Welcome back to Mike Bets. Today, I want to get started with a moment of silence in honor of all of the bets that have died in the past few days. They never learned what it was like to be a winner, and they go to the grave carrying the guilt that comes with failing to hit. We remember them, and we pledge to do better for the bets that will come today, tomorrow, and every day in the future.
*Insert moment of silence here…
To all the bets that died
the ones that missed by a point
and the ones the never even tried
the ones that made me mad
and the ones that made me want to hide
the ones that failed at the buzzer
and the ones that five minutes in were asking for assisted suicide
the ones that blew big leads
and the ones that pushed, or tied
Now, today is a big day in the NBA. We’ve got games for all four teams fighting for the 8 seed in the West, and, with each of those teams only playing once more after today, we could end the night knowing how that race will finish.
The Grizzlies have it pretty simple.
- Their play-in magic number is 1. What does this mean? With one more win, they clinch a spot in the play-in game. Additionally, both the Spurs and the Suns, with one more loss, would be unable to pass Memphis, regardless of how the Grizzlies finish
- Their 8 seed magic number is 2. Here, a combination of two wins and Portland losses will lead to Memphis having the 8 seed. So, a 2-0 finish for Memphis or a 1-1 or 0-2 finish for both Memphis and Portland, will give the Grizzlies the 8 seed. A 1-1 finish for Memphis and an 0-2 finish for Portland would do the same.
- The issue is the schedule – Memphis plays Boston and Milwaukee to close it out. With the unique circumstances, it’s not clear that those teams will be resting players in the season’s final games.
Let’s look at the Trail Blazers
- Their play-in magic number is 2. They control their own destiny, and cannot fall below the 9 seed if they don’t lose. A 1-1 finish, if it comes with at least one loss from both the Spurs and the Suns would also do the job. If the Blazers lose out, they would need both the Spurs and Suns to do the same.
- Their 8 seed magic number is 3. They need to win out and Memphis needs to lose at least once for Portland to end up in the 8 seed.
- The Blazers play the Mavs today and the Nets on Thursday. The Mavs are fully healthy after resting players yesterday.
Now onto the Suns and Spurs, where things get a lot more complicated. Let’s start with just these two –
- How do the Suns finish ahead of the Spurs? The magic number is 2. If Phoenix wins out, or both teams go 1-1, the Suns will have a very slight edge in winning percentage by virtue of the two extra games they played before the break. That’s the way the NBA is determining tiebreakers in the bubble. The 0-2 finish for both would also put Phoenix ahead of San Antonio, but that would be irrelevant as both would be outside of the playoffs no matter what.
- How do the Spurs finish ahead of the Suns. They just need to finish with a better record over these last two games, which means the magic number is 3. If the Spurs win out, the Suns need to go 1-1 or worse. If the Spurs drop a game, the Suns need to lose out.
Now we have the four-team scenarios –
- How do the Suns and Spurs finish ahead of the Blazers? The magic number is 3. So, there are only two options here. Suns/Spurs go 2-0 and Portland loses at least once or Suns/Spurs go 1-1 and the Blazers lose out.
- How do the Suns finish ahead of the Grizzlies? The magic number is 4 here because the Grizzlies won the season series 3-1. Phoenix needs to win out and they need the Grizzlies to lose both of their games.
- How do the Spurs finish ahead of the Grizzlies? The magic number is still 4 here, so the scenarios above can also be applied to the Spurs. Although San Antonio has the tiebreaker edge by division record, they played two less games than the Grizzlies. That leaves them trailing by winning percentage.
- If both the Suns and Spurs finish 2-0 to go ahead of the Blazers (who would need at least one loss), they will need Memphis to go 0-2 to both make the play-in game. It would then be 8. Suns v. 9. Spurs. The other possibilities are…
- 8. Grizzlies v. 9 Trail Blazers – No one passes anyone over the next two days
- 8. Trail Blazers v. 9 Memphis – The Spurs and Suns lose at least once each, and Portland finishes with a better two-game stretch than Memphis
- 8. Grizzlies v. 9. Spurs – The Spurs go 2-0, the Suns go 1-1, and the Trail Blazers go 1-1 (Memphis 2-0 or 1-1) or 0-2 (Memphis 2-0 or 1-1)
- 8. Spurs v. 9. Grizzlies – The scenario above but Memphis goes 0-2 (Portland must also go 0-2 here)
- 8. Grizzlies v. 9. Spurs – The Suns go 2-0 and the Trail Blazers go 1-1 (Memphis 2-0 or 1-1) or 0-2 (Memphis 2-0 or 1-1)
- 8. Suns v. 9. Grizzlies – The scenario above but Memphis goes 0-2 (Portland must go 0-2 here and the Spurs must be 1-1 or worse)
- 8. Trail Blazers v. 9. Suns – Memphis 0-2, Suns 2-0, Blazers 2-0, Spurs 1-1 or worse
- 8. Trail Blazers v. 9. Spurs – Memphis 0-2, Suns 1-1 or worse, Blazers 2-0, Spurs 2-0
- 8. Suns v. 9. Trail Blazers – Memphis 0-2, Suns 2-0, Blazers 1-1, Spurs 1-1 or worse
- 8. Spurs v. 9. Trail Blazers – Memphis 0-2, Suns 1-1 or worse, Blazers 1-1, Spurs 2-0
Those are the 11 possible outcomes, since 8. Spurs v. 9. Suns can’t happen.
Now onto the bets. Today we roar like lions.
Yesterday’s Results –
I think the opener tells the story here. We dropped into the negatives overall, but today we bounce back. We can only be down on the mat for so long before the lion inside of us wakes up.
Total Record: 33-32-1 on individual bets, 5-25 on parlays, -15.25
My picks for tonight –
- Nets ML (+165)
This game is an absolute mess.
Out for Orlando (not including long-term injuries) – Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross, Aaron Gordon, Michael Carter-Williams, Mo Bamba
Out for Brooklyn (not including long-term injuries) – Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris, Garrett Temple, Jamal Crawford
Good lord. I’m taking the value with the Nets here because they’ve been working hard and winning a decent amount of games throughout the bubble and are more used to working with nothing than the Magic. They beat the Bucks (not the full Bucks but still) without LeVert, Allen, and Harris already.
- Rockets ML (+170)
James Harden, Eric Gordon, and (possibly) Danuel House are out for the Rockets. Russ is good to go.
Patty Mills is a game-time decision for the Spurs while Patty Mills is out.
I like the Rockets a lot as underdogs here. They have the chance to pull within half a game of the 3 seed with a win, and Westbrook will be ready after sitting the last few games out. He leads Houston to a win that will all but end San Antonio’s postseason hopes.
- Suns -9.5 (-110) – LOCK OF THE DAY
I will not be betting against the Suns, and the Sixers are playing without Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, and, potentially, Tobias Harris and Al Horford. That’s a lot of injured and hobbled pieces for a team that’s already struggling to impress. The Suns cruise.
- Grizzlies ML (+135)
This is a feel pick. The Grizzlies have been so close so many times in the bubble. They’re playing a lot better than their 1-5 record suggests, and they pick up a season-defining win over the inconsistent Celtics here.
- Mavs ML (+115)
The Mavs get Luka, Porzingis, and Finney-Smith back today. They’re suddenly within a game of the 6 seed, which would move them out of a first round meeting with the Clippers. They’ve won two in a row, and they beat the Jazz yesterday without the three aforementioned starters. The Blazers need this win, but they’ve been less than impressive in recent games against depleted teams in the Clippers and Sixers. They needed a 50 burger from Damian Lillard to edge past a Sixers team without Ben Simmons and, for all but 5 minutes, Joel Embiid. I love the Mavs here.
- Bucks -8.0 (-110)
The Wizards still haven’t lost a game by less than 8 in the bubble, and they were blow out by a hobbled Thunder team last time out in a potential sign of the bottom giving out. The Bucks, no matter who they go with tonight, should be able to win this game comfortably.
- Pelicans ML (+120)
I’m ready to drop-kick both the Pelicans and Kings off the side of a tall mountain after what they’ve done to me over the past few weeks, but someone needs to win this game. I’ll ride with the value in New Orleans. I really don’t see the Kings blowing them out again.
- Parlay of Nets and Rockets picks
Two picks with good value to start off the day
- Parlay of Bucks and Pelicans picks
Let’s end the day right.
Good luck everybody. All bets on my end are for $5 unless otherwise noted.
Remember, today we roar like lions. Today we win.