Three Key Games in the NBA I’m Focusing on Tonight

The Houston Rockets and Dwight Howard head into Miami tonight to play the Heat.

Who’s hot? Who’s Not? These are crazy days in the National Basketball Association where teams we expect to be winning are struggling a bit while teams we expect to lose play competitively. The Philadelphia 76ers would be the exception as they’ve lost 20 straight. Regardless of who is winning and who is not, our task is to find good wagering opportunities so let’s do so.

Houston (+5.5) at Miami – Both teams enter this game in South Florida on two-game losing streaks. The Heat are just 5-5 in their last ten games while the Rockets are 7-3 over the same stretch. The Heat have fallen to three and half games behind Indiana in the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference while Houston remains five games back of San Antonio in the Western Conference.

The difference here is that Houston is in the fourth spot while the Heat are in the second position. The Rockets will have to get hot and jump three more teams in order to get to the top spot so I see that as not happening. Miami is coming off another rare loss at home this time to Denver on Friday night and the source of their struggles is clear.

Miami’s defense has fallen off while LeBron James is clearly in a slump two weeks after his 61 point performance. When Houston struggles it usually comes down to not scoring because the Rockets don’t play a lot defense. I really thought Miami was going to break out of their slump against the Nuggets but they didn’t. Perhaps a better opponent will spark their fire.

Either way, I’m taking the Rockets getting the points.

Kevin Durant and the Thunder welcome Dallas in a key Western Conference game for both teams.

Dallas (+8) at Oklahoma City – Much like the Miami Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder have stumbled in recent weeks going just 5-5 over their last ten games and have slipped behind the Spurs for the top seed in the West. At least the Thunder are secure in their playoff positioning because the Dallas Mavericks are fighting for their playoff lives.

Dallas currently sits in the seventh spot but is tied with eighth place Memphis at 10.5 games behind the top seeded Spurs. Also on their heels is Phoenix who is a game and a half behind. Oklahoma City is outstanding at home with a 28-6 record while the Mavericks are a game over .500 on the road.

It was thought in numerous circles that the Thunder might actually be better without Kendrick Perkins in the line-up. That doesn’t necessarily appear to be the case as the Thunder are lacking consistency at both ends of the court.

I expect the Mavericks to play well. Their backs are against the wall from here on out and I like them with the points tonight.

Golden State (-1.5) at Portland – The Warriors had been streaking a bit before losing to the red-hot Clippers and have now lost two in a row. The good news is that they go into Portland where the Blazers have gone just 5-5 in their last ten games. Since starting off the season hotter than any team in the NBA, the Blazers have become pretty ordinary.

Golden State is currently in the sixth spot in the West with a game and a half lead over Dallas and Memphis while Portland has a two and a half games lead over the Warriors. This puts a little more emphasis on tonight’s game. What worries me about Portland is that their defense has really struggled. They are 25th in the NBA in that category while the Warriors are eighth.

Despite that, I like Portland to win this game especially since they are a home dog.