Last Updated: 2019-04-08
There are only two days left of the NBA preseason and then the real season begins. We do have some pretty noteworthy surprises this year in the playoffs, but the same cast of characters has a chance at the NBA title. We still have to get through Tuesday and Wednesday before we can look at the postseason.
It’s been a fun ride this season pointing out spots for you to consider and use to your advantage. Unfortunately, spots will be few and far between over the two days of basketball on Tuesday and Wednesday. A lot of teams have been sitting players and will continue to do so. We’ll have to do some guesswork to figure out how invested and motivated everybody is. Draft Lottery odds are a big deal, so that could have an impact for the bad teams. The good teams may be looking to move up a seed line, but that will be built into the number.
Only one of the 16 playoff spots is undecided with two days left. The Pistons, Hornets, and Heat are all fighting it out for the last spot and all three play a back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday. None of the games are head-to-head.
At least you have a league-wide off day on Monday to consider the remaining games.
For the final time this season, here are the NBA situational spots to consider for the week ending April 10:
Tuesday April 8
Memphis Grizzlies at Detroit Pistons; Charlotte Hornets at Cleveland Cavaliers – The Pistons and the Hornets are both in must-win mode against opponents with absolutely nothing to play for. In fact, it is definitely in the best interests of both Memphis and Cleveland to lose. That will undoubtedly be factored into the line, so you’ll be paying a very stiff premium on both playoff hopefuls.
This is a standalone road game for Memphis, which makes it an even tougher spot for them, especially because this is Detroit’s final home game. Charlotte just played Detroit on Sunday and won to climb within one game of that last spot. The Pistons are not in good form recently. If the Grizzlies roll over and die, that’s one thing, but do you really want to lay an inflated number with Detroit?
It would be safer to do so with Charlotte, as Cleveland has lost nine straight and would like Zion Williamson to rebuild the franchise after LeBron left for LA. That’s an inflated number I can get behind, though it would be nice to see somebody other than Kemba Walker actually contribute.
Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat – The Sixers have nothing to play for here. They are locked into the #3 seed. They also secured 50 wins, so that motivating factor isn’t even there. This is still a playoff team, so this spot is different than the previous two games, but it would also be a real stunner to see Philadelphia field a competitive lineup here. Miami has dropped four straight and they’ve really made things hard on themselves. All the pressure is on them. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s reserves have something to prove and will hope to get more minutes in the postseason. We’ll see an adjusted number here with dudes sitting out for the Sixers, but buyer beware with Miami.
Denver Nuggets at Utah Jazz – There is a lot to handicap in this game. Utah has a chance to leapfrog Portland for home court advantage in the first round by winning out. Denver cannot win the West, but can still manage to secure the #2 seed with a game in hand over the Rockets, who are a half-game back. Being the #2 seed would secure home court until at least the Western Conference Finals, which is a big deal for a team like Denver that is 33-7 at home, the best mark in the West. The Nuggets are just 20-20 on the road, so their motivations are multi-faceted here. Play well on the road going into the playoffs and get that #2 seed. Utah is also plenty motivated. This should be a good one and is one of the few true handicaps on the card for this week.
Also, the Jazz are going for win #50. It’s arbitrary, but teams do care about round numbers. Something about it just means more.
Toronto Raptors at Minnesota Timberwolves – Will the Timberwolves rally to send Ryan Saunders out a winner at home? Is Saunders safe for next season? After all, the T-Wolves are still paying Tom Thibodeau a lot of money and the 32-year-old Saunders comes pretty cheap. If it’s not a certainty, though, then you can bet that Minnesota would love to send the son of beloved former head coach Flip Saunders out with a home dub. The Raptors have nothing to play for and won’t risk anything here in this final game. I’d have to look at the home team in this one.
Wednesday April 10
Detroit Pistons at New York Knicks; Miami Heat at Brooklyn Nets; Orlando Magic at Charlotte Hornets – What will be in play on Wednesday? Will all three teams still be alive in the playoff hunt at that point in time? If so, we know that all three lines will be inflated. The Knicks have nothing to play for and it is definitely in their best interest to lose. The Nets and Magic have the playoffs on the horizon, so they’ll be emptying the benches. After playing playoff games for several weeks now just to get in, those teams may not have a lot of incentive.
Then again, both the Nets and Magic will be playing for winning records at 42-40. That seems like a nice accomplishment to keep in mind. Maybe those two teams do show a little bit more panache. The Knicks won’t no matter what, so the Pistons are probably in the best spot right now, especially with Charlotte and Miami entering play on Tuesday one game back.
Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs – Gregg Popovich wouldn’t back down from the challenge, but it’s fair to say that he would prefer to avoid the Golden State Warriors in the first round. With the tiebreaker over the Clippers, the Spurs can do that with a win on Wednesday. They would also do it with a Clippers loss at home against Utah. The Spurs actually also own the #6 seed tiebreaker against the Thunder, but we’ll have to see if that would mean playing the Nuggets or the Rockets. There are a ton of moving parts with seeding and that could create some gamesmanship in Wednesday’s games.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Milwaukee Bucks – The irony. From one MVP candidate to another. Will we even see Giannis Antetokounmpo in this meaningless game for the Bucks? The Thunder play the Rockets on Tuesday, a team that they could very well face in the first round. Then they go on the road to face Milwaukee for the third game in four days and fourth game in six days. Milwaukee is coming off of two off days. The 2018-19 Bucks can secure the third-best record in franchise history. The other two won the Finals and lost in the Conference Finals. Maybe history matters a little here? Maybe Giannis’s MVP matters here? The Thunder really have nothing to worry about.
Thanks for reading throughout the year! Enjoy the playoffs!
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