NBA Free Picks: Thursday TNT Doubeheader
by Matt Severance - 4/8/2010
It’s the final Thursday night of the regular season, so I hope these previews have made you a bit of money for the playoffs – and of course Doc’s will have the NBA’s postseason covered in full. That’s when the Association really gets interesting.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls, 8 p.m.
The line: Chicago –2 (193)
How they enter: Cleveland helped Chicago out by beating the Raptors on Tuesday night, 113-101, and breaking Chris Bosh’s face in the process. The Cavs have won four of five and 12 of 14 overall. Chicago suffered a crushing loss Tuesday night against the Bucks, 79-74, matching a season low in points. The Bulls had won two in a row previous to that. In fact, following their past three losses, Chicago has then won two straight.
Scouting report: This one is all about motivation. Chicago is a half-game behind Toronto for the final playoff spot in the East, but it’s really 1.5 games because the Raptors hold the tiebreaker. The Bulls and Raptors play Sunday, by the way. Thus, this game has a decent chance at being a first-round playoff preview. Cleveland really has no need to care about this game as it has wrapped up the NBA’s No. 1 overall seed. It can join the 1995-97 Bulls as the only teams in NBA history to post consecutive 65-victory seasons if the Cavs win their final four games. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cavaliers will play all their starters tonight in fairness to the Raptors, but then could start to shut it down to close the regular season. However, both Delonte West and Daniel Gibson are likely to sit tonight with minor injuries. The Bulls won the first meeting with Cleveland this season back in early November but the Cavs have won the next two (1-1 ATS).
Key trends: The Cavaliers are 2-5 ATS in their last five road games and 1-5 ATS in their last six overall. Chicago is 6-0 ATS following a loss.
The ‘under’ is 4-0 in the past four meetings and 8-2 in Chicago’s past 10 games overall.
The pick: Take Chicago, they have more to play for. And you can’t ignore that ‘under’ trend.
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Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets, 10:30 p.m.
The line: Nuggets -2 (203.5)
How they enter: Denver seems to have found itself again, winning three straight (2-1 ATS) following a five-losses-in-six-games skid. On Wednesday night, the Nuggets looked impressive in winning by four at Oklahoma City after trailing by 13. The Lakers have been off since Sunday, when they lost by 19 at home to San Antonio. It was L.A.’s third loss in four games.
Scouting report: This one also is all about motivation. The Lakers are all but locked in as the West’s top seed (magic number of one). Denver is currently third in the West but tied with Dallas and Phoenix at 51-27. And Utah is just a half-game back in the Northwest Division. Obviously, Denver would like to grab the No. 2 seed in the West to avoid the Lakers as long as possible. Los Angeles only leads the Orlando Magic by a half-game, so I suppose there is motivation to at least finish better than Orlando to have home-court advantage in the Finals should the Magic make it again (L.A. owns the tiebreaker should they finish tied). Denver’s big rally in OKC was the second time in two weeks that the team rebounded from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to post a victory. The Nuggets had only one such win in their previous 124 games. Carmelo Anthony was knocked unconscious in the final minute of the third quarter last night. He not only returned, but he hit the clinching free throws. He should be good to go tonight. But power forward Kenyon Martin remains out (Chris Andersen is questionable), as does Laker center Andrew Bynum. Denver beat L.A. by double digits in the season’s first two meetings but lost 95-89 on Feb. 28 in the most recent meeting despite Kobe Bryant shooting 3-for-17. The ‘under’ is 2-1 in the three games.
Key trends: Denver is 9-11 in the second of back-to-backs this year and 6-12-2 ATS (only one cover in the past nine).
The ‘under’ is 7-3 in L.A.’s past 10 and 8-2 in Denver’s previous 10.
The pick: The Nuggets seemed to get a pick-me-up by a visit from Coach George Karl early this week; Karl just finished chemo treatments. Take Denver (and the ‘under’) despite the obvious rest disadvantage.
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