NBA Basketball Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 2/4/2014
Most teams will hit the 50-game mark this week, so it's time to look at some playoff odds that were released Tuesday by Bovada. Obviously it's important to take these with a grain of salt because a few teams on this list could look rather different after the Feb. 20 trade deadline.
Let's start with the Charlotte Bobcats, a team I am rooting for to reach the postseason. I'm not a fan of Charlotte and would have to say Michael Jordan is a terrible front office/owner type, but the fans down there deserve some good basketball after the seasons of Duke and North Carolina are finished. The Bobcats have reached the playoffs just once since returning to Charlotte, in 2009-10, and haven't sniffed a winning record since then. They always seem to get unlucky in the lottery, too. For example, this might look like a fairly promising team if Anthony Davis was on it instead of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. But the ping-pong balls didn't fall Charlotte's way that year.
Charlotte (-130 to miss playoffs, -110 to make it) enters Tuesday at 21-28 and holding down the final playoff spot in the East. Just for comparison, the Bobcats would be seven games out of the Western Conference's final spot. One major concern for Charlotte, which returns to “Hornets” next season, is that it is 11-13 at home. No other team holding down a playoff spot is under .500 at home, and the Bobcats won't be a playoff team, even in the weak East, if they don't fix that. The Cats also have the worst point differential of any current playoff team at -3.0. That says no playoffs to me. This week is quiet for Charlotte as it visits Golden State on Tuesday night (loss) and hosts San Antonio on Saturday (loss).
Detroit general manager Joe Dumars is beloved in the Motor City from his Bad Boys days, but he's a goner if the Pistons don't get back to the playoffs this season. Ownership has essentially mandated it, and fan interest is dwindling in Detroit on the Pistons. It'll only get worse once the Tigers get going. Detroit is a game behind Charlotte for that final playoff spot despite an incredibly bad 9-15 home mark. I happen to think the Pistons do something before the trade deadline. Detroit visits Orlando in a very winnable game on Wednesday before starting a four-game homestand before the All-Star Break. A little momentum would go a long way. The Pistons are +110 to make the playoffs and -150 to miss. I say no.
Heads will probably roll in New York if the Knicks miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009-10. The Knicks are currently No. 10 in the East at 19-29, 1.5 games behind Charlotte. The Knicks are also going the wrong direction again in having lost two straight -- Monday's defeat in Milwaukee is unacceptable. More bad news: New York has played a ton of home games (11-16) and thus has some making up to do on the road (8-13). It is +125 to make the playoffs and -175 to miss. I think the Knicks do get in barring a Carmelo Anthony injury or trade.
The Dallas Mavericks are fighting to their playoff lives out West despite a 28-21 mark that would be No. 3 in the East. That said, the Mavs are the only Top 8 team in the conference with a losing road record, and I don't think they are good enough defensively to stay there. The Mavs have a potentially important playoff tiebreaker game on Wednesday at Memphis. Dallas is -110 to make the playoffs and -130 to miss. I say no.
Those Grizzlies are a game behind Dallas for the eighth playoff spot, but they are trending upward, having won eight of 10 and looking again like a defensive dynamo with Marc Gasol back. Memphis has a solid 13-8 road mark but just 13-13 at home, where it never used to lose. That should change. The Grizzlies are +105 to make the playoffs and -145 to miss. They get in.
Finally, a team I thought would make the playoffs this season with full health was Minnesota. The Wolves enter Tuesday at 23-24 and 3.5 games behind Dallas. I really have no explanation for why the team isn't better with players like Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic. They have been frustrating me all season. If the Wolves could simply get two games over .500, I think they might stay above break even, but they keep falling back under. Presuming Minnesota wins Tuesday at home against the Lakers, the Wolves could get to that two-over mark with victories Wednesday at Oklahoma City and Friday at New Orleans before starting a four-game homestand. Sorry, don't see that happening. Minnesota is +110 to make the playoffs and -150 to miss. I say the latter.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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