With about ten games or less remaining for most teams, “every game matters” is an understatement. I’m looking at three games this evening where teams are facing crucial must-win situations.
Boston (+3) at Charlotte – This one is a monster in terms of playoff positioning. The Celtics have done a great job to get themselves into the eighth spot after most people left them for dead. One game behind is not just Charlotte, but the Indiana Pacers as well and one half game back is Brooklyn. A win by the Celtics this evening could give them just an evening’s worth of breathing room whereas a loss could drop them right out of the playoff picture.
The Hornets have dropped seven of their last ten and cannot afford any more of a slide. Boston has won six of their last ten to climb the Eastern Conference ladder but they’re just 14-22 on the road. The good news for Boston is that Charlotte is under .500 on their own court at 17-19 so this could be a good place to steal one on the road for the Celtics.
Trends: Boston and Charlotte have split their last ten games at five wins a piece. The Celtics are 22-14 against the spread on the road this season.
Milwaukee (+7.5) at Atlanta – The Hawks have gone just 5-5 over their last ten games but they still have an eight and a half game lead on the second place Cavaliers. The Bucks currently hold down the sixth spot but they’ve lost seven of ten and still have work to do to fend off teams below them trying to get into the playoffs or better their position.
Atlanta is 31-5 at home this season which trails only Golden State for the best record in the NBA on your own floor. Milwaukee is well under .500 on the road so it doesn’t bode well tonight for the Bucks.
Trends: The Hawks have won nine of their last ten games versus the Bucks. Milwaukee is 24-12-1 against the spread on the road this season.
The Pick: I like the Hawks to cover at home.
Phoenix (+7.5) at Portland – With nine games to left to play, the Suns really have no more room for error. They trail the eighth seeded Oklahoma City Thunder by three full games. They’ve also lost two in a row and have won just five of their last ten games. To say the time is “now” would be an understatement.
For Portland, they know they’ll be in the playoffs but the question is where will they be seeded? Right now they are in the fourth spot but they are two and a half games shy of the second spot in the Western Conference. The problem is that they are also just three games north of the seventh seed. What this means is that the Blazers can, in a small way, control who they face in the first round.
The Blazers are just 5-5 in their last ten games but they’ve won three in a row. Perhaps this is a sign they are heating up for the playoffs.
Trends: Phoenix has won six of their last ten games against the Blazers. The Suns are 19-13-3 against the spread on the road.
The Pick: I like the Suns getting the points.