12 games. A sixth of the season. That’s all some teams have left from here on out.
It isn’t much, but for 23 different organizations, it’s enough to make a difference, and for a select few, those games will determine whether or not they even get to experience postseason play.
None have a bigger game than a team that is facing a do or die on Saturday night.
Had someone told you four (or three…or even two) months ago that these two teams would be playing this game with one’s play-in life on the line and the other looking to solidify its position as a top-four seed, you’d have been hard pressed to find anyone who’d have correctly predicted which was which.
On one hand we have the Knicks, winners of a league-high eight consecutive games, up to 10th in the NBA in net rating, and winners of 11 straight against the spread.
As a result of that last streak, New York stands with a league-best 38-21-1 record against the spread. That mark is a stark contrast to the betting results of the team they face here, who is 26-33 against the spread, tied for 5th worst percentage in the league.
Like New Orleans, the Raps have fallen far short of preseason expectations that figured them as a shoe-in for the playoffs. They sit tied with the Bulls, a game back of the recently surprising Wizards for 10th in the East.
They’ll have their work cut out for them today. The Knicks are a league-best 11-2 against the spread as a home favorite, and while Toronto has won four straight, those have all come in Tampa, and two have been against the Thunder and Magic, by far the worst two teams in the league since the break.
Both teams have had two days off, but this season’s track record suggests Tom Thibodeau will have his team ready to play.
The Pick: Knicks -2.5 @ -105 (Click to Bet)
Coming into the season, the New Orleans Pelicans weren’t quite championship contenders, but they were viewed as one of the more exciting situations in the NBA, with perhaps the best pair of young stars in the league, a competent roster, a new coach, and a bevy of draft assets at their disposal that they could use to improve.
It hasn’t come together. The Pels sit at 26-33, 10.5 games short of their preseason over / under total with 13 to play. A nearly even yearlong suggests they’ve gotten very unlucky and there might still be time for a play-in push, but they’re also trending in the wrong direction, having lost four straight and dropping nine of 12 against the spread before beating up on the hapless Magic on Thursday.
The Spurs are the opposite story. Unsurprisingly, they’re well-coached, and thanks to winning a good deal of close games, are an even 29-29 despite having a net rating slightly worse than the team they face today.
Entering this game, the Spurs occupy 10th in the West, in a virtual tie with the red hot Golden State Warriors and 3.5 games ahead of the Pelicans. This also starts a stretch where the finish the season playing 10 of 14 games away from home, with the only games in San Antonio against the Sixers, Bucks and Suns twice. This race is not over.
But the Pels need this one. The spread is close enough that any win should do it, and with Zion & Co. treating this like a playoff game, they’ll get it done.
The Pick: Pelicans -3 @ -110 (Click to Bet)
Other NBA Games
Philadelphia 76ers at Milwaukee Bucks
Thanks to three straight losses, the Sixers have fallen out of first place in the Eastern Conference. Ben Simmons has missed all three games, including the most recent loss to these same Bucks. He will be out for this one too, but precedent this season suggests that taking both games in a baseball-style series is a tall task, with under a third of teams able to complete the sweep. Go with Philly getting a good deal of points.
Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat
The Bulls are as desperate as any team in the NBA, with a draft pick owed to Orlando and a spot in the standings right now outside of the play-in tournament. The Heat are struggling though, having lost last night to an undermanned Atlanta team sitting its two best players in Trae Young and Clint Capela. The Bulls, meanwhile, are rested and have won three of four. Take the points.
Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks
Like Sixers / Bucks, this is also the second game of a baseball-style series, with Dallas having won (and barely covered) the first game. That was Anthony Davis’ first time back in the lineup in months, and he’ll be more comfortable for this one, while Maxi Kleber and Kristaps Porzingis are both questionable. Go with LA.
Detroit Pistons at Indiana Pacers
Another virtual must-win game, this one for an Indiana, a team in 9th place but equally as close to 8th as it is 10th. Their season could go either way, and they get Detroit at the right time. The Pistons have lost six of eight, but is 5-3 against the spread in that time. The Pacers are just 5-13 as a home favorite. Ride with Detroit getting points.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz
The team with the best net rating in the league facing the one with the third worst. Nothing to overthink here.
Houston Rockets at Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets lost another starter last night, with Will Barton going down early, leading to a loss in Golden State. The Rockets also played last night, and will be traveling in from Houston for this game. The Rockets have just four wins since February 4. This is a lot of points, but even short-handed, the Nuggets can still pull away from bad teams. Take them here.
NBA Expert Picks
(Click Odds To Bet)
Knicks -2.5 @ -105 (Click to Bet)
Pelicans -3 @ -110 (Click to Bet)
NBA Free Picks
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