Good Slate for a Monday Night in the Association

George

Paul George is close to returning but doesn't want to disrupt the Pacers' winning ways right now.

Usually it’s Sunday that gets all the attention in the National Basketball Association but tonight’s line-up is nothing to shake a stick at it. There are several match-ups I like so let’s get to it.

Toronto (+5) at Indiana – These two teams are both headed to the Eastern Conference Playoffs in all likelihood but they are heading in opposite directions at the moment. The Raptors have dropped eight of their last ten games while the Pacers have won eight of their last ten. Despite the Raptors being much more secure in the playoff position, this is game is arguably bigger for the Pacers. Indiana is the hottest team in the NBA since the All-Star Game but they could easily slip out of the playoffs if they aren’t careful.

Trends: The Raptors have won six of the last ten games against the Pacers… Indiana is 2-8 against the spread in their last ten games against the Raptors.

The Pick: Take Toronto getting the points.

WM

The loss of Wesley Matthews hasn't slowed the Blazers yet but it could in the long run.

Portland (+2.5) at Washington – The Wizards seem to have righted the ship after a tough stretch of losses. They’ve won three straight and five of their last ten games. Portland keeps plowing forward despite injuries. They’ve won seven of ten and have been victorious in their last two games. Portland suddenly has its’ sights set on the two seed as Memphis as slipped recently. The Blazers are within just two and a half games of the Grizzlies. Meanwhile, Washington looks pretty secure in either the fourth or fifth seed as the playoffs approach.

Trends: Portland and Washington have each won five in their last ten meetings… The Wizards are 6-4 against the spread in their last ten against the Blazers.

The Pick: I like the Wizards at home.

Cleveland (-6) at Miami – LeBron James returns to South Beach where he helped the Heat to two NBA Titles. His Cavs come in just 20-18 on the road this season and the return is no doubt emotional for “The King.” The Heat are one half game behind Charlotte for the eight seed in the East which is pretty remarkable considering they are without Chris Bosh for the remainder of the season and Dwayne Wade isn’t getting any younger.

Trends: The Heat have won nine of their last ten games against the Cavaliers… Cleveland is 6-4 against the spread in their last ten games versus the Heat.

The Pick: Take Cleveland to cover on the road behind a big night from LeBron.

Oklahoma City (+3) at Dallas – OKC is fighting desperately to hang onto the eight and final spot in the West and most of that is on the heels of Russell Westbrook ¬†who has been hotter than a firecracker in recent works. The Mavericks are currently tied with the Clippers at 11 games back of Golden State and they’re a half game up on San Antonio. Dallas has gone just 5-5 in their last ten games and I don’t think they’ve really pulled things together since the flare-up between Rajon Rondo and Head Coach Rick Carlisle.

Trends: Oklahoma City has won seven of their last ten games against the Mavericks… Dallas is 5-5 against the spread in their last ten games against the Thunder.

The Pick: I love the Thunder here getting the points.

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