Oddball Baskets is On Vacation

Because it has been a long season with daily posts, I am taking a break before the playoffs to get some sun and relax. Oddball Baskets will return on April 5th and will continue to cover the NBA throughout the playoffs.

Cheers,

Andy

Daily Odds for Tuesday, March 18

Saturday: 3-2
Season: 396-376

Miami (-9.5) @ Cleveland (196 o/u) 

No Kyrie for Cleveland tonight, makes me feel very skeptical about the Cavs ability to keep up with the Heat, even at home.

Pick: Miami -9.5

Toronto (-3) @ Atlanta (199.5 o/u) 

Atlanta has rounded back into decent form with the return of Paul Millsap, but Toronto has just been consistently better over a long timeline this year, and there isn’t a whole lot that works in the Hawks favor in terms of match-up advantages away from Millsap on Amir Johnson.

Pick: Toronto -3

Milwaukee (209 o/u) @ Portland (-12)

Eesh, this line seems huge considering there is no LaMarcus Aldridge playing for Portland tonight – but it still isn’t considering the talent disparity here. The Bucks are the team I have watched the least over the past four weeks (because, well, what could be interesting about them at this point?) and I don’t have a read on their offense right now, so I’m laying off this game.

Pass

Washington (-2) @ Sacramento (202.5 o/u) 

This is the kind of game the Kings would dominate if Washington was on a back-to-back, but they’re not. Who will stop John Wall for Sacramento? Probably no one.

Pick: Over 202.5

Orlando (202.5 o/u) @ Golden State (-12.5) 

Yikes, I don’t love any of this. Vucevic is questionable for the Magic, but the problem with Golden State is that they are a defensive team that happens to have one incredible scorer and otherwise runs a very pedestrian offense that goes stagnant for long stretches. I don’t trust them to score enough most nights to cover spreads like this, but when they DO get hot, good lord, they’re one of the best offensive teams in the league. Tough, inconsistent read for the Warriors, who can be as scary as anyone when things are firing for them. Who knows.

Pass

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Daily Odds for Saturday, March 15

Yesterday: 4-4 (Clippers push at -9)
Season: 393-374

Oddball Baskets is celebrating the St. Patrick’s Day Holiday in Boston, so no analysis today or picks tomorrow. Full posts will resume on Monday, March 17.

Milwaukee (205 o/u) @ New York (-10)

Game In Progress

Brooklyn (-3) @ Washington (197.5 o/u) 

Pick: Under 197.5

Denver (220.5 o/u) @ Atlanta (-6) 

Pick: Denver +6

Indiana (-5.5) @ Detroit (197.5 o/u) 

Pick: Indiana -5.5

Memphis (-14) @ Philadelphia (199.5 o/u) 

Pick: Over 199.5

Sacramento (189 o/u) @ Chicago (-8) 

Pick: Chicago -8

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Daily Odds for Friday, March 15

Yesterday: 3-1
Season: 389-370

Washington (-5) @ Orlando (203 o/u) 

The Wizards disappointed at home against the Bobcats, but the Magic (sadly and amazingly) are no Bobcats. Washington should take care of business in Orlando at or near double digits tonight.

Pick: Washington -5

Indiana (-16.5) @ Philadelphia (204 o/u) 

Indiana’s probably going to be fine with just scoring every possession and playing fast, right? I mean, they know they’ll win, so just rack up a ton of points in the process. It might not be the most sound logic here, but I really think this game goes over. I doubt Philly plays a game under 205 the rest of the season, to be honest.

Pick: Over 204

Minnesota (-1) @ Charlotte (207 o/u) 

This one is rough for me. Charlotte just continues to impress me with how they are able to close out games with defense and simple but effective offense down the stretch when games slow down. They play a half court style that translates well to playoff basketball. If they grabbed a 6-seed in the East I could see them getting through to the second round.

Minnesota, on the other hand, has more talent and firepower, but has NO clue how to close out games and is totally lost when games slow down. They basically need to blow the Bobcats out in the first three quarters to win, which is a tough proposition for a team that plays good defense and has Big Al on the block.

Pick: Charlotte +1

Memphis (186.5 o/u) @ Toronto (PK) 

I love me some Raptors. It is WELL-DOCUMENTED in this space how much I like this team. They are playing great and they back down from no one.

That being said, the Memphis Grizzlies are for real and will smack Toronto right back in the mouth when things get heated tonight. They are just playing better basketball. This is a big test for the Raptors, and I hope they pass – like I nervously will do here.

Pass

Phoenix (-3.5) @ Boston (207.5 o/u) 

Phoenix is stumbling and is currently on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture looking in. Not good for one of the NBA’s best stories this season. Boston didn’t show up against the Knicks but they also had Rondo sit out and have looked lost without him. Phoenix loves the three-ball and the Celtics defend it nearly as well as anyone. Still, Dragic’s ability to get into the paint causes all kinds of problems for defenses like the Celtics.

Pick: Phoenix -3.5

Denver (214 o/u) @ Miami (-10.5) 

Miami, despite their struggles with effort and timing, still can be an elite defensive team. When they show that ultra-aggressive, well-timed blitzing style they won two titles with they are among the hardest teams in the league to score against. Denver doesn’t have a whole lot going for them right now besides good pacing and Ty Lawson.

Pick: Miami -10.5

Portland (-3) @ New Orleans (206.5 o/u) 

This is a big test for the Blazers, who will be missing LaMarcus Aldridge tonight. If they drop this game, or even just squeak it out, it is a bad sign for their seeding hopes in the Western playoffs. I already doubt that they will secure home court advantage, but here’s what I think: The Rockets are MUCH more vulnerable in a seven-game series than the Clippers are. Portland should take care to grab the five-seed and a likely Houston match-up rather than fall to six and have to play against the world’s best point guard in a series where pacing and game control is everything.

Pick: Portland -3

LA Lakers (224 o/u) @ San Antonio (-17) 

The Lakers got blown out in OKC last night, and now have the chance to play in beautiful San Antonio against the NBA’s hottest team. No comment on the spread, but I like the over here.

Pick: Over 224

LA Clippers (-9) @ Utah (205 o/u) 

I love the way the Clippers are playing, and as I said Wednesday, they are my current title favorites – seriously. But that being said, how much better would this team be with a healthy J.J. Redick? Watching him curl off screens to hit catch-and-shoot jumpers in the half-court in the early part of the season was what made me start believing in this Clippers team going forward. The development of Blake and DeAndre came later, and only enhanced my belief that they were a credible contender. The additions of Granger and Big Baby Davis helped from there. But it all started with J.J. If he doesn’t play again this season, I’ll have to pour one out for what could have been.

Pick: LA Clippers -9

Cleveland (TBA) @ Golden State (-12)

Golden State home lines continue to be higher than would be advisable. Good to know. Wonder if this trend continues in the playoffs, and how well I could do betting against it.

Pick: Cleveland +12

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Daily Odds for Thursday, March 13

Yesterday: 7-4
Season: 386-369

Houston (-3.5) @ Chicago (194 o/u) 

I have to say I love Houston here. As great (yes, great – not good) as Chicago as been since the All-Star break, Houston has been even better. Offensively I just think they have too many weapons for the Bulls defense, and unless they go very cold from deep they should both cover and surpass the over here tonight.

As far as the random MVP buzz that James Harden is getting goes, I think that is ridiculous. Dwight Howard has been the best player on this team all year for anyone who believes that defense matters even 1% in the game of basketball. In reality, that percentage is probably somewhere from 49%-60% depending on who you ask, so if you want to give a Rocket some MVP love, give it to Dwight. I know he’s annoying and did some really selfish/dumb things but he’s still a top-10 player in the league (I think he’s top 5, actually).

Pick: Houston -3.5 & Over 194

Milwaukee (209 o/u) @ Atlanta (-9)

I can’t think of a worse game to have on opposite TNT Thursday. I would rather watch two and a half hours of Shaq, Ernie, Kenny and Barkley than watch this game. I don’t think it will be fun basketball for anyone involved.

Pick: Under 209

LA Lakers (227.5 o/u) @ Oklahoma City (-16.5)

Last time these teams played I took the under on 229 and converted when they combined for 224. The Lakers won by 4, by the way. OKC needs a statement game, and I can definitely see them pulling one off tonight against the lowly Lakers.

Pick: Oklahoma City -16.5

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Daily Odds for Wednesday, March 12

Yesterday: 6-1
Season: 379-365

Brooklyn (201 o/u) @ Miami (-9.5)

This line feels really fat for Miami given that the Nets didn’t play last night. Brooklyn has been hanging tough, and this very well could depend on Kevin Garnett’s status tonight, but I’ll take the Nets to cover.

Pick: Brooklyn +9.5

Detroit (206.5 o/u) @ Toronto (-9.5)

In this case, the schedule is working in the home team’s favor, with Detroit on a back-to-back coming into Toronto, who is coming off a loss. I feel better about the under than the spread here, though, and while Toronto is tempting at, say, 7.5 or 8, it feels a little rich to take my current favorite team to watch.

Pick: Under 206.5

Sacramento (-8.5) @ Philadelphia (214 o/u) 

The Kings lost to the Pistons by nine on the road last night, and now are essentially nine point favorites on a back-to-back ON THE ROAD in Philadelphia against the Sixers. This is insane to me. I know how bad the Sixers have been, and I know full well that this could come back and bite me in the ass, but I’m taking Philly. This is their best chance to win a game before the end of the season given the scheduling factors involved, so hell – I’m in on it. Also I’m in on the over because there is no defense and a lot of running here.

Pick: Philadelphia +8.5 & Over 214

Denver (-1.5) @ Orlando (213.5 o/u) 

Seriously? Denver didn’t play last night and the Magic just lost to the Bucks. I don’t get the lines today at all.

Pick: Denver -1.5

Charlotte (197.5 o/u) @ Washington (-4.5)

Now I’m all thrown off. The under seems really prime to me here, but I’m scared off by the fact that both teams defensive efficiency ratings are over 105 points per 100 possessions over the last eight games. On the other hand, Washington has a net rating of +6.0 in that span, while Charlotte is at -2.7. Makes picking this one a lot easier for me.

Pick: Washington -4.5

New York (-4.5) @ Boston (199.5 o/u) 

Boston is coming home from Indiana here for the second night of a back-to-back and are at a clear talent deficiency to the Knicks. 4.5 might be bigger than I would like, but I still think it’s likely.

Pick: New York -4.5

Memphis (-4.5) @ New Orleans (191 o/u) 

This is tricky because Memphis is off a back-to-back as well and on the road, but I like the under here. New Orleans has struggled scoring at times and Memphis’ defense is locked in. Give me the under.

Pick: Under 191

Dallas (-4.5) @ Utah (202 o/u) 

Dallas is coming off a back-to-back as well, because of course they are. Way too many teams favorited coming off of back-to-backs and playing on the road, so I’m staying as far away from that as possible. Again, though, a ripe over/under! 202 for a Dallas-Utah game? These are two very bad defensive teams and Dallas just wants to outscore everyone.

Pick: Over 202

Portland (211 o/u) @ San Antonio (-7.5) 

This line opened at -6, and I would have honestly said that was perfect. The Spurs are hot, but the Blazers just need to get back to their basics here. They’ve played the Spurs well this year, and 7.5 is a lot of points for two good playoff teams. Also, both teams are on a back-to-back – San Antonio played in Chicago last night, and Portland lost in Memphis.

Pick: Portland +7.5 

Cleveland (210 o/u) @ Phoenix (-8.5)

Okay, this one is really tough. Phoenix has fallen off a bit but Cleveland is still not actually a good basketball team by, you know, Western Conference standards. Too close to call.

Pass

Golden State (212 o/u) @ LA Clippers (-6.5)

First things first, Golden State played last night at home and LA had the night off. That instantly makes LAC -4 in my book if these teams are even strength basketball squads. Which they are not.

Okay, now for the big declaration. If I had to pick a title team today, right now, I would pick the Los Angeles Clippers. Over the last 20 games they are a full 3 points per 100 possessions better than the second best team over that time (Golden State, interestingly enough). They’re also 5.5 points per 100 better than OKC, and 8.9 per 100 better than Indiana. If we’re talking current events here, the Clippers are your title favorite. That’s who Oddball Baskets is forecasting currently as the overall best team in the NBA.

Pick: Clippers -6.5

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