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NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 23
by Al McMordie - 03/27/2018
The NBA season took a most interesting turn last week when Golden State's Steph Curry sustained an injury which may keep him out of the Playoffs' first round. Most seasons, it would not matter, as the Warriors could defeat a lower-seeded team without being at full strength. However, this season, there's a heckuva chance the Warriors will face the Utah Jazz in the first round. The Jazz are 23-4 in their last 27 games, and are the proverbial "team that no one wants to play." Let's take a look at the NBA's upcoming week.
The Toronto Raptors are mired in a 6-game point spread losing streak. And this cold patch immediately followed a six-week stretch of games where the Raptors went 17-1 straight-up and 14-4 against the spread. Still, Toronto is a very respectable 54-20 SU and 40-34 ATS on the season. There are now just eight games left for Toronto. And, even more important, it now sits just one game behind Golden State in the loss column for the second-best record in the league. The Warriors are just 3-5 over their last eight games (primarily due to injuries), so the Raptors' opportunity and motivation to overtake the Warriors are certainly real. This week, Toronto will host Denver on Tuesday before traveling to Boston for a game on Saturday. I look for the Raptors to snap their six-game ATS losing streak on Tuesday, as they've been installed as a 9-point favorite. And Toronto is 21-8 ATS its last 29 when priced from -9 to -14 points.
The Milwaukee Bucks currently sport one of the 10 worst adjusted defensive efficiency ratings in the NBA (and 4th-worst among teams that would currently qualify for the Playoffs). And, lately, Milwaukee's defense has been virtually non-existent. The Bucks have given up over 100 points in nine straight games, and have gone 'over' the total in each of their last eight games. Milwaukee's defensive rating during this stretch ranks 26th in the NBA, which illustrates the lack of care that the Bucks players have given on the defensive end. But it's not just poor defensive play which is at the root of these high scores. Another reason has been a change in the Bucks' pace of play. For the season, Milwaukee's pace of play has ranked #24 in the league. However, over its last nine games, its pace of play actually ranks 10th (100.66). This week, the Bucks will trek out west to play the Clippers, Warriors and Lakers. Will Milwaukee's streak of 'overs' stay intact? I believe it will -- at least for the game on Tuesday at the Clippers. These two teams actually just met six days ago, and they combined for 247 points, and easily sailed 'over' the total by 24.5 points. Moreover, the Clippers have gone 'over' the total in 20 of their last 31 home games, including 5-1 'over' this month. Take the Bucks/Clippers 'over' on Tuesday.
The defending champion Golden State Warriors have recently been besieged by injuries. The latest to go down was guard Steph Curry (26.4 ppg, 6.1 apg), who suffered a grade 2 MCL strain. Coach Steve Kerr announced that Curry would miss the rest of the regular season, and the first round of the Playoffs. Besides Curry, Golden State also is playing without All-Stars Kevin Durant (ribs) and Klay Thompson (thumb), so the team is a shell of its former self. Indeed, the Warriors were an 8.5-point home underdog on Sunday vs. Utah, and that was the first time the Warriors were a home dog in almost four years (May 1, 2014 vs. the Clippers). Not surprisingly, Golden State was blown out by Utah, 110-91, and is now 0-3 SU/ATS as an underdog this season. And it's 3-9 ATS its last 12 games. This week, the Warriors will host two Eastern Conference teams (Pacers, Bucks) currently battling for Playoff berths, before traveling to Sacramento, on Saturday. Although it looks like an impossible play, I actually like Golden State, at home, vs. the Pacers on Tuesday, as Golden State is 37-22-1 ATS off a loss by 9+ points, including 9-1 ATS vs. foes off back to back wins. Take the Warriors.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are currently on a 5-game winning streak. And they've covered their last four. With the red-hot 76ers (winners of seven straight) nipping at their heels, the Cavaliers need to continue to win to remain in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. This week, Cleveland will play road games at Miami and Charlotte on Tuesday and Wednesday, before returning home to face New Orleans on Friday. Its game on Wednesday vs. Charlotte will be a tough game for Cleveland to win, given that it is 10-24 straight-up and 10-23-1 ATS on the road when playing without rest. And if, by chance, Cleveland wins and covers on Tuesday at Miami, then it's worth noting that the Cavs are 0-8 ATS when playing a road game without rest if they're also off back-to-back SU/ATS wins. Take Charlotte on Wednesday. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. And don't miss my 5* NCAA Basketball Game of the Year on Saturday, in the Final Four. It's available right now. Or, better yet, join for a week, month, six months or year today at BigAl.com to get all of my Award-Winning selections.