The Thunder, Spurs and Pelicans all clinched playoffs spots in the West with double-digit wins last night. Denver kept its playoff hopes alive with a home win over Portland on Monday and will now play in an elimination game on Wednesday at Minnesota, with the winner earning the last spot in the West.
In the East, Cleveland captured the Central Division and at least the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Seeds 6 through 8 in the East are still jumbled and with Miami losing last night and Milwaukee winning. Washington is the other team in the mix and it plays tonight. The Heat control their own destiny and hold tiebreakers over both teams, however most pundits believe the No. 7 seed is the best option against No. 2 Boston. Instead of playing No. 1 Toronto or No. 3 Philadelphia/Cleveland.
Tuesday’s card has six games on tap and below is my quick handicap.
Philadelphia (50-30 SU, 46-33-1 ATS) at Atlanta (24-57 SU, 39-39-3 ATS)
The 76ers have been on a mission lately, winning 14 straight games and if the club captures two more wins then they’ll lock up the No. 3 seed in the East. During this winning streak, six of those victories have come away from home and they’ve produced a 10-4 ATS mark but they have failed to cover the number in their last two wins. Wins are wins in the NBA but of the 14, only one came against a playoff team and they barely held on to beat Cleveland last Friday at home. They did notch victories against Minnesota and Denver, but neither of those clubs have locked up a spot yet.
One of the victories during their current winning streak came against the Hawks, a 101-91 decision at Atlanta on Mar. 30. Including that outcome, these teams have only met twice this season and the 76ers won and covered both games, both decisions decided by exactly 10 points.
Despite playing with a short-handed roster filled with raw talent, the Hawks have gone 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS in their last five games which included impressive road wins over the Wizards (103-97) and Celtics (112-106). This will be the home and season finale for Atlanta, who will be missing the playoffs after clinching a spot in the 10 previous postseasons. The Hawks haven’t been in great form lately at home, going 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS in their last five games.
Philadelphia hosts Milwaukee at home on Wednesday and the 76ers have gone 9-4 this season in front end of back-to-back spots and that includes a run of seven straight wins (6-1 ATS).
Golden State (58-23 SU, 34-46-1 ATS) at Utah (47-33 SU, 42-37-1 ATS)
It’s rare to see Golden State listed as an underdog but that’s the case tonight when it meets Utah (-7) at Salt Lake City. This game is much more important for the Jazz, who can keep hopes for claiming the No. 3 seed in the West alive. Portland sits ahead in the standings by a game but Utah owns a 2-1 season edge versus the Trail Blazers and the pair meet on Wednesday from the Moda Center. If the Jazz win tonight, tomorrow’s game will be for the third seed.
With nothing to play for, Golden State might rest a ton of players since it’s the last game of the season for them. The Warriors did right the ship on Sunday with a 117-100 win at Phoenix but in their two recent games against playoff clubs, they were outgunned by the Pacers (126-106) and the Pelicans (126-100), the game versus New Orleans coming at home.
Regardless of who plays for Golden State, the Jazz should have confidence knowing that they’ve won two straight against the Warriors which includes a 129-99 home win on Jan. 30. All three encounters between the pair this regular season have gone ‘over’ the number.
Golden State, due to injuries, hasn’t been sharp in the second-half of the season and a 7-9 record in its last 16 games is a bit alarming. Steve Kerr’s team still owns the second-best road record (29-11 SU, 18-22 ATS) in the league but when listed as underdogs, they’re just 1-4 both SU and ATS this season.
This is the regular season finale at Vivint Smart Home Arena tonight and the Jazz have gone 27-13 SU and 21-19 ATS overall. Utah is 8-2 SU in its last 10 at home but they’ve been pedestrian (5-5 ATS) for bettors.
Sort of Meaningful
Boston (54-26 SU, 49-29-2 ATS) at Washington (42-38 SU, 36-43-1 ATS)
This is an intriguing matchup because the pair could also be meeting in the first round of the playoffs and I’m guessing the Wizards would rather play Boston than Toronto. The only way it could happen is if Washington wins tonight and then defeats Orlando on the road Wednesday but the final outcomes for the Bucks and Heat also changed things up as well.
Even though the Celtics are locked into the No. 2 seed, Brad Stevens said he’s playing his starters major minutes tonight and getting ready for the postseason. Boston has gone 14-7 this season without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving but they limp into this game with a 1-3 record in their last four.
Backing Washington right now doesn’t appear to be a sound investment with the club dropping four straight (1-3 ATS) and eight of their last 10. Last Friday’s 103-97 home loss to Atlanta as a 10 ½-point favorite was embarrassing and it was their fourth defeat to a non-playoff team in the last two weeks.
These teams met in the playoffs last season and the home team won all seven of the games as Boston advanced. However, the trend has flip-flopped this regular season and the visitor is 3-0 this season. The one consistency between the pair has been scoring and that’s helped the ‘over’ go 8-2 in the last 10 meetings.
There will be a lot of rested players in the below games and I would tread lightly on all of them.
Charlotte (35-46 SU, 33-44-4 ATS) at Indiana (48-33 SU, 47-34 ATS)
Phoenix (20-61 SU, 36-42-3 ATS) at Dallas (24-57 SU, 41-38-2 ATS)
Houston (64-16 SU, 41-37-2 ATS) at L.A. Lakers (34-46 SU, 41-39 ATS)