We really hit the ground running in the NBA this week with 14 games on the Monday night card. It makes sense for the NBA to announce its presence with authority with two weeks before the Super Bowl.
Of course, there is just one game on Tuesday night, so we wind up with fewer situational spots in the middle of the week before things ramp up a little bit more for the weekend. Otherwise, as I’ve become a broken record about, it is status quo in the NBA with the dog days of winter and all of the usual considerations. We’re still far enough away from the All-Star Break and the Trade Deadline to not be worried about those things.
Here are the NBA situational spots to consider for the week ending January 26:
Monday December 20
Orlando Magic at Charlotte Hornets – This spot really stands out on Monday night. This is the first game for the Hornets since Wednesday. Technically speaking, this is the first home game back for the Hornets, but that angle is counterfeited by the fact that they will have had four days off prior to this one. The Magic are in a brutal spot. This is a 4-in-6 and 5-in-8 (and 6-in-11) all on the road and the first game back east off of a four-game swing through California. Maybe the Magic can focus, but with a cross-country flight on the Monday “off” day, I have to think they’re fatigued and jet-lagged here.
Philadelphia 76ers at Brooklyn Nets – The Rapid Revenge Theory is in play here as the Sixers and Nets get together on Monday night. The venue has shifted from last Wednesday’s game, which the Sixers won by 11 in Kyrie Irving’s third game back. Things aren’t exactly going better with Irving back, as friction remains the theme for the Nets. They’ve got a chance at revenge here with Philadelphia in a 4-in-6, 5-in-8, 6-in-10 and 7-in-12. The schedule has featured some strong competition for the Nets, but the schedule has been kinder. Is that enough? I’m not so sure.
New York Knicks at Cleveland Cavaliers – Well this is some kind of spot. For both teams. Let’s start with the host Cavs, who are finally back at home after playing six games in nine days on the road, including some time in Los Angeles and a couple of back-to-backs. It sure looks awful for them, but let’s consider the Knicks. They are in a standalone road game to take on the lowly Cavs. They played a division rival on Saturday in the 76ers and they host LeBron and the Lakers in his only visit to MSG on Wednesday. Is it possible that the Cavs are in a better spot than the Knicks? I say no, but I’m not rushing to back New York here by any means.
Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics – The spotlight game of the night on Monday is this one between the Lakers and the Celtics. Boston is playing a 12th game in 18 days here in this spot. The Lakers are playing Game # 2 of a five-game road trip, but their schedule hasn’t been nearly as bunched up as Boston’s. I think that I’d have to give the Lakers some serious consideration here in what could be an NBA Finals preview. It’s hard for Boston to keep getting up and, in particular, get up to play one of the best teams in the NBA.
Indiana Pacers at Utah Jazz – Well, let’s key in on the most obvious of spots for Monday. Indiana plays the altitude double in a back-to-back. After playing the Nuggets on Sunday, the Pacers are in Utah on Monday for the second game of this five-game swing. Not only is Utah rested with Sunday off, but they Jazz have been home for a few days. This spot is bad enough to be factored into the line, though it still may not be enough to keep me off of the Jazz.
Wednesday January 22
Los Angeles Clippers at Atlanta Hawks – See if you can catch a sportsbook asleep at the wheel on this one. Kawhi Leonard won’t play. He may not be the only one. The Clippers are in a back-to-back after playing the Mavericks in Tuesday’s only game. There are no situational spots for that one, by the way, which is why Tuesday was skipped. This, however, is a spot where Atlanta will be facing a watered-down version of the Clippers. If you can catch some cheap value with a slow book, I’d suggest you do it. Otherwise, see who all will play and decide if the Hawks are right for you.
Memphis Grizzlies at Boston Celtics – This week’s hold your nose bet of the week sponsored by Quilted Northern is the Memphis Grizzlies. I’ve talked at length about this grueling and miserable run for Boston. Are they really going to show up and pummel a bad Grizzlies team here? Boston is going to be laying a big ol’ number against an inferior team. I can’t help but think that they will go through the motions here. Memphis is not in a bad spot in any way. The Celtics are coming off of the game against the Lakers. It has to be Memphis here.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Orlando Magic – This is an obvious spot, as we all know. Orlando is back at home for the first time since January 8. The first game back is generally a tough one for the host squad and that is the Magic here. The Thunder are just wrapping up a quick two-game roadie. It’s Thunder or nothing for me in this one.
Los Angeles Lakers at New York Knicks – LeBron’s visits to Madison Square Garden are generally appointment TV. When he goes to the most recognized arena in the United States, he shows up in a big way. He’ll likely do the same here, even though he gets to face his old…friend?…Kyrie Irving on Thursday. Of course, with five games in eight days on this road trip, including games against Houston, Boston, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia, is this a load management spot for The King? It may not be a complete punt, but it could be a spot in which his minutes are limited in the front end of a back-to-back. Read the tea leaves and then make a call on this one.
Indiana Pacers at Phoenix Suns – Another obvious bad spot for the Pacers on Wednesday. This is a 3-in-4 with the two altitude games and then this trip to Phoenix. The Suns are in their second game back after a long trip and will skip town again after the game to head for San Antonio. I have to think the Suns are in a good enough spot to hold serve here at home.
Thursday January 23
Los Angeles Lakers at Brooklyn Nets – Pretty obvious spot here. Will the Lakers field a full team in a back-to-back? TNT sure hopes so with this game in the national spotlight. LeBron vs. Kyrie, a game in which Kyrie tries to do too much to the detriment of his team, right? I guess we’ll see how this one plays out and see who actually plays, but this is definitely one on my radar this week. I think we’ll have to wait for more clarity, but this one is on my mind.
Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers – I’m going to advocate a play on the Cavs here. Yes, I know the implications of that. The Cavs have two days off before this game after that long road trip. This is a back-to-back from somewhat warm and seasonal Miami to whatever the hell Cleveland is in the winter for the Wizards. I just can’t see them being the least bit invested. It’s all about the Cavaliers for me. This is actually one of my favorite spots of the week.
Friday January 24
Milwaukee Bucks at Charlotte Hornets – So, uh, what are we going to get here? The Bucks have three days off before this game. The Hornets do as well. The Hornets will have played one game from the 16th to this one. The Bucks are also getting quite a bit of downtime. They also have three days off after this game. To me, a team playing as hot as the Bucks don’t want time off. I think that Charlotte has a chance to cover as a big underdog here. They’ll be like a Great Dane of underdogs, as it were, but I really wonder about Milwaukee’s give-a-sh-t level in this game as a standalone road game surrounded by a ton of days off.
Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic – The Celtics have to get back up in the saddle and ride on down to Orlando to take on the Magic. If Wednesday goes as I suggested for the Magic, they’ll be chomping at the bit to get it back against one of the Eastern Conference’s premier teams. Even if it doesn’t, I think Orlando really shows up here. Does Boston? Again, this is such a miserable schedule with so many games in a three-week period. Maybe a bad effort against Memphis would refocus the C’s. This is another wait-and-see game, but I think we’ll get some good ideas about it as the week goes along.
Los Angeles Clippers at Miami Heat – This is a fun one. The Clippers should be at full strength after what appears to be a rest night on Wednesday in the back-to-back and then with Thursday’s off day. Of course, any off day in Miami has the chance to go a little off the rails. In any event, Miami is in a good spot here and the Clippers should be as well, so this should be a motivated showing for both teams. As I’ve mentioned before, those can be situational spots in and of themselves because a pure handicap is a rarity in the NBA market. What that means is that you can look at both teams, consider the spread, and just bet it with all things being just about equal.
Memphis Grizzlies at Detroit Pistons – Depending on what we get from Memphis on Wednesday in Boston, I wonder what we’ll get here against the Pistons. This is the front-end of a back-to-back for Detroit and the easier of the two games to win. I have to think that they’ll put some focus and energy on this victory. Will Memphis do the same heading home to host Phoenix? I’m not so sure. Again, like so many other spots this week, let’s see how this one sets up and revisit it at that time.
Saturday January 25
Los Angeles Lakers at Philadelphia 76ers – An obvious spot here as the Lakers play a 3-in-4, 4-in-6, and 5-in-8 on the road to finish out this trip. The Sixers have the benefit of being off for two days prior to the game. A well-rested Sixers team is certainly dangerous. The travel for the Lakers has been very limited with stops in Boston, New York City, and now Philadelphia over the 4-in-6, but that is still a good number of games a long way from home. We’ll see how the Lakers fare throughout the week and also see if LeBron gets any rest. Keep this one in mind.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Minnesota Timberwolves – I wonder about this spot here. Both of these teams have played identical schedules over the last couple of weeks. The difference is that this is a B2B with travel for OKC after hosting Atlanta on Friday. It is a B2B with no travel for the T-Wolves, who stay home after playing Houston. OKC would seem to have the easier game on Friday, but also has the flight up north to chilly MPLS. I have to think this spot is a little better for Minnesota, particularly with the identical schedules with 7-in-11 for both.
Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers – The Cavs again?! Maybe. Cleveland and Chicago played last Saturday at the United Center and will play this Saturday at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. This is a 3-in-4 and a B2B with travel for the Bulls. It is neither of those things for the Cavaliers. I have to think this spot also favors the Cavs and they may end up on my card for Saturday.
Sunday January 26
Los Angeles Clippers at Orlando Magic – The Clippers and Magic meet on Sunday. The Magic got absolutely pummeled by the Clippers last Thursday in the second game of the LA double. They have a chance at revenge here against a Clippers finishing out a 4-in-6 on the road. Los Angeles is technically the road team against the Lakers on Tuesday, but this does end the roadie. Here’s the thing about Orlando, though. They just played Boston on Friday and then go to Miami for a massive division game on Monday. I guess I’d call this one a stay away.
Indiana Pacers at Portland Trail Blazers – The Pacers play a 5-in-8 on the road here as they wrap up their road trip against Portland. Portland is in an excellent spot here with two days off before the game and Indiana is obviously in a compromising spot. This spot is most definitely bad enough to be factored into the line a little bit, but maybe not enough. This really is a tough roadie for the Pacers, particularly because it started with that altitude double.
Keep an eye out for these NBA situational betting tips every week at BangTheBook.com!