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This Week in the NBA

   by ASA - 03/28/2007

All eyes will be on the Final Four festivities this weekend but the
stretch run in the NBA is shaping up to be equally as captivating. With
only three weeks left in the season, as many as 20 teams are still
realistically in the chase for the postseason with some of those teams
battling for playoff positioning and some battling for their playoff
lives. Here's a look at three contests this weekend that will have a
significant bearing on the playoff picture:

Toronto at Washington
Friday - 7:00 pm EST

These two teams are just a half-game apart in the standings but
Washington has far more at stake. Toronto is all but locked in to a
top-four seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs as it owns a six-game
lead in the Atlantic Division. Washington's recent road woes, coupled
with Miami's resurgence, have left the Wizards and the Heat in tight
battle for the Southeast Division title. Washington is currently a
half-game back of Miami in the Southeast Division and needs a strong
finish if its wants to take home the division crown.

While the Raptors have all but guaranteed a top-four seed, they have not
guaranteed home-court advantage in the first round. A recent rule
change gives the team with the best regular season record home-court
advantage regardless of seeding. These two squads could conceivably
meet in the first round so pulling out a win could go a long way toward
securing the home-court tiebreaker. Home court has already proven to be
very important within this series this season as Toronto has won both
meetings on its home court while Washington has won the lone meeting on
its home court.

Having the home court would be extremely beneficial to both teams as
Toronto and Washington have both played much better at home than on the
road. The Raptors are 26-10 SU and 22-13-1 ATS at home this season but
just 13-22 SU and 19-16 ATS away from home. The Wizards follow a
similar pattern as they are 26-9 SU at home and just 12-23 SU on the
road. The home teams in this series have already combined to go 3-0 SU
and ATS this season. A Toronto win gives the Raptors the tiebreaker so
you can be sure that the Wizards will give everything they have but will
it be enough to cover the spread?

Cleveland at Chicago
Saturday - 3:00 pm EST

The Cavaliers have already secured their playoff berth and are currently
locked into the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Intra-division rival Chicago is not far behind though as it trails
Cleveland by one game in the standings, but that one game is the
difference between the second seed and the fifth seed. A Bulls win
would eliminate any deficit, making things much more interesting down
the stretch.

The Bulls could do major damage to Cleveland with a win this game.
Chicago has won two of the three previous meetings this season,
including a victory in Cleveland. A win Saturday would give the Bulls
the tiebreaker in the series, which could potentially play an integral
role in playoff seeding. Scheduling wise this is the Cavs third
straight road game but they do come into this game with two full days
rest. The Bulls were home against the Pistons on Thursday and have
Friday off. Chicago is 27-9 SU and 21-15 ATS at home this season,
including a 103-96 win over the Cavs earlier this year.

Utah at Houston
Wednesday - 6:00 pm EST

These two teams are safely entrenched into either the fourth of fifth
seed in the Western Conference playoffs but the home-court advantage is
yet to be determined. Dallas, Phoenix and San Antonio are all at least
four games ahead of Utah and Houston while the Lakers and the remainder
of the playoff contenders are at least seven games below the Jazz and
the Rockets. So the only thing left to be decided is who will be
playing at home when the series commences.

The Jazz currently own a one-game lead in the win column and a two-game
lead in the loss column for a 1.5-game lead overall. As is this case
with most teams, both Utah and Houston are far better at home than on
the road. The Jazz are 29-7 SU at home and 18-17 SU on the road while
the Rockets are 26-10 SU at home and 20-16 away from home. These two
teams split the first two meetings with the home team winning each time.
While this game still has major implications, the regular season-ending
duel in Utah could be the deciding factor in the battle for home court.

While the focus of most bettors will be on the Final Four games this
weekend don't forget about the NBA as we see several great situations
for some easy profits in pro basketball. Best of luck from ASA, Inc.

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