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NBA Bubble Teams

   by Al McMordie - 04/08/2012

As we near the end of the NBA regular season, there are some close races for the last two playoff slots in both the East and West. The 76ers and Knicks are the No. 7 and 8 seeds in the East now, but can the Bucks, Pistons or Nets catch them?

Forget about the Pistons. They are barely a .500 team at home (starting 14-12) and an abysmal 6-21 on the road. That isn’t the sign of a team that can make a late season push. They do have some nice pieces, with veteran Tayshaun Prince joined by young guard Brandon Knight and 7-foot C Greg Monroe (16 ppg, 9.8 rpg). But they are 28th in points scored, 27th in the NBA in rebounds and a bad defensive team. Charlotte is last in NBA in scoring (87.9 ppg), but the

Bobcats shot 46.5% against them, a 110-107 Detroit OT win. The Pistons time for the postseason is not this year, unless the kids grow up fast (and they figure out how to play on the road).

The young Nets might, though, showing some spunk in a 4-1 SU/ATS run. They beat Indiana (100-84 as +6), won at Golden State (102-100) and at Kings (111-99). The overall numbers aren’t impressive, 25th in the NBA in points scored, 26th in rebounds and 22nd in points allowed, but there are some nice pieces in Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries up front, with sparkplug guard Deron Williams running the break. They live and die by the three, beating the Kings by hitting 10 of 28 threes (Anthony Morrow was 6 of 11).

They also hit 8 of 20 threes in 102-100 win at Golden State as Wallace finished with 24 points and 18 rebounds for the Nets. New Jersey rallied from 19 points down in the second half. Keep in mind the under is 8-2-1 in the Nets last 11 games as a road underdog.

Then there are the Bucks, also on a recent a 4-1 SU/ATS run, beating the Hawks, Cavs and Wizards, though they lost 99-95 at home to Memphis. The good news is this young offense is 8th in points scored behind Brandon Jennings and newcomer Monte Ellis. The bad news is the defense is 21st in points allowed (98.4 ppg), 16th in FG defense (45%).

They are on a 13-4 ATS run, 11-3 ATS in their last 14 vs. the Eastern Conference, and the Bucks are 11-1 ATS in their last 12 games vs. a team with a losing record. And that weak defense is why the Bucks on a 28-11 run over the total, including 24-8 over the total in their last 32 vs. the Eastern Conference and the over is 19-7-1 in the Bucks last 27 home games.

In the West, the Nuggets and Rockets are the No. 7 and 8 seeds, but can the Jazz, Suns or Blazers catch them?

The Blazers probably can’t. They’ve had a tough second half, trading away Marcus Camby for practically nothing and firing Coach Nate McMillan. They lost at home to Utah as chalk, 102-97, and had a tough loss at the Clippers on a last second basket last week. The Blazers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 home games vs. a team with a losing road record and the over is 10-4 in their last 14 games as a favorite. Making matters worse, they play 5 of their final 6 games on road.

The Utah Jazz have an impressive young frontcourt in Al Jefferson (19.5 ppg, 9.4 rpg) and Paul Milsap (16.5 ppg, 9 rpg), a physical, hard working duo, plus guard Devin Harris (10 ppg, 5 apg) running the break. Utah is 6th in the NBA in points, 4th in rebounds, but on a 2-5 SU/ATS run, with losses at Atlanta, Boston and the Clippers, plus a crushing loss at home to Phoenix, 107-105. The Jazz is 7-20 ATS in their last 27 games as a favorite of 5.0-10.5 and the under is 16-7 in Jazz last 23 against the NBA Pacific.

Finally, there are the veteran Phoenix Suns, who have gone uptempo in the second half of the season and it’s paying off in points and wins, going from 95 ppg before the break to 101 after while winning 11 of 16. They are weak on the road (11-15) but the Suns had that big 107-105 win at Utah last week, making 13 of 31 threes (42%). That’s their game, playing long ball from beyond the arc. While they are an uptempo team and not strong defensively, note that the under is 25-11 in the Suns last 35 vs. the Western Conference and 16-8 under the total in their last 23 road games. Motivation is essential down the stretch in the NBA – both straight up and against the Vegas numbers! Good luck as always, Al McMordie.

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