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Utah Jazz vs. San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs are 12-point home favorites tonight over the Utah Jazz.  The over/under total is set at 200 points.

San Antonio is 60-19 overall and 46-33 against the spread.  They clinched home-court throughout the West playoffs with a 124-92 Wednesday home win over Sacramento, coupled with a L.A. Lakers loss later that night. The 216 combined points scored went “over” the big 211-point total. The “over” is 8-1 in San Antonio’s last nine games. Coach Gregg Popovich still wants like to finish ahead of Chicago for home-court throughout the entire playoffs, but he doesn’t want to burn out his key players. Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker all had recent ailments, but have helped the Spurs go 3-0 overall and against the spread in their last three contests. Popovich’s plan is likely to limit his stars to around 25-30 minutes per game. He’s done a great job keeping minutes down all year thanks to one of the league’s deepest benches.

The Utah Jazz are 37-42 overall and 37-45 against the spread.  They will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2005-2006. This will also be just their second year finishing below .500 since 1982-83. Utah has been a team in transition since the resignation of coach Jerry Sloan and the trade of star point guard Deron Williams to New Jersey. The Jazz last played Portland on Thursday night, losing 98-87 as 5-point home underdogs. Devin Harris, the point guard acquired back from New Jersey, had 26 points after returning from a seven-game absence with a hamstring injury. Utah is just 1-9 in its last 10 games. The one win was a shocking 86-85 victory at the Lakers this past Tuesday as 13-point underdogs. The “under” is 6-0 in Utah’s last six games.

San Antonio is 2-0 straight up and against the spread in the first two meetings between the teams, both in Utah, 94-82 and 112-105. The “over” went 1-1 and is 8-2 overall in the last 10 matchups.  I am going with the “over” in tonights game as I don’t believe their will be much defense as lots of reserves will get minutes and being looking to put up decent stats.

Pick

Over 200

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Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets are 14-point favorites over the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight.  The over/under for the game is set at 213.

Twelve straight losses has Minnesota sitting level with Cleveland for the worst record in the NBA and finding a victory in their remaining games should be tough, as their All-Star Kevin Love is listed as doubtful for tonight’s meeting with Denver. The Wolves’ latest loss came on Wednesday against the Suns, in a game where Michael Beasley had a game-high 24 points, while Anthony Randolph added 19 points in Love’s absence.

The Nuggets have lost just twice in the last nine games and both of them have come against the Thunder. In the Nuggets loss to the Thunder last night, Nene had a team-high 18 points while the Nuggets shot just 40.3 percent from the field as a team. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night was that the Nuggets lost the battle at the point guard position, as Ty Lawson had just five points with six turnovers, compared to Russell Westbrook’s 17 points, eight assists and six steals.

The Nuggets have taken all three meetings this season, including a 113-100 win in Minnesota on Feb. 5. Denver has won the last five meetings and nine of the last 10, but this is the first meeting between these teams since the trade of Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony.  Minnesota are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games as a road underdog of 11 points or more but just 1-4 against the spread in their last five overall. The Nuggets are 9-2 against the spread in their last 11 home games versus a sub .500 team and 4-0 against the spread in their last four games playing on zero days rest. Head to head, Minnesota are a perfect 7-0 against the spread in the last seven meetings in Denver.

While the season is long gone for the Minnesota squad, they will look to finish their season off on the right note. The problem is, the Nuggets are in hot form and have been particularly hard to beat at home where they average a league-high 110.7 points. The only argument I can see for the Wolves’ in this game is that they will be well rested having not played since Wednesday, while the Nuggets played last night and didn’t look very impressive. I think the line is a bit hefty, so I’m banking on the visitors to get a backdoor cover here.  I’m taking Minnesota plus the 14-points.

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Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Hornets

The New Orleans Hornets are 5-point favorites over the Phoenix Suns this evening.  The over/under total for the game is set at 199.

New Orleans finally clinched a playoff spot with a 101-93 victory over Houston on Wednesday night as a three-point home favorite. It was the Hornets’ fifth win in their last seven games and followed a 108-96 win over Indiana as a 4-point home favorite this past Sunday.   The New Orleans Hornets are currently tied with Portland for sixth place in the Western Conference with a record of 45-33 and 40-38 against the spread. The Hornets lost David West for the season with a knee injury, but Chris Paul and Carl Landry have done a good job in picking up the slack in his absence. Paul is averaging 16.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 9.8 assists a game and Landry is averaging 12.4 points and 3.9 rebounds. Trevor Ariza has also stepped up his game with 19 points in each of his last two games. New Orleans has been one of the more stingy teams in the league, giving up an average of just 93.5 points a game. The problem is on the offensive side of the ball where the team is scoring just 95.1 points a game. The Hornets have been able to maintain this average in the six games since West went down, but his loss will certainly not help their situation in the playoffs. The good news for this game is that New Orleans has averaged 102.7 points in their three games this season against the Suns. New Orleans is 3-1 against the spread in its last four home games and 4-2 against the spread in its last six games overall. The total has stayed “under” in three of its last five games.

Phoenix is 38-40 overall and 39-39 against the spread.  They will not be participating in the playoffs this year. The Suns come into this game fresh off a 108-98 win over Minnesota as a 4-point road favorite on Wednesday night to snap a four-game road losing streak. Marcin Gortat had a big night against the Timberwolves with 20 points and 16 rebounds in one of his better games as a Sun.  Steve Nash is dishing out a NBA-best 11.4 assists a game, while Gortat leads the team in rebounds with 9.4 per game. The Suns have had no problem putting points on the board this season; averaging 104.9 a game. The main problem has been a defense that is giving up an average of 105.5 points, which is ranked 26th in the league. Phoenix is 3-2 against the spread in its last five games on the road, but just 3-5 against the spread in its last eight games overall. The total has stayed “under” in three of its last four games.

Head-to-head, the Suns have won five of the last eight games overall, but the Hornets have won two of three this season including a 106-100 victory on March 25 as a six-point road underdog. The total has gone “over” in three of the last four meetings.  I will be wagering on the Hornets in this game.  The fact that they still have something to play for and the Suns don’t make this an easy play.  I’ll lay the 5-points with the Hornets who should win easily.

Pick

New Orleans Hornets -5 Phoenix Suns

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Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder are 4-point favorites tonight at home over the Denver Nuggets.  The over/under total for the game is set at 201.  This should be a first-round playoff matchup with the Thunder holding home-court advantage.

Denver has much to prove from a confidence factor after the Thunder beat the Nuggets, 101-94, as 4-point road underdogs this past Tuesday. Oklahoma City had lost by an average of 19.3 points per game during its past seven trips to Denver. The Nuggets were unable to corral NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant, who scored 32 points despite being double and even tripled-teamed at times. Durant then poured in 29 points, Russell Westbrook scored 26 points and center Kendrick Perkins pulled down a season-high 17 rebounds as the Thunder followed that victory up by beating the Los Angeles Clippers, 112-108, as 10-point home favorites this past Wednesday. The combined 220 points sailed “over” the 201-point total.  The win clinched the Northwest Division title and at least the No. 4 playoff seed for the Thunder.   The “under” has won in 11 of the Thunder’s last 15 games.

Denver bounced back from its home loss to the Thunder to upset the Mavericks, 104-96, on Wednesday as four-point road underdogs. It was the 11th time in their last 12 away matchups the Nuggets have covered.  The Nuggets lead the NBA in scoring at 107.1 points per contest. Until defeating the Mavericks, though, the Nuggets had gone three consecutive games without breaking the 100-point barrier. Since their big trade with the New York Knicks, the Nuggets have gone 16-5; including winning seven of they’re past eight games. They are 20-8 against the spread in their past 28 games. Denver is 17-22 on the road, although 22-17 against the spread. The “under” is 5-1 in Denver’s last six road matchups. In their last 22 games, the Nuggets have gone 16-6 to the “under”

In this game the wager to make is the “under.”  Both teams will be playing there hardest, as they know they can see the other team in the 1st round.  The coaches will not be running any special plays, as they will hold that back till playoff time.  Take under 201 in this game.

Pick

Under 201

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Portland Trailblazers vs. Utah Jazz

The Portland Trail Blazers are 3-point road favorites tonight when they take on the Utah Jazz tonight.  The over/under for the game is set at 189. The National Basketball Association’s regular season is quickly coming to a close, but there is still some time to improve or maintain playoff positioning.

Portland is 45-33 overall and 43-35 against the spread.  They currently sit in sixth place in the Western Conference standings.  It seems highly unlikely that the Trail Blazers will catch Denver, but they must really worry about New Orleans and Memphis overtaking them in the standings.  Portland had won two in a row before Tuesday’s loss to Golden State as 10-point favorite, 108-87.  The combined 195 points failed to topple the 203-point closing total.  The Trail Blazers did secure a playoff berth despite the setback when Houston lost at Sacramento. Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge posted 17 points and 12 rebounds in the loss, while guard Wesley Matthews provided 17 points.  Small forward Nicolas Batum scored 15 points in the defeat, while point guard Andre Miller had 12 points.

Utah is 37-41 overall and 34-44 against the spread.  Utah is playing out the string to a disappointing season, but can still play a spoiler roll down the stretch. They had dropped eight games in a row and four consecutive contests against the spread before surprising the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday as 13-point road underdogs, 86-85.  The combined 171 points failed to eclipse the 193-point closing total, helping the “under” improve to 7-1 the previous eight outings. Rookie forward Gordon Hayward paced the offense with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists, while power forward Paul Millsap had 22 points and seven rebounds.  Forward Derrick Favors had 14 points and 11 rebounds in the victory, while center Al Jefferson provided 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Portland is 2-1 overall and against the spread this season against Utah, winning December 27th as a 7-point road underdog, 96-91, and December 30th as a one-point home favorite, 100-89.  The Jazz prevailed November 20th as a 3-point road underdog, 103-94.  The favorite is 10-3 against the spread in the last 13 games in this series, while the “over” is 7-2 the previous nine games.  Today I am wagering on the “over” which is 189, looking to make it 8 out of 10 with the over winning.

Pick

Over 189

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Boston Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls are 4-point favorites over the Boston Celtics this evening is Chicago.  The over/under total for the game is set at 179 points.  This should be an excellent game that pits two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Chicago is 57-20 overall and 46-31 against the spread.  They top Boston and Miami by three games each for the Eastern Conference lead. All three teams have just five games left, so a Bulls win would almost eliminate any Boston chance of overtaking them. Chicago’s last game was a 97-94 home win over Phoenix on Tuesday. Joakim Noah returned after missing three games and Carlos Boozer played despite battling an illness. Both scored 12 points and Derrick Rose had a team-high 19 as he continues his ascension towards league-MVP. Chicago failed to cover as 11-point favorites and is 0-3 against the spread in its last three, despite winning all three. The 191 combined points scored went “under” the 203-point total. The “over” was 8-1 in Chicago’s previous nine games. Chicago is 34-5 at home, tied with San Antonio for the best record in the NBA at home.

The Boston Celtics are 54-23 overall and 38-39 against the spread.  The Celtics are trying to right the ship and head into the playoffs playing good basketball. They also want to at least finish ahead of Miami for second in the conference. Boston has won and covered its last two games over Detroit and Philadelphia. Both were at home with the Philadelphia game on Tuesday. The team is 13-9 overall and 9-13 against the spread since trading Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City for Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green. The Celtics are 23-15 and 18-20 against the spread on the road this year. They went 2-2 and 1-3 against the spread on a recent four-game trip.

The home team is 3-0 and 2-1 against the spread in games between Boston and Chicago this year. The Bulls won their only one at home, 90-79 as 2-point favorite on January 8th.  The “under” is 9-3 in the last 12 meetings in Chicago overall.  Today, I am taking the Chicago Bulls minus the 4-points at home.  I feel they are currently playing better than Celtics and they are at home which should lead them to a comfortable win.

Pick

Chicago Bulls -4 Boston Celtics

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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat

The Miami Heat is 10-point home favorites over the Milwaukee Bucks.  The over/under total for the game is set at 198. Miami has won eight of its last nine games and is battling Boston for the No. 2 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. Since losing five in a row back in late February/early March, the Heat have gone 11-2. The Heat play twice more before hosting the Celtics in a Sunday showdown.

Chicago point guard Derrick Rose is generating a lot of MVP buzz. However, a strong case can be made for LeBron James. He’s second in scoring next to Kevin Durant averaging 26.6 points a game, 13th in assists at seven per game and 32nd in rebounding at 7.5 per contest. James also is No. 1 in plus/minus minutes when on the court, a category Rose currently ranks 10th. James has scored in double figures in 75 consecutive games for Miami, tying Alonzo Mourning for third best in team history.

The Bucks have the No. 3 defense n the NBA, but haven’t been able to stop James in losing all three previous meetings to Miami this season. James is averaging 22.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists against Milwaukee, while also coming up with seven steals. Dealing with injuries the entire season, the Bucks’ playoff hopes are realistically over trailing Indiana by three games entering Tuesday. Milwaukee lost a huge one-point road game to the Pacers this past Friday. The Bucks, though, came back to defeat Philadelphia, 93-87, at home the next night in overtime as 1-point underdogs. The combined 180 points went “under” the 186-point total. Milwaukee beat the 76ers despite missing Carlos Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova and Jon Brockman. Star center Andrew Bogut is playing with a painful right elbow and may not last much longer. Drew Gooden and Michael Redd have returned from extended absences for the Bucks, although Redd has been limited to single-digit minutes since returning from a second major knee surgery on March 28.

The “under” has won in six of the last eight meetings between the two clubs.  Tonight, I will stick with that trend and also take the under which is set a 198.  Miami’s defense will limit Milwaukee from scoring much.

Pick

Under 198

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New Jersey Nets vs. New York Knicks

The New York Knicks are 9-point home favorites over the New Jersey Nets tonight at Madison Square Garden.  The over/under total for the game is set at 208.

The New Jersey Nets are 23-50 overall and 34-39 against the spread. It’s really hard to think that the Nets only finally just got mathematically eliminated from the playoffs on Tuesday night when the Houston Rockets at home beat them 112-87. It was the third straight loss coming by double digits for New Jersey, and it marked the ninth straight game in which the team didn’t score 100 points. The last time that it dropped 100 in a game in regulation was in England against the Toronto Raptors on March 4th. Get used to this theme of virtually no offense. New Jersey ranks No. 28 in the league in scoring at 93.5 points per game, and it really hasn’t done that entire well without Deron Williams in the fold. Williams is averaging 14.8 points and 13.1 assists per game since coming over from the Utah Jazz, but he has missed just as many games as he has played in due to a wrist injury. Brook Lopez is the team’s leading scorer at 19.7 points per game, though we know that he just hasn’t done that great of a job on the glass this year. Give credit to Kris Humphries though, as he is averaging 9.9 points per game and 10.4 boards per game.

The New York Knicks are 36-38 overall and 42-32 against the spread. Carmelo Anthony referred to it as a “must win game” for the Knicks on Monday night, and the Knicks got the job done by taking down the Orlando Magic in OT. Of course, what we have to remember about that game is that Orlando was playing without Jameer Nelson and JJ Redick, two of the key members of its rotation, so it’s not like this was a team amongst the cream of the crop that New York took down. The Knicks have played well against some of the best teams in the league, as they have wins over the likes of the Miami Heat, New Orleans Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, and Memphis Grizzlies in. Of course, they also have some brutal losses to teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers. Still, it’s really hard to argue with just how good this team has been at times, and when you have three men on your team with the ability to go off for 30 in a night, you’ve got a lot of teams that are going to be afraid of you.

Tonight, I am going to take the Nets plus the 9-points.  I don’t believe the Nets will win but I do think they will play hard against their local rival and keep it close and competitive.

Pick

New Jersey Nets +9 New York Knicks

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Miami Heat vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Miami Heat is 13-point favorites over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the matchup this evening.  The over/under total for the game is set at 197. LeBron James returns to Cleveland for the second time since his unceremonious departure.

Miami is 3-0 overall and 2-1 against the spread against the Cavaliers this year. That includes the first meeting back on December 2nd. James brushed off the jeers of his former fans to explode for 38 points, winning 118-90 in a blowout as 5-point favorites. The Heat won the two home meetings since then, 101-95 as 16-point favorites on December 15th and 117-90 as 17-point favorites on January 31st. The “over” is 3-0 in the three meetings between the teams.

Miami is 51-22 on the season and 34-39 against the spread.  They trail Chicago by 2-games in the Eastern Conference and Boston by 1-game for second. Miami has won five straight and is 8-1 since an awful five-game losing streak. The last game was a 125-119 home over Houston on Sunday. Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh each hit the 30-point plateau, combining for 94. Miami failed to cover as eight point favorites against Houston and is just 2-3 against the spread during this current winning streak.  The 244 combined points scored made a mockery of the 208-point total. The “over” is 2-0 in Miami’s last two games after the “under” was 4-1 in the previous five.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are 14-58 overall and 31-41 against the spread.  They have the NBA’s worst record and should get the top draft pick. Cleveland did get a 97-91 home win over Detroit last Friday, but then lost to Atlanta at home on Sunday, 99-83. The “under” is 8-0 in Cleveland’s last eight and 10-1 in the last 11. Cleveland is 2-6 against the spread in its last eight home games, 9-28 overall and 14-23 against the spread on the year at home.

This being an extremely important game for the Miami Heat I there playoff positioning and the extra motivation Lebron James will have, I believe  the Miami Heat will crush the Cavaliers this evening.  I will gladly lay the 13-points and take the Heat tonight.

Pick

Miami Heat -13 Cleveland Cavaliers

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Philadelphia 76ers vs. Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls are 10-point home favorites over the Philadelphia 76ers at home this evening.  The over/under total for the game is set at 192.  The Bulls continue to push for the Eastern Conference’s top seed and will need to continue to win to achieve this.

Chicago is 53-19 overall and 46-26 against the spread.  They found ways to win over the weekend, which is what championship teams are supposed to do. The first game was a close 99-96 home win over Memphis on Friday. Derrick Rose scored the team’s final six points, although failing to “cover’” the nine-point spread. Saturday night was equally as tough in Milwaukee, the offensively challenged Bucks led 87-83 with under three minutes left before a furious 12-0 Bulls rally to end the game. Rose was again the hero with eight late points and30 overall.  The 95-87 final scored covered the 5 –point spread for the Bulls. The 182 combined points scored went “over” the low 178-point total. The “over” is 5-0 in Chicago’s last five games after a prolonged “under” streak of 10-2 in the previous 12. The Bulls have now won four straight and are an incredible 19-3 overall and 17-5 against the spread since February 9. The Bulls now lead the conference by 2.5 games over fading Boston and three over Miami.

The Philadelphia 76ers are 37-36 overall on the season and 43-30 against the spread.  The 76ers sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and have a playoff spot basically sewn up. Philadelphia’s last game was Sunday at home against Sacramento, the second meeting between the teams in nine days. The 76ers lost 114-111 in overtime as 8-point favorites. Philly is 0-4 against the spread in its last four games. The “over” is 4-0 in the last four games.  The 76ers now travel to Chicago and are 9-10 against the spread in the second half of back-to-back situations this year. Their road record has been poor at 14-24 overall, but a solid 22-16 against the spread.

The home team is 2-0 overall and against the spread in games between Chicago and Philadelphia this year.  Therefore, today I am wagering on the Chicago Bulls minus the 10-points.  The Bulls are the more talented team, are playing at home, and have more to play for.  That is why I will lay the 10-points in this game.

Pick

Chicago Bulls -10 Philadelphia 76ers

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