When Monday’s games tip off, we will officially be in the final three weeks of the NBA season. We’ve had shockers and we’ve had disappointments. Tonight, two teams that originally took up shop in opposite categories face off heading in different directions.
Heading into yesterday’s games, the Wizards had managed to put up the fifth best net rating in the NBA over their previous 10 games. It has been nothing short of a staggering turnaround for perhaps the most disappointing team in the NBA before this recent stretch.
At the same time, aside for their win in Utah, the Wiz haven’t had a “quality” win in this streak. Then yesterday, they struggled against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Spurs, meanwhile, were playing above their heads for most of the season, and occupied a top-six seed for much of that time. Now, they’re down to 10th, and while it looks like they’ll beat out the Pelicans for the final spot in the play-in tournament, no one is talking about them as a real threat.
That said, over the same last 10 games that Washington has looked good, the Spurs are 7th in net rating, and unlike the Wizards, have actually played a representative schedule.
And then there’s this: no team in the NBA has a better record against the spread as a road dog than San Antonio, with a mark of 11-4.
The Pick: San Antonio -2 - Click To Bet
So much postseason hardware will be in the building for this one.
Most obviously, the two leading contenders for Coach of the Year, Tom Thibodeau and Monty Williams, will face off. We also have multiple contenders for All-NBA spots in Julius Randle and Chris Paul, and Exec of the Year possibilities James Jones and Leon Rose.
In short, these teams have absolutely knocked all reasonable expectations out of the park. The difference is that the Knicks are hitting their stride at exactly the right time. Not only have they won nine games in a row, but they have covered 12 straight.
The Suns, meanwhile, have hit their first speed bump since an 8-8 start. They’re 2-3 in their last five games, and more concerning for the team that has spent much of the season atop the league rankings against the spread, they have made betters happy just once in the last six games.
New York has been killing squads at home, and is 20-10-1 against the spread in MSG. They’re the right team at the right time.
The Pick: New York +2 - Click To Bet
View odds for every game on Monday's NBA slate HERE.
The Pistons are 5-3 against the spread in their last eight, but Atlanta has been a top-five team in the league by net rating since the All-Star game. The Hawks will take care of business.
The defending champs had a rough two-game stretch against the Mavs, and this Magic matchup couldn’t come at a better time. Orlando has the second worst net rating in the league since the break. It’s LA all the way.
The Thunder have lost 13 straight, with only three wins against the spread in that time. The Sixers need a win after a brutal last four games, and they’re playing OKC in Philly. This one is a no-brainer.
The Raptors had won four straight and were neck and neck with the red hot Knicks late into the third quarter in MSG on Saturday. Cleveland…is Cleveland, and went into Sunday just 9-19 as a road dog this season. The Raps keep fighting for the play-in and take this one comfortably.
With the way both of these teams have been playing, this is probably a stay away, but the Heat just won the matchup between these same teams, also in Miami, on Saturday, and teams have less than a one in three success rate at taking both games in a baseball style series this season. Take Chicago.
Of all the surprises this NBA season has brought, the West-leading Jazz losing twice in Utah to the Timberwolves has to rank near the top. The most recent of those came on Saturday, and now they switch locations for the third bout of the year. The Jazz won’t be fooled three times.
The Pelicans’ season was on the line at home on Saturday night against the 10th place Spurs and they couldn’t pull out a victory. Now they face the team with the best net rating in the league since the All-Star break, and one fighting for a top-two seed. This will get ugly.
The Grizzlies have covered six of seven, while the Nuggets have dropped four straight against the spread. Memphis keeps it going.
This late in the year, always go with the team with something to play for, especially when they have Luca Doncic and have won three in a row.