There’s three games I’m looking at tonight in the National Basketball Association and each has different meaning. The first has playoff implications for both. The second is a potential NBA Finals preview while the last one may cause you to avert your eyes.
That’s life in the NBA when the season gets down to the final 20 games or so.
Memphis (Pick’em) at Washington – The Wizards are 3-7 in their last ten games and have slipped into a fairly stable position in the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards biggest problem is that they give up almost literally as many points as they score. Close games are nice, but a little more separation from the offense and defense would be nice.
The Grizzlies have slipped to five and a half games behind Western Conference leader Golden State but are still up on the Rockets by two and a half games for the second spot. They’ve been really good on the road at 21-11 and they’ll need to be tonight because the Wizards are 22-10 at home.
Trends: Memphis is 16-6-1 straight up in their last 23 games… Washington is 3-8 straight up in their last 11 games… The Grizzlies are 10-4-1 in their last 15 games on the road… The Wizards are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at home.
The Pick: Take the Grizzlies on the road tonight.
Cleveland (Pick’em) at San Antonio – Earlier this season I might have considered this a possible NBA Finals preview but I’m not convinced the Spurs are prepared for another run. Tim Duncan has what’s being called “a minor injury” but at his age is anything “minor” anymore? That said, they’ve won six straight and are creeping up on teams in the fourth and fifth positions.
The Cavaliers enter having won two straight and seven of their last ten games. They are just one game over .500 however on the road and the Spurs are always good at home (24-7). After spanking Dallas two nights ago in Big D, the Cavs seem poised to carry that momentum into San Antonio tonight. No one has a better plus/minus in the league than do the Cavs starting five when they’re on the floor together.
Trends: San Antonio is 10-0 straight up in their last ten games versus Cleveland. The Spurs are 8-2 against the spread in their last ten games against the Cavs.
The Pick: I love the Cavaliers in this one.
New York (+7.5) at LA Lakers – The Lakers achieved one of the most dubious marks in their franchise history this week. Yesterday marked the earliest in the season since they moved to Los Angeles (1961) that they were eliminated from the playoffs. They are also coming off a game last night at home against Detroit so their legs won’t exactly be fresh let alone inspired.
About the only difference between the Lakers and the Knicks is that the Lakers aren’t in last place. They are in second to last place two and a half games ahead of Minnesota. New York has no such privilege as they are the bottom feeders in the Eastern Conference. At 12-51, they trail the 76ers by two games in an effort to stay out of the basement.
Trends: LA is 6-4 against the spread and straight up against the Knicks in their last ten games… The Lakers have won two straight against New York.
The Pick: I like the Knicks getting the points tonight over a tired LA team.