I don't really know which team qualifies as the worst playoff club in NBA history, but I'd like to nominate the Memphis Grizzlies now that it has been determined that star point guard Mike Conley won't be able to return for the postseason, joining All-Star center Marc Gasol, solid big man Brandon Wright and guard Mario Chalmers on the sidelines. Conley probably has played his final game with the franchise as a pending free agent. Memphis as currently constituted is definitely not playoff-caliber and is almost surely going to get swept in the first round by the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder or Clippers. I assure you each of those teams is praying to face Memphis in Round 1. As of right now the Grizzlies are the No. 5 seed but could easily lose out and drop all the way to No. 8. Doubt there's enough time left in the regular season for the Grizz to miss the playoffs entirely.
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Cavaliers at Pacers (TBA)
First of an ESPN doubleheader and should have live betting at sportsbooks. Could also be a first-round Eastern Conference playoff preview if Indiana finishes eighth instead of seventh. I'm thinking the Cavs might rest a starter or two here as they were in Milwaukee on Tuesday. Kyrie Irving was questionable for that one as it was with a sprained ankle that kept him out Sunday. Indiana doesn't have the option of resting guys. It won a second straight road game Sunday, 92-87 at the Knicks. Paul George had a sore ankle but hit the tiebreaking jumper with 23.6 seconds left. He probably wouldn't play here if the game wasn't so important. Cleveland is 3-0 in the series this season but winning by an average of just 4.3 points.
Key trends: The Cavs are 0-5-1 against the spread in the past six meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in five straight Indiana home games overall.
Early lean: I think Pacers will beat a depleted Cleveland team.
Pistons at Magic (pick'em, 210)
Second of a back-to-back for Detroit as it was in Miami on Tuesday, but it also can't afford to give anyone the night off. Orlando beat Memphis 119-107 on Sunday for its fourth win in five games. Nikola Vucevic had 25 points off the bench. The Magic are 0-2 against the Pistons this season, both blowouts. But they were both in Detroit.
Key trends: The Pistons are 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 4-0 in the previous four.
Early lean: Magic and over.
Nets at Wizards (-13.5, 206)
Brooklyn lost a fifth straight Sunday, 106-87 to New Orleans and probably won't win again this season with both Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young shut down for the remainder of it. Thomas Robinson had his fourth straight double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds in the loss. Washington lost 114-109 at the LA Clippers on Sunday. Bradley Beal was just 2-for-16 from the field for eight points. John Wall extended his streak to 13 straight games with 10 or more assists, second longest in the NBA this season. Washington is the only opponent the Nets have faced just once this season. They Wizards won that game 111-96 back on Dec. 26.
Key trends: The Nets are 2-6 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 5-1 in the past six.
Early lean: Normally I'd give these points vs. that sorry Nets roster, but Wizards essentially have no reason to care as well. So take the Nets. Go under.
Pelicans at Celtics (-14, 207.5)
New Orleans was in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Boston won a second straight Sunday, 107-100 at the Lakers. Isaiah Thomas scored 26 points, and the Celtics clinched a playoff berth. Jae Crowder added 22 points for Boston, which avoided a trap game after shocking the Warriors on Friday in Oakland. The C's were without Avery Bradley due to "good personal reasons." He should play here. But Evan Turner won't due to injury. Boston won the first meeting 111-93 in New Orleans and has taken three straight overall in the series.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 0-5 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 6-1 in Boston's past seven games.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
Hornets at Knicks (+4.5, 197)
Charlotte was in Toronto on Tuesday with both Al Jefferson and Nic Batum questionable after each sat Sunday. New York lost 92-87 at home to Indiana on Sunday. Carmelo Anthony got the game off for rest, and Kristaps Porzingis and Jose Calderon were both out with injuries. Don't expect to the latter two here but Anthony is expected to play. The Hornets lead the season series 2-1, winning both at home.
Key trends: The Hornets are 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 3-0-1 in the previous four.
Early lean: Wait on Batum and Jefferson.
Rockets at Mavericks (pick'em, 211)
Second ESPN game with live betting. This one is huge with Dallas at No. 7 in the West but just a game ahead of No. 9 Houston. The Rockets got a huge win Sunday, 118-110 over Oklahoma City. James Harden had 41 points, his 11th game with at least 40 this season. That's one behind leader Steph Curry. Dallas won a fourth straight Sunday, 88-78 in Minnesota. J.J. Barea and Wesley Matthews combined for 40 points. Dallas has held each opponent under 90 points in the winning streak. Houston has won two straight in this series and six of the past eight.
Key trends: The Rockets are 7-2 ATS in the past nine meetings. The under is 4-0 in Houston's past four on the road and in Dallas' past four overall.
Early lean: Rockets and under.
Thunder at Trail Blazers (TBA)
Oklahoma City was in Denver on Tuesday and I'm not sure why the Thunder would play Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook here in the back-to-back and locked into the No. 3 seed. Portland was in Sacramento on Tuesday and still trying to get the No. 5 seed and thus might play everyone. The Thunder lead the season series 2-1 but lost in Portland on Jan. 10. The Blazers have won four of the past five meetings at the Moda Center.
Key trends: The home team is 4-0 ATS in the past four. The over is 11-3 in Portland's past 14 vs. the West.
Early lean: Wait on the OKC lineup.
Clippers at Lakers (+11.5, 208)
It's the final game for Kobe Bryant against good buddy Chris Paul and the Clippers. Bryant this week talked about how he regretted that he never got to play with Paul when the NBA voided his potential trade to the Lakers from New Orleans. That's assuming both Paul and Kobe play here as these teams also played Tuesday with the Clippers as the home team. Kobe has said he wants to play the rest of the games.
Key trends: The under is 11-3 in the Lakers' past 14 at home. They are 2-5 ATS in their past seven in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Wait and see what happens Tuesday. If Clippers blow Lakers out, I would take the points here. Tough to do that on back-to-back nights.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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