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NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 24
by Al McMordie - 04/03/2016
When the NBA schedule resumes Tuesday, there will be just nine game days left in the season. I don't think anyone thought, when the season started, that the Warriors would win 73 games. But they've been brilliant the entire season, and I can't see them losing another regular season game. Minnesota and Memphis don't have the talent to defeat a motivated Warriors team. The Spurs do, but it's doubtful coach Gregg Popovich will give many minutes to his best players in either of their two remaining games vs. Golden State. Of course, there's still lots of jockeying left in the race for the Playoffs, so let's take a look at the upcoming games.
The Utah Jazz are in a dogfight with Dallas and Houston for the last two Playoff spots in the Western Conference. Just one game separates the three teams and, barring a complete collapse by the 41-36 Memphis Grizzlies, only two of the Jazz, Mavericks and Rockets will reach the post-season. The Jazz have won and covered 10 of their last 13 games. Their 3 losses: in overtime to Golden State; at Oklahoma City (without rest); and at Chicago. After Sunday's blowout of Phoenix, the Jazz are now 8-0 ATS their last eight games as a favorite. Utah will be favored to win at least four of its last five games (and possibly all five, should Popovich decide to rest the Spurs' best players on Tuesday). I really like the Jazz on Friday against the Clippers. Utah will be playing with revenge from a 5-point home loss to Los Angeles back in December. And the Clips are a dreadful 3-15 ATS their last 18 games against revenge-minded foes.
The New York Knicks have played their last six games 'Under' the total, and are 18-6 'Under' the total since Kurt Rambis succeeded Derek Fisher as head coach. A big reason for this is New York's pace of play. For the season, the Knicks rank in the bottom five in pace (93.4). As their season winds toward a close, the Knicks' offensive production might take a hit. Last week, Carmelo Anthony (21.9 ppg), Robin Lopez (10.2 ppg) and Jose Calderon (7.5 ppg) suggested to Rambis that he decrease their minutes in favor of giving more time to the team's younger players. Rambis played Anthony just 25 minutes in Friday's game vs. Brooklyn, and then gave him the entire night off on Sunday, vs. Indiana. Rookie Kristaps Porzingis (14.3 ppg) also missed the last two games, and could be held out of the Knicks' last four games. New York's game at Philadelphia, on Friday, looks to be a great candidate to sail 'Under' the total, as the Sixers have gone 'Under' in six of their last seven games.
Kyrie Irving sprained his ankle in Friday night's overtime win, at Atlanta. Irving missed Sunday's game vs. Charlotte (a 112-103 Cleveland victory), and it's unclear how long he will be sidelined. Irving is averaging 19.5 ppg and 4.6 apg, so his production is critical for the Cavaliers, as they make their push for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. This season, the Cavaliers are 20-8 straight-up, but 12-15-1 ATS with Irving off the court. Their game on Wednesday, at Indiana, looks especially problematic if Irving is out. Cleveland will be playing that game without rest, as it will be in Milwaukee on Tuesday, while Indiana will have had the previous two days off. Moreover, the Pacers will be playing with revenge from three losses suffered to the Cavs earlier this season. All of this spells trouble for Cleveland, as revengers have gone 58-37 ATS in the final five games of a season since 1991, if they played with at least two more days' of rest than their foe.
When an NBA regular season enters its final days, most players have their eyes either on the Playoffs or the golf course. So, one of the things I try to do at the end of a season is find games where the players might not be fully focused. A good place to start is the schedule. For example, unrested teams that are playing their fourth game in five nights are especially bad, at Game 77 forward, against rested opponents. Since 1991, they've covered just 28 of 85 games! This upcoming Saturday, the New Orleans Pelicans will host the Phoenix Suns. And it will be New Orleans' fourth game in five nights, while Phoenix will be rested following its game, at Houston, on Thursday. It's true that the Suns are currently mired in a six-game losing streak (and likely eight games, by the time they reach New Orleans), but my money will still be on the underdog Suns in this contest. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. And don't miss any of my NBA Winners here at BigAl.com, as I'm 19-8 my last 27 (and 60-41 my last 101) on the NBA hardwood. Join for a week or month today to get all of my award-winning selections.