NBA Picks & Predictions - Sunday April 11 Slate
That’s all that’s left in this NBA season before the play-in games decide the final two spots in each conference.
Out of the 10 games on the slate for Sunday, eight feature at least one team who is likely to be in the play-in conversation until the very end, and several where both teams are in the race, which is where we’ll focus today.
Give all the credit in the world to the Atlanta Hawks, man...they simply will not go away.
By all accounts this team should have been dead in the water a long time ago. With a change at head coach and assorted injuries to just about every player in their rotation at one point or another, Atlanta has no business being in the conversation for home court advantage in the playoffs.
Yet that’s exactly where they find themselves, tied with the team they’re facing here, the Charlotte Hornets. Since the beginning of March, they’re 14-5, and are 11-5 against the spread in their last 16. Rarely have they been fully healthy for this run, including most recently when they’ve been without John Collins, Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter.
Of those three there’s a chance Hunter plays on Sunday, but its 50/50, and there’s also a possibility both Trae Young and Danilo Gallinari miss this one as well, with both being listed as questionable.
The Hornets, meanwhile, have their own issues, as they’re missing both LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward, the latter of whom has been out for the last three games. Charlotte has won the last two of those, but one was against a Thunder team with the league’s worst net rating by a mile since the All-Star break and the other came versus a Milwaukee team sitting all of their stars.
This line factors in that there’s at least a chance Young won’t play, so if you think he’ll give it a go, take this gift and run with it.
Care to guess which NBA team has the best win percentage against the spread as a home favorite?
Everybody say Go New York, Go New York, GO!
That’s right: Tom Thibodeau’s fightin’ Knickerbockers are 8-2 as a home favorite this season, which is tops in the league.
They’re also 31-21-1 against the spread overall, good for the fourth best mark in the league, and have covered four in a row and 11 of their last 14. For all the offensive woes they experience on a nightly basis, these Knicks always defend at a high level, and games rarely get away from them. Even Friday night, down 13 to Memphis with under six minutes to go, they came back for the win.
Now they face a Raptors team that is about to go the way of the dinosaur, at least where this season is concerned. They came into the weekend trailing the Bulls by two and a half games for the final play-in spot and on a stretch of 12 losses against the spread in their last 15 games.
Toronto has owned the Knicks over the years, but they’ll be without Fred VanVleet for this one. Kyle Lowry is also dealing with a foot issue.
New York needs this game to get closer to the top-six seed it desperately craves, and would love nothing more than to put the Raptors out of their misery. In short, it’s time for payback.
The third match between teams involved in a tight race in the same conference.
Right now, the Mavs are four and a half games clear of the Spurs, but there’s a good chance these teams could see each other in the play-in tournament depending on how things break.
Of the two, Dallas is by far the hotter team. Aside from an uncharacteristically ice cold shooting night from Luka on Wednesday, the Mavs have covered and won the other six games they’ve played since March 29.
The Spurs, on the other hand, have lost five straight, four of which they’ve also dropped against the spread.
Like the Knicks and Raps, these are two teams headed in opposite directions. The fact that this game is in Dallas, where the Mavs beat the Spurs a month ago and have since defeated the Clippers, Jazz and Bucks, makes this an easy decision.
Is it finally safe to believe in Boston? They’ve won four of five, and covered three of those spreads, so that’s a plus. On the downside, all of those wins were at home, and only one came against a team with a winning record, and that was against banged up Charlotte. Facing the Nuggets in Denver – where the home team has won six straight, covering five - is a different animal. Take Jokic in Mile High.
The Pelicans are desperate with something real to play for, while the Cavs have the second worst net rating in basketball. New Orleans just beat a fully healthy Sixers squad. They’ll make quick work of Cleveland here.
Is there a more fun story (or a more reliable bet) than the post-trade deadline Magic? They’ve covered seven of nine and they are a serious pain to play on any given night. The status of the Bucks big three is also uncertain, so while this is probably a stay away because of that factor alone, if you’re feeling lucky, you could do worse than to back the feisty Magic.
Memphis is coming off a heartbreaker against the Knicks in a game they thoroughly outplayed New York for almost the entire evening. Overall they’ve been playing well though, and Indiana still hasn’t quite worked out the kinks in their offense with Caris LeVert in the fold. Look for the Grizzlies to rebound.
Is it time to worry yet? The Bulls wouldn’t beat the undermanned Hawks with Zach LaVine putting up 39 in the first half, including 25 straight. Worse yet, the game wasn’t close in the end. In Minnesota, they’ll get a squad that’s been playing better of late and put a serious scare into the Celtics on Friday night. Go with the home team here.
The Pistons have been playing above their heads for a while now, but they run into a buzz saw here, as the Clippers have won and covered 10 of 12. Don’t overthink it.
Probably a stay away, as these have been two of the more inconsistent teams in the league over the course of the season, but if you must, go with Miami, who has been .500 on the road against the spread, as opposed to the Blazers, who went into the weekend just 10-15 for bettors at home, and are playing on the second night of a back to back.