Tuesday's NBA Tip Sheet

Tuesday's NBA Tip Sheet

Tuesday's Tip Sheet
By Chris David

The NBA takes over center stage tonight with the NCAA Tournament concluding yesterday. From here on out, it’s all about the Association as 16 teams will be looking to hoist the hardware during the upcoming playoffs.

With less than 10 days of regular season action left, the postseason spots are starting to fill up and right now it appears that all the excitement remains in the Western Conference.

The No. 1 seed is yet to be locked, but New Orleans controls its own destiny. The Hornets have a 1½-game lead over the Spurs and Lakers, plus they have six games left on their schedule including a nice test against Utah in the Big Easy tonight.

The Hornets have been heating up, going 5-0 straight up and 3-2 against the spread in their last five games. This battle versus Utah is pivotal, considering head coach Byron Scott and company play four of the last five on the road.

Utah has ripped off three straight wins and covers, including a 90-64 blowout win against San Antonio last Friday. All three victories came at home, pushing the team’s record to 35-4 SU and 26-11 ATS from Salt Lake City.

Playing on the road has been a different story for the Jazz, who own a dismal 16-22 SU and 15-23 ATS ledger away from home. The defense has surrendered 10 PPG (105-95) more on the road than at home, which is helped the ‘over’ go 22-15.

The home team has won both games this year, which includes New Orleans 110-98 win over Utah on Feb. 29 as a five-point home favorite. Three of the previous four meetings between the two clubs have gone ‘under’ the total and the other battle pushed.

The Jazz have already clinched a playoff berth and fortunately they get tested with all five of their final games against playoff-bound clubs.

Magic Number = Three

It’s been eight seasons (1998/199) since the Hawks have tasted the postseason, and that came in the infamous 50-game lockout year. Right now Atlanta can see the light at the end of the tunnel and a win Tuesday would help Mike Woodson’s squad dearly. The Pacers trail Atlanta by three games for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and could cut the lead to two games with a victory. The home team has won and covered both meeting this year by exactly 12 points. The total has gone 1-1. Indiana’s defense has been surprisingly great of late, holding teams to 93.8 PPG. The ‘under’ has gone 4-0 during this span.

Eighth and Final Spot

It’s going to be unfortunate to see either the Nuggets or Warriors miss this year’s postseason, but this writer believes Don Nelson’s team would be a tougher out just based on their run in the playoffs last season.

Golden State and Denver both square off for the fourth and final time on Thursday from the Bay Area, which makes tonight a look-ahead situation. The Nuggets have won two of the first three meetings and would own the all-important tiebreaker over the Warriors with a road victory.

Denver is going to have to earn it and definitely needs to step up defensively. The Nuggets have dropped two straight and three of their last four games. George Karl’s team hasn’t held an opponent under 100-plus points in 13 straight contests and just allowed 118 and 151 respectively to the Kings and Sonics. The team will try to bounce back Tuesday against the L.A. Clippers, who have dropped two of three meetings to Denver this season. The ‘over’ has cashed in the last two encounters, but the ‘under’ was on a 9-0 run prior to that. No overnight line has been posted due to the injuries.

As expected, Golden State was humbled last week against the Spurs, Mavericks and Hornets, losing all three tilts by double digits. The club did earn a much-needed win against Memphis and is expected to capture another versus Sacramento tonight. The Warriors have won two of three against the Kings this year and surprisingly the ‘under’ has gone 3-0 in the three battles.

Before you blast me with emails about Dallas, remember that the Mavericks have a two-game lead over both clubs and all of their final five games are winnable. Don’t fret Mark Cuban haters, the Mavs’ opponent in the first round will most likely be the Hornets, Lakers or Spurs.

Must-Win Situations

Phoenix at Memphis: Possible look-ahead spot for the Suns here, with a back-to-back battle on deck against San Antonio. Phoenix has won seven straight against Memphis, including a pair of double-digit victories this year. The ‘over’ has cashed in both games, with the Suns posting 132 and 127.

Dallas vs. Seattle: Can the Sonics win two in a row and put another kink in the Western Conference playoff race. The last time Seattle won consecutive games came at home on Jan. 31 when the club actually put together a three-game winning streak. Fast forward to Tuesday and oddsmakers really don’t expect another upset, listing the Sonics as 18 ½-point underdogs. Dallas has won 12 in a row against Seattle and the club is coming off an impressive 105-98 win against Phoenix last Sunday. The Mavs are quietly heating up, covering four in a row.

L.A. Lakers vs. Portland: The Lakers looked sharp on Sunday by defeating the Kings 114-92, finally snapping a five-game ATS skid. This game is huge for Phil Jackson’s squad, since the final four games are all at Staples Center and that includes a road matchup versus the Clips. Contests set for Friday against New Orleans and Sunday versus San Antonio will most likely determine the No. 1 seed in the West.

Meaningless Matchups

Like any professional sport, the last few weeks are always unpredictable and often compared to preseason, especially with the number of clubs playing out the string or resting for the postseason.

Tonight, we have a quartet of games that probably aren’t going to get much action at the books.

Minnesota at Charlotte: Possible total play in this matchup with defense being left in the locker room recently for both teams. Minnesota has allowed 100-plus in four of its last five, while Charlotte has surrendered triple digits in four consecutive games. The Bobcats downed the Timberwolves by 20 points (109-89) on Mar. 4 as six-point road underdogs.

Boston at Milwaukee: The Boston Three Party (Allen, Garnett, Pierce) are all expected to be rested or limited. The Bucks are better at home, but this game is really tough to gauge with a lack of information. Only the Doctor (Rivers) knows.

Chicago at Miami: Chicago has won and covered six straight against Miami, including both meetings this year. Both teams have had miserable seasons after making the playoffs last year, but most would agree that at least the Bulls have something to work with. Chicago is listed as a nine-point road favorite.

New York at Detroit: The Pistons have all but locked up the second seed in the Eastern Conference and are just going through the motions. Meanwhile, the Knicks have covered four of their last five despite going 1-4 SU. The team is playing much better offensively and catching a dozen on the road certainly opens up my eyes, especially against the Pistons’ backups.


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Atlanta (36-41, 36-40-1 ATS) at Indiana (33-44, 36-40-1 ATS)

The Pacers, who trail the Hawks by three games for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth, face a virtual must-win situation tonight when they host Atlanta at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Indiana is coming off Sunday’s 105-97 home win over Milwaukee, coming up just short as a 9½-point favorite. The Pacers have won four of their last five (3-2 ATS), with three of the wins coming at home (2-1 ATS). However, a loss tonight all but eliminates Indiana from playoff contention.

The Hawks, who are seeking their first playoff berth since 1999, have caught fire at the right time, going 6-1 in their last seven, including Friday’s 92-85 upset victory at Philadelphia as a five-point road underdog. That win came 24 hours after Atlanta lost 109-104 to the 76ers at home. The Hawks are 8-5 ATS in their last 13, including 4-2 ATS on the road.

The home team is 5-0 SU and ATS in the last five meetings in this rivalry, including 2-0 SU and ATS this year. Atlanta won 107-95 as a 2½-point chalk on Dec. 26, while Indiana returned the favor eight days later with a 113-91 rout as a 2½-point favorite. The straight-up winner has cashed in each of the last 10 meetings, and the favorite is 5-1 ATS in the last six.

The Hawks are mired in pointspread slumps of 2-9 on Tuesdays, 2-5 after a SU win and 1-4 after a non-cover. Meanwhile, the Pacers re 5-2 ATS in their last seven at home and 5-2 ATS in their last seven after a day off. However, they have failed to cash in four straight Tuesday outings.

Atlanta had a six-game “over” streak snapped when Saturday’s game at Philly stayed under the number. However, the over is still 10-3 in the Hawks’ last 13 outings overall and 5-2 in their last seven on the highway. Also, the over is 3-1 in the last four series meetings (2-0 in Indiana). Conversely, the Pacers have stayed under the total in each of their last four contests.


Utah (51-26) at New Orleans (54-22)

Two of the five Western Conference teams that have already punched their playoff tickets clash at the New Orleans Arena, where the Hornets look to extend a five-game winning streak and halt Utah’s three-game run.

New Orleans broke open a close game late in the fourth quarter against Golden State on Sunday, rolling to a 108-96 victory as a five-point home chalk. Not only have the Hornets won five in a row (3-0-1 ATS), but they’re 17-4 in their last 21 overall (15-5-1 ATS), including 11 straight home wins (10-1 ATS).

Like the Hornets, Utah is on a nice run, having won three in a row and six of seven, though every victory has come at home, including Friday’s 90-64 beatdown of San Antonio as a three-point favorite. The last time the Jazz went on the road, they suffered a 110-103 loss at Minnesota as a 5½-point road chalk, dropping to 16-22 on the highway this year (15-23 ATS).

The Hornets’ second victory during their current 17-4 run came against Utah at home on Jan. 29, a 110-98 rout as five-point chalk. That snapped New Orleans’ four-game losing skid to the Jazz, who had won the first two meetings this year by scores of 110-88 as a 3½-point home favorite and 99-71 as a 6½-point home choice.

The host is 4-0 in the last four series meetings (3-0-1 ATS), the SU winner is 8-1-1 ATS in the last 10 clashes and the favorite is 4-0-1 ATS in the last five.

The Jazz are 1-4 ATS in their last five on the highway, but they’re 8-1 ATS in their last nine against the Southwest Division and 7-0 ATS in their last seven when coming off three or more days’ rest.

New Orleans is on a bevy of positive ATS streaks, including: 36-16-1 overall, 21-7 at home, 34-19 as a favorite this year, 37-18 against the Western Conference, 17-8-1 when playing on one day of rest, 5-0-1 on Tuesdays and 6-1 against the Northwest Division.

The under is 4-1-1 in the last six series meetings and 4-2-1 in the Hornets’ last seven at home. However, the over is 5-1 in Utah’s last six overall, 22-15-1 for Utah on the road this year and 6-3 in the Hornets’ last nine overall.



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Tuesday NBA Gameday

Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers will be looking to grab a road win on Tuesday night when they play in Portland against the Trail Blazers. Here's your NBA Gameday:

Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers

The Hawks are trying to lock down the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs (and become the sacrificial first-round lamb for the Celtics), and taking care of ninth-place Indiana on Tuesday night would help that cause. The Hawks have won two of their three games in April, and they beat the Sixers 92-85 in their last outing (Saturday).

The Pacers knocked off the Bucks on both Friday and Sunday to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, but they can't afford to lose to the Hawks on Tuesday night. Danny Granger led the way with 27 points in Indiana's 105-97 home win over Milwaukee on Sunday. Mike Dunleavy had a team-high 27 points in the Pacers' road victory on Friday.

Utah Jazz at New Orleans Hornets

The Jazz are going to win the Northwest Division, but they'll probably still end up with the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference thanks to the Spurs' strong record. Utah, though, did pound San Antonio 90-64 on Friday night, with Mehmet Okur scoring a team-high 17 points. Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer each had 16 points on that day.

The Hornets have won five games in a row as they try to lock up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. New Orleans has also won nine of their past 10 contests, falling only to the Celtics back on March 28. The Hornets are coming off a 108-96 win over the Warriors on Sunday, with David West and Peja Stojakovic each contributing 25 points.

Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks

The Celtics have now clinched top spot in the Eastern Conference, so watch for Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce to get lots of rest down the stretch. Boston is on a six-game winning streak right now, capped off by a 101-78 drubbing of the Bobcats on Saturday. Leon Powe led the way with a team-high 22 points for Boston in that victory.

The Bucks had actually won their first two games in the month of April before getting swept in the home-and-home set by the Pacers. Those two wins (over the Knicks and Wizards) matched Milwaukee's win total from the month of March, which is why they're not in playoff contention. Michael Redd had a team-high 24 points in their Sunday loss.

Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers

The Lakers have been holding off the Suns for first place in the Pacific Division, and they'll be looking to help their cause by beating Portland on Tuesday. Los Angeles knocked off the Blazers 104-91 last Wednesday, with Bryant pouring in a game-high 36 points. Derek Fisher tossed in 13 points in that contest, while Pau Gasol had 10 points.

The Blazers got Brandon Roy back in the lineup on Sunday, but that wasn't enough to keep them from losing their fifth straight game. Roy was good for 18 points in the team's 72-65 home loss to San Antonio on Sunday, while Travis Outlaw scored 14 points and LaMarcus Aldridge contributed 12 points and 11 boards. Portland last won on March 25.

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Tuesday's best NBA bets

Chicago vs. Miami 9, 182

If you don’t know who Daequan Cook or Chris Quinn are, don’t feel bad. They have gone from healthy scratches earlier in the season to regular starters for the Heat due to a laundry list of injuries.

Alexander Johnson is the most recent injury and the forward is listed as day-to-day. There are eight players in all on the shelf for the Heat and they are begging for the end of the season.   

The Heat have lost their last seven games and have failed to cover in four of their last five. It’s not like they’re playing a fantastic Bulls team tonight, but it’s not like you need to be fantastic against Miami lately either.

Pick: Chicago

Utah vs. New Orleans -4, 210

The Hornets are looking like a team you absolutely don’t want to play in the first round of the playoffs. They are tied with San Antonio as the hottest team in the league right now with nine wins in their last 10 games and they’re doing it under the pressure of needing the wins.

New Orleans leads the Western Conference over the Spurs and Lakers by 1½ games and the Jazz aren’t far behind at just 3½ games back.

Utah leads the season series 2-1, but there are no signs of the Hornets slowing down now. Chris Paul, the pick of many for MVP this season, is coming off a triple-double against Golden State on Sunday. 

Pick: New Orleans

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