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NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 19

   by Al McMordie - 02/29/2016

In the NBA's previous 60 seasons, no player has been unanimously voted the MVP. Shaquille O'Neal in 2000, and LeBron James in 2013 each fell one vote short. But with his 3-point, game-winning shot on Saturday night vs. the Thunder, Steph Curry likely sewed up the first unanimous MVP season. Curry has single-handedly dominated games against the other four best players this season (Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul), and his Warriors have gone 6-0 in those games. And what's most scary for the rest of the NBA: Golden State's three best players have yet to enter their prime!

Spread Watch

Quick: name the NBA's 3 hottest teams. Even a casual fan would likely correctly guess the two hottest teams (Golden State, San Antonio, each 9-1 its last 10 games). But most fans would fail to identify the third, which is the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland is 8-2 its last 10, and 17-4 its last 21. Even better: for backers in Vegas, Portland is 15-6 ATS over its last 21 games. In comparison, the Spurs (18-3 SU; 11-10 ATS) and Warriors (18-3 SU; 10-10-1 ATS) have not returned a profit over the same span. This week, the Blazers will play four road games against the Knicks, Celtics, Raptors and Pistons. The game against Boston isn't particularly ideal, as Portland will be playing without rest, and it's 5-8 ATS this season in that situation (compared to 29-18 ATS when rested). However, Portland not only will be rested for its other three games, but it also will be playing with revenge from home losses earlier this season to those opponents (Knicks, Raptors, Pistons). And Portland's 6-0 ATS its last six games, and 10-2 ATS its last 12 when rested, and playing with revenge.

Totals Watch

Kawhi Leonard, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, missed San Antonio's first three games after the All-Star Break due to a calf injury. And the Spurs struggled on defense in those three games. San Antonio gave up 105 to the Clippers (50.0 FG%), 113 to the Lakers (49.4 FG%) and 111 to the Suns (46.2 FG%). But since Leonard's return, the Spurs have gone 3-0 SU/ATS, and held the Kings (92), Jazz (78) and Rockets (94), on average, to 15.7 ppg less than their scoring average. Not surprisingly, all three games went 'Under' the total. This week, the Spurs will play their first home game (Wednesday, vs. Detroit) following their 8-game Rodeo Road Trip. And the Spurs have gone 11-2 SU, 9-4 ATS and 8-5 'Under' in their first game back at home following their Rodeo Road Trip. After that, the Spurs will hit the road Thursday for a game at New Orleans, before coming back home for another game vs. Sacramento. And the last three meetings (and six of the last eight) between the Kings and Spurs have gone 'Under' the total.

Injury Watch

Danilo Gallinari injured his ankle in Friday's loss to Dallas, and is expected to miss upwards of four weeks. This is really bad news for a Denver team which still has hopes for making a run at the eighth Playoff spot out West. Gallinari has been Denver's best player this season, as he has a 19.29 PER, and is averaging 19.5 ppg and 5.3 rpg. Unfortunately, Denver got a glimpse in December at what "Life Without Gallo" would be like. In the six games he missed earlier this season, Denver went 1-5 SU and 2-3-1 ATS, with its only victory against the dreadful Phoenix Suns. If there is a silver lining, it's that Denver's first four games without Gallinari will all be at home, and all against "beatable" opponents (Grizzlies, Lakers, Nets, Mavericks). Its game, Monday, vs. Memphis looks to be the best of the bunch to play on the Nuggets. Not only is Denver 5-1 ATS its last six home games vs. Memphis, but it will be Memphis' third game in four nights. And the Nuggets are 128-84 ATS at home when rested, and matched up against non-division foes playing their 3rd game in four nights.

Schedule Watch

This season, Commissioner Adam Silver's intent was to make the schedule much less taxing for NBA players. Back-to-backs were reduced 7.8%, while four-games-in-five-nights were reduced 60.8%. The result has been fascinating, to say the least. NBA teams have actually been terrific this season when playing without rest, and either their fourth game in five nights, or fifth game in seven nights (against opponents not in such a situation). They're 43-20-1 ATS, including 16-4 ATS at home. And it makes perfect sense. With a less grueling schedule, the players are more rested, generally. So, when they have faced a difficult schedule this season, they've been able to overcome it, and outperform expectations. This week, three teams will play their fifth game in seven nights, without rest: Orlando (Wednesday), Portland (Wednesday) and Miami (Friday). Of the three, Orlando (vs. Chicago) would rate as my favorite, as it will be playing at home. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. And don't miss any of my Winners here at BigAl.com. I'm 143-87 my last 230, overall. Join for a week or month today to get all of my award-winning selections.

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