It’s a new week. After a solid 4-3 ATS performance last week (just Fri-Sun) with the parlay hit, we’re back in business for the first full week since March Madness ended. Let’s make the most of it. But first, let’s take a look at what happened yesterday in the NBA.
TAKEAWAYS FROM YESTERDAY
The Bucks pulled out a win over the Nets in a fantastic afternoon game. Giannis dropped 49 and consistently flashed an improved jumper, and he out dueled KD (42 points). Khris Middleton, with 26 points, 6 assists, and 11 boards, also slightly outperformed his Nets counterpart, Kyrie, who had 20, 6, and 7. Bryn Forbes (12) was the only Buck outside of the Big Three of Giannis, Middleton, and Jrue Holiday to score more than four points. It will be interesting to see if the role players can step up when these two go at it again tomorrow. Bobby Portis was out for Milwaukee in this one. As far as seeding goes, this one keeps the Bucks hopes of moving up and out of that 3 seed alive. If they beat the Nets tomorrow, they’ll only be 1.5 games back with an extra game in hand.
However, they’re also still 3 games back of the Sixers, who survived the Spurs in overtime last night after blowing a ten point lead in the fourth quarter. Joel Embiid dropped 34 and 12 as Philly regained the top spot out East. Six of their last eight come against teams outside the current playoff picture, with only the Pacers and Heat not meeting that rule.
The Knicks took care of business against the Rockets, and it pushed them, the four seed, up to a 1.5 game advantage over the Hawks and Heat. New York does not have the same schedule advantage, which made last night’s game against a bad team all the more important. There’s still work to be done for the Knicks.
The Suns also did what they needed to in Oklahoma City, though the final score ended up being far closer than it looked like it would be for the first 45 minutes of the game after a late Thunder burst. The win puts Phoenix back into a tie for the West’s top spot, and they own the tiebreaker over the Jazz.
The Heat beat the Hornets, and that will keep a relatively sizable gap between the 7 seed and 8 seed. Charlotte is still 2.5 games back of Boston, and they’re now 3.5 games back of Miami and Atlanta. Both of these teams are safe as far as finishing in the top ten goes, but this game all but ended Charlotte’s ability to push into the top six. Miami, on the other hand, is now in much better position to stay there with the one game edge over the Celtics.
Then there was the chaos out West between the Mavs, Lakers, and Blazers – the three teams competing for two spots in the top six. The Blazers won, closing off a great week for them by pulling themselves even with the other two. Their win came at the expense of the Celtics, who are now in sole possession of the East’s 7 seed but far from done in that race. The Mavs and Lakers lost to the Kings and Raptors, respectively, allowing both of those teams to keep some slim playoff hopes alive. The Lakers are a disgruntled bunch right now, and their next five games are against clear playoff teams. This is going to be a fun race to watch over the next few weeks.
With that, we get to…
- Magic @ Pistons
This game could actually end up being pretty important for draft positioning. Here’s the bottom of the league, with 1 being the worst team. Remember that the bottom three now have even odds for the top pick –
- Pistons (3.5 games back)
- Timberwolves (4 games back)
- Magic (4.5 games back)
- Thunder (5 games back)
- Cavs (5.5 games back)
The Rockets are one of those three teams. The other two spots are fully up-for-grabs. A Pistons loss here would go a long way for them.
- Pacers @ Wizards
The Pacers are the current 9 seed – half a game back of the Hornets, 1.5 games up on the Wizards (the 10), and four games up on the Raptors (the 11). That means that Washington is 2.5 games up on the Raptors (and three up on the Bulls). For them, the stakes are clear: they need to keep winning games to ensure they have a spot in the play-in. Despite the Pacers’ being pretty safe in that regard (a 5-4 finish would put them in the play-in even if the Raptors and Bulls both won out), they need this win too. Having the 8 seed rather than the 9 means that you get two losses in the play-in rather than one, and that’s a pretty important thing to have.
- Warriors @ Pelicans
This is the first of three absolutely crucial games between these two over the next two weeks. The Warriors are three games up on the Pelicans, who have a pretty simple objective – win two out of these three if you want any chance at the playoffs. A sweep would make things very interesting; a series win would at least keep some hope alive. New Orleans is also 2.5 games back of the Spurs and 3.5 games back of the Grizzlies.
- Trail Blazers @ Hawks
This is another massive game for seeding purposes. The Hawks are one game up on the 7 seed Celtics. The Blazers are in a three-way tie for the 5-7 seeds. Both teams need to finish as strong as possible to give themselves the best chance at avoiding the play-in. That starts tonight in this one.
- Knicks @ Grizzlies
The Knicks need to keep winning if they want to keep their hold on their first round home court advantage. The Grizzlies, while likely safe from dropping out of the play-in entirely, need to keep winning to stay in the 8 seed rather than ending up in the 9 or 10. They blew a 14 point halftime lead to the Magic the other day and will likely come out inspired in this one.
- 76ers @ Bulls
The Sixers won’t want to cede the East’s 1 seed so soon after taking it back, and this is a prime opportunity against a struggling team to get one step closer to locking up that top spot. For the Bulls, it’s all hands on deck. They need to win their games, or there won’t be any hope left by next Monday.
- Spurs @ Jazz
A Spurs loss and Pelicans win would tighten the gap between the two to just 1.5 games. That should tell you all you need to know about what this one means for San Antonio. The Jazz, meanwhile, need to keep winning if they want to compete for the 1 seed with the Suns, who have been the much better team in recent weeks.
- Nuggets @ Lakers
This is a huge one. The Lakers are coming off a late night loss last night, and they’re taking on a Nuggets team that just beat the Clippers to take over the West’s 3 seed. Denver has been on a tear since Jamal Murray’s injury, and it’s hard to see this Lakers team stopping that. An LA loss and a Portland win would put the Lakers alone in 7th.
Let’s start the week off right.