The NBA regular season is nearing a close, with only 11 more regular season games before the postseason begins. Several teams have already clinched playoff spots. The Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Denver Nuggets have locked in their postseason availability. Meanwhile, four teams have been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Fans of the Charlotte Hornets, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and Detroit Pistons can officially begin to prep for the NBA Draft Lottery.
For today’s betting tips, I’m going to look at some of the most interesting match-ups on paper.
You want a lock? Milwaukee Bucks to beat San Antonio Spurs
The Milwaukee Bucks are the best team in the NBA right now if you’re looking at the win-loss record. At 51-20, they have over 30 more wins than the Spurs, who sit at 19-53. The Bucks are -17.5 point favorites against the Spurs, a number that, at first glance, seems quite high. If you dig deeper, you’ll notice that the Spurs are expected to be missing (due to injury or rest) their entire starting lineup.
The Spurs just lost their last game to the 35-37 New Orleans Pelicans by 35 points. I’ll take the Bucks -17.5 against the Spurs’ collection of backups. I’ll also take the under in this matchup, as I don’t think the Spurs will score enough for the combined total to surpass 238.5 points (U238.5).
You want to sweat? New York Knicks to beat Miami Heat
It’s safe to say that the 42-31 New York Knicks, fifth in the Eastern Conference, have defied expectations this season. Meanwhile, the 39-34 Miami Heat, seventh in the Eastern Conference, have disappointed. Though the Heat are slight favorites in this matchup at -2.5, I like the Knicks’ chances. Julius Randle heads into this game fresh off a 57-point explosion against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
I’ll take the Knicks +2.5 as they look to solidify their playoff positioning, and I’ll also the over (O224.5) as I expect this game to be a shootout. The Knicks have averaged nearly 120 points per game over their last 10, and the Heat have averaged nearly 117 points per game in that same time span.
You want a big underdog? Indiana Pacers +9.5 versus the Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors are big favorites against the Pacers in tonight’s game, despite the fact that Toronto is only 3-wins and 2-spots better than Indiana in the win-loss column. This game could be closer than expected, as Toronto has a host of important contributors who are expected to be game-time decisions. Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes, and Precious Achiuwa could all miss this game, or play limited minutes. The Pacers have been feisty, even without star guard Tyrese Haliburton (knee injury).
Am I saying the Pacers are going to pull off the upset? Not necessarily, but I’ll happily take them +9.5. That number could shrink considerably by game time if Trent Jr. or Barnes are ruled out.