As part of our ongoing effort to provide our readers with all the information they need to make informed NBA betting picks, NBABetting.org will be posting frequent recaps of the week’s key NBA games. Included will be, not just finals and statistics, but a running log of how NBA teams are performing against the spread with an eye towards highlighting the teams that currently offer our users the best betting opportunities. Here is a look at the weekend that was in the NBA.
Scores and Spreads for March 16th
Final: Washington Wizards 127 Phoenix 105 Spread: Washington Wizards – 6 ½
Led by Martell Webster’s career high 34 points, the Wizards had no difficulty covering the 6 ½ point spread in their Saturday home game at the Verizon Center. Although Washington has long been out of the Eastern Conference playoff race, they present an attractive option for NBA bettors as they are playing better basketball than their overall 23-42 record indicates. The Wizards have now won 4 of their last 5 and are 19-18 since the start of the year. Consistently one of the better defensive teams in the league, (ranking 6th in the NBA in point allowed), the Wizards weakness has simply been their inability to put the ball in the basket as they average just 92.5 points per game. Over this recent stretch, former number one pick John Wall has been quietly playing as well as any PG in the NBA. Wall is averaging 22 points and 10 assists while shooting a blistering 61% from the floor providing the Washington offense with the lift they need to complement an already elite defense. The Wizards should see some favorable spreads in the coming weeks, particularly against bottom feeder teams like Charlotte on Monday.
Final: Boston Celtics 105 Charlotte Bobcats 88 Spread: Boston Celtics -16
Since Rondo’s season ending ACL injury back in late January, the veteran Celtics are playing like a team rejuvenated. Although the team started 8-1 after losing Rondo initially, many wondered if this was just a temporary boost teams often experience when losing a star player before crashing back down to earth. Boston’s play in March (6-2 overall) seems to indicate they will continue to be a dangerous team going forward into the playoffs. Losing Rondo’s league leading 11 assists per game has actually translated into better ball movement for the team as a whole – evidenced by an increase in team assists by about 2 per game. On Saturday, Boston had four players with 4+ assists and posted over 100 points for the 2nd straight game. The Celtics are a team NBA bettors should keep their eye on as they have a proven track record of performing at their peak come April and May.
Final: Philadelphia 76ers 98 Indiana Pacers 91 Spread: Indiana Pacers -4 ½
Philadelphia entered Saturday’s game having won just 2 of their last 15 games, so their victory over the 40-26 Pacers probably took many NBA bettors by surprise. Philadelphia was led by Spencer Hawes near quadruple double (18 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists and 7 blocks), but this game was an overall team effort with six players in double figures. An anomalous victory aside, bettors should still be wary of the 76ers in upcoming contests. With the team now 8 games behind the 8th seeded Milwaukee Bucks, one has to wonder at what point Philadelphia will give up a futile playoff pick and instead start chasing a higher lottery pick in June’s NBA draft.
Although still holding the 2nd seed in the East, Indiana has only been playing .500 Ball over their last 10 games. This is a testament to how weak the Eastern conference is this season, and an indication for NBA bettors to keep an eye out for games in which the Pacers are overvalued against stronger Western conference competition.
Final: Portland Trail Blazers 112 Detroit Pistons 101 Spread: Portland Trail Blazers -10 ½
Despite their 31-34 record, the Trail Blazers remain an exceptionally strong team at home in the Rose Garden. Portland covered a 10 ½ point spread against the Pistons on Saturday and upped their home record to an impressive 22-11. As they are a mere 9-23 on the road, prospective bettors obviously want to factor game location into their Portland betting picks even more than they would with other teams. Although they are a long shot to make the playoffs at this point, Portland remains just close enough to the 8th seed, (3 ½ games out currently) that they are unlikely giving up on the season and start tanking as other sub .500 Teams will. Look for them to remain a reliable team at home. Although he had an off night on Saturday, Portland rookie Damian Lillard has all but locked up the Rookie of the Year award by averaging 23.5 points per game in March.
The Pistons have now lost 8 consecutive games and dropped to a near bottom of the league 8-25 on the road. As they were unable to come within even 10 points of a sub .500 Team on the road, betting against the Pistons in coming weeks will likely be a productive betting strategy. Unlike the Blazers, they are long out of the playoff hunt and will likely continue to rest valuable starters like rookie Andre Drummond as they look to pile on the losses and move higher up the rungs of 2013’s draft lottery.
Scores and Spreads for March 17th
Final: Miami Heat 108 Toronto Raptors 91 Spread: Miami Heat -8
With their 17 point victory over the faltering Toronto Raptors, the Miami Heat have now posted 22 straight victories—a streak that extends all the way back to Super Bowl Sunday and ties them for 2nd all time. On Sunday, the Heat was led by the usual Big 3 of Lebron, Wade and Bosh with Ray Allen also chipping in 20 points. The Heat present a compelling option for NBA bettors; not only are they defending champions and current best team in the NBA but, with the added incentive of a record setting streak as motivation, this team isn’t likely to take a night off. The Heat have also won 4 of their last 6 by double digits so, where this team is concerned, there is currently no spread too large to be considered when placing money on the Heat. Monday’s match up against rival Boston Celtics figures to be the prime NBA betting game of the week and currently features a -5 Miami spread.
The Raptors are in a similar position to the 76ers – with Milwaukee pulling away in the race for the 8th seed, one has to wonder how long it will be before Toronto packs it in and starts planning for next year. With Andrea Bargnani ruled out for the season earlier in the week, Toronto is going to fall below more spreads than they are going to match for the remainder of the season.
Final: Milwaukee Bucks 115 Orlando Magic 109 Spread: Milwaukee Bucks -9
With a near record setting 45 point quarter, the Milwaukee Bucks erased a 12 point deficit for a come from behind victory but failed to match the spread in their 6 point victory over the Orlando Magic. With two undersized, high volume/low efficiency guards, the Milwaukee Bucks are one of the more unpredictable NBA teams when it comes to NBA betting—on any given night, the ill-fitted combo of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis can either shoot the team into or out of a game. Ellis is currently the player with the hot hand; after his 39 point season high on Sunday, Monta is now averaging nearly 27 points and 8 assists per game over the last five. The addition of sharp shooter J.J. Redick at the trade deadline has increased the efficiency of the Bucks offense by giving Jennings and Ellis an outlet that forces them into fewer low percentage shots. However, despite featuring league leader in blocks Larry Sanders, the Bucks defense has taken a dive since the arrival of Redick (and perhaps the departure of Skiles). With inconsistent shooting and a no longer elite defense, our suspicion is that Milwaukee is going to be a team you want to bet against in coming months.
Although Orlando is just 2-8 over their last 10, their offense appears to have improved considerably with the insertion of second year player Tobias Harris into the starting line up. A player Milwaukee will highly likely regret trading for a Redick rental, Harris is averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds in the month of March.
Final: Oklahoma City Thunder 107 Dallas Mavericks 101 Spread: Oklahoma City Thunder -5
Winners of the NBA title just two seasons ago, the Dallas Mavericks are poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2000 season. Although Sunday’s result gives further evidence that the team is obviously past its prime and no longer able to compete with the NBA’s elite, Dallas remains a reliable bet against weaker teams particularly in the Eastern conference. In fact during the month of March, Dallas is 4-0 against the East and has notched victories against likely playoff teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks.
Oklahoma City on the other hand remains a good bet against any team in the NBA. The Thunder have done well covering spreads even in games in which they are heavily favored; on the season, they are outscoring their opponents by a league best 9.5 average. With just a game separating them from the West leading San Antonio Spurs, each game will be meaningful for a highly motivated Thunder squad looking to secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Final: Atlanta Hawks 106 Brooklyn Nets 93 Spread: Brooklyn Nets -4 ½
In a preview of a potential 4/5 NBA playoff’s match up, the visiting Atlanta Hawks bested the Brooklyn Nets to move just a game out of the 4th seed in the East. Al Horford continued his recent tear by contributing 22 points, and 11 rebounds as the Hawks controlled the 4th quarter in a game that had tighter than the final score alone would indicate. The game will be the last home game for Brooklyn until April 4th—a stretch during which they will play a season high 8 consecutive road games.
The jostling for seeding in a supremely tight Eastern conference playoff race is going to present exciting opportunities for NBA bettors in the coming months. With just 3 ½ games separating the 2nd seed Indiana Pacers from the 7th seeded Boston Celtics, the number of late season games with massive conference implications is going to be even higher than usual. Both Atlanta and Brooklyn are right in the center of things and NBABetting.org will continue to track how each performs against the spread.
With March Madness set to begin Tuesday the 19th and the NBA playoffs just over a month away, there is no more exciting time of the year for basketball bettors. Keep up with all the latest NBA news and analysis at NBABetting.org and, before filling out your NCAA bracket, don’t forget to visit NCAABetting.org for free articles detailing a wide range of bracket strategies. As always, be sure to check out our recommended Sportsbooks for exclusive promotional offers such as deposit bonuses just for signing up.