Happy Tuesday. Yesterday wasn’t our best day. The NBA record was 3-5. We’ll look to bounce back today. There are two NIT games tonight, and we’ll also look to go positive there. I’m sitting at -0.4 units on the NIT so far. Let’s get that above 0. But first, a look at yesterday’s action…
- The Mavs got back in the win column with a blowout win over the beat-up Pacers (no Haliburton, Turner, or Hield). Dallas needed this one after a few losses, and it puts them back within half a game of the West play-in. They’re facing a tough closing stretch with trips to Philadelphia, Miami, and Atlanta coming before games against the Kings and Bulls. A finale with the Spurs isn’t very threatening, but they’ll need to win at least a few of those first five games before they get there. Indiana is all but done as far as the play-in goes. They’re three and a half out. The better question is where they finish for the draft. The Magic, Blazers, and Wizards are all right there with them in the 5-8 zone.
- Khris Middleton dropped 34, Bobby Portis, Brook Lopez, and Jevon Carter all chipped in at least 20, and the Bucks handled the Pistons without Giannis and Jrue. Milwaukee’s lead at the top of the East is back up to two games. Their magic numbers with seven games to go: 1 (Cavs), 3 (Sixers), 6 (Celtics). That means they control their own destiny regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s game with the Celtics. But winning that game (and earning the tiebreaker as a result) all but locks the 1 seed up. Jaden Ivey put up 32, 8, and 8 in the loss for the Pistons, and Detroit will maintain their hold on the league’s worst record. Friday’s game with the Rockets will be huge. A Houston loss would put the two teams even in the loss column.
- The Knicks pulled away from the Rockets in the second half behind a 40-point and 9-assist effort from Immanuel Quickley. They’re going to need Jalen Brunson back and healthy to have a shot at making some noise in the playoffs, but they should hold onto the 5 seed regardless. They’re two and a half games up on the Heat and Nets, and they can come close to clinching a top 6 seed with a home win over the Heat tomorrow. The Rockets have lost six in a row, and they have a game and a half on either side of them as the league’s second-worst team.
- The Suns won in Utah despite Lauri Markkanen’s return. It’s looking like the Jazz will end up just a little short of the play-in; they’re two games out with seven to go. That said, they do have two remaining games with the Lakers. Winning those changes the equation rather significantly. Regardless of the final outcome, it’s been a promising year in Utah. Markkanen has been fantastic. Walker Kessler has emerged as a really good young player. And they have quite a few draft picks moving forward after the Gobert and Mitchell trades. The Suns maintain their narrow hold on the 4 seed with the win. They have work to do to keep it, but the impending return of Kevin Durant should help.
- The Sixers fought back late but couldn’t quite get over the hump in Denver with both Embiid and Harden sidelined. It’s worth calling this what this is for Embiid. He ducked Jokic. You don’t get to talk a bunch of trash publicly and then sit on the bench when your team plays the guy a few days later and have it be labeled as anything else. But that’s not particularly important. What is important is that the Sixers have now lost three in a row and are just a game and a half up on the Cavs and the 4 seed. That race for the top three isn’t over quite yet. It’s a big win for the Nuggets too. Their magic number for the 1 seed is down to 4, and they’re even closer to clinching a top two seed. Their lead at the top of the West was probably too big to lose regardless, but this little four-game winning streak has helped remove some potential stress from the equation.
- Seven Timberwolves scored at least 14 points, and Minnesota pulled out a narrow win over the Kings in Sacramento. They’ve won four crucial games in a row, and they have the 6 seed by virtue of a slight lead in conference record over the Warriors. They’re still just two games above the 11 seed, so nothing is guaranteed. At the same time, they’ve put themselves in a position where a guaranteed playoff spot is a real possibility. Winning in Phoenix tomorrow would be huge. This makes for three losses in five games for the Kings, who have fallen off the 2 seed pace. They’re two and a half games back of the red-hot Grizzlies, and odds are they end up with the 3 seed (Phoenix being five games back all but guarantees they don’t fall to the 4). It’s impossible to tell at this point who the 5, 6, and 7 seeds will be, so there’s not much to be said for potential matchups and what seeding will mean in the first round.
- Brandon Ingram dropped 29, and the Pelicans crushed a heavily injured Blazers team in Portland. That’s five straight for New Orleans, and they’re alone in the 8 seed for now. Games against the Warriors, Clippers, and Timberwolves will loom especially large during a tough closing stretch. Portland is five games out and finished, even if they’re still alive mathematically. Dame, Grant, Simons, and Nurkic all missed yesterday’s game. The only question now is draft positioning; they could realistically finish anywhere from 5 to 8.
- The Clippers had no issues with the Bulls in LA. The win helps them keep pace with the Suns and allows them to maintain their hold on the 5 seed for another day. Two big games in Memphis await over the next few days. The outcome of those two might pretty dramatically shift where the Clips stand heading into the final week-and-a-half of the season. The Bulls can survive the loss. They still have a three-game lead over the 11 seed Pacers. But they do now sit a full game back of the Hawks and Raptors and a potential chance at that 8 seed, which is the difference between needing one and two play-in wins. Tomorrow’s game with the Lakers is huge for both sides.
NBA record: 201-172-7 ATS, 31-57 ML, 103-85-3 O/U, 1-9 parlay, 0-1 props, -15.29 units
- Wizards Celtics O222.5
- Heat +5.5
- Cavs ML (+110)
- Cavs Hawks U239
- Thunder Hornets O227
- Grizzlies -7
- Pelicans +8.5
CBB record: 252-228-12 ATS, 55-82 ML, 5-5 O/U, 16-25 parlay, -20.03 units
CBB regular season record: 198-181-8 ATS, 47-75 ML, 4-4 O/U, 12-24 parlay, -30.85 units
CBB conference tourney record: 34-31-4 ATS, 7-10 ML, 0-0 O/U, 4-3 parlay, + 5.87 units
NIT record: 4-4 ATS, 0-0 ML, 0-0 parlay, -0.4 units
- North Texas -1.5
- UAB -5
- THE CUSA PARLAY: UAB and North Texas to win (+160)
NCAA Tourney record: 16-12 ATS, 6-6 ML, 1-1 O/U, 0-0 parlay, +5.35 units
CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT CHAMP PICKS
Record: 11-21 (10 losses in title game)