There were two monster showdowns on Sunday with Oklahoma City dominating Chicago (92-78) and Boston easily handling Miami (91-72).
The Bulls have played really well since point guard Derrick Rose went down with a groin injury (7-3 straight up and 6-4 against the spread) but he’s really needed when they play the elite teams in the league.
The aging Celtics have now won five in a row, both SU and ATS. They were hurt earlier in the season with the condensed schedule, but are dangerous once the playoffs hit as there won’t be any back-to-back games. They also have a chance at the No. 3 seed in the conference if they can win the Atlantic Division.
Monday night has the Bulls back in action, laying eight points at home to Houston with a total of 186. Houston had a tough loss to Indiana on Sunday (104-102 OT) and is fighting tooth-and-nail for a playoff spot at eighth in the West Conference. Starting guards Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin have both been out several games and it’s starting to catch up to them. Chicago’s Rose (groin) is listed as doubtful on the Don Best injury report.
Oklahoma City is also in a back-to-back situation, hosting Memphis as an 8-point favorite with a total of 198. The Grizzlies are +8 units to the ‘under’ and they want to slow this game down. The Thunder could have a letdown after the big win over Chicago, although they will benefit from Memphis point guard Mike Conley (ankle) being questionable. He’s worth 1½-points on the spread. The Grizzlies are 3-1 ATS in their last four after going 0-6 ATS in the previous six.
Dallas gets a tough visitor in the Los Angeles Clippers, with the Mavs laying 4½ and the total at 189½. The Clippers are fourth in the West and have shook off some injuries to go 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS in their last five. All of those games did come at home though.
Dallas has gotten guard Delonte West back and he’s a difference maker, especially after scoring 15 points at Orlando last game (100-98 win).
Turning our attention to Tuesday, the Pacers host the New York Knicks. Indiana is in fifth place in the East Conference and fighting for home-court advantage in the first round. Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison are one of the most underrated trios in the league. New York has both Jeremy Lin and Amare Stoudemire out, but is 9-2 SU and ATS in its last 11. Defense has been a key under new coach Mike Woodson, with the ‘under’ 7-2 in the last nine.
Miami is 21-2 SU at home and giving 8-points there to Philadelphia. The total is 186. The 76ers are 4-6 SU and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 and could even find themselves out of the playoffs if they keep sinking.
The Lakers are hosting New Jersey as 13-point favorites with a total of 197. The Nets have won and covered 3-straight, the last two coming at Golden State and Sacramento. The play of point guard Deron Williams has been a big key. Los Angeles is 1-9 ATS in its last 10 and 0-5 ATS in its last five as a double-digit favorite. Center Andrew Bynum is questionable and the spread will drop to 10½-11 if he’s out.