As the 2012-2013 NBA season winds down, no story has garnered more attention than the consecutive game win streak of the Miami Heat. With their 98-95 come from behind victory on Wednesday over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Heat extended their streak to 24 straight victories—good for 2nd best in NBA history. Now just 9 wins from tying the all-time record set by the 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers, the Heat’s upcoming games are sure to be among the most bet upon NBA contests of the year.

In addition to the excitement of the Heat’s historic win streak, this week in the NBA featured a number of key games which important playoff implications as team jostle for advantageous seeding. With the NBA playoffs scheduled to begin April 20th, NBABetting.org is taking a weekly look at how the NBA’s top teams are performing, both in terms of wins/losses and against the spread. This article will focus on the recent performances of the Eastern Conference playoff contenders; stay tuned for the Western Conference update early next week.

Eastern Conference

1. Miami Heat 53-14

Posting wins over both Boston and Cleveland this week, the Heat have now not lost a game since February 1st. Despite getting the win in both games, the Heat failed to match the spread in either contest. Both games were notable for the Heat digging themselves massive holes before eventually rallying for improbable comebacks. Against Boston they trailed by as many as 17 in the first half; against Cleveland, the deficit was a seemingly insurmountable 27 points. The Heat rally against the Cavaliers was spurred in large part by Lebron James who recorded his fourth triple double of the season: 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Despite failing to met the spread in either game, the Heat remain an attractive option for NBA bettors as they remain 35-32 against the spread on the year.

2. Indiana Pacers 42-26

In what is shaping up to be a very tight race playoff race, the Indiana Pacers remained a game ahead of the New York Knicks by winning both of their games this week: a 111-90 blowout victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers and a convincing 97-73 victory over the Orlando Magic. Although Indiana was favored in both games, they easily covered the spread in each. This is nothing new for a consistent Pacers team that has been one of the NBA’s safest bets throughout the season; at 38-30 against the spread for the year, the Pacers are currently the 6th most reliable team in the league ATS.

3. New York Knicks 40-26

After going 0-4 last week and losing their hold on the 2nd seed, the Knicks rebounded this week with a 90-83 road win over the Utah Jazz and a 106-94 home win over the Orlando Magic. The Knicks went in as 10 ½ point underdogs against a Jazz team that is usually very strong at home (24-9 on the season). Against the Magic, the Knicks were heavily favored and just did manage to cover the 11 point spread. This game was notable for the return of Carmelo Anthony. With the NBA’s second highest scoring player back in the starting lineup, the Knicks are poised for a strong finish. The Knicks are 34-31-1 on the season against the spread and, as the season draws to a close, should be considered a good bet in upcoming games as they continue to fight for playoff position.

4. Brooklyn Nets 40-28

The Nets kept pace with the New York Knicks by easily winning both of their games this week. On Monday, they coasted to an easy 119-82 victory over the Detroit Pistons. Wednesday’s result was a similar 113-96 blowout of the Dallas Mavericks. Both finals allowed the Nets to comfortably cover the games’ spreads. Nets star point guard Deron Williams recorded 31 points in each game and, after a very slow part, seems back to playing like the franchise guard the Nets envisioned when acquiring him. Over his last five, Williams is playing as well as any point guard in the league and averaging 25.6 points per game with 9 assists. However, betting on the Nets so far this season has more often than not been a losing proposition; even after covering the spread in both this weeks’ games, they remain just 32-34-2 on the year.

5. Atlanta Hawks 38-30

Despite this season looking like a rebuilding year, the Atlanta Hawks have been entrenched as a 4th or 5th seed for the majority of the NBA season. Atlanta was 1-1 this week but won the game that was clearly the most important of the two. After an embarrassing defensive performance which saw the Hawks give up 127 points in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta recorded a 98-90 home victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. The Hawks entered as 5 ½ point favorites over Milwaukee and, by covering, they were 1-1 against the spread for the week. The victory was significant as it increased their lead over the Bucks to 3 ½ games and kept them a game and half ahead of the Chicago Bulls. Al Horford continued his strong season by posting his fourth straight double double with 26 points and 15 rebounds. On the season, the Hawks are 32-34-2 against the spread. NBA bettors should note that the Hawks have been a much better bet on the road (18-16 ATS).

6. Chicago Bulls 36-31

With former league MVP Derrick Rose still recovering from last season’s ACL injury, the Bulls had a rough week, losing both of their games against Western Conference opponents. On Monday, they suffered a 119-118 overtime defeat against a Denver Nuggets team that has now won 14 in a row. Against Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 28 to give the Portland Trail Blazers the season sweep despite the Bulls being 6 point favorites. Without Rose, the Bulls struggle offensively and lack a true go to scorer. As it stands, the Bulls should be considered a risk by NBA bettors as they are currently the 4th worst team in the NBA against the spread with just a 29-38 record. The key for the Bulls going forward will obviously be the health of Derrick Rose. Rose stated this week that he is “close” to returning but “Nobody knows but God” exactly when he will return.

7. Boston Celtics 36-31

Boston finished the week both 1-1 in the standings and 1-1 against the spread. In the NBA’s marquee game of the week on Monday, the Celtics looked poised to end the Heats historic win streak . Up 17 points in the first half despite being without all-star Kevin Garnett, Boston was led by Jeff Green’s career high 43 points. However, the Heat were able to escape with the victory—their first regular season win in Boston in their last 12 tries—after Lebron James hit the go ahead jumper with 10 seconds remaining and gave the Heat a 105-103 victory. As the Heat entered as 5 point favorites, the final was still a victory for Boston bettors. Anyone who laid money down on Boston wasn’t so lucky in their second game of the week: an 87-86 loss against the New Orleans Hornets in which Boston was a 5 point favorite. With their split against spread this week, Boston is now a slightly above average 32-31-2 ATS on the season.

8. Milwaukee Bucks 34-33

Now losers of 4 of their last 6, this week saw the Milwaukee Bucks yet again blew a golden opportunity to move up in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bucks currently reside in the 8th spot which would mean a first round match up and likely sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat. On Tuesday, the Bucks played their best half of the season and got off to a 58-31 start against the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite the lead constantly dwindling during the second half, the Bucks eventual 102-95 victory was enough to cover the spread in a game in which they were favored by 5 ½. Monta Ellis continued his recent hot streak by posting a near triple double with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. The Bucks fared worse in their key game of the week, a 98-90 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Not only did the Bucks fail to cover the 5 ½ points they were given by the odds makers, the loss was a blow to any aspirations they had of moving higher than the East’s last playoff spot. With two high volume, inefficient scorers in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, the Bucks are one of the more unpredictable teams in the league. NBA bettors should beware as they are a bottom 10 team against the spread, currently just 30-36-1.

NBA Betting

With about a month of games remaining on the NBA schedule, there is still plenty of time to make informed wagers on NBA regular season games. Stay tuned to NBABetting.org for the latest news, analysis and our weekly expert picks and recaps. When placing an online bet, be sure to first check out our reviews of the internet’s most popular Sportsbooks. In addition to providing valuable knowledge about which sites are the most reliable, our articles highlight ongoing promotions NBA bettors will not want to miss.