Basketball picksApril 3, 2018

NBA Tuesday Preview Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

NBA Tuesday Preview Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland CavaliersNBA Tuesday Preview

Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers 

Tuesday, April 3, 7 p.m. (ET)

NBA Pointspread: Cleveland -2

Total Line: 225.5

Toronto at Cleveland Game Matchup Overview

Toronto gave up some ground to Boston in the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference with Saturday’s 110-99 loss to the Celtics as a 4.5-point home favorite. This was the Raptors’ fourth straight-up loss in its last seven games and they have failed to cover against the spread in their last eight outings. The total has gone OVER or ended as a PUSH in six of those eight games. Toronto is still 9-2 SU in its last 11 road games with a 7-4 record ATS.

DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 34 points while going 12-for-19 from the field on Saturday night, but it was not enough to keep the game close against Boston down the stretch. The Raptors were outscored 28-15 in that final quarter. Going 8-for-35 from three-point range did not help the cause. DeRozan continues to lead Toronto in scoring with an average 23.4 points per game as part of the team’s 112.3-point scoring average that is third-highest in the NBA.

Cleveland beat the Raptors 132-129 on March 21 as a two-point home underdog. This was part of a current SU 8-1 run that includes Sunday’s 98-87 victory against Dallas as a 10.5-point home favorite. The Cavaliers have gone 7-1 ATS in their last eight games overall with the total staying UNDER in five of their last six outings. They are 6-0 both SU and ATS in their last six home games and the total has stayed UNDER in four of those six games at home.

The Cavaliers outscored Dallas 25-10 in the fourth quarter to pull away from a tight three quarters of play. LeBron James was held to 16 points, but he dished out 12 assists to go with 13 rebounds to post the triple-double. Kevin Love added 13 points and 13 rebounds to the winning cause. Cleveland (47-30) remains a half game ahead of Philadelphia for the third seed in the East.



Basketball picksMarch 14, 2018

NBA Thursday Preview Los Angeles Clippers at Houston Rockets

NBA Thursday Preview

Los Angeles Clippers at Houston Rockets

Thursday, March 15, 8 p.m. (ET) NBA TV

NBA Betting Pointspread: Houston -11.5

Total Line: 227 

Los Angeles at Houston Game Matchup Overview

The Clippers are 37-29 and they continue to battle a trio of teams for a spot in the Western Conference playoffs. They have really helped their cause with a straight-up 7-3 record in their last 10 games. Tuesday’s 112-106 road victory against Chicago was their third win in a row SU, but they failed to cover as 7.5-point favorites. Los Angeles is now 2-5 against the spread in its last seven games with the total going OVER in four of those contests.

DeAndre Jordan (29 points) and Lou Williams (26 points) led the way against the Bulls. Los Angeles connected on 48.7 percent of its shots from the field, but it went a dismal 8-for-29 from three-point range. Williams remains the team’s leading scorer with 23.1 points per game and Jordan’s 18 rebounds on Tuesday eclipsed his team-high average of 15.3. The Clippers are ranked seventh in the league in points (109.4) and 12th in rebounds (44.0).

Houston has opened-up a two-game lead at the top of the standings in the West at a NBA-best 53-14. Its recent 17-game winning streak came to an end last Friday in a road loss to Toronto, but the new streak stands at two games both SU and ATS with back-to-back victories against Dallas at home and San Antonio on the road. The Rockets are 26-6 SU at home this season, but they are just 3-5 ATS in their last eight home games. The total has stayed UNDER  closing line in their last four games overall.

The combination of James Harden and Chris Paul has been almost unstoppable at times with role players such as Eric Gordon, Clint Capela and Trevor Ariza contributing heavily to Houston’s success this season. Harden continues to lead the NBA in scoring with 31.0 PPG and Paul is averaging 18.8 points and 8.1 assists a game. The Rockets are the second-highest scoring team in the league with an average of 113.7 points.



Basketball picksMarch 14, 2018

Spartans hoping for longer tournament run this season

SPARTANS HOPING FOR LONGER TOURNAMENT RUN THIS SEASON

It has been quite a season already for the Michigan State Spartans basketball program. The team entered the season with high expectations and many had them as the eventual national champions. The Spartans returned some of their key pieces from last season in forwards Miles Bridges and Nick Ward as well as guard Cassius Winston. Bridges had a chance to head to the NBA after a strong freshman year but decided to return to help MSU win a championship.

But along the way, a shadow was cast over their university and also their basketball program. In the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal, where Nassar worked with female gymnasts, ESPN offered up new allegations that involved members of the Spartan basketball program. This brought Head Coach Tom Izzo and the program under fire and created a distraction for the current players.

However, Izzo tried to keep his team focused and concentrating on basketball while he was forced to try and answer questions from probing reporters. The team rallied behind their long-time coach and for the most part continued to win while rumors about the program swirled all around them. Sure there were some bumps, such as escaping with an overtime win at home against Rutgers, and coming back from 27 points down against Northwestern to steal a win.

And there were a few losses along the way including an early season loss to Duke, a blowout loss to Ohio State and two losses to in-state rival Michigan. But other than those four games, the Spartans won every other game on their schedule to finish with a sparkling 29-4 overall record.

In the final AP Top 25 poll, MSU finished as the 5th ranked team in the country. Entering the NCAA tournament and it’s new seeding process, they were hoping for no lower that a No. 2 seed but ended up as a No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region. The good news, however, is that they get to start the tournament at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, which will definitely give them a bit of a home court advantage for the first two games of the tournament.

The Spartans first round game will be against the Patriot League regular season and tournament champions in the Bucknell Bison. Bucknell has been on a roll coming into the tournament having won 8 straight games and 18 of their last 19. Granted, none of those wins were against ranked teams but being a mid-major program, that’s to be expected. The Bison finished with a 25-9 overall record with a 16-2 conference mark.

After a tough start to the year with losses in each of their first four games. Bucknell has turned things around and won their 7th regular season Patriot league title in the last 8 years. The team is led by senior forward Zach Thomas who averages 20.3 points per game and 9.2 rebounds. Senior guard Stephen Brown chips in with 14.9 points game and leads the team in assists averaging 4.3 per contest.

And before you count Bucknell out playing against a national power such as Michigan State in their own backyard there are a couple of things to remember. It was just two years ago when a highly rated Spartans team took on another mid-major in Middle Tennessee State in round one and lost. Also, back in 2005 as a No. 14 seed like they are this year, Bucknell shocked Kansas in round one pulling the upset and advancing over the No. 3 seed Jayhawks.

But the Spartans are heavily favored in this game and with a week and a half to get ready they should be well prepared. Izzo has a deep bench and is able to use his depth to his advantage. In addition to Bridges, Ward and Winston, the Spartans also feature freshman Jaren Jackson Jr., junior Matt McQuaid, sophomore Joshua Langford and senior guard Tum Tum Nairn.

To get a win, the Bison will need to try and jump on the Spartans early and hope the layoff from the Big Ten tournament affects them. They’ll also need to find a way to counter the size the Spartans have up front with Ward, Jackson and senior Gavin Schilling. And as we all know, in the NCAA tournament anything can happen, so stay tuned.



Basketball picksMarch 8, 2018

Thursday NBA San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors Preview

NBA Thursday Preview 

San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors

Thursday, March 8, 10:30 p.m. (ET) TNT

Pointspread: Golden State -11.5

Total Line: 218 

San Antonio at Golden State Game Overview 

The Spurs got past Memphis 100-98 on Monday at home to post just their third straight-up win in their last 11 games. They failed to cover as heavy 12.5-point favorites to fall to a dismal 4-8 against the spread over their last 12 contests. The total stayed UNDER 201-point line on Monday after it had gone OVER in 10 of their previous 12 games. San Antonio is 37-27 on the year with a SU losing 14-19 (14-17-2 ATS) record on the road.

The playing status of center Pau Gasol is currently listed as doubtful for Thursday after he injured his shoulder in Monday’s game. Kyle Anderson was the only starter in double figures (11 points) in that game and Tony Parker was the leading scorer with 22 points off the bench. The Spurs went just 6-for-22 from three-point range in that game. Overall, they are ranked 27th in the league in scoring with 102.3 points per game.

Golden State continues to keep pace with the blazing Houston Rockets for the top spot in the Western Conference with a SU six-game winning streak. It failed to cover 15-point spread in Tuesday’s 114-101 victory against Brooklyn at home to fall to 2-5 ATS over its last seven outings. The total has stayed UNDER in four of the Warriors’ last five games. They are now 25-7 SU at home with a 14-17-1 record ATS.

It has been business as usual for Golden State during this current winning streak. Stephen Curry led all scorers on Tuesday with 34 points, while Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson added a combined 37 points to help pace the win. This trio has accounted for more than 62 percent of the team’s NBA-high 116.0 PPG scoring average. Draymond Green rounds things out as the leader in both rebounds (7.7) and assists (7.4). The only chink in the armor is a 107.5 points-allowed average that is ranked 20th in the league.

 



Basketball picksFebruary 26, 2018

Golden State Warriors Face off Against Washington Wizards on Wednesday

Golden State Warriors Face off Against Washington Wizards on WednesdayThe Golden State Warriors face a tough test on the road Wednesday night when they take on the Washington Wizards in Washington. Even without star guard John Wall, the Wizards have been playing some good basketball and are trying to hold on to a top four playoff spot as the season winds down.

For the Warriors, they recently fell out of the top overall spot in the Western Conference to the Houston Rockets. Houston has reeled off twelve straight wins to take a slim lead over Golden State while the Warriors have won just six of their last ten games. However, on Saturday night in prime time, they put on a show against the Oklahoma Thunder and came away with a rousing 112-80 victory. The game featured another battle between ex-teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and was a big one for the Warriors since the Thunder had defeated them in both prior games this season.

The Wizards will play on Tuesday night in Milwaukee before returning home on Wednesday to face the Warriors. When Wall went out with his knee injury, a lot of people thought it might derail the teams playoff chances considering he would miss significant time. He ended getting surgery on the knee and the expectation was that he would be out anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks. The last game he played in was on January 25th at Oklahoma City and he has now missed 13 games.

In the first 10 games after the injury, the Wizards went 8-2 including six road victories, including their most recent against the Cleveland Cavaliers this past Thursday. A pleasant surprise for Washington has been the play of backup guard Tomas Satoransky. The 26 year old from Prague, Czech Republic has held down the fort in Wall’s absence and solidified the point guard position. He is playing over 30 minutes per game since Wall’s injury and has scored in double-digits in seven games while averaging over 6 assists per game as well.

And other players have stepped up for Washington in addition to Satoransky. Guard Bradley Beal has needed to step up his scoring and has done just that. He was also selected for his first All-Star game appearance. Forwards Otto Porter and Markieff Morris have been solid and Kelly Oubre Jr. has provided a spark whether starting or coming off the bench.

For Golden State, these may be the dog days of a long season for the defending World Champions. They were everyone’s pick to get back to the Finals again this year and the odds are high that they will. Head Coach Steve Kerr even toyed with letting a few of his players run the huddle in a recent game and took a little heat for doing so. But he was trying to shake things up a bit to keep his team interested as the long season rolled on.

But the Warriors have won 46 of their 60 games on the year and when playoff time rolls around, Kerr just wants them to be rested and focused and ready to go. And with the Rockets now a formidable opponent in the West, Golden State will need to be at the top of their game to move on to their 4th straight NBA Finals appearance. Barring an injury to one of their stars, the Warriors should at least get to the Western Conference Finals where they will probably go against the Rockets. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are battle-tested and should be at the top of their game going into the playoffs. But it could be their bench that determines if they’ll make it all the way again this year.

The Wizards appear headed to the Eastern Conference playoffs and currently sit in the 4th position, although three teams are within 2 games of that spot. They have an opportunity to get as high as 3rd as they are right behind the Cavaliers. For the Warriors, it will be either a 1st or 2nd seed in the West for them as no other teams have a chance to catch either them or the Rockets.

Washington obviously needs this game more than Golden State but they’ll need to go and get it against a good road team. The Warriors have a sparkling 24-7 record on the road so far this season. The game will begin at 8pm EST Wednesday night on ESPN.



Basketball picksFebruary 20, 2018

Friday Boston Celtics vs Detroit Pistons Game Preview

CELTICS TRAVEL TO DETROIT ON FRIDAYFriday Boston Celtics vs Detroit Pistons Game Preview

Hoping to start the post All-Star game portion of the schedule on the right foot, the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons face off on Friday night in the Motor City. It will be the first game back for both teams since Sunday’s new format All-Star game between Team Lebron and Team Steph. Lebron’s team came out on top with a surprising defensive stop on the last possession and Lebron was awarded his 3rd All-Star game MVP award.

Even though this is the first game back for the Celtics and Pistons, it’s actually an important one. Boston dropped three straight games and three of their last four prior to the break. Detroit also comes in on a downswing having lost three of their last four also.

The Celtics lost the top spot in the Eastern Conference to the Toronto Raptors and are now two games behind and in the second position. And the new look Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to gain ground in the third position but are still four and a half games back of Boston.

The Pistons, who made the biggest trading deadline acquisition when they acquired forward Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers, need a surge in their final 25 games just to get into the playoffs. Currently, Detroit sits one and a half games behind the Miami Heat for the 8th and final spot in the East.

But since getting Griffin, Detroit has been up and down. After the trade, they won five straight games (four with Griffin), and then lost four games in a row before a tight win over Atlanta in the final game before the break. With little time to practice, it’s been tough for Pistons Head Coach Stan Van Gundy to integrate Blake into the offense. And for Griffin, he’s been content to try and set up some of his new teammates than be overly aggressive on the offensive end. Expect him to become a bit more the focal point of the Detroit offense in the last two months of the season if the Pistons expect to make a run.

Andre Drummond has been playing at a high level for Detroit and it doesn’t appear to be a problem playing alongside Griffin. But they’ll need more consistent performances from the other players around them to gain a playoff spot. Those include Stanley Johnson, Reggie Bullock and a player returning soon from injury in guard Reggie Jackson.

For Boston, Head Coach Brad Stevens needs to get some players back healthy to get things rolling again. We all know they lost their new star forward Gordon Hayward in the team’s first game, but recently have had a group of other injuries. Forward Marcus Morris has been in and out of the lineup but has been productive when he plays. Others who have appeared on the injury list have included Jaylen Brown (ankle), Shane Larkin (knee), Al Horford (head) and even Kyrie Irving (quad).

But this is a well coached team that plays good defense, and even with a short-handed lineup, the Celtics should be in any game they play. And now that they’ve had a chance for most of the team to get some time off during the break they should be at close to full strength for the matchup against Detroit.

Things don’t look easy for Van Gundy with 15 road games of their 25 remaining games, which is why this home game against the Celtics is a big one for them. A win could get them on a roll and add some confidence to the new look Pistons. They also, however, have a big six-game West Coast trip to look forward to beginning on March 13th in Utah and ending on March 22nd against James Harden, Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets.

Boston has just 23 games left on their schedule with 14 of those on the road. They would certainly like to get off to a good start a win over the Pistons and another against the depleted New York Knicks the following night in New York. Another couple of games they are looking forward to are a March 3rd game against the Rockets and a March 31st game against the Raptors.



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