The NBA took a one-day hiatus last night to clear the way for the college guys, but the night prior we notched a second straight NBA winner, again in easy fashion, with the Magic thoroughly outclassing the reeling and undermanned Grizzlies in Orlando. It was the Grizz sixth loss in a row, but thanks to the Warriors message-sending outburst against Portland, they remain a half-game ahead for fifth place in the Western Conference standings.
Our win last night pushed out record to 5-2-1 ATS over the last eight picks as we continue to gather some important momentum for the soon-coming postseason. We are in the final two weeks now, and my same admonition about keeping an eye on the “who’s in/who’s out” news will be increasingly more important. There are some teams in both leagues with a lot to play for as the final two spots in the East are juggling between three teams (four, if you want to be generous and include the Wizards) and spots three to six are dead even in the loss column. Likewise, the West still has a battle at the bottom; one that got more interesting with the Rockets clutch win over OKC yesterday on ABC.
But there are a LOT of teams with little to play for and little incentive to burn up and needed postseason fuel – so keep an eye on it before plopping down any big plays this week and next.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Portland Trailblazers -3 at Sacramento Kings
Portland is attempting to move three clear with five to play of the ninth-place Houston Rockets tonight, and that apparently is all the incentive Coach Stotts needs to keep his starters full engaged. According to Stotts, their goal is “to win every game” and plans on putting max effort forth to do so. And frankly, motivation is always important.
But so is being able to win on the road, and Portland hasn’t proven very effective in that regard this season, posting a 12-25 mark away from home. Meanwhile, Sacramento has covered five in a row, despite no real apparent motivation from a playoff perspective. They are 4-2 straight up in their last six games and 4-1 straight up a home, including wins over Dallas and Washington teams that still have something more tangible to play for.
I think Sacramento is the play here tonight, especially getting points at home. Portland is just 1-9 straight up in their last ten road games – a pretty dismal mark, even for a bad team, let alone a playoff team. Laying points on them bucking that trend feels a little ambitious to me.