Playing out the String

Playing out the String

Playing out the String
By Chris David

As the NBA regular season comes to a close, gamblers continue to be faced with meaningless matchups on a nightly basis. Playoff-bound clubs are either resting for the postseason push or going full-speed ahead en route to a better seed.

With only 16 teams earning a playoff spot plus a few still having hope of making the dance, it leaves you with about 11 clubs that have been eliminated from playoff contention.

How do you bet on losing teams playing out the string?

Most would agree that it’s hard to justify a wager on the Miami Heat and its no-name roster of Blake Ahearn, Stephane Lasme and Joel Anthony at this point, especially against a playoff-bound club.

However, how about backing the Heat against another team that has already been eliminated from the playoffs?

We asked one of the hottest NBA handicappers, Mark Fox, on that same question and he said, “I tend to study every game on the rotation the same way over the course of a season, looking at matchups, talent, streaks, angles and trends.”

“However, I often find myself passing on certain matchups due to the inability to find out who’s playing and for how long. The last couple weeks of any professional sport are tough to gauge but value does appear from time-to-time and that’s when you need to strike.”

It’s been known late in the NBA season that totals are often inflated by the bookmakers due to a lack of defense. This has often created easy ‘over’ plays, especially when you have two losing clubs squaring off.

Fox added, “Defense has been missing in the NBA this season in general, with 15 teams giving up 100 PPG, and another four squads that are allowing 99 PPG. It’s no surprise that nine of the top 10 defensive clubs in the league have already clinched playoff spots.”

For the remainder of the regular season, there are 10 matchups left that have non-playoff clubs squaring off.

Listed below are the games, along with some notes that could create a solid ‘over’ play.

Friday Apr. 11
Memphis at Miami: Bad offense vs. Bad Defense -- Something has to give! 
Portland at Sacramento: No Artest and Miller creates uptempo for Kings

Saturday Apr. 12
Charlotte at Indiana: Should be a high number but doable if the shots fall. 
Minnesota at Memphis: Neither team plays any defense.
New Jersey at Milwaukee: Bucks shoot much better at home, but Nets are hit or miss at times.

Monday Apr. 14
Chicago at Milwaukee: The two teams recently combined for 225 points.

Tuesday Apr. 15
Charlotte at New Jersey: Four straight 'over' tickets in this series. Anything over 195 is a serious play!
Memphis at Portland: Another battle between bad defense (Grizz) vs. inconsistent offense (Blazers) 

Wednesday Apr. 16
New York at Indiana: Providing the Pacers are done, this should be an All-Star game. 
Milwaukee at Minnesota: Both clubs should put up some numbers in the final game of the season.

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Re: Playing out the String

Betting The Stretch Run: Best and worst NBA bets to season's end

There is still a lot to be decided in the NBA playoff picture as we approach the final week of the regular season. Here’s a quick look at some teams that are surging toward the finish and some that are sinking fast.

All stats current through Thursday’s games.

Look for wagering options with

Golden State Warriors and/or the Denver Nuggets

It’s a shame that we aren’t going to see one of these teams in the postseason, but the race for eighth spot in the Western Conference should at least keep us entertained until the second season starts.

On Thursday, the Nuggets beat the Warriors to move one game ahead in the race for eighth.

The Nuggets finish at Utah, then at home to Houston and Memphis. Golden State, which has lost four of its last six, finishes against the Clips at home, at Phoenix, and then back home against the Sonics.

Dallas Mavericks

Things are finally coming together for the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk is back. Jason Kidd is getting comfortable. And they had covered four of their last six games.

"It's basically a complete opposite [from last season]," Dirk Nowitzki told reporters. "But, you know, I don't mind it this way. We have to fight and find our rhythm. Last year, we really didn't have a meaningful game since March. Then, once the playoffs started, we weren't sharp at all on both ends on the floor.

"We're going to keep the pedal to the metal and then hopefully we can gain some confidence in these last few games and be a dangerous team during the playoffs."

Be careful with

Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James took a few days off to rest his nagging back spasms, and then returned to drop 33 to spur a big come-from-behind win against the Nets. He didn’t look overly comfortable in 35 minutes of play, but the Cavs may need him down the stretch to hold on to fourth place (and home-court advantage) in the Eastern Conference.

"I'm going to do what I have to do to help us win," James told reporters after the game. "I didn't feel 100 percent, but I felt I could do everything in my arsenal that needs to be done for us to win."

The Cavs need the wins, but they need a healthy LeBron in the playoffs too. Handle this situation much like Cleveland is – delicately.

Take a pass on

Detroit Pistons

Last season a number of Pistons complained that they had nothing left in the tank by the time they met up with the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference final. They won’t make the same mistake twice.

Locked in as the No. 2 seed, Detroit is openly resting its starters before the postseason, limiting them to no more than 20 or 25 minutes a game.

"We thought it was important to develop our bench," Detroit coach Flip Saunders reasoned with reporters. "When [team president Joe Dumars] and I sat down after the season, we made the decision to play the young guys even though we might lose some games by doing that.

"In the long run, we thought it would pay off for us in the playoffs."

We’ll soon find out, but for now, wait until then to get your Pistons bets in.

Chicago Bulls

It’s not often that a Joakim Noah quote tells the whole story, but the Chicago rookie hit the nail on the head about what’s going on with the Bulls.

''Losing is like a disease, it spreads throughout the whole team,'' Noah said after the game. ''It's really hard right now, because regardless of what we do, there's no light at the end of the tunnel, especially for this season. I feel like we're not really playing with a lot of pride and respect for the jersey. It's just hard because you can't point at anybody individually. You can talk about Florida, but if you're a Bulls fan, I'm not a champion anymore. We're losers. We lose. We're losers. That's all there is to say.

''There's going to have to be a serious team talk before the end of the year about approach to every game; the things that are going to be tolerated and the things that aren't going to be tolerated. Not the little, stupid things. I'm talking about winning; the sacrifices that need to be done in order to win.''

Not surprisingly, Chicago has lost its last three straight up and against the spread.

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