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NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 14

   by Al McMordie - 01/25/2016

There have been 665 games played so far this season, but none has had the importance as Monday night's clash between the last two NBA Champions. Indeed, the season's first match-up between the Warriors and Spurs is arguably the biggest regular season game in the history of the NBA -- at least until the 2nd, 3rd and 4th meetings later this year. It's not only the first time in NBA history that two teams with .850 (or better) win percentages have met this late in a season, but it could also have serious implications for home court advantage in the Playoffs. Of course, there will be 53 other games played this week, so let's see what's on tap.

Spread Watch

The Toronto Raptors have quietly won eight straight games, and have covered seven of those eight (including all four games last week). And their only ATS defeat in this stretch was by a mere 1.5 points, in a 106-103 road win at Orlando. Admittedly, many of Toronto's wins were against soft, Eastern Conference competition. But Sunday's 112-94 blowout of the Los Angeles Clippers -- a team which had won 12 of its previous 14 -- served notice that the Raptors may be ready to challenge LeBron James for Conference supremacy. This week, Toronto will play three home games against the Wizards, Knicks and Pistons, so there's no reason its win streak cannot stretch to 11 games. And its game against New York looks to be a prime spot to step in and play on the white-hot Raptors. Toronto is 6-0 ATS its last six vs. division rivals, and will be playing with revenge from a 111-109 loss to New York back in November.

Total Watch

Alvin Gentry's New Orleans Pelicans finally seem to be picking up the first-year coach's offense, as they're (finally) moving the ball around, and have broken out to win their last three games by 15+ points (the first time since January 2008 they've accomplished that feat). The Pels have scored 114, 115 and 116 in those three games, and stretched their streak of 'Overs' to five games. On Monday, New Orleans will welcome the defensively-challenged Houston Rockets to the Smoothie King Center. Later this week, both Sacramento and Brooklyn will pay visits. None of New Orleans' opponents this week rate in the upper half of the league's best defenses, while Houston (26th) and Brooklyn (27th), in particular, are among the absolute worst in adjusted defensive efficiency. Given that 14 of New Orleans' last 17 meetings with Brooklyn have gone 'Over' the total, I look for a high-scoring game between those two teams on Saturday.

Injury Watch

The San Antonio Spurs will be without Tim Duncan for Monday's game at Golden State, and possibly their games later this week, at home vs. Houston, and at Cleveland. Though the "Big Fundamental" is averaging career lows in minutes (26), points (8.86) and rebounds (7.54), it's easy to overlook just how valuable he is -- especially on the defensive end. Indeed, Duncan is really the "quarterback" of their league-best defense, as he works the back line, and communicates to his teammates what's going on. The fact that he's currently ranked #1 (of 431 players) in Defensive Real Plus-Minus illustrates just how effective he remains, at 39-years-old. Certainly, the betting markets appreciate his value. For Monday's Spurs/Warriors game, the pointspread moved from Golden State -3 to Golden State -4.5 upon the announcement that Duncan would not play. San Antonio will likely start David West until Duncan returns. And West has been superb in his first season with the Spurs. He's shooting a career-best 56.3% from the field, and is currently ranked #44 (of 431) in RPM, and #60 (of 333) in PER.

Schedule Watch

The Charlotte Hornets have the biggest home/road dichotomy in the league, in terms of win percentage. At home, the Hornets are 16-8, but they've won just five of 20 games away from "The Hive." This week, the Hornets will embark on a 4-game road trip, with stops at the Kings, Jazz, Blazers and Clippers. Monday's game at Sacramento looks particularly troublesome, as the Kings are on a 5-game SU/ATS win streak (coinciding with the insertion of Willie Cauley-Stein into the starting lineup), including impressive upsets of the Jazz and Clippers on the road. And Sacramento will be playing with revenge from a 127-122 overtime loss at Charlotte, in which they blew a 22-point lead. Even worse for Charlotte: the Kings have turned around their league-worst defense (107.1 ppg), and have held their last four opponents under 42% FG shooting, and their last three foes under 100 points. As the Hornets are 5-16 SU and 5-15-1 ATS this season when they don't shoot better than 42%, that doesn't bode well for Steve Clifford's crew on Monday. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. And don't miss any of my red-hot Basketball winners here at BigAl.com, or my Super Bowl Totals play. I'm 71-42 my last 113 in Basketball, and 64-39 my last 103 in Football. Or, better yet, join for a week, month, 6 months or a year to get all of my award-winning selections.

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