Friday night’s NBA calendar has a pair of important games with playoff implications. The Boston Celtics visit the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Phoenix Suns travel to play the New Orleans Pelicans.
Celtics vs. Cavaliers
Cleveland has clinched the Eastern Conference second seed and the title of the Central Division. Thus, Cleveland does not have much to play for over its final four games of the season. LeBron James is expected to sit out the first game of this home and home series with Boston. His status is unknown for Saturday’s game in Boston. On Wednesday, Cleveland defeated Milwaukee 104-99 to win the division, but did not cover as a road favorite of 6.5 points.
The Cavaliers are 1-4 against the number over their past five games. The last time James sat out, Kyrie Irving scored 55 points versus Portland.
Boston has won five straight on the road following its 113-103 win at Detroit on Wednesday. Boston is currently in the No. 7 spot in the East tied with Brooklyn, but owns the tiebreaker against the Nets. Since the NBA All-Star break, Boston had covered 10 of the 14 games it has been the dog, but one of those four games they did not cover was a blowout loss to Cleveland 110-79 as an 11-point dog.
Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans
The slim hopes for the playoffs for Phoenix evaporated on Wednesday when they lost at Dallas 107-104. The Suns covered as an underdog of 8.5 points but have lost 7 of their past 8 games overall. Phoenix has won six of its past seven games versus New Orleans.
New Orleans won on Tuesday against the Golden State Warriors as the home dog 103-100. However, they were defeated the next night by Memphis 110-74 against a tough defense that shut the Pelicans offense completely down.
New Orleans is 9-3 SU in its past 12 games at home, but 3-5 ATS as a favorite at home during that stretch. New Orleans starts the day on Friday tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder in eighth place in the Western Conference playoff race, but holds the tiebreaker as they defeated the Thunder in three of the four head-to-head games this season.
The season has less than a full week before the playoffs start, but teams are still battling for the postseason, which makes games such as these easier to wager on. Other games played between teams with no hope of making the playoffs or teams that have clinched and are resting players, makes is more difficult to wager on.