The penultimate Saturday of the NBA season sees half of the league in action. As has been the case, every game on the slate has playoff or play-in implications, including one that will likely decide home court in the Eastern Conference 9/10 play-in game
There are perhaps no two more disappointing teams in the NBA this season than the Pacers and Wizards.
Each team was supposed to compete for home court in the playoffs, and yet they find themselves currently occupying the 9th and 10th spots in the conference. For the Wizards, even getting to this point has been seen as a minor accomplishment because of how far back they were, but for the Pacers, they’re currently embroiled in the turmoil of a coach that is likely on his way out.
Heading into this one, Indy has a half game lead on Washington for the right to host the first play-in game, the winner of which moves on to face the loser of the 7/8 matchup. It’s as close to a must-win as either team has left.
Of the two, the Wizards remain the far hotter squad. The Pacers had dropped four of five against the spread and on the court heading into Thursday, when they nearly blew a 17-point lead to the Hawks at home. Washington, meanwhile, has a 3.0 net rating since April 1, over which time they’re 14-7 and 15-5-1 against the spread, including 15-3-1 in their last 19 games.
With Russ cooking like he hasn’t in years, there’s only one clear choice here.
The Pick: Washington -3.5 @ +100 (Click here to bet)
Hanging on for dear life.
That would be the only appropriate way to describe the current predicament of the San Antonio Spurs. They currently sit in 10th place in the West, holding on to their play-in spot while trying to fend off the New Orleans Pelicans and late charging Sacramento Kings.
We should have known this was coming. Thanks to a number of games being postponed in the first half of the season, the Spurs entered the second half with the toughest task in basketball simply because they’d have to make up so many games. They held on as well as possible for a while, but they came into Friday night dropping five straight before a win over the depleted Kings.
The Blazers, on the other hand, have been one of the hotter teams in the league for a bit now. After dropping five straight and nine of 11, Portland completed a 5-1 road trip which included five games against teams currently in the top 10 of either conference plus a 36-point beat down of the hapless Cavs, then they beat the Lakers in the most important game of the season for them. They are rolling.
Both teams are coming off Friday night games, but Portland is the team that doesn’t have to travel. Not that they needed another advantage, but it solidifies the choice here.
The Pick: Portland -5 @ +100 (Click here to bet)
Other NBA Games - Saturday, May 8
Brooklyn Nets at Denver Nuggets
Denver is the far hotter team, having won 10 of 12 heading into Friday, while the Nets have suddenly dropped four straight, having failed to cover the spread in any of the four. The Nuggets are traveling in from Utah though, where they lost a close one on Friday night, and Brooklyn has been right there in each of their recent losses. Take the better team on the road, recent results be damned.
Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers are marching towards the one-seed and a Pistons team playing out the string with their young players is not about to stand in their way. The spread couldn’t be high enough here.
Memphis Grizzlies at Toronto Raptors
The Raptors may not be putting forth their best foot in an attempt to win games, but they’ve been far more successful against the spread than they were earlier in the season, dropping only three of their last 12 contests. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, have dropped five of seven against the spread, including four losses by 14 or more. Go with the Raps.
Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz
The Rockets are doing everything they can to ensure a last place finish and the best odds possible of keeping their top-four protected pick, while the Jazz are making a push to keep the top seed away from the Phoenix Suns. This won’t be close.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors
OKC has dropped 19 of their last 20 games, including Thursday night’s contest to these Warriors, 118-97. Bet against them the rest of the way.
Saturday, May 8 NBA Expert Picks
Washington -3.5 @ +100 (Click here to bet)
Portland -5 @ +100 (Click here to bet)
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