted as saying about the Timberwolves' struggles against bottom feeders. "It always haunts us. It's just a level of respect for the game. You've got to treat every game the same, and that's something that we lack.''
This is the Spurs' second consecutive game at the Moody Center in Austin. That's where their G-League franchise is located. The Spurs beat the Trail Blazers, 129-127, there on Thursday, sparked by the atmosphere and crowd support.
The Timberwolves haven't played there. Minnesota last was in action on Tuesday. So there could be a rust factor for the Timberwolves.
|04-07-23||Pistons v. Pacers OVER 230.5||Top||122-115||Win||100||9 h 12 m||Show|
Two horrible teams with nothing to play for get together in their second-to-last game of the season. Sounds like an Over to me, especially when those teams are the Pistons and Pacers.
Detroit is 1-22 in its last 23 games. The Pistons rank 27th in scoring defense and 28th in defensive field goal percentage. They've surrendered at least 118 points in seven of their last eight games.
Indiana is 2-8 in its last 10 games. The Pacers rank 29th in scoring defense and 24th in defensive field goal percentage. They are giving up an average of 129.8 points during their last seven games.
The Over has cashed eight of the last nine times the Pacers have hosted the Pistons.
|04-06-23||Thunder v. Jazz UNDER 238.5||Top||114-98||Win||100||11 h 9 m||Show|
Neither team is strong defensively and both are off high-scoring games this past Tuesday. However, those two results were misleading. The Thunder were playing the high-scoring Warriors at Golden State while the Jazz went to overtime against the rejuvenated Lakers.
This matchup should be entirely different. Defensive intensity should be way up with both teams in contention for the play-in tournament.
The Jazz especially will be defensive-minded playing at home minus injured starters Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton. Those are Utah's three leading scorers. Expect a slow pace from Utah.
The Thunder have gone Under 10 of the past 13 times when playing a sub .500 opponent.Thursday Prop Bet Joel Embiid Under 31 1/2 points Joel Embiid is coming off a 52-point scoring performance against the Celtics two days ago. Embiid very well could earn MVP honors this season. But this scoring total is too high considering Embiid hasn't reached 29 points in five of his last six games and who the 76ers' opponent is. Miami is the No. 2 scoring defense in the NBA. The Heat have held Embiid to an average of 21.3 points during the last six meetings.
|04-05-23||Knicks v. Pacers +8.5||Top||138-129||Loss||-110||9 h 33 m||Show|
The Pacers are out of the playoff race. They aren't likely to have their two best players, Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner.
So why back Indiana?
The Knicks lack motivation and are banged-up. New York is locked into the No. 5 playoff seed in the East.
Julius Randle, New York's best player, is out for the rest of the regular season because of an ankle injury. Star point guard Jalen Brunson, the Knicks' second-best player, is dealing with hand and foot injuries that have caused him to miss seven of the last 15 games.
The Pacers should play hard. Their young players are fighting for jobs. Rick Carlisle is a good coach who demands effort. Indiana upset Oklahoma City at home two games ago and in its last game led the Cavaliers for most of the contest before falling apart during the final four minutes in a 10-point road loss this past Sunday. The Pacers were derailed in that game by Donovan Mitchell, who shot 14-of-25 from the field and scored 40 points. The Knicks don't have a shooter nearly the superstar caliber of Mitchell.
This is what Carlisle was quoted as saying: ''The way we're set up for our young guys, it really is a great opportunity for them. ''... This period of the last 2 1/2, three weeks is very valuable. This creates momentum into next season. We have momentum with our roster.''
Look for the Pacers to hang here if not pull out an outright victory.
(Editor's note: The line has dropped considerably since I posted this play in large part because Brunson has been ruled out. I still would strongly back the Pacers believing Indiana is very live to win this game straight-up.)
|04-04-23||Lakers v. Jazz +9||135-133||Win||100||8 h 21 m||Show|
The Lakers are peaking with LeBron James and Anthony Davis showing good chemistry since James' return from injury. LA has won three in a row.
Utah has covered 12 of the last 16 times when playing on one day's rest. The Jazz are capable of springing upsets at home. Just a little more than 2 1/2 weeks ago, Utah upset the Kings and Celtics.
The Lakers have a bigger game on tap tomorrow when they return to LA to play in-city division rival the Clippers. This could mean reduced minutes for James and the fragile Davis in tonight's game.
|04-04-23||Nuggets v. Rockets +9.5||103-124||Win||100||7 h 17 m||Show|
The Nuggets are on the verge of clinching the top seed in the Western Conference. They don't feel a great deal of urgency to prove themselves during this final week of the regular season. So superstar Nikola Jokic will be sitting out this game, continuing to nurse tightness in his calf.
This opens the door for the home 'dog Rockets to stay within single digits.
This will be the Nuggets' fourth consecutive game without Jokic. During this span they lost to the Pelicans by 19 at home, lost by 7 to the Suns and edged the Warriors by two at home two days ago leaving them fat, happy and unmotivated for this matchup.
The Rockets are capable. They are 4-3 in their last seven home games. Among the teams the Rockets beat at home during this time frame were the Celtics, Lakers and Pelicans.
|04-04-23||Cavs v. Magic +5.5||117-113||Win||100||6 h 17 m||Show|
Orlando has the second-best point spread mark in the NBA covering 58 percent. Most of these covers came as underdogs.
That's the case again here.
Orlando is on the verge of being eliminated from the play-in race. This is last stand time for the Magic. That should ensure a strong effort. The Magic have been playing well going 6-2 in their last eight games, including winning five of their past six games.
The Cavaliers are all but locked into the No. 4 seed in the East. The Cavaliers aren't likely to be super motivated here.
|04-03-23||San Diego State v. Connecticut -7.5||Top||59-76||Win||100||23 h 54 m||Show|
There have been a lot of bad beats in this NCAA Tournament. I don't see San Diego State winning this game. But I could see the Aztecs hanging around. Until the end that is when they start fouling a lot, which allows the Huskies to cover this number.
Then again, the Huskies just could outclass the Aztecs. They are the better all-around team. Both teams are outstanding defensively.
However, Connecticut is averaging 79.8 points in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies have scored 70 or more points in 30 games. They rank third in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom's numbers. San Diego State can't match that.
Connecticut hasn't allowed more than 70 points in its last nine games - all played in March. The Huskies just held Gonzaga to 54 points and Miami to 59 points. Those were season lows in points for both of those teams.
Much respect to San Diego State for getting to this late stage. But I'm not going against the Huskies here.
|04-02-23||76ers v. Bucks -5||104-117||Win||100||8 h 27 m||Show|
I want the Bucks going for me at home in double-revenge against the 76ers and off their second-worst loss in franchise history following a 140-99 embarrassment to the Celtics. Milwaukee is 13-5 ATS following a non-point spread cover.
The prideful Bucks and superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo should be highly motivated for this matchup.
The 76ers have won the past two meetings in the series. They stopped the Bucks' 16-game winning streak with a 133-130 on March 4.
Milwaukee has covered seven of the last 10 times it has hosted the 76ers.
|04-02-23||Raptors v. Hornets UNDER 224||128-108||Loss||-110||3 h 12 m||Show|
The Raptors surrendered 117 points on the road to the 76ers in their last game this past Friday. Prior to that, though, the Raptors had allowed just 97.6 points in their previous three games. Toronto now draws a decimated Hornets team missing LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Kelly Oubre, Gordon Hayward, Dennis Smith and now possibly P.J. Washington. So where does Charlotte's points come from? Good question. The Hornets know they must play slow and intense defense to stay in the game. They didn't do that against the Bulls this past Friday in a 121-91 home loss. Charlotte coach Steve Clifford wasn't happy with the defensive effort. Expect better defensive play from the Hornets here. Note the early start, too. That's a plus for the Under.
|04-01-23||Florida Atlantic v. San Diego State UNDER 132||Top||71-72||Loss||-110||18 h 43 m||Show|
There's only one way to play the total in this game - and it's not to the Over.
San Diego State is an Under machine. The Aztecs have gone Under in their last 12 games and 14 of their past 15! Florida Atlantic is a big-scoring team reliant on 3-point accuracy. But the Owls haven't faced a 3-point defense as good as San Diego State. The Aztecs have held foes to below 28 percent shooting from 3-point range.
Florida Atlantic ranks in the top 40 in defensive field goal percentage. The Owls have given up an average of fewer than 65 points during their seven post-season games, five of which went Under. San Diego State doesn't have a player who averages even 11 points a game in the NCAA Tournament.
The game is being played at NRG Stadium in Houston. That's a football stadium where the Texans play. It's a huge structure with an unusual shooting backdrop for college basketball teams. It's a huge plus for the Under.
|03-31-23||Spurs +18 v. Warriors||115-130||Win||100||12 h 45 m||Show|
The Warriors came back from a 20-point deficit to beat the Pelicans in their last game. Up next for Golden State is a Sunday showdown against the Nuggets in Denver.
So you can't blame the Warriors if they look past the lowly Spurs in this matchup.
Golden State is 0-2 ATS this season laying more than 12 points. This is the most points the Warriors are laying all season in a game.
The Spurs have guaranteed themselves finishing in the bottom three giving them the best chances, along with the Pistons and Rockets, of landing the No. 1 pick in the draft. So the Spurs have motivation.
The backdoor should swing wide open for the Spurs if the Warriors were to build a huge lead because Steve Kerr would reduce the minutes of his star players.
|03-31-23||Kings v. Blazers +15||Top||138-114||Loss||-110||12 h 17 m||Show|
I understand the Trail Blazers are fielding a JV lineup these days. But the situation sets up perfect for Portland to cover this large number.
Sacramento clinched a playoff spot following its last game this past Wednesday. That's a big deal for the Kings. They had gone 16 seasons without earning a postseason berth, the longest playoff drought in NBA history.
The team who the Kings beat Wednesday? None other than the Trail Blazers. And the Kings buried them, 120-80.
Hard to believe the Kings are going to have any intensity for this matchup after celebrating their playoff spot and knowing how bad their opponent is.
This is Portland's second-to-last home game. The Trail Blazers should put forth a great effort after Wednesday's humiliation.
|03-31-23||Jazz +13.5 v. Celtics||114-122||Win||100||9 h 24 m||Show|
Even though the Jazz are going to be missing Lauri Markkanen due to a hand injury, this spot sets up well for Utah.
Boston is off perhaps its finest victory of the season. The Celtics buried the host Bucks, 140-99, last night.
Now the Celtics return home to play this matchup without rest while laying a big number.
The Jazz are spunky and remain in playoff contention. They beat the Celtics in the team's earlier meeting this season and are quite capable of keeping the final score within single digits.
Utah has covered its last six road games. The Jazz also are 14-3 ATS versus foes with a winning percentage above .600.
|03-30-23||Pelicans v. Nuggets UNDER 228.5||107-88||Win||100||12 h 23 m||Show|
These teams have star scorers, but have been playing strong defenses. That's reflected in the Pelicans going Under in six of their last seven games and the Under cashing in each of the Nuggets' last six games.
If you discount giving up 120 points to the high-scoring Warriors at Golden State, the Pelicans have surrendered only 97.4 points in their last five games. New Orleans ranks seventh in the NBA in scoring defense and first in 3-point percentage defense. The Under has cashed in seven of New Orleans' last eight road games.
Denver has held its last six foes to an average of 106.5 points. The Nuggets rank 10th in scoring defense and are No. 3 in 3-point percentage defense. They also are the No. 1 defensive rebounding club.
Don't look for the Pelicans to push pace. This marks their fourth game in six days and third in four days. They are playing, too, in Denver's high altitude.
During the past eight meetings in Denver between the two teams, the Under has cashed six times.
|03-29-23||Lakers -130 v. Bulls||Top||121-110||Win||100||10 h 4 m||Show|
The teams just met this past Sunday in LA. It was LeBron James' first game following a 13-game absence due to a foot injury. James played fewer than 30 minutes, had some rust and Chicago beat the Lakers, 118-108. That halted a three-game Lakers win streak.
The Lakers haven't played since. The Bulls concluded their three-game West Coast trip against the Clippers this past Monday night. This marks the Bulls' fourth game in six days. The Lakers are 5-1 ATS the past six times when playing on two days rest.
I see the rested Lakers getting their revenge catching the more tired Bulls in a vulnerable spot with Chicago home for the first time in eight days. So does the oddsmaker opening the Lakers a road favorite.
James should be back to top form. The Bulls are 2-4 in their last six home contests with one of those victories coming against the Timberwolves in overtime.
The Lakers have covered in five of their last six visits to Chicago.
|03-28-23||Utah Valley v. UAB -2.5||Top||86-88||Loss||-108||49 h 26 m||Show|
Alabama-Birmingham has been the best team in the NIT. I'm going to ride the Blazers here. UAB defeated Southern Mississippi and Morehead State by double-digits in the tournament and then reached this semifinal match by defeating Vanderbilt, 67-59, on the road.
The Blazers have done all this despite their top scorer and best player, senior guard Jordan Walker, shooting just 35.4 percent from the field during the tournament. Walker averaged 23 points during the regular season while shooting 42.3 percent from the floor.
UAB is winning by playing its best defense holding their three NIT opponents to an average of 59.3 points. None of these opponents were able to score more than 60 points on the Blazers.
Utah Valley is giving up an average of 74 points in its last four games.
I see a class difference of more than this point spread between UAB of Conference USA and Utah Valley from the Western Athletic Conference. The Blazers are 15-2 in their last 17 games. Their only losses during this time span were on the road to North Texas in overtime and to Florida Atlantic in the finals of the conference tournament game. North Texas plays Wisconsin in the other NIT semifinal and Florida Atlantic is one of four teams left in the NCAA Tournament.
|03-28-23||Hornets v. Thunder UNDER 230||137-134||Loss||-110||9 h 12 m||Show|
Down their top three scorers, the Hornets have become a dead-nuts Under team especially away from home. Charlotte has gone Under in each of its last five games. The Under has cashed in 10 of the Hornets' last 11 road games.
LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier are out for Charlotte. Kelly Oubre has missed the last two games due to a shoulder injury. He's questionable here. Those are Charlotte's three top scorers. They lack firepower without those players especially inside at center with Kai Jones, Nick Richards and Mark Williams all rotating. The Hornets rank 27th in scoring, 29th in field goal percentage and 29th in 3-point percentage.
Oklahoma City is above average in defensive field goal percentage. The Thunder, though, haven't been doing much scoring either lately. They are averaging 108.7 points in their last four games.
During the past nine meetings between the two teams, the Under has cashed seven times.
|03-27-23||Wolves v. Kings -4||Top||119-115||Loss||-110||11 h 34 m||Show|
Not only is this a terrible spot for the Timberwolves, but their two best players could be impacted.
Both Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards played major minutes helping the Timberwolves upset the Warriors, 99-96, at Golden State last night. It's asking a lot for the Timberwolves to pull off a second consecutive upset - and doing it without rest.
Towns has played just twice since missing 51 games with a calf injury. He's on a minutes restriction. He logged 32 minutes against Golden State, which is more than Minnesota wanted to use him. Edwards returned after missing three straight games with a sprained ankle. He logged 35 minutes.
The Timberwolves play at the Suns on Wednesday followed by a home game against the Lakers on Friday. So they could be thinking long-term and hold out Towns and Edwards not wanting to risk those stars getting hurt after playing the night before, especially considering how fast and up-tempo the Kings play. Minnesota is 3-8 ATS the past 11 times following a victory.
Sacramento is 23-15 at home. Minnesota is 17-20 on the road.
The Kings beat the Jazz by eight points at home in their last game two days ago minus De'Aaron Fox. He sat out with a hamstring injury. It's an injury that's not considered serious. Fox is questionable for this matchup. It's a nice bonus if Fox plays. But I still like the Kings to cover even if Fox doesn't suit up.
|03-26-23||Rockets +14.5 v. Cavs||91-108||Loss||-110||7 h 7 m||Show|
After beating the Nets twice on the road in close games, the Cavaliers are back home for the first time in nine days fat, happy and laying a boatload of points here. On deck for the Cavaliers is a road game against the Hawks Tuesday.
So, yes, I consider this a flat spot for Cleveland. It could be hard for the Cavaliers to not be overconfident after the Rockets just were destroyed, 151-114, by the Grizzlies this past Friday.
The key question here is are the Rockets capable of hanging around with the Cavaliers?
Given the circumstances and Houston being healthy except for rotation player, Jae'Sean Tate, I'd say yes.
The Rockets are in rebuild mode, but they don't lack talent. They nearly upset the Grizzlies on Wednesday before the Grizzlies buried them in the rematch. Houston is 3-4 in its last seven games. The Rockets are 7-4-1 ATS in their last 12 games.
Houston shouldn't lack motivation following its humiliating loss to the Grizzlies. A strong effort by the Rockets should produce a comfortable point spread cover.
|03-26-23||Miami-FL v. Texas -3.5||Top||88-81||Loss||-110||20 h 3 m||Show|
Miami had a great win against Houston on Friday. But the Hurricanes don't match up well to Texas. The Longhorns are averaging eight more points in the paint than Miami during the NCAA Tournament and playing outstanding defense.
Texas is giving up an average of only 60 points during its last seven games. The Longhorns beat top-seeded Kansas to capture the Big 12 Conference Tournament and are 7-0-1 ATS in their last eight games. They are a team that has peaked at the perfect time after a mediocre late February stretch. Interim Longhorns coach Rodney Terry has made all the right moves.
Miami, on the other hand, finished its ACC regular season blowing a 25-point lead in a home loss to Florida State and then barely beat Pittsburgh failing to cover as a 7 1/2-point home favorite. Then in the ACC Tournament, the Hurricanes only beat Wake Forest by two points followed by a seven-point loss to Duke. The Hurricanes weren't that sharp either against Drake in the NCAA Tournament.
It's a bonus if Big 12 Tournament MVP big man Dylan Disu is able to play for Texas after suffering a foot injury in the Longhorns' Friday win against Xavier. Miami isn't set up to take advantage if Disu can't play. The Hurricanes do their damage from the perimeter rather than inside.
Texas has other capable scorers, including Marcus Carr, Timmy Allen and Sir Jabari Rice. Carr and Allen have scored more than 2,000 career points.
I want Texas' defense, the outstanding coaching of Terry and the Longhorns' hot point spread mark going for me.
|03-25-23||Jazz +8.5 v. Kings||113-121||Win||100||12 h 35 m||Show|
The Kings are a huge success story this season with a 44-29 record, which translates to a .603 winning percentage.
Sacramento, however, has a losing record when its star point guard, De'Aaron Fox, doesn't play. Fox isn't likely to play here after suffering a hamstring injury in the Kings' 135-127 home win against the Suns last night.
The Jazz also played last night and were buried at home by the Bucks, 144-116. Because of the blowout, none of the Jazz players logged big minutes. The Kings, on the other hand, had three starters go big minutes in the win against the Suns.
Utah has proven resilient going 11-5-1 ATS following a loss. The Jazz also are 13-3 ATS when playing an opponent with a win percentage above .600.
Utah and Sacramento have met three times this season. The Kings won the first two games by a combined three points. The Jazz upset the Kings, 128-120, at home in the last meeting this past Monday. Utah won that game despite not having Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson. It's a plus if either of those two can play today with Markkanen being listed as questionable.
The Jazz have covered the past five times against Sacramento.
|03-25-23||Florida Atlantic v. Kansas State -120||Top||79-76||Loss||-120||17 h 55 m||Show|
Florida Atlantic is on house money having never advanced this far. The Owls have a strong backcourt. But I'm going with Kansas State coming out of the Big 12 and having two star players, point guard Markquis Nowell and Keyonate Johnson. There might not have been a tougher conference in the country than the Big 12.
Nowell and Johnson give Kansas State the talent edge.
Nowell, averaging 17.2 points, 8.1 assists and 2.5 steals, has been the star of the tournament. He sparked the Wildcats past Michigan State and Kentucky.
Kansas State has covered 77 percent during their past 22 games against above .500 opponents going 17-5.
|03-24-23||Bulls v. Blazers +2.5||124-96||Loss||-107||12 h 41 m||Show|
I understand why the Bulls are favored. Portland is 1-6 in its last seven games. Chicago is 5-2 in its last seven games.
I just don't agree that the Bulls should be road chalk here.
This is last-stand time for the Trail Blazers as they open a five-game homestand being 3 1/2 games out of a play-in playoff spot. They need to open their homestand with a victory here.
The buy sign is on after Portland showed life by upsetting the Jazz on the road, 127-115, two days ago. Yes, Portland had lost six straight games prior to that victory. But those defeats occurred to the Celtics twice, 76ers, Knicks, Clippers and Pelicans. Every one of those teams has a better record than Chicago.
The Bulls are 14-21 on the road. They are 2-6-1 ATS in their past nine away contests and 3-8 ATS the past 11 times when playing on one day's rest. The Bulls won't have injured DeMar DeRozan.
I understand why the Bulls are favored. Portland is 1-6 in its last seven games. Chicago is 5-2 in its last seven games.
I just don't agree that the Bulls should be road chalk here.
This is last-stand time for the Trail Blazers as they open a five-game homestand being 3 1/2 games out of a play-in playoff spot. They need to open their homestand with a victory here.
The buy sign is on after Portland showed life by upsetting the Jazz on the road, 127-115, two days ago. Yes, Portland had lost six straight games prior to that victory. But those defeats occurred to the Celtics twice, 76ers, Knicks, Clippers and Pelicans. Every one of those teams has a better record than Chicago.
The Bulls are 14-21 on the road. They are 2-6-1 ATS in their past nine away contests and 3-8 ATS the past 11 times when playing on one day's rest. The Bulls won't have DeMar DeRozan.
The line has gone up since I released this play as Damian Lillard is questionable and Jusuf Nurkic is doubtful. Given the iffy status of these key players, I would downgrade my selection from one unit to half a unit.
|03-24-23||Xavier v. Texas -4||Top||71-83||Win||100||32 h 43 m||Show|
Texas can win either by its defense or offense. They are one of just four schools that rank in the Top 20 in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency.
Xavier is heavily reliant on offense. The Musketeers rank 305th defensively. They average 82.1 points, however, which ranks 12th.
Texas, though, is playing outstanding defense. The Longhorns have held their last six opponents - Kansas twice, Oklahoma State, TCU, Colgate and Penn State - to an average of only 58.2 points a game.
Xavier's season-long numbers are skewed. The Musketeers haven't been that potent since losing their second-leading scorer, Zach Freemantle, at the end of January. He was averaging 15.2 points, while shooting 58.5 percent from the floor. Xavier has rarely encountered an opponent as athletic and defensively sound as the Longhorns.
The Longhorns haven't missed a beat since Rodney Terry replaced Chris Beard as head coach in January. The Longhorns upset Kansas to win the Big 12 Conference Tournament. They are 6-0-1 ATS in their last seven games.
|03-24-23||Bucks v. Jazz +9.5||144-116||Loss||-110||9 h 22 m||Show|
The Bucks are not a team I normally want to go against. Not only do the Bucks have the best record in the NBA, but they've also covered 57 percent of the games.
But this spot sets up for Utah and the line value is there. The Jazz are a top-four team against the spread like Milwaukee, covering 57 percent of their games, too.
The Bucks haven't been on the road in 10 days. They have a huge look-ahead marquee game up next at the Nuggets - the West's No. 1 seed - on Saturday.
Utah had its two-game win streak snapped in a bad 12-point home loss to the Trail Blazers two days ago. Prior to that, Utah had covered six in a row. The Jazz should play hard here following that home humiliation. Utah has to play road games in four of its next five games.
The Bucks won't have Khris Middleton, arguably their second-best player. They may limit Giannis Antetokounmpo's minutes, too, knowing they have a monster matchup tomorrow.
Milwaukee traditionally hasn't fared well in Utah's high altitude. The Bucks are just 4-17 ATS in their last 21 games in Salt Lake City.
|03-23-23||Knicks v. Magic UNDER 229||106-111||Win||100||9 h 7 m||Show|
I'm going to buy low on the Knicks' defense here. New York has lost two in a row. The Knicks allowed 127 points to the Heat and 140 points to the Timberwolves in those losses.
Is New York's defense that bad?
No. The Knicks rank 12th in scoring defense, third in defensive field goal percentage and seventh in 3-point defense. They had allowed an average of 107.7 points during their four previous games going against the Nuggets, Trail Blazers, Lakers and Clippers. Those teams all are superior offensively to the Magic, who rank 26th in scoring.
The Knicks will be focusing much harder on the defensive end here and they have a weak-scoring opponent. The Magic should have their intensity, too, still alive for the play-in tournament spot. Orlando relies more on defense - where it ranks 17th in scoring defense and eighth in 3-point defense - than offense to beat opponents.
This has been an Under series with the low side cashing the past four times.
|03-23-23||Michigan State v. Kansas State +1.5||93-98||Win||100||7 h 54 m||Show|
Tom Izzo is a great coach. But Michigan State is getting too much respect here because of that. Kansas State is the better team. So I'll back the Wildcats in an underdog role.
The Wildcats have been underrated on the line all season. They have covered 16 of the past 21 times versus above .500 opponents.
Michigan State missed 14 of 16 3-point shots in its win against Marquette. The Spartans won't survive Kansas State if they don't shoot a whole lot better from beyond the arc. The Wildcats have the superior defense. They rank 13th in 3-point defense.
The Spartans are averaging just 66.3 points in their last three games.
|03-23-23||Michigan State v. Kansas State UNDER 138||Top||93-98||Loss||-110||80 h 45 m||Show|
Both team's defenses were solid during the regular season. But they've each stepped up during the postseason. Now, with ample time to prepare, expect both defenses to be at their finest.
Michigan State has a top-100 defense. The Spartans rank 33rd in 3-point defense. They've held their past three opponents to an average of 63.3 points. This includes holding Marquette to 21 points under its season average. Coaching guru Tom Izzo has plenty of time to work on defensive schemes designed to bother this specific opponent. Look for Michigan State to play at a slow tempo.
Kansas State has been a high level defensive team since last month. The Wildcats are giving up an average of 67 points during their last two games. They just held Kentucky six points under its season average.
Note the Madison Square Garden venue, too. This is a huge arena making it tough for teams unfamiliar with this arena to shoot a high percentage.
|03-22-23||76ers -3 v. Bulls||116-91||Win||100||10 h 30 m||Show|
Maybe the Bulls have the 76ers' number this season. But I'll lay this short number to find out.
Chicago ended the 76ers' eight-game home win streak back on Jan. 6, winning 126-112. Joel Embiid didn't play in that game. The Bulls then halted the 76ers' eight-game win streak this past Monday, beating Philadelphian in double overtime, 109-105.
That was the first time Embiid lost to the Bulls in 13 career games.
The 76ers didn't play well at home against Chicago. They committed 21 turnovers and missed 26 of 36 shots from 3-point range. James Harden was uncharacteristically bad making just 2-of-14 shots from the field.
Philadelphia is the most accurate 3-point shooting team in the NBA and also ranks No. 3 in defensive 3-point percentage. I'm betting on a bounce back game from the 76ers, who are 14 games better than the Bulls, in this short revenge spot.
|03-22-23||Rockets +13 v. Grizzlies||125-130||Win||100||10 h 59 m||Show|
Ja Morant is set to make his return today for Memphis. That's great news for the Grizzlies. But it also could affect their concentration. This already is a letdown spot for the Grizzlies after they rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Mavericks at home two days ago in a hotly contested game.
Morant is expected to play. However, Memphis will be minus three key rotation players - suspended Dillon Brooks and injured Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke.
Don't be deceived by Houston's poor season record. The Rockets have gotten healthy and have been playing better going 5-5 in their last 10 games. They've covered in their last two road games, losing to the Pacers in overtime and rolling past the Spurs.
|03-22-23||UAB v. Vanderbilt||67-59||Win||100||19 h 35 m||Show|
Oddsmaker opened Vanderbilt the favorite. Wrong. Alabama-Birmingham is the better team. That's the way the marketplace has so far reacted and I'm in agreement.
Vanderbilt is home and off an impressive victory against big-name Michigan. So it's understandable why the oddsmaker opened the Commodores the favorite.
But UAB is hot - 14-2 in its last 16 games, including six straight wins - and holds several key edges.
The Blazers have a rebounding edge being one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the country. The Commodores are minus their top rebounder, injured Liam Robbins. UAB also has a deeper bench. This is important, too, because the Blazers play at an extremely fast tempo. Vanderbilt has a shorter rotation making it more vulnerable to getting worn down, especially this late in the season.
Both teams played Southern Mississippi. The Blazers buried Southern Mississippi, 88-60, in their first-round NIT game. Vanderbilt lost to Southern Mississippi, 60-48, at home early in the season.
UAB is coached by Andy Kennedy, who knows the SEC well having been the head coach at Mississippi. The Blazers are 2-0 versus SEC teams this season beating Georgia at a neutral site and South Carolina at home.
|03-21-23||Thunder v. Clippers UNDER 238.5||Top||101-100||Win||100||11 h 28 m||Show|
The total has been bet up to the point where I'm going Under.
This is an important game for both teams. So the defensive intensity should be there.
Oklahoma City is underrated defensively. Since Jan. 1, the Thunder have ranked 11th defensively. They rank 12th in defensive field goal percentage on the season.
The Thunder have allowed 108.2 points in their last five games. The Clippers are giving up an average of 107.2 points in their last five games. The Clippers are a top-10 defensive team.
The Under has cashed 74 percent of the time during the Clippers' past 39 home games.
|03-20-23||Kings v. Jazz +5||120-128||Win||100||9 h 41 m||Show|
The Kings have been a huge success story this season. But Utah is below-the-radar and this is a bad spot for the Kings, in action for the fourth time in six days and off three consecutive road wins beating the Bulls, Nets and Wizards.
The Jazz have covered five in a row. They just upset the Celtics at home two days ago. This is only the Jazz's second game in seven days so they are fresher than Sacramento.
Utah has double revenge going, too, The Kings nipped the Jazz twice, winning by a combined margin of three points.
The Jazz are 12-2 ATS the past 14 times they've played an opponent with a winning percentage above .600. They also are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 meetings versus the Kings.
|03-20-23||Pacers -125 v. Hornets||109-115||Loss||-125||7 h 42 m||Show|
You have to go back to Feb. 13 to find the last time the Pacers lost consecutive games. It's not asking too much of Indiana to just beat Charlotte straight-up.
The Pacers were blown out by the 76ers this past Saturday. Indiana upset the Bucks on the road in its previous game. The Pacers are 5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS following a loss.
Unlike the Hornets, the Pacers still have a shot at earning the play-in spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana's best player, is out with a knee injury. But the Hornets also have a key injury with LaMelo Ball out. The Hornets are 2-7 since Ball suffered his season-ending ankle injury.
The Hornets are 0-4 SU, 1-3 ATS during their current homestand. They are the second worst home team in the league at 11-24.
|03-20-23||Bulls v. 76ers -7.5||Top||109-105||Loss||-110||19 h 6 m||Show|
The 76ers have won eight in a row. They've had this game circled for more than three months. Sparked by Zach LaVine's torrid shooting in a 41-point performance, the Bulls upset the 76ers, 126-112, as 5-point road 'dogs on Jan. 6. That snapped Philadelphia's 11-game home win streak. LaVine made 14 of 19 shots from the floor and hit 11 of 13 3-pointers.
I highly doubt LaVine comes close to repeating those numbers. The 76ers rank third defensively and fourth in defensive 3-point percentage. Nobody in the NBA is playing better than Joel Embiid. He's scored 30 or more points in nine consecutive games. Embiid should be rested and raring to go after sitting out the fourth quarter in the 76ers' 141-121 blowout victory against the Pacers this past Saturday.
The Bulls are 4-1 in their last five games, although they needed a lot of good fortune to pull out a double overtime home win against the Timberwolves two games ago. The Timberwolves lost Anthony Edwards early in the game. This is Chicago's third game in four days and fourth game in six days. It's the Bulls' first road game in nine days. The Bulls are 1-6-1 ATS in their past eight away matchups.
Philadelphia has been dominant at home with a 26-10 record. The 76ers have covered seven of the last nine times they've hosted Chicago. The 76ers had covered eight in a row against Chicago until that January defeat.
|03-20-23||Radford v. San Jose State -6.5||67-57||Loss||-110||14 h 45 m||Show|
I like San Jose State to win this College Basketball Invitational matchup by double-digits.
The Spartans play in the superior conference being in the Mountain West Conference compared to Radford, which finished third in the Big South Conference. San Jose State plays strong defense, is in better current form than Radford, is the superior rebounding team and much better at the free throw line.
San Jose State is 5-1 in its last six games. The Spartans have been playing tremendous defense giving up an average of 58.8 points during their last seven games.
Radford averages fewer than 70 points a game. The Highlanders are 290th in free throw percentage at 68.8 percent. Radford has a losing record in its last seven games.
San Jose State has been a reliable point spread team covering 20 of its last 28 games for 71 percent.
|03-19-23||TCU v. Gonzaga -4.5||Top||81-84||Loss||-110||20 h 24 m||Show|
Death, taxes and Gonzaga making the Sweet 16. The Bulldogs are gunning to make the Final 16 teams in the NCAA Tournament for the eighth straight time. I see them doing it, too, against TCU.
Gonzaga is peaking at the right time as the Bulldogs annually do. TCU is 3-8 ATS the past 11 times when facing an above .500 opponent.
I don't trust the Horned Frogs to stay with Gonzaga in the scoring column. Six-foot-10 star Drew Timme is going to cause problems inside for TCU and the Horned Frogs don't have enough of a strong perimeter game to compensate. They rank a hideous 353rd in 3-point accuracy.
TCU nearly didn't even reach this stage. The Horned Frogs needed a basket with 1.5 seconds left to get past Arizona State in their first round game. TCU is 0-6 ATS the past six times following a victory.
|03-19-23||Pelicans -4.5 v. Rockets||117-107||Win||100||16 h 29 m||Show|
The Pelicans won't be taking the 18-52 Rockets lightly. Just the opposite. Houston upset New Orleans, 114-112, at home this past Friday.
New Orleans may have suffered from overconfidence in building a 16-point second-half lead. It was the first time during the past six meetings Houston covered against New Orleans.
The Pelicans are fighting to make the postseason. They can't take a second straight loss to the lowly Rockets. New Orleans has the two best players on the court in Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas.
The Rockets are 5-14 in their last 19 games. They are on a season-best three-game win streak. The Pelicans have excelled in these spots, though. They are 18-7-1 ATS (72 percent) the last 26 times playing a foe with a winning percentage below .400.
|03-19-23||Radford v. Tarleton St -120||72-70||Loss||-120||17 h 13 m||Show|
Strength of schedule means a lot when getting involved in the College Basketball Invitational Tournament.
I have Tarleton State power-rated higher than Radford. Key reasons for that is the superior competition the Texans played along with being in the Western Athletic Conference. Radford, out of the Big South Conference, was 275th in strength of schedule.
Tarleton State faced the 16th-toughest non-conference schedule. The Texans beat Belmont, which won 21 games, and Boston College of the ACC. The Texans also played NCAA Tournament teams Arizona State, Baylor and Drake.
Radford also is 1-5 ATS in its last six games.
|03-18-23||Penn State +5.5 v. Texas||66-71||Win||100||17 h 47 m||Show|
Penn State has the right combination to upset Texas. The Nittany Lions are peaking at the perfect time going 9-2 in their last 11 games, covering in their past five matchup.
The Nittany Lions have a great guard in Jalen Pickett. They have veterans who don't get rattled and are tremendous as underdogs covering the past nine times in that role. Penn State also is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 neutral site games. The Nittany Lions are 6-1 SU the past seven times they've played a tournament team.
The pressure is all on Texas. The Longhorns haven't responded well before to this type of pressure going 2-11 ATS in their last 13 NCAA Tournament games. Interim Longhorns coach Rodney Terry lacks NCAA Tournament experience. So that's a question mark.
Penn State is 21-8-1 (72 percent) ATS the past 30 times when playing an opponent with a winning percentage above .600.
|03-18-23||Auburn +5.5 v. Houston||64-81||Loss||-110||17 h 14 m||Show|
Houston may be the top seed in the Midwest Regional, but the Cougars are in trouble against Auburn. The Cougars haven't been playing well going 1-6 ATS in their last seven games. They lost by 10 points to Memphis in the American Athletic Conference Tournament title game and only beat 16th-seeded Northern Kentucky, 63-52, this past Thursday in their first-round NCAA Tournament game.
Star guard Marcus Sasser aggravated a groin injury against Northern Kentucky. His status is questionable. Jamal Shead, Houston's top assists player, also isn't 100 percent with a knee injury.
Auburn is a tough opponent for the Cougars. The Tigers are playing excellent defense, not turning the ball over and are battle tested having dealt with upper tier competition being in the SEC.
Auburn beat Iowa, 83-75, to win its 11th straight opening-round NCAA Tournament game. The Tigers took No. 1 ranked Alabama to overtime on the road and beat Tennessee by nine points during their last two regular season games. They are 6-1 ATS in their last seven NCAA Tournament games.
|03-18-23||Princeton v. Missouri UNDER 149.5||Top||78-63||Win||100||18 h 36 m||Show|
Princeton successfully outrebounded and slowed down Arizona, 59-55, in their first-round NCAA Tournament victory. The Tigers certainly can do the same to Missouri.
The Tigers held Arizona to 28 points below its season average. Missouri held Utah State to 14 points below the Aggies' season average in a 76-65 first-round tournament win on Thursday.
No way Princeton gets into a track meet with Missouri so I find this total too high especially because Princeton also is very strong on the defensive glass, ranking in the top 10 in defensive rebounding.
The Under has cashed six of the last seven times Princeton has played on a neutral court.
Missouri is underrated defensively in this matchup with its defensive statistics skewed playing in the SEC. Now the Tigers are facing an Ivy League opponent.
Missouri held Utah State to 4-of-24 shooting from 3-point range. Princeton missed 21 of 25 3-point shots against Arizona. Princeton is a below average 3-point shooting team so the Tigers should not be able to hurt Missouri from beyond the arc.
|03-17-23||Wolves +3 v. Bulls||131-139||Loss||-110||19 h 38 m||Show|
The 35-35 Timberwolves are a better team than the 31-37 Bulls. The question is can the Timberwolves beat the Bulls on the road? I'll take these points to find out.
Minnesota is in better current form and has been playing well on the road. The Bulls have lost their last three home games, falling to the Kings this past Wednesday, Pacers and Suns.
Chicago is 2-3 in its last five games. The Bulls are 2-7 ATS the past nine times following a loss.
Minnesota is off a tough, 104-102, home loss to the Celtics this past Wednesday. The Timberwolves were whisted for four technical fouls in the loss. They held Boston to 13 points below its season average.
Despite that tough loss, the Timberwolves are 4-3 in their last seven games. They've won their last three road games defeating the Hawks, Lakers and Clippers. They also are 4-0 ATS the past four times as a 'dog and are 9-3 ATS following a loss.
|03-17-23||Drake v. Miami-FL -125||Top||56-63||Win||100||22 h 34 m||Show|
This is my Game of the Week.
Drake is a trendy pick to upset Miami in this NCAA Tournament matchup. But I don't see the Bulldogs pulling the upset even if the Hurricanes don't have Norchad Omier, their second-leading rebounder. He's questionable after suffering a knee injury against Duke last Friday.
Miami has many other scorers, including star guard and ACC Player of the Year, Isaiah Wong.
I respect Drake and the Missouri Valley Conference. Drake demolishing Bradley in the MVC Tournament title game, though, is less impressive after the Braves were buried by Big Ten disappointment Wisconsin in the NIT.
Miami is the superior team having beaten ranked opponents Virginia, Clemson and Pittsburgh along with scoring non-conference wins against Providence, Central Florida and Rutgers. Drake doesn't have that kind of resume.
|03-17-23||Providence v. Kentucky -4||53-61||Win||100||21 h 49 m||Show|
I want to back teams with momentum in the NCAA Tournament. Providence certainly doesn't have that. The Friars have lost and failed to cover their last three games. They are 1-4 in their last five games, including suffering blowout losses to Seton Hall and Connecticut. Kentucky was shocked by Saint Peter's in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year. I don't see the Wildcats letting that happen a second straight year. The Wildcats are 5-2 in their last seven games with the two losses both coming to Vanderbilt. The Wildcats' last four victories have been against Arkansas, Auburn, Florida and Tennessee - all by eight or more points.
|03-16-23||Pacers +14 v. Bucks||139-123||Win||100||9 h 15 m||Show|
It's going to take a lot of points for me to pick against the Bucks. But the combination of getting enough points and the situation put me on the Pacers.
The Bucks just concluded a three-game West Coast trip late Tuesday night. They beat the Kings on Monday in a physical game that turned ugly at the end when Brook Lopez had to play enforcer after Trey Lyles committed a cheap shot foul on Giannis Antetokounmpo during the final seconds. The Bucks then scored a satisfying victory against the Suns on Tuesday playing without rest.
Now Milwaukee returns home to face the Pacers. The Bucks can't be faulted for feeling good about themselves - and taking this opponent lightly. Milwaukee has beaten Indiana 10 straight times. The Pacers are coming off a 117-97 road loss to the Pistons this past Monday.
Indiana was trying to sweep the lowly Pistons without its best players. The Pacers defeated the Pistons this past Saturday, but couldn't do it again minus Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner and backup point guard T.J. McConnell.
I expect all three of those players to be in Indiana's lineup today. They all practiced on Wednesday. The Pacers had covered four consecutive road games before that Monday defeat to the Pistons.
|03-16-23||Colgate v. Texas -13||Top||61-81||Win||100||19 h 1 m||Show|
I'm not in love laying this many points in an NCAA Tournament game, but it's justified in this mismatch of Texas versus Colgate of the Patriot League.
Colgate played the 332nd easiest schedule. The Patriot League - a minor conference to start with - was especially terrible this season. The Raiders haven't faced a team with the athletic ability and size of Texas. The best team they played was Auburn and the Tigers buried them, 93-66. shooting 55 percent from the field.
The Longhorns average nearly 79 points a game. They've been playing great defense, too, holding their last four opponents - Kansas twice, TCU and Oklahoma State - to an average of 55.5 points a game.