New York Knicks @ Orlando Magic – Amway Centre at 00:00
It has been another hard season to live through as a New York Knicks fan and there are signs that the franchise is looking to become one of the teams fighting for a decent position in the lottery. Releasing Brandon Jennings indicated that and there were reports that Derrick Rose would be the next Guard to be released, although the Knicks won’t hear anything about ‘tanking’ just yet.
They are still ‘only’ 5 games out of the Eastern Conference Play Off picture, but the Knicks suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Toronto Raptors last time out. It was one where Carmelo Anthony displayed his frustration having missed an open look to win the game, while rumours about his future continue to dominate the headlines despite the trade deadline coming to a close this season.
Kristaps Porzingis is expected back for the Knicks in this game and this is going to tell us all we need to know about what New York are expecting the rest of the season. They are facing an Orlando Magic team who are one of three teams below them in the Eastern Conference standings although the Magic are well rested having not played since Saturday.
However Orlando have been a terrible favourite to back and are just 2-9 against the spread when laying points this season. The Magic might have blown out the Atlanta Hawks in their last game here, but the Knicks do look like they match up with them pretty well at both ends of the court and I do think they can win this game if they are focused on a strong end to the season.
New York are 6-2-1 against the spread in their last nine visits to Orlando and I will take the points on offer in this one knowing the last two Knicks games have been decided by a single point each time.
Handicap Betting Pick: New York Knicks + 1.5 Points at 1.88
Philadelphia 76ers @ Miami Heat – American Airlines Arena at 00:30
There has to be some excitement in the Philadelphia fanbase that their 76ers are on the right road with all of the experiences of this season likely to make them better next time around. The 76ers have started giving their younger players more minutes with some trades made before the deadline and they have responded with some competitive performances, although finding wins is still just beyond their grasp.
They showed plenty of heart in their last game, which was a defeat to the Golden State Warriors, and it does feel like this Philadelphia 76ers roster are not going to give up easily in any game they play. Joel Embiid might still be out, but his enthusiasm has filtered through the roster and produced some big performances from the rest of the players.
It will be a difficult game on South Beach as Philadelphia travel to face the incredibly hot Miami Heat who are just 2 games out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference. The Heat will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Dallas Mavericks last time out, and they will have revenge on their mind having seen their long winning run snapped by the 76ers before the All-Star Break.
The Heat do look a little stronger at both ends of the court which should produce a win, but asking them to cover this number won’t be easy. Miami have only been favoured by 7 or more points twice this season and they are 1-1 against the spread in that spot, but they are 8-1-1 against the spread in their last ten at home.
However I like the fact that Philadelphia have a 4-1-1 record against the spread in their last six visits to Miami and the way they have been competing of late. I will take the points on offer and look for the 76ers to keep this one relatively close.
Handicap Betting Pick: Philadelphia 76ers + 9 Points at 1.98
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Utah Jazz – Vivint Smart Home Arena at 02:00
The Utah Jazz put in a huge effort on Tuesday but they came up short at the Oklahoma City Thunder and now face a young and hungry Minnesota Timberwolves team who are desperate to get into the Play Offs. The Timberwolves have made a few mental errors which has cost them some games, but they can’t afford to allow the Utah Jazz to pull away in this one.
While the Jazz have been a little up and down Offensively, they are one of the tougher Defensive teams in the NBA and won’t allow Minnesota to score the kind of points they have been used to. The fact that the Timberwolves have struggled as much as they have Defensively over the course of the season makes this a dangerous number for them, but I do think they can cover with the points being given to them.
The emotional and physical effort Utah put into the loss at Oklahoma City has to play a part here and the Jazz are now 1-6-1 against the spread in the second of back to back games. The Timberwolves can match them on the rebounding statistics which will give them every chance of staying with Utah and Minnesota have been shooting efficiently enough to give Utah something to think about.
The focus at the beginning of the game is all important for Minnesota as they can show Utah they are in for a battle on Wednesday and that can wear down the hosts. Minnesota are also 5-2 against the spread in their last seven visits to Utah and I do think they are going to be prepared for this one as they try and close the 3 game gap between themselves and the Denver Nuggets in the Number 8 Seed.
I will take the points being given to the road underdog here too.
Handicap Betting Pick: Minnesota Timberwolves + 6.5 Points at 2.01
Houston Rockets @ LA Clippers – Staples Centra at 03:30
The LA Clippers are finally getting healthier and they are still in a position to earn a home series in the First Round of the Play Offs. This is a chance for the Clippers to show they are going to be able to compete with the best teams in the Western Conference as they host the Houston Rockets who look like a team who will likely settle into the Number 3 Seed in the Conference.
Mike D’Antoni is still looking for his Houston Rockets team to show they are capable of going all the way to the NBA Championship. While the Rockets have played well this season, they are looking for the consistency against the top teams that will make them a genuine threat to knock off the likes of the Golden State Warriors, although it does have to be said they are 9-5 against the spread when playing on the road against a team with a winning record.
Houston do look like they match up well with the LA Clippers with their superior shooting, but the Rockets are very reliant on the three point shot working to get them going. If that shot is off, the Rockets can struggle and that was the case when going down to the Indiana Pacers a couple of nights ago. However there is a depth in the roster that makes them a threat against any team, although Houston need to show more Defensively.
The LA Clippers can expose some of those Defensive vulnerabilities, but they are still working the returning Chris Paul into the rotation and I think this game might come a little too soon for that.
Being well matches against the Clippers has seen the Rockets go 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games against each other. I will take the road underdog in another game on Wednesday as I look for the Rockets to perhaps earn the upset.
Handicap Betting Pick: Houston Rockets + 2 Points at 1.96
Prices correct at the time of writing.
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