How many people out there looked at Saturday’s Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Los Angeles Clippers game and simply nodded their heads? That’s basically all you can do with the NBA at this stage of the game because it is inevitable that players will sit out for rest of bumps and bruises at this time of the year. It is what it is. The NBA schedule is pretty taxing for teams.
I’m not a “Please like my sport” kind of guy, but the NHL has a lot of these situations and not much is said about them. This year, the NHLPA got a bye week out of it, so maybe we’ll see the NBA go with something similar next season. Of course, the NHL season started a week later because of the World Cup of Hockey, so the players didn’t really get a week off. They just got a more condensed schedule at the end of the year.
In any event, we’re not here to compare league member sizes. We’re here to find those good situational betting opportunities for this week in the NBA. We know that there are going to be some the rest of the way. We also know that books are going to be very careful in terms of exposure with overnight lines, so you’ll have to be ready to pounce in the morning or ready to pass if the target number isn’t there.
Here are some possible NBA situational betting spots for the week ending March 26:
Monday March 20
Utah Jazz at Indiana Pacers – The Jazz look tired. They seemed gassed in Saturday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls and have one more road game left to go on this trip before heading back home. This would be a great spot to play on Indiana, but it just doesn’t set up well to take the Pacers either. Indiana is playing a standalone home game against a non-conference opponent in a conference game sandwich. The Pacers were in Toronto on Sunday and then visit Boston on Wednesday. Indiana is just 11-23 on the road this season compared to 24-10 at home, so maybe they can rally together at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but conflicting situations make this a pass game. It’s unfortunate because if one of these situations was better, we’d have a play here. Perhaps the under is the play with some tired legs for Utah and Indiana not as focused.
Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder – There will be no Kevin Durant for this one, which has to be disappointing for Thunder fans. On the other hand, they might have a better shot at winning without Durant because Golden State has looked pretty good in the regular season against OKC, especially this year. After some bumps in the road, Golden State looks to be back to its old self, rattling off three straight wins, including a couple of blowouts. Oklahoma City has some incentive to leapfrog the Clippers because it would mean avoiding Houston in the first round. Quietly, OKC has rattled off five in a row. This one could be pretty close, so OKC plus the points seems reasonable.
Denver Nuggets at Houston Rockets – The Rockets were laying a short number on the road in Denver on Saturday and prevailed in a 109-105 slugfest. The Nuggets head to the Toyota Center on Monday night with the Rapid Revenge Theory in play. The markets opened up Houston -3.5, with the Rockets in a back-to-back, on Saturday, so we should see a number in the -7 or -7.5 range on Monday with the home court advantage built in and the fact that Houston isn’t in a bad spot with a back-to-back in altitude. The Rockets survived a scare with a hard fall from James Harden, so keep an eye out on his status for Monday, but Houston has three days off after this game to get some rest and get back to business. Houston just won on the road, so maybe they overlook this game a little bit with a much needed rest coming right after.
Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic – Credit the Orlando Magic for stepping up in Phoenix on Friday night to end a long road trip with a win. They have a chance at a winning streak on Monday night with the lowly, tanking Philadelphia 76ers in town. This is a big game for Philadelphia because they should be able to fall below the Magic in the standings. When teams get a good chance at a win, they tend to respond. Traditionally, the first game back off of a long road trip is a fade spot, but the Magic should be able to step up here with an extra day off at home.
Tuesday March 21
Phoenix Suns at Miami Heat – The Miami Heat are definitely a play-on team for Tuesday night. We’ll be laying a pretty big price to ride the Heat wave, but it’s worth it. The young Suns have a night off in Miami on Monday after playing in Detroit on Sunday. The Miami nightlife can definitely be a challenge, especially for younger teams that aren’t as established in terms of family life. It’s a long road trip for Phoenix and it’s late in the season. Players like to have a little fun. Don’t be surprised if Phoenix has too much fun. In a more practical sense, you’re looking at a team that lost to Sacramento and Orlando at home last week, so, yes, they’re really bad.
Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks – I haven’t back-tested the data on this, but it feels like Golden State fares really well in letdown spots during the Steph Curry era. They’re in one on Tuesday. Golden State is going to be laying a big number in Dallas to a Mavericks team that got embarrassed in Philadelphia last week. Coming off of the Oklahoma City game, Golden State has every reason to mail this one in, especially with a return right back home for games against Sacramento and Memphis. This is the home game back for Dallas after a long trip to the eastern seaboard, so they aren’t in a great spot. Golden State might actually cover this number.
Detroit Pistons at Brooklyn Nets – This isn’t a great spot for Detroit. After a three-game homestand, the Pistons fly out to Brooklyn and then come right back to the Midwest for a Central Division showdown with the Bulls. The Pistons need every win they can scratch out with the eighth seed hanging in the balance. The problem is that it’s hard to lay points with a team like Detroit on the road. They are maddeningly inconsistent and are just 11-22 straight up away from the Palace on the year. Brooklyn is clearly terrible, but they’re playing a little bit better of late. It’s probably a stay away game, since Brooklyn is capable of looking like something you’d pick up off the sidewalk in a little baggy, but the lean would be them in this spot.
Wednesday March 22
New York Knicks at Utah Jazz – I think we’re looking at a “get right” game for the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. As I mentioned, their Midwest trip has not been a very fun one. We’ll have to see how Monday goes against Indiana, but they may really need this game on Wednesday. The Knicks had a day off in Los Angeles before playing the Clippers and then took a travel day to Salt Lake City. They go right back west to battle Portland on Thursday. With nothing to play for except pride, I wouldn’t expect much from the Knicks here. The Jazz will be sizable favorites, but this has blowout written all over it, if Utah can get over the fatigue of four games in six days all with travel.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets get another chance to see how they match up with the Cleveland Cavaliers in town. Denver’s four-game stretch including this one is the Clippers, Houston twice, and Cleveland. At least there are no back-to-backs or other bad spots. The Cavaliers are heading back east for Charlotte after this one. With two days off before playing Denver, we’ll have to see how the Cavs look for this game. They should be at full strength, but may take a cautious approach to the altitude. Denver will put a lot of emphasis on this game, especially with another loss to Houston on Monday. The Nuggets will be a dangerous home dog here.
Thursday March 23
Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs – The Grizzlies/Spurs series had been pretty one-sided up until Saturday night when David Fizdale’s team held serve at home. The Spurs aren’t a team generally worried about revenge, but maybe they should be in this spot given how they’ve played recently. It would be nice to see San Antonio go out and comfortably beat a decent team. They’ve struggled with the likes of the Portland Trail Blazers in recent weeks. Both teams are in a decent spot here, so we should get a true representation of both of them. With that in mind, San Antonio should be the side, but be wary of laying too many points in a game that will be lined with a low total.
New York Knicks at Portland Trail Blazers – Take the Blazers laying whatever number. The Knicks are playing a back-to-back with travel from Salt Lake City to Portland. The altitude is a problem, as we know, but it’s also the third game in a different time zone for the Knicks. Their trip started in Los Angeles against the Clippers, went to the Mountain Time Zone, and then back to the Pacific Time Zone. They’ll play another one in a different time zone on Saturday against San Antonio and then return home on Monday for a fifth straight game in a different time zone. You may not think it matters, but it does, especially late in the year with a team playing for nothing.
Friday March 24
Brooklyn Nets at Washington Wizards – The Nets are going to be catching quite a few points when they visit the Washington Wizards on Friday. If you can stomach it, Brooklyn should be the side here. This is a sandwich spot for the Wizards, who host Atlanta on Wednesday and visit Cleveland on Saturday. If you go back further, the Wizards played Boston on Monday. This is definitely the flat spot game of the three. The Cavs and Wizards played an epic regular season game the last time these two teams met and that memory is fresh in Washington’s mind. It would be a surprise to see them fully focused here against a Brooklyn team that should be coming off of a rare win over Phoenix on Thursday.
New Orleans Pelicans at Houston Rockets – What sort of game do we see on Friday night between these two squads? New Orleans has two days off before this game. Houston has three days off before this game. The Pelicans are heavily reliant on two big men and the Rockets want to run up and down the floor and chuck a bunch of threes. This looks like a really bad X’s and O’s matchup for the Pelicans. Rockets players have talked about keeping a foot on the gas down the stretch, even though they are basically locked into the #3 seed. This is a chance to do that.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Charlotte Hornets – This could be another spot for the Cavaliers to piss off local fans by sitting the Big Three. With the Washington rematch looming on Saturday, don’t be surprised if Tyronn Lue pulls the plug on this game. Expect oddsmakers to be very careful here. If you do get a chance to swing at an overnight and take Charlotte, I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor.
Saturday March 25
Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers – This should be a good one, assuming everybody plays. The Cavaliers are in a back-to-back after playing Charlotte on Friday night and it’s their third game in four nights. The Wizards won’t sit anybody. We’ll see how Friday goes for Cleveland and if everybody plays. I’m wondering what the perception of Cleveland is at this stage of the game. The Cavs are the type of team that can turn it on with the flip of a switch. They’re also getting healthy again. On the other hand, only Miami has been hotter than the Wizards for the last couple of months. This is probably one to just observe.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers – It’ll be interesting to see what kind of shape Minnesota is in when the Timberwolves leave Los Angeles. This is a back-to-back with travel from LAX to PDX. The Timberwolves are on the fringes of the playoff race, but time is running out. Portland is much closer and has a very favorable schedule this week, while Denver does not. That could carry over into this weekend. The Trail Blazers cannot afford a letdown. This should be a high-scoring affair, which is probably the way to look. Maybe the back-to-back shades the number down a tick, but neither one of these teams plays any defense.
Sunday March 26
Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors – Memphis is and has been Golden State’s kryptonite for a while now. The Grizzlies always play the Warriors tough and have had some spectacular wins against them in recent years. Here’s another crack for Golden State to assert its dominance, but who knows if it will actually happen. The spot isn’t bad for Memphis and Golden State has a big Texas two-step coming up with Houston and San Antonio. Taking Memphis plus the points on principle seems reasonable.
New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets – After running up and down the floor to chase the Houston Rockets, the Pelicans take on the Denver Nuggets. This seems like a pretty bad spot. Fortunately there’s a travel day in there, but the Pelicans have a lot of problems. Denver will need a game like this after playing a really tough schedule for the better part of a week. This is one of those must-win spots. It’ll be plugged into the line, but it’s still worthwhile to take a look at for Sunday’s card.
As a final note, there are going to be a lot of spots to look at next week. The schedule is condensed a bit, even with the league-wide April 3 off day. It’s nice of the NBA to give baseball its day to shine. There’s a makeup game between Portland and Minnesota that day, but the rest of the league is dark. As a result, there are a lot of interesting spots early and late next week for us to consider.
Keep an eye out for these NBA situational betting spots throughout the season at BangTheBook.com!
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