Last Updated: 2019-03-18
The push for the playoffs in the NBA will be met with some tough situational spots for teams this week. We had some difficulty finding spots last week, especially early in the week, but that won’t be the case this week, as a lot of teams caught their breaks. If we include Sunday, there are two teams playing five games in seven days this week and a few more back-to-backs than we saw last week.
The schedule is critically important at all times of the year, but even more so now. Gauging motivation can be a challenge, but often times the scheduling spots can shed some light on when teams will show up for battle and when they won’t.
Here are some situational spots to consider for the week ending March 24:
Monday March 18
Miami Heat at Oklahoma City Thunder – One of the teams with five games in seven days this week is the Heat. After a huge division matchup against Charlotte on Sunday, Miami will head out on the road for four games in six days, beginning with this tilt against the Thunder. The spot isn’t awesome for OKC either, as this game comes a couple days after a matchup with Golden State and right before a home-and-home with Toronto. The spot still favors OKC, as the rested team without any travel, so we’ll have to look that way.
New York Knicks at Toronto Raptors – The Raptors will be laying a supersized number on Monday against the lowly Knicks. The Knicks are in a back-to-back with travel and so are the Raptors. I would guess that, despite the disappointment for the home fans, the Raptors sit some guys in this spot. Sunday’s game for the Knicks was in the afternoon, so this isn’t a traditional back-to-back. Who knows if the Knicks show up here, but there will be value on the inflated price.
Chicago Bulls at Phoenix Suns – Daaaaaa Bulls are in a tough road back-to-back here against a spunky Suns team. The Bulls are playing a third road game in four days on this west coast swing and this is a back-to-back with Sacramento and then Phoenix. I’d have to be looking at the Suns here, especially since they appear to be more invested than a team with that type of record would usually be.
Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs – This isn’t really a bad situational spot, but it is to make you aware that Golden State is the other team playing five games in seven days this week. In fact, with Saturday’s game against OKC, it is six games in nine days.
Tuesday March 19
Philadelphia 76ers at Charlotte Hornets – This is one of my favorite spots of the week. I’ll be on the Hornets here. Philadelphia hosts Boston on Wednesday. This game is sandwiched between matchups against the Bucks and Celtics. This is the penultimate flat spot. Furthermore, with a back-to-back, I’d be stunned if Joel Embiid plays here. Charlotte is playing a third game in five days, but had three days off before this stretch began, so they are plenty fresh. Hornets as a home dog is one of my top situational looks of the week.
Los Angeles Lakers at Milwaukee Bucks – This is the fourth road game in six days for the Lakers as they wrap up their road trip. They’ll host Brooklyn on Friday. The Bucks play in Cleveland on Wednesday, but that is not the look-ahead spot it used to be. In fact, they’ll see LeBron at home in purple and gold here instead. I would expect Giannis to put on a show with LeBron on hand, so it would be Bucks or nothing for me.
Golden State Warriors at Minnesota Timberwolves – The Warriors are in a back-to-back with travel from San Antonio to the Twin Cities here. I speculated about this last week and on my Wednesday video on YouTube that the Warriors could sit some guys this week. This would be that spot. They return home to host Indiana on Thursday and then have a home back-to-back over the weekend. This feels like a spot to steal some rest for some guys. It’s a standalone home game for the T-Wolves, so I’d expect an effort, but this team has been inconsistent for basically a decade now. I think there will be equity in grabbing Minnesota early, unless the Warriors announce that guys are sitting out beforehand.
Brooklyn Nets at Sacramento Kings – The Nets play a third road game in four nights here as they take on a Kings team playing a fourth game in six nights. Brooklyn started with stops in Utah and Los Angeles over the weekend and now plays this one against Sacramento. As mentioned last week, this is a seven-game, 15-day road trip for the Nets, as the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is at Barclay’s Center next weekend. This looks like a tough spot, especially with two days off in Los Angeles on the horizon.
Indiana Pacers at Los Angeles Clippers – The Pacers and Clippers do battle on Tuesday at the Staples Center. This is a back-to-back with travel from Portland to Los Angeles for the Pacers. It is the third road game in four nights and fourth game in six nights and fifth game in eight nights and sixth game in 10 nights. It is the third game in a week for the Clippers. I think you know where I’m going with this.
Wednesday March 20
Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers – The Sixers are in a back-to-back here as they battle the Celtics, but I don’t think that matters much. These games will always be spirited. The spot does help Boston with rest, but that’s a pretty marginal angle to consider here. I just like to highlight these spotlight games when possible.
Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls – Here’s a real intriguing spot both ways. The Wizards are playing a standalone road game for their fourth game in six nights and fifth game in eight nights. It is the only road game of the stretch. They’ll host Denver on Thursday and then play a big division game against Miami on Saturday. The Bulls, meanwhile, are home off of that run of three road games in four nights. The Wizards have more to play for than the Bulls, so I’d slightly lean their way, but these spots make me not want to back either team.
Milwaukee Bucks at Cleveland Cavaliers – Load management for Giannis Antetokounmpo? I postulated that Giannis or some of his teammates might get a blow a couple weeks ago and it didn’t happen. Will it happen here? This is a standalone road game against a Cavs team that is playing better, but is still the Cavs. You could try getting out in front of this line if some Bucks do sit. After all, the Cavs are playing well enough to be a safety net.
Thursday March 21
Utah Jazz at Atlanta Hawks – The Jazz are in a rough spot on Thursday. They’ll play a third road game in four nights when they take on the Hawks. This is a back-to-back with travel from NYC to Atlanta. That would put the Jazz into Atlanta in the early morning hours. To make matters worse, this is the sixth game in nine days with a whole lot of getting on and off of planes. The Hawks as a home pup intrigue me a lot.
Indiana Pacers at Golden State Warriors – This is the fourth road game in six nights for the pacers on this west coast swing. The Warriors are playing the middle game of their run of five games in seven days, which means a day off before and after. They’ll be laying a pretty healthy number here, but it’d be the only side I could consider.
Friday March 22
Memphis Grizzlies at Orlando Magic – Remember those must-win games I talked about for Orlando last week. This is another one. The well-rested Magic face a Grizzlies team playing a standalone road game as the front end of a back-to-back. Orlando has to win in these favorite roles at home. We’ll have to keep track of this and see how they do in those games. They trucked the Cavs last Thursday in one of those games and covered by more than 20 points. Hopefully they play with similar urgency here.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Toronto Raptors – Teams that lost the first game of a home-and-home and then return home have been a tremendous bet this season. We’ll see if the Raptors fall into that category here or not. The spot is pretty neutral both ways, but that angle has been extremely profitable, so keep it in mind if we get that spot here.
Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers – The Nets have a little bit of wiggle room in the Eastern Conference, but I doubt that they want to use it. Brooklyn has two days off in LA before this game, but that means they can go out late on Wednesday and then recuperate on Thursday. I’d expect this to be a full effort. Maybe the players will be rewarded with Saturday night off in LA since the Nets don’t play again until Monday in Portland. I don’t see the Lakers being motivated for too many games the rest of the way.
Saturday March 23
Miami Heat at Washington Wizards – What a bummer for the Heat. These Southeast Division games matter so much and this is the fifth game in seven days for Miami and the fourth road game in six days. On the other hand, this is the sixth game in nine days and seventh game in 11 days for the Wizards, so that evens the playing field a tad. Of course, most of those have been at home for the Wizards. I’m not sure I can back anybody here, but expect some dead legs both ways, which could have an impact on the total.
Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors – This is the third road game in four days on the left coast for the Mavericks. It is the fourth game in six days for the Warriors, who also play on Sunday. I’ve been wondering about Golden State and the Warriors’ desire to blow teams out. I’m not really sure that it’s there. They’ll be a big favorite here, in spite of the fatigue, and I’m thinking Dallas is the play.
Sunday March 24
Charlotte Hornets at Toronto Raptors – There isn’t much to talk about on Sunday. The Hornets play a back-to-back with travel up in Toronto after hosting the Celtics. The Celtics return home to face the Spurs. Those are two of the back-to-back teams on Sunday.
Detroit Pistons at Golden State Warriors – Two more play each other. This is the third road game in four nights for the Pistons. It is the third home game in four nights for the Warriors, who end their run of five games in seven days here. Once again, I wonder about Golden State’s motivation level when it comes to leveling bad teams. I’m not sure that it’s there.
For what it’s worth, the other team in a B2B is Sacramento with Phoenix at home on Saturday and the Lakers on the road on Sunday.
Keep an eye out for these NBA situational betting tips each week at BangTheBook.com!
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