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NBA Free Picks - ESPN Wednesday Night Doubleheader
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 4/14/2010

Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Memphis Grizzlies (40-41) at Oklahoma City Thunder (49-32), 8 p.m.

The Line
Oklahoma City -7
Total 209

Playoff Implications
Absolutely none, the Thunder’s loss on Monday locked them into the eighth seed where they will face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Memphis was eliminated more than two weeks ago from the playoffs even though they would be guaranteed a spot because of their record if they played in the Eastern Conference.

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How They Enter
Both teams have lost back-to-back games entering this but Oklahoma City’s losses may be tougher to swallow considering one was at a bad Golden State team and the other was at Portland, a game they should have won and without winning, drew the Lakers in the first round.

Motivation
Both team’s motivation can be questioned here. This will be the first meaningless game of the season for the Thunder, who just clinched their playoff fate with the loss to Portland. With a tough series on the horizon against the Lakers, the Thunder may want to put forth a good showing to build some momentum. They are 5-4 SU and 5-4 ATS in their last nine.

Memphis, on the other hand, is used to playing with nothing on the line. They are also used to losing in these instances. With nothing to play for as of late Memphis has gone 2-8 SU and 2-8 ATS.

Scouting Reports
Kevin Durant has been filling up the bucket at an unprecedented pace. He has basically secured the NBA scoring title with an average of 30.1 points per game. Unlike Kobe and LeBron, Durant will play Wednesday night even though he is listed as probable on the injury report because of rest.

Memphis has been ailing the entire month of April. This month alone they have lost Ronnie Brewer, Marc Gasol and Steven Hunter for the season. Without the group they are 2-7 ATS.

Inside the Numbers
Memphis is 39-40-2 ATS and 21-19 ATS on the road
Oklahoma City is 47-34 ATS and also 21-19 ATS at home
Memphis is 16-36 ATS against the NBA Northwest
Oklahoma City is 7-2 ATS against the NBA Southwest
Memphis is 1-7 ATS against teams with a winning record

 

The Pick
Oklahoma City is greatly disappointed in their loss to Portland that sets them up with the Lakers in the first round. Look for the struggling Memphis Grizzlies, who have been playing with little to no emotion over the past two weeks, to bear the brunt of that disappointment. The pick is Oklahoma City giving the points.

Phoenix Suns (53-28) at Utah Jazz (53-28), 10:30 p.m.

The Line
Utah -6
Total 217.5

Playoff Implications
Basically this game is for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. That being said, there is a lot on the line for both teams. Phoenix has a top-finish and the home-court advantage in the first round that comes with it but Utah does not. A loss will drop them to the No. 5 seed.

If either team wins they would likely land the No. 3 seed, although Utah could even climb to the No. 2 seed with help. Considering the circumstances Utah has the most to win or lose in this game.

How They Enter
Considering their 10-game winning streak that stretched from mid-March to the second day of April, the Suns are on somewhat of a cold streak going 2-2 SU over their last four. Utah is 9-3 SU and 6-6 ATS over its last 12.

Scouting Reports
Utah is 2-1 SU against the Suns in their three meetings this season including two blowout wins. Carlos Boozer was the difference in two of those wins but he will likely not play Wednesday night after straining his right ribcage in their last game, a win at Golden State.

Phoenix still has the top offense in the NBA, they rank second in field goal percentage and first in three-point shooting. They enter the game healthy and with Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire playing some of their best basketball of the season.

Inside the Numbers
Phoenix is on a 24-9-1 ATS run
Phoenix is 11-5 ATS in their last 16 road games
Utah is 23-8-2 ATS in its last 33 home games

The Pick
Both teams have the same amount to win but Utah has to more to lose in this situation. The pressure will be on a Jazz team who will likely have to play without Carlos Boozer on short notice. It is a situation they have not been in often. The pick is Phoenix with the points.


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