Basketball Gambling Picks
MILWAUKEE BUCKS (38-45) at MIAMI HEAT (67-16) Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Miami -14 & 197
In Game 1, the Bucks did everything they could to put up points and keep the Heat off the board. That wasnt enough however, as Miami came out on top by a final score of 110-87. Despite the best efforts by Milwaukees starting backcourt (Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings combined for 48 points), the Heat won the second half by 16 points (58-42). The Heat didnt let the Bucks score 25 points in a single quarter, and defensively the Bucks had absolutely no match for LeBron James, who was nearly perfect on the night. James finished the game 9-for-11 from the field with 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. The Bucks (21-21 ATS on road this season) got little help from their bench and role players, and without them, they do not stand a chance versus Miami (38-4 SU, 23-19 ATS at home).
The Bucks are going to need perfect play from their entire roster if they are going to win a game in this series. On Sunday, SG Monta Ellis went 10-for-19 from the field with 22 points and added four steals, four rebounds and a team-high-tying three assists. He was getting quality looks in the game, but he went just 1-for-6 from three and also 1-for-6 from the foul line, contributing to a game-worst, minus-26 rating. Ellis will need to pick up those shooting percentages if Milwaukee is to keep these games closer. PG Brandon Jennings was the only other Bucks player to score in double-digits and he too played a strong offensive game, going 8-for-20 from the field (4-of-10 threes) for 26 points. Jennings only had two assists though, and will need to do a better job of getting his teammates involved. Outside of Jennings and Ellis, no other Milwaukee player eclipsed six points. SG J.J. Redick will have to provide more offense in Game 2, as he went just 1-of-6 from the field with six points and a minus-7 rating in this one.
The defending champions got off to a quick start Sunday against the Bucks and after Milwaukee got the game close again towards the end of the first quarter, the Heat flipped a switch and dominated the rest of the game. SF LeBron James was outstanding, missing a triple-double by just two assists, but he did commit a game-high five turnovers. PF Chris Bosh was dominant inside with 15 points, seven rebounds and two blocks on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range. Boshs size caused Milwaukee tons of problems on Sunday and it could continue to do so in Game 2. SG Dwyane Wade had 16 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and a game-best +26 rating on Sunday, but it was SG Ray Allen who stole the show for Miami at the shooting guard position. In his first playoff game with the Heat, Allen dropped 20 points (6-of-13 FG), five rebounds, three assists and two steals in 29 minutes. He and PF Chris Andersen (10 points on 4-of-4 FG, seven rebounds in 16 minutes) both provided a huge spark off the bench for Erik Spoelstras team.
March Madness Bracket
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ORLANDO MAGIC (13-4) at CHICAGO BULLS (9-6)
Sportsbook.com using Chicago -2 & 194 (Line & total both unchanged)
The Magic are feeling good having won eight of the past nine games as they head to Chicago for the first of three Eastern Conference road games. Orlando welcomed back the return of Vince Carter, who missed three consecutive games with a knee injury, as he dropped 13 points in the 90-79 win over Detroit Tuesday night. Jameer Nelson, averaging 14.6 PPG and 6.8 APG, will have a tough defensive matchup against the fresh-legged Derrick Rose. Rose has played beautifully in the past six contests (DNP against Denver, sore neck), with 30.5 PPG to raise his season scoring average to 26.6 (third in NBA). Rose is also eighth in the league in assists with 8.2 APG.
Orlando is 4-2 SU on the road but has not been making bettors happy with a 0-6 ATS road record. Tired legs could be an issue for the Magic Wednesday night in Chicago, where the Bulls are 5-1 SU (3-3 ATS) and have three days of rest under their belt. After a two-week, seven-game road trip (4-3 SU, 6-1 ATS), the Bulls return to United Center where they are 5-1 SU (3-3 ATS). Chicago ended its road trip (due to the circus in town) with a 96-85 win in Sacramento. Wednesday’s matchup will be a fun one in the paint as the second-highest rebounder, Joakim Noah (13.2 RPG) faces the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and fourth-best rebounder, Dwight Howard (12.1 RPG).
85% of action at Sportsbook.com is behind the underdog Magic, in spite of the fact that the Bulls have covered five straight.
Orlando crushed the Bulls by 20 in the last meeting in Chicago, but the series is an even 2-2 (SU and ATS) in Chicago over the past three seasons. Even though the Magic have won five of the last seven overall, the well-rested Bulls look good to win one at home.
Play On - Home teams (CHICAGO) - after successfully covering the spread in 4 or more consecutive games, in a game involving two good teams (60% to 75%). (30-10 over the last 5 seasons.) (75%, +19 units. Rating = 2*).
NBA Western Conference Finals Betting Preview
Talking to a number of various wise guy bettors living in Las Vegas, one conclusion was evident before the playoffs started, yes the Los Angeles Lakers looked vulnerable but were still the safest bet to win another title and the Phoenix Suns were the best long shot among the top four seeds from either conference to become the upset champions of the NBA. Not coincidentally, that is the matchup for the West Finals, which begin Monday in Los Angeles. The Lakers are a -340 series favorite according to Sportsbook.com.
One aspect that is often forgotten in the NBA playoffs is how very good teams can pick up momentum. The Lakers closed the regular season 4-7 SU and ATS, and stumbled a bit in the first round vs. Oklahoma City. However, since then, L.A. has gotten serious about basketball again and has won six straight, covering five times and now another championship ring is in sight.
There is no getting around it (literally), the size of the Lakers’ changes how teams can attack them. With Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom, it just doesn’t leave much room in the middle, which helps takes away the one inside player the Suns have in Amare Stoudemire.
L.A. guards and wing players can be super aggressive defensively, knowing what they have behind them. Ron Artest is not the defender he was a few years ago, but what he’s lost in quickness he makes up for in smarts and he will try to attach himself at the hip of Jason Richardson or Jared Dudley when he enters the game.
Phoenix has picked up a reputation as being a good defensive team, while they are not as lame as when Mike D’Antoni was coach; they are far from good, mostly just average. With the talk of Grant Hill being a defensive demon, that’s all Kobe Bryant needs for a personal challenge.
Remember last year when Denver had all those high effort guys coming off the bench and they actually gave Phil Jackson’s team trouble at first, yet after Game 3 had little impact, that’s what the Lakers do as the series wears on, systematically they take away your strengths and even Derek Fisher becomes more useful knocking down shots. There is a reason why the Lake Show is 5-1 and 4-2 ATS against the Suns at Staples the past three years, they are bigger and better and hard to beat four times.
Since Steve Nash has arrived in the desert with his injury-plagued career in the balance, all he has done is transform Phoenix into the most entertaining team in the NBA and a outfit that has been among the better groups out West. Be that as it may, the window of opportunity is closing and the sense is the entire club and organization knows it.
That creates the first chance for the Suns, desperation, hardly something the Lakers ever feel and when they do, usually nothing good comes from it. (Game 6 Lakers at Boston two years ago comes to mind) Phoenix has to be able to leave it all on the floor each night, no Game 1 or Game 4’s against Portland “we just weren’t focused” nights. You only get once chance to beat a champion and if you let it slip, look in the mirror.
Coach Alvin Gentry is credited for making Phoenix a more complete squad than past versions, with greater attention to detail on both ends of the floor. Steve Nash should be able to run circles around Derek Fisher, but his key is drawing the defense to him to make the assist and frustrate the Lakers big men.
Coach Jackson will try to prevent dibble penetration by Nash and make him more a shooter than facilitator, Nash has to defeat this defense by using the screen and role continually with Stoudemire. If successful, this forces other defenders to get involved and the NBA’s best outside shooting team will find itself with many more open looks.
Phoenix can’t let the Lakers play volleyball on the offensive glass; they have to at least be within five boards at all times once the second half starts.
Gentry’s bench has been a difference maker, which is why this desert squad is 22-4 and 19-6-1 ATS since Mar. 14.
It goes without saying Phoenix has to run, but as they proved against San Antonio, it’s not about running and dunking for layups, it is about beating the Lakers defense back and making the extra pass to find the three-point shooter who is open to bury the shot and wear down the big guys in gold and purple late in games.
As is said in boxing, “contrasting styles make fights”. That will be the case out West, with the Lakers trying to control tempo and have their size be a difference maker, while Phoenix wants to play fast, hit 3’s and make enough defensive stops to matter.
At the end of the day, the Lakers having a long break before the series, another lengthy break before heading to Arizona, gives them rest and ample time to make adjustments, which makes them awfully difficult to beat unless the opponent plays great defense.
Pick- L.A. Lakers (-340) in seven over Phoenix (+280)
NBA: Playoff home teams wise wagers tonight?
Orlando and Dallas each won their opening first round game and look to build a solid 2-0 lead in their series before taking to the road for a pair. Both teams have been a solid investment of late; however both are matched against division foes that know them well. Can they continue to win or do two coaching legends come up with ways to not only cover the spread, but derail plans of sweeping the initial home encounters. Read on for a look at both games, then head over to the LIVE ODDS and GAME MATCHUPS page on Sportsbook.com for the latest prices and key betting information.
The Magic rather easily built a 22-point in the third quarter against Charlotte, before the Bobcats got with the program and started to play closer to their abilities.
Charlotte was too excited to start Game 1 – “We were a little nervous starting off the game, and they knew it,” forward Gerald Wallace said.
But with some well-timed coaxing from coach Larry Brown, Charlotte battled back to 85-80 by being the aggressor and getting Dwight Howard off his game with extremely physical play.
Howard admitted to receiving little sleep the night before, anxious to start the playoffs and he played liked someone tired and irritable with not enough time on the pillow. Howard had as many fouls as points (5), playing less than 28 minutes. “Superman” was less than super with only seven boards and took silly fouls.
“Their big guys are going to hit him every chance they get. And if he gets one foul retaliating, they’ve done their job,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He can’t get any of those. He’s just going to have to understand no matter how many times they hit him, he can’t hit back. We need him on the floor.”
Orlando came up just short of covering the 9.5-point spread with 98-89 victory and is 21-11 ATS off a home win this season.
The Bobcats are expected to be much more relaxed this time with Wallace and Stephen Jackson as the scoring leaders. Charlotte is 18-9 ATS versus good three point shooting teams (36 percent or higher) and must do a better job containing Jameer Nelson, who was 4-8 from beyond the arc and scored 24 of his 32 points in the second half. Nelson missed the first three rounds of the playoffs a year ago and wants to show his skills this spring.
The Magic are 18-5 ATS off two or more consecutive home wins and are 20-3 and 15-7-1 ATS since the beginning of March. Sportsbook.com has them as 8.5-point picks with a total of 186 and they are 17-7 UNDER off a no-cover where they won straight up as a favorite.
If Orlando loses focus again, Charlotte will try to sneak right in with a 22-9 ATS mark after covering two of its last three against the spread.
It’s often been said in NBA circles that if Dirk Nowitzki is your best player, the chances of NBA title are remote. In his career, Nowitzki has had his postseason up and downs, however has been a much steadier performer in recent years. His Game 1 effort against oft-seen rival San Antonio, deep in the heart of Texas, was close to perfection.
Nowitzki scored 36 points on 12-14 shooting, wore out the nets sinking all 12 free throw attempts and grabbed seven boards while committing a single turnover. “Sometimes,” Nowitzki said, “you have one of those nights where the basket is big.”
The Mavericks have now defeated the Spurs six straight times on their home floor (5-1 ATS) and were the bigger and more aggressive team on Sunday. Erick Dampier and Brendan Haywood out-muscled and out-hustled San Antonio, contributing to 45-37 edge on the glass.
Richard Jefferson was brought to San Antonio to make them younger on the wings and add speed and quickness. For most of the season he’s looked lost in the black uniform and he was non-factor again with four points on four shots in Game 1. The Spurs are piteous 9-23 ATS revenging a road loss the last two seasons.
Coach Gregg Popovich’s defensive strategy might have to be altered if Nowitzki starts Game 2 where he left off. San Antonio played the German forward straight up with approximately five different defenders, eschewing the double team, trying to cover the other Mavs.
Tony Parker lacked his usual zip to the rim and the Spurs ball-handling was atrocious with 17 turnovers, 11 in the opening 12 minutes.
Dallas is a 3.5-point home favorite. Watch for signs of fatigue, since coach Rick Carlisle leaned heavily on his starters, with only three subs seeing significant time. The Mavericks have built a six-game winning streak (5-0-1 ATS) and despite a yearlong of bad angles, they are 18-7 ATS playing with two days rest since last season.
San Antonio is 1-8 ATS versus good passing teams averaging 23 or more assists a game. The Spurs are 23-9 OVER in revenge-mode off a road loss.
Both NBA playoff battles are on TNT, with the first game at 7:05 Eastern.
The StatFox Power Lines show Orlando by 13, Dallas by 2.