NBA Odds and Betting Preview for Wednesday
by Dave Schwab - 3/25/2014
The NBA's Eastern Conference has been a two-way race for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs since opening day, and on paper it still is. The defending-champion Miami Heat are just two games in back of the Indiana Pacers in the standings, but both teams come into their upcoming showdown playing some of their worst basketball of the year. These two powers have gone just 10-10 straight up combined in their last 20 games, so something has to give when they clash this Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in an 8 p.m. tip on ESPN.
At the opposite end of the spectrum in the highly-competitive Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets will have the tall task of ending San Antonio's current 14-game winning streak. The Spurs now have a two-game lead over Oklahoma City at the top of those standings, with a hard-charging Los Angeles Clippers' team just 4.5 games back. The Nuggets and the Spurs will tip things off at 8:30 p.m. this Wednesday at the AT&T Center.
Miami Heat (48-21) vs. Indiana Pacers (51-20)
The Heat improved to 5-7 SU in their last 12 games with a shaky 93-91 victory over Portland this past Monday night as 6.5-point home favorites. Miami had the game well in hand, but it blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead to fall to 3-9 against the spread in its last 12 games. This followed a 105-95 loss to New Orleans on the road this past Saturday as a 5.5-point favorite. The Heat are now 20-15 SU on the road this season with a 16-18-1 record ATS. They have failed to cover in their last six road games.
The actual betting line on this game has been delayed to the uncertain playing status of Dwyane Wade. He is listed as probable after missing his last two games, but it remains to be seen how effective he will be on that sore ankle. LeBron James put up 32 points in the win over the Trail Blazers while going 13-for-23 from the field. This could be something to build off for James after struggling with consistency over the past few weeks.
Indiana blew an opportunity to create some momentum of its own for Wednesday night with an 89-77 loss to Chicago as a 1.5-point road underdog this past Monday. The game remained tight at the half, but the Pacers had no answer for the Bulls in the third quarter as the deficit grew to eight points, and they never recovered. Indiana is now 5-7 SU in its last 12 games. Betting on this team has been a nightmare since mid-February with a dismal 3-16-1 record ATS in its last 20 games. The total has stayed "under" in seven of its last eight outings.
It is hard to put a finger on exactly what is wrong with this team other than the fact it has forgotten how to win. It also does not help when your offense manages to score only 100 points or more in two of the last 12 games and your vaunted defense that is ranked first in the league in points allowed (91.8) gives up more than that average in six of those games.
The home team in this series is 8-2 SU in the last 10 meetings, and Indiana has a 4-2 edge ATS in the last six games. The total has stayed under in four of the last five meetings.
Denver Nuggets (32-39) vs. San Antonio Spurs (54-16)
Denver has been basically riding out the string for quite some time now with an overall record of 32-39, but give the team credit for remaining competitive with a 5-3 SU record in its last eight games. The Nuggets have actually been profitable to wager on during this stretch with a 6-2 record ATS, and the total has stayed under in four of their last six games.
If they do lose this game, they will also get a crack at ending the Spurs' streak on Friday night in the back-end of this late season home-and-home series. The Nuggets still have one of the more productive offenses in the league with an average of 103.8 points per game. Ty Lawson has led the way with 18.1 points. Wilson Chandler is averaging 14 PPG, but he remains doubtful with a bad hip. The one major stumbling block to avoid getting swept is a porous defense that is ranked 28th in the NBA in points allowed (105.9).
San Antonio has gained a reputation for coasting through the tail end of the regular season in an effort to conserve enough energy for a deep run in the playoffs, but it has been going full tilt during this impressive 14-game streak. The Spurs have also won with authority the majority of the time with an 11-3 record ATS. They are a perfect 4-0 ATS in their last four home games, and the total has stayed under in three of those contests.
The Spurs have the seventh-highest scoring team in the league with an average of 105.3 points, perfectly complementing a defense that is ranked fifth in points allowed (97.5). Tony Parker and Co. have found a whole new gear over their last 10 games with 111.6 PPG. The team's leading scorer (17.6 PPG) sat out Monday's romp over Philadelphia with a sore Achilles, but Parker is listed as probable for Wednesday night.
This series has been fairly even over the past few seasons, with San Antonio holding a slight 6-4 SU edge in the last 10 meetings, and Denver is 4-2 ATS in the last six. The total has stayed under in the last three meetings. Bookmaker has opened the Spurs as 13-point home favorites for this matchup with the total set at 216.5.
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