The National Basketball Association enters a short week of play with the All-Star Weekend just days ahead. This year’s get together of the best basketball players in the world takes place in New Orleans. Before we get to all of that let’s take a look some interesting games on tonight’s slate.
San Antonio (-4.5) at Detroit – The underachieving Pistons host the Spurs just a day after Maurice Cheeks was let go as Detroit’s head coach. It was one of the shortest tenures for a new coach of a team as Cheeks was there for just 50 games. The Pistons are just a half game out of the final playoff spot right now and that seems to be part of the reason for the change.
The Spurs sit at three games back of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the race for the top spot in the Western Conference while continuing to lead the Southwest Division. San Antonio is just 5-5 over their last ten games but they have a great road record which stands at 19-6. The Pistons are four games under .500 at home at 11-15.
Denver (+10.5) at Indiana – The Pacers seem to have righted their ship a bit after struggling in January. They’ve won four straight games and have won seven of their last ten games overall. The Nuggets are in third place in the Northwest Division but they remain five games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and a shake-up remains a possibility.
The Nuggets score five points more per game than does Indiana but they surrender an amazing 13 more points per game defensively. If you need a translation there, that means the Nuggets don’t play a lot of defense. Denver has lost two in a row and is 4-6 in their last ten. Denver is also below .500 on the road this year and that doesn’t bode well going into Indianapolis where the Pacers are an incredible 24-2. While the number is certainly quite large, I’ll take the Pacers to cover it.
New Orleans (+7) at Toronto – New Orleans is a team that’s been riddled with injuries but has managed to win seven of their last ten contests as well. The Raptors have taken full advantage of poor seasons by many teams in the Atlantic Division and continue to lead that division by three over the Nets. Toronto has gone 6-4 in their last ten but has dropped two straight.
Both teams score 99 points per game, but Toronto has a clear advantage on the defensive end where they give up about five points per game less than the Pelicans do. I like Toronto to win because of their defense and better three-point shooting but take New Orleans and the points.
Boston (-2) at Milwaukee – The Celtics come to the land of cheese having won three straight to move within four games of the final spot in the Eastern Conference. Regardless of how bad the East is, I think it would be an incredible accomplishment for rookie coach Brad Stevens to get his team to the playoffs. The Bucks are not thinking about playoffs this year. It’s gotten so bad there that kids now get into Bucks’ games for free.
The Bucks have gone 2-8 over their last ten games and they remain stuck on single-digit wins with nine. Of those wins, five have come at home so there’s a sliver of hope I suppose. The Celtics are better than the Bucks in most categories and that’s hard to argue with so take Boston to cover tonight.