Road Dogs in the Spotlight Today in the NBA

Tim Duncan and the Spurs host the Chicago Bulls today in the Lone Star State.

I’m looking at three games in the National Basketball Association that have playoff and playoff positioning at stake. Let’s take a look.

Chicago (+9.5) at San Antonio – Despite the loss of both Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose, the Bulls have been able to hang tough by winning six of their last ten but Chicago finds themselves in a battle with the Cavs and Raptors for that second seed behind the Atlanta Hawks.

The defending champion Spurs have won four in a row and six of their last ten games. They are now securely in the seventh seed ahead of eighth place OKC. I don’t believe Gregg Popovich and the Spurs are content with the seventh spot though. Right now, they are less then two games out of the fifth spot and are looking to advance.

Chicago has a very good 19-11 road record while the Spurs are 22-7 at home. I see no reason for this game not to be physical and highly competitive.

Trends: Chicago is 9-4 straight up in their last 13 games…San Antonio is 4-1 SU in their last five games… The Bulls are 4-11 SU in their last 15 games against the Spurs in San Antonio… The Spurs are 2-5-1 against the spread in their last eight games.

The Pick: Take the Spurs to win but I like the Bulls getting the points.

Steve Clifford and the Hornets come to Detroit looking to stay hot.

Charlotte (+1) at Detroit – When Brandon Jennings went down with a torn Achilles’ tendon, most figured the Pistons playoff chances were over. Despite a brief flirtation, this appears to be the case. Detroit has fallen to four and a half games behind the eighth and final playoff spot. With about 20 games to go, there is time but they must win games like this one today.

The Hornets are among the teams the Pistons have to jump and they’re in no hurry to allow that to happen. Charlotte is actually tied for the seventh and eighth spots right now but based on tie-breakers is the odd team out. Both teams are headed in opposite directions as the Hornets have won four straight and the Pistons have dropped five in a row.

Trends: Charlotte is 5-1 straight up in their last six games… Detroit is 2-4 SU in their last six homes games… The Hornets are 8-16 against the spread in their last 24 games at Detroit… The Pistons are 12-6 SU in their last 18 games at home versus the Hornets.

The Pick: Detroit ends the skid today Take them to cover.

Toronto (+7) at Oklahoma City – The Raptors enter the Sooner State having lost seven of their last ten and they’ve dropped from the second seed in the East to the fourth as both Chicago and Cleveland have leaped them for the time being.

Meanwhile, the Thunder have won seven of ten and have ridden Russell Westbrook’s hot-hand. With Kevin Durant still recovering from foot surgery, Westbrook’s heroics of late have been needed. OKC has climbed into the eighth spot in the Western Conference but only has a one half game lead over New Orleans who has Anthony Davis back on the floor.

Trends: Toronto is 1-7 straight up in their last eight games… The Thunder is 5-0 SU in their last five home games… The Raptors are 2-6 against the spread in their last eight games on the road in Oklahoma City… The Thunder is 10-3 SU against the Raptors in their last 13 games games in OKC.

The Pick: Take the Thunder to cover today.

Four Really Good NBA Games for Sunday

Paul Griffin
Paul Griffin
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin need to right the ship after the Clips have drooped three straight.

I’m sure if I really sat down and looked it over I could probably find another Sunday with four better match-ups in the National Basketball Association but the ones I have for you today are pretty darn good.

LA Clippers (+3) at Oklahoma City (O/U 209) – The Thunder are three games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and have gone just 5-5 over their last ten games. The Clippers come to town having lost three straight and are dealing with Chris Paul’s comments about a female official.

I don’t think that will linger much longer now that he’s been fined $25,000 but LA needs to be careful. They are after all a half game from slipping into the seventh spot in the West.

Trends: The Clippers are 1-4 straight up in their last five games… The total has gone UNDER in six of Oklahoma City’s last eight games… LAC are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games against the Thunder… OKC is 7-3 straight up in their last 10 games at home against the Clippers.

The Pick: I like the Thunder today and the UNDER.

Atlanta (+3.5) at Memphis (O/U 196.5) – The Hawks have won nine of their last ten games and are coming off a defining win over Golden State. They’ve stretched their lead in the Eastern Conference to eight games over second-seeded Toronto.

Memphis has won eight of their last ten games and is in second out West just three games behind the Warriors. The Grizzlies have also been very good at home where they’ve gone 21-5 this season.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in six of the Hawks last seven games… Memphis is 8-1 straight up in their last nine games… Atlanta is 5-2 SU in their last seven games on the road in Memphis… The Grizzlies are 4-11-1 against the spread in their last 16 games against the Hawks.

The Pick: Don’t be surprised if the Grizzlies win but I like the Hawks getting the points and I like the OVER.

Gregg Popovich's Spurs aren't likely to be a top seed but they will be a tough out for any opponent.

San Antonio (+1.5) at Toronto (O/U 201.5) – The Spurs come to Canada having had some good recent success over the Raptors and they’ve won eight of their last ten games which puts them in the eighth spot in the very competitive Western Conference.

Toronto has had a very nice stretch of 7-3 in their last ten contests but seven of their 17 losses have come against the West. I have no doubts that they’d like to get some quality wins over the better Western teams.

Trends: The Spurs are 1-5-1 against the spread in their last seven games… The total has gone OVER in six of Toronto’s last eight games… San Antonio is 4-1-1 against the spread in their last six games against Toronto… The Raptors are 0-5 straight up in their last five games against the Spurs.

The Pick: Take the Spurs getting the point and a half take the OVER.

Portland (+4) at Houston (O/U 204) – These two teams have combined to win 15 of their last 20 games and are separated by a mere game in the Western Conference. It’s difficult to ignore the success Houston has had against the Blazers in Clutch City.

Trends: Portland is 0-4-1 against the spread in their last five games versus Houston… The Rockets are 6-1 straight up in their last seven games… The total has gone OVER in six of the Blazers last seven games when on the road against the Rockets… Houston has won 20 of their last 25 games straight up against the Blazers at home.

The Pick: I like the Rockets to cover at home and I like the OVER as well.

Latest Odds to Win the 2015 NBA Title

Steve Kerr has done a wonderful job with the Warriors but can he get them to the NBA Finals?

It’s really amazing how things can change over the course of a season in the National Basketball Association. Injuries, coaching changes and just getting hot at the right time can all play a part in the rise and/or fall of fortunes of these teams.

Odds to win 2015 NBA Championship

Golden State Warriors 7/2

Cleveland Cavaliers 15/4

San Antonio Spurs 7/1

Atlanta Hawks 15/2

Chicago Bulls 17/2

Among these top five favorites, I honestly can’t say there’s a sure thing here. We’ve seen the Cavaliers bounce back from a losing streak and right into a nice long winning streak which stands at 11 heading into last night. The Atlanta Hawks just had a 19-game winning streak and had all five starters named “player of the week.”

The Bulls will go only as far as Derrick Rose’s health can take them and the Spurs will have to be healthy as well in order to repeat. Obviously Golden State is the favorite because they are undeniably the best team in the league right now. What worries me is the amount of three-point shots they rely on each night. Will that come back to haunt them in the playoffs when teams start to pick up the defense?

Dallas Mavericks 12/1

Los Angeles Clippers 12/1

Memphis Grizzlies 12/1

Oklahoma City Thunder 16/1

Houston Rockets 18/1

Toronto Raptors 20/1

When you look at the group above, I think the team that stands out is Oklahoma City. I say that because they are one team of this group with two guys that can carry a team for certain periods of time. That said, the Thunder are still on the outside looking in on the playoffs right now.

I can’t see Houston being a legitimate threat if Dwight Howard keeps battling health issues and I’m not sure how serious to take the Clippers. They obviously have loads of talent, but can they make it out of the difficult Western Conference? Dallas is a team that makes me think a little too. Don’t be surprised to see them hanging tough in the end.

The hopes of the Blazers rest on the health of LaMarcus Aldridge.

Portland Trailblazers 25/1

Washington Wizards 28/1

Miami Heat 100/1

Detroit Pistons 150/1

Milwaukee Bucks 150/1

I really liked what Detroit was doing until guard Brandon Jennings went down with a torn achilles. They had been playing extremely well in the wake of releasing Josh Smith but now they are likely looking at a lottery position again unless they can get needed help at guard.

Portland’s fate will ride with LaMarcus Aldridge and his hand. If he can play through the pain and prove to be as effective as always then they have a shot with he and Damian Lillard. Washington will be a really interesting team to watch. They’ve lost seven of ten and their last five games so perhaps the shine on them is wearing off.

New Orleans Pelicans 150/1

Phoenix Suns 150/1

If one player could get his team to the NBA Finals it’s Anthony Davis who has been outstanding in 2014-2015. This will definitely not be his year, but if the Pelicans get some pieces around him then look out in the future.

Boston Celtics 500/1

Brooklyn Nets 500/1

Charlotte Hornets 500/1

Indiana Pacers 500/1

Remember when the Indiana Pacers were on the verge of knocking off the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference? Ya, things have changed that much in Indianapolis. They’ll be more looking for a lucky bouncing ping pong ball come summertime.

Sacramento Kings 1000/1

Utah Jazz 1000/1

Denver Nuggets 2000/1

Orlando Magic 2000/1

Sometimes the sports books in Vegas are just trying to be nice. This is the case here as none of these teams has chance in Hades of winning the NBA Title. The Kings, Jazz and Nuggets would need miracles at this point just to get into the playoffs.

Who I Like?

Atlanta, Golden State, Memphis and Cleveland.

Spurs and Thunder in NBA Western Conference Finals

The NBA postseason has been whittled down to just four teams. The Eastern Conference finals will feature the Indiana Pacers versus the Miami Heat. While out West, the San Antonio Spurs will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In the Western Conference finals, the first game will be played in the best of seven series on Monday May 19 in San Antonio, with the Spurs holding the home court advantage thanks to having the best regular season record in the league this season.

During the regular season, the Thunder swept all four games versus the Spurs. However, that can be deceiving, just ask the Brooklyn Nets.

Brooklyn was 4-0 against the Miami Heat this past regular season, according to data from Bovada and, but lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference semifinals 4-1.

San Antonio beat the Portland Trail Blazers in 5 games in the second round, while eliminating the Dallas Mavericks in 7 games in round one to reach the conference finals.

According to data taken from topbet and betonline, Oklahoma City defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in 6 games in round two and the Memphis Grizzlies in 7 games in round one to reach this point.

The biggest matchups in this series will by Tony Parker the Spurs point guard versus Russell Westbrook the Thunder point guard, as well as Kawhi Leonard the Spurs shooting forward against Kevin Durant the Thunder’s shooting forward.

San Antonio makes very few mistakes in a game and capitalizes on the ones its opponents make. Look for the Spurs to isolate Durant and Westbrook, while attacking the role players for the Thunder who at times can be inconsistent.

The Spurs are never out of a game. San Antonio can rally behind its talented mix of veterans and young blood. With Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Parker having loads of experience, it helps the other younger players like Kawhi Leonard and Thiago Splitter.

After such a difficult offseason following a heartbreaking NBA Finals loss to the Miami Heat, look for the Spurs to do whatever it takes to return to the finals.

Durant and Westbrook are two of the five best players in basketball worldwide. There is no one on San Antonio that can match either one of them individually.

Leonard can stay with one or the other on defense, but not for an entire game. San Antonio has had its struggles with teams that have elite athleticism and the Thunder are all that.

This matchup will favor the Thunder, but the experience and thoughts of their 2012 playoff collapse against Oklahoma City will help the Spurs.

The Spurs have played in 10 of the past 20 Western Conference finals with this appearance and are 5-4.

Pick: Thunder 4-2

Grizzlies Short-handed in Game 7 versus Thunder

Saturday features three game sevens in the first round of the NBA playoffs. In one of the matchups, the Memphis Grizzlies visit the Oklahoma City Thunder, in their Western Conference showdown with the winner moving on to the conference semifinals and the loser going home for the summer.

Odds makers at Bovada and have made Oklahoma City the 9-point favorite, while topbeat and betonline have the point total for the game sitting on 185.5.

The Thunder will look to take advantage of Memphis not having All-Star forward Zach Randolph in the lineup after he was suspended by league officials for throwing a punch in Game 6 of the series.

The Thunder forced a Game 7 with a 108-84 rout on the road Thursday in Memphis. Not only do the Grizzlies have to worry about filling a huge hole literally and figuratively for the loss of Randolph, they have to worry about Mike Conley their point guard who strained his hamstring in the loss on Thursday.

Conley will dress and play, but will not be anywhere near 100%. In Game 6, The Thunder’s Kevin Durant responded to harsh criticism in the local press by scoring 36 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

The Thunder also changed their starting lineup by adding veteran Caron Butler and sitting Thabo Sefolosha. That gave Durant more space on the court and allowed point guard Russell Westbrook to drive to the hoop.

Over the last three seasons, Memphis is 14-7 against the number, including covering in 9 of 12 road games, when playing Oklahoma City. However, this season, on the road overall, the Grizzlies are just 21-21-2.

Oklahoma City this season at home is 35-9 straight up and 24-19-1 against the spread according to data from betonline.

Memphis has been able to control the tempo for much of the regular season, but will need to do that much better tonight than they did in Game 6 if they hope to win and move on.

More pressure will be put on Marc Gasol the Grizzlies center with Randolph out suspended.

Gasol for the series is scoring 16 points per game and hauling down nearly 9 rebounds. However, on offensive he needs to pick it up a notch to make up for the 18 points that Randolph scores each game.

Memphis could not stop Westbrook form attacking the rim in Game 6 and look for more of that in Game 7 with Conley nursing a sore hamstring. If Conley cannot play many minutes, the Grizzlies must play Beno Udrih, who has averaged just 16 minutes a game during the series.

The Thunder not only is playing at home in a Game 7 but against a depleted roster for the Grizzlies.

Pick: Oklahoma City 105-93

Post-Draft NBA Odds for 2014

James and Spoelstra
James and Spoelstra
James and Spoelstra are favored to win a third-straight title.

I’ve been so swept up by hockey, baseball, Aaron Hernandez and the NBA Draft that I’ve completely forgotten to congratulate the Miami Heat on their riveting seven-game series win over San Antonio. This is the Heat’s third title and LeBron James’ second straight. We haven’t been witness to a Finals this good in years in my opinion and now we already turn our focus to the 2013-2014 season just days after the draft.

If you’re thinking of laying some dough on next year already then let me give you the top contenders and their odds and I’ll even throw in a few potential long-shots for your entertainment.

Miami Heat 2-1 The Heat did nothing to add to their roster through the draft because they didn’t have a pick but they did exercise options on Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen is sticking around as well. The big question I have for Miami is the health of Dwyane Wade. Reports are that he had his knee drained prior to game seven and it hampered him throughout the playoffs. He and Chris Bosh were both absent at times during the playoffs but they survived. Can they next season?

The Thunder added seven-footer Adams to bolster the middle.

Oklahoma City Thunder 11-2 I don’t believe the Thunder would have won the title this past season had Russell Westbrook not been injured but his loss certainly was the nail in the coffin of their playoff run. In order for OKC to be a legitimate threat next season they need a third scorer who used to be James Harden. His absence was especially glaring with Westbrook out. I love the Thunder’s first round draft pick in seven-footer Steven Adams of Pitt. He will provide tremendous size and a defensive presence despite being a bit raw.

Brooklyn Nets 10-1 The Nets jumped to this position with the trade that brings Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn from Boston but long-term I think this will hurt the Nets as they gave up youth and a lot of draft picks. What that means is they must win now and with a rookie head coach in Jason Kidd. The Nets will have a really good starting five and added Duke’s Mason Plumlee in the first round the other night. He will provide some rebounding and defense off the bench. The Nets have a very small window due to age and health of Garnett and Pierce and that makes me leery of laying cash on them.

Los Angeles Clippers 10-1 The Clippers immediately jumped to this spot with the addition of coach Doc Rivers who I believe will take both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to new heights as players. The Clips also added shooting guard Reggie Bullock from North Carolina in the draft. It’s amazing that a coach like Vinny del Negro was fired after a 56-win season but this is a player’s league and there was certainly friction. I expect the Clips to once again win the Pacific but I’m not sure I’m willing to lay money on them winning the title just yet.

The Longer Shots Golden State at 25-1 is one I’d take a shot on. The guard play is outstanding and if healthy the bigs can be effective. Atlanta Hawks 66-1 is another I like especially if they land Dwight Howard. I love their pick of Shane Larkin in the draft as he can provide solid minutes at the point to compliment Al Horford and company. Portland Trail Blazers 100-1 Portland was on the verge several times last season of making a go at the playoffs but fell short. I like the drafting of scorer C.J. McCollum and they added size and smarts with Jeff Withey from Kansas. I can see them making a run in the playoffs next year.

Monday NBA Playoff Games: April 29, 2013

NBA fans and bettors saw the Spurs and Heat advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs this weekend and today two more teams will have the chance to move on, while two others will be staring elimination in the face.

Here is a look at all three games in the NBA playoffs today and and always, our premium point-spread picks:

Chicago Bulls +5.5 at Brooklyn Nets -5.5

After winning game one of the best-0f-seven series, the Nets have stumbled, losing the last three to the Bulls and now face elimination in game five. However, Brooklyn will be back on its home court today and it knows there’s no room for error.

The Bulls have faced plenty of adversity this season – mostly in the form of injuries – and have been able to overcome it, but today they’ll be in the unfamiliar role as the hunter looking to finish off an opponent.

The Nets have dominated stretches of games during this series, but haven’t been able to hold on to leads in clutch moments and late in games. I think they’ll have a much better chance to do this at home today and I think they’ll stay alive. Take the Nets to cover -5.5 with their backs against the wall, but look for the Bulls to win the series in game six.

Indiana Pacers +1.5 at Atlanta Hawks -1.5

After crushing Atlanta in the first two games, the Pacers were looking like they could earn the sweep, but then they failed to show up at all in game three, losing 90-69 in a dreadful offensive showing. We also have to give some credit to Atlanta for finally playing some physical defense and frustrating Indiana’s scorers. They’ll definitely need more of the same tonight.

Even though the momentum seems to be shifting, the fact is, Indiana played a bad game in game three. The Pacers turned the ball over 22 times and we can’t really expect that to happen again. Game four will probably be close, but I like Indiana to get back on the horse with a win tonight, while covering +1.5 points.

Oklahoma City Thunder -2 at Houston Rockets +2

The Thunder won game three to take a 3-0 series lead against the Rockets and they did it without star Russell Westbrook, but the Rockets looked like they had plenty of life, losing by just three points, so we know a sweep won’t be easy to come by for OKC tonight.

Kevin Durant picked up the slack in game three, scoring 41 points, and we have to believe the Rockets’ full attention will be on him tonight without Westbrook in the lineup. The Thunder definitely have other guys who can score, but if the Rockets are able to limit Durant’s production, even a little, then they’ll have a great chance to win at home.

Let’s also not forget that Houston is one of the best scoring teams in the league and they’re going to play as hard as they can facing elimination. I like Houston to edge out a win here in game four, covering +2 tonight, but don’t expect this series to continue past game five when it goes back to OKC.


Sunday NBA Playoff Game 1 Picks

Bettors got their first taste of the 2013 NBA playoffs with yesterday’s game ones and today the Association is back with the four remaining first round games, so buckle up for more of the intense playoff action and check out these picks before you put those wagers down!

Atlanta Hawks +7 at Indiana Pacers -7

The Hawks endured a rough second half of the season, but managed to lock up the number six seed and a date with one of the league’s most underrated teams – the Indiana Pacers.

The two squads split the season series 2-2, using very different offensive approaches. Atlanta proved to be a run-and-gun type team, whereas Indiana was more successful when executing its half court sets and pounding the ball inside. Whichever team establishes the tempo they like should have the advantage today.

And that team will most likely be Indiana, since it is at home for game one, where it won 30-of-41 games this season. Look for the Pacers to earn the win again against the Hawks, but expect things to be very close between these teams, as it was all year, and take Atlanta to cover +7.

Los Angeles Lakers +8.5 at San Antonio Spurs -8.5

The Lakers accomplished their mission of making the playoffs, but they when assembled their current roster, they had much bigger goals in mind. However, without Kobe Bryant, it looks like it could be a rare one-and-done playoff year for the Lakers.

When you factor in just how well the Spurs are playing this season, it doesn’t look the Lakers have much of a chance. Of course, the Lakers have proved to have plenty of fight down the stretch and we know they can score points, so maybe this game and this series will be closer than expected?

I think so. There’s no way we can go against the Spurs to win, but the Lakers have defied the odds time and time again, so look for them to cover +8.5 in defeat today.

Milwaukee Bucks +13.5 at Miami Heat -13.5

Being a team that finished 28 games better than their first round opponent, the Heat deserve to have a large point spread in their favor, but the Bucks have played surprisingly well against the Heat this season and should be able to, at the very least, put up a good fight today.

No one should be betting against the Heat to win today, but we should expect that Bucks to cover +13.5 in the loss.

Houston Rockets +10 at Oklahoma City Thunder -10

The Rockets and Thunder will bring two of the league’s top offenses into their game 1 match-up today and though we should expect the Thunder to outgun James Harden and the Rockets, this should also be a closer game than advertised.

Look for a high-scoring shootout today and for the Rockets to cover +10 in a narrow loss today.

NBA Playoff Futures Odds

After a grueling 82-game schedule, the 16 best teams in the NBA have been awarded berths to the postseason and now a brand new season begins to decide a champion. The slate is wiped clean and the records are thrown out. Theoretically, each team has the same chance to win, but as always, there are the favorites. Here are the futures odds and our top value picks with those odds to win the 2013 NBA title.

Miami Heat – 5/8

The Heat are the odds-on favorites to win repeat as NBA champions as rightfully so. They dominate regular season opponents, going 66-16 this year, and even completed the second longest winning streak in NBA history, as they went on a 27-game tear that last almost two months.

The biggest reason to like the Heat though, is that they basically have the same team they did last year – the team that won the 2012 NBA championship. So, the only reason they wouldn’t win it again is if they faced injuries in the playoffs or simply underperformed, but as we’ve seen with this team, that’s not likely.

Of course, the 5/8 odds don’t give bettors a big money-making opportunity and considering they are other capable teams out there, maybe the Heat aren’t the best value pick? Let’s have a look at a couple other contenders.

Oklahoma City Thunder – 17/4

After meeting in the NBA Finals last year, the Thunder proved to be a formidable opponent for the Heat, but in 2012, they weren’t quite ready to win it all. This year, they have just as strong of a team and the added experience, so they have a reasonably better chance to win the championship now.

That’s why their 17/4 odds present some decent value. They are the clear favorites out of the West, meaning that they are the clear favorites to meet the Heat for a rematch in this year’s final series. And since they’ve stayed healthy and have an arguably deeper team than last year, the Thunder could upend the Heat this time. The Thunder are a solid pick here at 17/4, but we must look on.

New York Knicks – 16/1

We’re skipping the Spurs at 10/1 because…well…the Spurs are old, and they haven’t performed well in the postseason in years, so they aren’t a real threat, but the Knicks certainly are this season.

Not only are the Knicks the second best team in the East, but they are a team that is fully capable of upsetting the Heat, which appears to be a mandatory trait in a championship team this year. The Knicks are 3-1 against the Heat so far this year, so we know they can win in Miami and in New York against the league’s best.

The Knicks don’t really play a “team” game, but the sum of their exquisite individual performers has contributed to some big and often impressive wins. New York has put together several long win steaks and they’ll likely have to get hot at the right time, but it certainly could happen. Consider the Knicks a solid pick as well at 16/1, but maybe not quite as good as the more balanced Thunder.

Denver Nuggets – 25/1

The Nuggets were my dark horse pick earlier in the season, but after an incredible second half of the season, Denver is a legitimate title contender now.

The Nuggets don’t always defend well, but they have the best scoring squad in the league and the second best rebounding team. They play physical on the inside and shoot well from the outside. The combination has been lethal to opponents all season long and that combo could carry the Nuggets deep into the postseason as well.

Of course, the Nuggets aren’t as experienced in big games as some of these other teams, so it will be interesting to see how they perform under pressure, but you can’t go wrong here at 25/1. Even a small wager could pay off big if the Nuggets get the job done.


Tuesday NBA Quick Picks: April 9, 2013

With all the Eastern Conference playoff spots clinched, there’s really only one interesting playoff race that has yet to be decided (eighth spot out West), but bettors will still have a juicy 10-game slate of games to sink their teeth into today and should enjoy some entertaining match-ups as well. Here are our quick picks for eight of the 10 games to help with your wagering.

Cleveland Cavaliers +12.5 at Indiana Pacers -12.5

Surprisingly, the Cavs are the hotter of the two teams at the moment as winners of their last two games, but Indiana has dominated the series recently, including three wins against Cleveland by an average of more than 15 points this season. Still, it’s a big spread to cover and the Cavs seem to be playing better at the moment, so take Cleveland to cover +12.5, but still expect them to get swept in the season series.

Philadelphia 76ers +7.5 at Brooklyn Nets -7.5

Philadelphia won’t be headed to the postseason this year, but it would love to finish the season on a high note. The only problem is, so would playoff-bound Brooklyn, as it looks to improve its East standing. Considering the Nets are 2-1 against Philly this year, they should have no problem winning again. Take the Nets to cover -7.5 in the win.

Washington Wizards +10.5 at New York Knicks -10.5 

With the Knicks riding their longest winning streak in nearly 20 years, don’t expect the lowly Wizards to slow them down. New York’s win at OKC over the weekend tells me it can handle the Wiz at home. Take the Knicks to cover -10.5.

Charlotte Bobcats +14 at Memphis Grizzlies -14

The Bobcats may be destined for the number one pick in next year’s NBA draft, but considering the Grizzlies aren’t the type of team that blows opponents out, Charlotte will cover +14 today in the loss.

Phoenix Suns +14 at Houston Rockets -14

Memphis may not be one to blow teams up, but with Houston’s offense, the Rockets are a team very capable of putting big numbers up on the scoreboard. And considering Phoenix hasn’t been able to find the bottom of the net as losers of nine straight, it’s pretty safe to take Houston to cover -14 here.

Oklahoma City Thunder -4 at Utah Jazz +4

With just a half game lead over the Lakers for that final playoff spot in the West, the Jazz certainly have a lot to play for, while the Thunder might be in cruise control mode as one of the top teams in the conference. Utah has already beaten the Thunder once at home this season, so with the raised stakes, they should be able to do it again. Take Utah to cover +4 in the win.

New Orleans Hornets +9 at Los Angeles Lakers -9

Of course, the Lakers have a lot at stake too, and they’ll have a much weaker opponent to deal with than Utah, but they just aren’t playing well enough lately to beat many teams by more than nine points. Take New Orleans to cover +9 in defeat today.

Minnesota Timberwolves +6.5 at Golden State Warriors -6.5

The Warriors are one win away from officially clinching a playoff spot in the West and they should get it today against the beat-up T-Wolves. Take the Warriors to cover -6.5 here.