The NBA regular season has just over three weeks remaining on the schedule, which means basketball bettors are faced with a blend of teams tanking and teams pushing for the postseason. This interesting mix can make it tough to tackle the nightly odds, but here are some things to look for when making your sports picks on the home stretch of the NBA season.
No rest for the Raptors
Toronto is the top team in the East, five games ahead of the Boston Celtics for the No. 1 seed in the conference and home court through to the East finals. The Raptors are in this place in part to their dominance on their home court and can’t afford to lose that edge come the postseason. Toronto is currently 29-6 SU and a 19-16 ATS inside the Air Canada Centre, outscoring opponents by an average of almost 11 points per home game.
The Raps have a dozen games remaining on the calendar, and four of those games come against the Celtics or Cleveland Cavaliers. Toronto has clinched a postseason spot for a while now but don’t expect the team to take its foot off the gas until home court is locked up in the East. Until then, bet the Raptors to go all out knowing they can’t afford not to have home in their back pocket this postseason.
When you play as many postseason games as the Warriors have played in recent years, that extra action begins to take a toll. And we’re seeing Golden State wear down a bit with some bad injuries to superstars in the final month of the season. Stephen Curry’s ankle issues are back, Kevin Durant has broken ribs, Klay Thompson has a broken thumb and Draymond Green is a question mark each night with a bum shoulder.
Golden State is currently second in the Western Conference standings and already clinched the Pacific Division title. The Warriors are three games back of the Houston Rockets for the top seed in the West, but that’s the last thing on their mind right now. Expect Golden State to take it very, very easy in its remaining games, which could give some go-against value to NBA bettors. That said, now might be the best time to buy up the Dubs’ NBA title odds, priced as low as -140. That’s pretty good considering they were -200 earlier in the season.
For LeBron James-led teams, the regular season is just a doorway to the playoffs. Where you’re seeded isn’t the focus, as much as that you’re seeded. And it’s the same for the Cavaliers this year. Cleveland is a distant third in the Eastern Conference pecking order, 11.5 games back of Toronto, which shows you just how weak the conference really is.
James & Co. have had a wild second half to the schedule, trading away half their roster, losing All-Star Kevin Love to a hand injury, and now possibly being without head coach Tyronn Lue for an undetermined amount of time. The Cavs have been one of the worst bets all season, going just 22-46-1 ATS, and that shouldn’t change down the stretch. Look for Cleveland to be more focused on resting players than finishing the regular season with a bang.
Running with the Bulls
Chicago is among a handful of NBA bottom feeders looking to secure the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. To do so, the Bulls must finish with the worst record in the league, which may be harder than it looks with other last-place squads turning on the tank to end the season. Chicago has already been warned by the league about resting healthy players, and has done a good job acting like it cares about results by alternating wins and losses in the last eight games.
The Bulls, however, have done just enough to cover the spread in those games, going 6-2 ATS in the span. With oddsmakers knowing full well Chicago is in tank mode, they’re going to throw a ton of points at Chicago on a nightly basis. That means some added padding and value to anyone brave enough to run with the Bulls at this point in the season.