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NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 23

   by Al McMordie - 03/29/2016

With 17 days left in the NBA's regular season, it appears that we will have six teams in the playoffs that were left out last season. In the Eastern Conference, Miami, Charlotte, Indiana and Detroit are poised to replace Chicago, Washington, Milwaukee and Brooklyn. And out West, Oklahoma City and Utah will likely take spots filled by Houston and Dallas last season. Some new blood in the playoffs is good for any sports league, though I will certainly miss the presence of the Dirk Nowitzki, should the Mavericks fail to make it for just the 2nd time of the last 16 seasons. With much playoff jockeying still going on, let's take a look at the upcoming week.

Spread Watch

The Chicago Bulls are currently on the outside of the Eastern Conference post-season picture. After losing back-to-back games to the Knicks on Wednesday and Thursday, power forward Taj Gibson proclaimed that he was "embarrassed" by his team's play, and that the Bulls were "just laying down" and needed to "man up." Following those comments, the team traveled to Orlando to play the Magic, on Saturday. Gibson, himself, lived up to his words, and went 8-for-9 from the floor. But his teammates combined to go just 28-for-79. Orlando, already eliminated from the playoffs, crushed Chicago, 111-89, as a 7-point underdog. And the Bulls suffered their fourth straight pointspread defeat. It certainly won't get any easier this week, as the Bulls will be saddled with five games in seven days. And the first four are all against teams fighting for playoff positioning (Hawks, Pacers, Rockets, Pistons). Perhaps, then, the game to circle to play on the Bulls will be its fifth game this week -- at Milwaukee, on Sunday. This season, teams playing their fifth game in seven days are a solid 50-32-1 ATS. And the Bulls have dominated the Bucks, as they're 27-11 SU and 25-13 ATS in the last 38 meetings.

Total Watch

The Utah Jazz are in a desperate push to make the playoffs, after missing out entirely the past three seasons. And coach Quin Snyder has his troops playing solid defense. The Jazz rank among the Top 10 in defensive efficiency, and have held 11 of their last 13 opponents to less than 100 points (92.38 ppg, on average). Only the Warriors and Thunder -- the NBA's top two offensive teams -- have cracked the century mark against Utah since March 4. Not surprisingly, the Jazz are 9-3-1 'Under' the total during this span. This week, Utah will host games against the Lakers, Warriors and T-Wolves, before traveling to Phoenix, to play the Suns. Utah's game vs. the Lakers, on Monday, is a good candidate to be low-scoring, as the Jazz have held Los Angeles to 74 and 82 points in their two meetings this season. And this series has gone 19-10-2 'Under' the total since April 23, 2009.

Injury Watch

Blake Griffin has been cleared to play by the Clippers' medical staff. He still must serve a four-game suspension, so he'll finally see the court on Sunday, against the Wizards. Certainly, this is welcome news for Doc Rivers' troops, notwithstanding the fact the team actually played better without him. The Clippers were 17-13 SU and 10-16-4 ATS with Griffin healthy, but are 28-14 SU and 23-19 ATS with him sidelined. Still, the recent trend (with Griffin sidelined) has been bad. Since March 9, the Clips are a dismal 4-6 SU and 2-8 ATS. Besides getting their star player back, Los Angeles will have a nice advantage against the Wizards conferred by the schedule. Los Angeles will play that game with 2 days' of rest. And NBA teams are 55-23-1 ATS their last 79 with at least 2 days' of rest, provided their opponent is not as well-rested.

Schedule Watch

At 66-7, the Golden State Warriors are very likely to set the record for most wins in a season. Though some may point to the two games in April against San Antonio as potential roadblocks, it's hard for me to see that happening. First, Gregg Popovich officially raised the white flag this past Saturday when he rested his five best players against Oklahoma City. So, San Antonio has officially withdrawn from the race for home court advantage. And, second, from a gamesmanship perspective, I would be very much surprised if the Spurs played either of those two games with a full contingent of players. San Antonio already defeated Golden State, 87-79, nine days ago. That game provided his team with the confidence necessary for a possible playoff series down the road. The last thing Popovich will want to do is have his team's confidence eroded in any way. When the Warriors and Spurs meet in April, I expect to see a lot of Kyle Anderson, Jonathon Simmons, Boban Marjanovic and Andre Miller. The one team, however, which I like to defeat Golden State (and snap the Warriors' 53-game, regular season home win streak) is Washington. The two teams will hook up this Tuesday, at Oracle Arena, and the Wizards will be a double-digit road underdog. Golden State did win at Washington, 134-121, last month. But John Wall scored 41 in defeat for the Wizards, who outscored the Warriors 93-91 in the last three quarters. Don't be surprised if Washington shocks the world, and wins on Tuesday. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. And don't miss any of my NBA Winners here at BigAl.com. I'm 58-37 my last 95 (and 17-4 my last 21), so join for a week or month today to get all of my award-winning selections.

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