March 14th 2014 - Posted at 05:00 PM Eastern Time
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#1: Take Denver Nuggets at +10.5 spread against Miami Heat risking 2%
There is no question that this is not the same Nuggets teams as years past. That has been made quite obvious. However, numerous injuries to key players had played a huge part in their struggles as well as trying to adapt to the new coaching style of Brian Shaw. Add those issues together and it's no wonder why this team had struggled this season. Fast forward to now however and we are slowly starting to see an improvd Denver team. The Nuggets are still dealing with a couple of injuries, but they do have a lot of their playmakers and especially starting PG Ty Lawson back on the floor and playing verywell. They have won 3 of their last 5 games including their last one on the road. It's worth mentioning that their losses have been close ones and they haven't lost a game by more than 10 points going back to Feb 27th against a surging Brooklyn Nets team which we had backed that night! Now we understand that the Magic are not the Heat, but the Nuggets did show us something in that game and even battled back after going down early. This team has heart and depth and that accounts for a lot, especially when being spotted 10+ points.
The Miami Heat may be the 2-time defending champions but they have not looked liked it recently. The Heat have dropped 4 of their last 5 games and have been struggling on the offensive end failing to reach the 100 point mark in 4 consecutive games! The Heat even dropped their last home game to new rivals Brooklyn Nets. We expect the Heat to bounce back and to reach the century mark tonight but to think that they will win easily by 11 or more points is a different story. The Nuggets may not have a solid defense but they have shown their ability to light up the scoreboard and stay competitive.
These two teams are no strangers to each other. The three most recent meetings between these two teams have been closely contended with no more than 5 points separating the winner from the loser. The Nuggets have lost the respect of a lot of teams this season and a majority of them probably do not view Denver as a threat and may overlook them. That is understandable, but it would be a mistake tonight. The Miami Heat have a rematch on their hands on Sunday with the Houston Rockets. If you remember it was the Rockets who beat down the Heat out in Houston just last week which started their recent skid. You can bet that they will like nothing more than to get revenge on Houston for that. With that matchup surely weighing on their mind, they might find it a bit easy to overlook such an unassuming Nuggets team whom they've already beaten earlier this season.
The Nuggets have no pressure on them in this game while the spotilight is on Miami and they have a lot to prove. After struggling recently they will no doubt want to turn their recent slump around. Sometimes however when a team wants something so bad it becomes almost like quicksand, where the more you try to fight, the faster you sink. If the Miami Heat get too much in their own heads tonight, they could find this game difficult. The Nuggets do have weapons that can hurt a team, especially guys like Randy Foye and Brooks who are sharpshooters from beyond the arc. Defending the 3 is not a strength of the Heat as they give up an average of 9 per game at home! The Nuggets will also have a big rebounding advantage which should keep them in this game. If denver can get some second chance opportunities and limit some of the Heat's, they have a great chance to keep this within single digits.
This is the Miami Heat and the potential to dominate teams is always there but given the way that they have been playing recently, they simply want to come away with a win. Denver has showed a lot of heart and guys like Kenneth Faried give it their all until the final whistle. They may give the Heat a scare tonight and should stay competitive. But even if they don't, a double-digit spread like this leaves the door open for a backdoor cover. Take the generous points.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Nuggets are 5-2-1 ATS (Against-The-Spread) in meetings at Miami!
- Miami is just 12-17 ATS at home this season.
- Nuggets are 5-3 ATS when revenging a loss to an opponent this season.
- Nuggets are 2-1 ATS as a road underdog of 9.5 to 12 points this season.
#2: Take Minnesota Timberwolves at -2 spread against Charlotte Bobcats risking 2%
This is an interesting matchup between two teams who are jockeying late in the season for playoff positions. The Bobcats currently own one of the lower seeds in the much weaker Eastern Conference while the Timberwolves find themselves right on the bubble in the extremely competitive Western Conference. Every game is a must-win game for Minnesota from here on as they will need a strong push to secure a playoff spot and we believe one of those wins comes tonight.
We found this line to be pretty interesting to be honest. The Bobcats have been playing extremely well recently winning 4 of their last 5 games both straight up and against the spread and have also won 7 consecutive home games yet the line makers opened them as only -1 favorites at home! Since then the line has moved towards Minnesota and they are now -2 favorites despite the public being split 50-50 in terms of who they're backing. We feel that the Timberwolves are now favorites because they are simply a bad matchup for the Bobcats. These two teams met earlier this season out in Minnesota and the Wolves cruised to an easy 27 point victory. Home court advantage doesn't spot teams 20+ points. Charlotte also actually played rather well in that game shooting 44% from the field and 42% from downtown and had only 10 turnovers. Typically when teams put up stats like that they are right in the ball game, however they managed to lose by 27 points and that was due to the fact that they were absolutely killed on the glass, being outrebounded 59 to 37! Minnesota has a lot of big men in guys like Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic who can clean up down low off the glass. Those are not adjustments teams can typically make; Charlotte can not get "bigger".
As we mentioned, matchups are key. Al Jefferson has been running wild and leading this Charlotte team for the second half of the season. There aren't too many players that can contain him but we believe that Pekovic and Love can slow him down. Kemba Walker will be matched up against the defensive minded Spaniard Ricky Rubio. Rubio has been a pick pocket throughout his career and should be able to keep Walker in check. Then there is the issue of rebounding! The Bobcats have outrebounded their opponents only twice in the last 7 games and against teams who aren't as proficient as the Wolves are on the glass. If Charlotte doesn't get many second chance opportunities, that could well be the difference in this game tonight.
The Wolves are basically in a situation where they need as many wins as they can get. The Western Conference is so full of talent that it leaves a team like Minnesota on the outside looking in where as they would have made the playoffs if they were in the Eastern Conference. These are the types of games that the Wolves truly need to win if they want to make the playoffs this season. Charlotte is playing well but they are by no means an "elite" opponent. The Bobcats have not necessarily been known as an offensive powerhouse in the past as they are averaging just 95 points per game. Their offensive production has picked up as of late but is nothing compared to that of the Wolves. Minnesota is scoring an average of 105 points per game this season and is one of the more offensively capable teams in the league. The Wolves have put up 100+ points in 10 of their last 11 games. They have won 8 of their last 11 games and while their ATS record hasn't been great, that is because they have been asked to cover some pretty large spreads.
Other than the last meeting between these two teams which resulted in a 27 point blowout for the Wolves, the previous two games had been decided by just a combined 3 points. We expect this to be somewhat of a closely contested game tonight but with Minnesota needing the win much more so than the Bobcats, we think that this is theirs to lose. They have the talent on the court and have shown that they match up well with the Bobcats. The win should bring the low spread cover.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Bobcats are a terrible 5-18 ATS vs. Northwestern division opponents over the last 2 seasons!
- Minnesota is 4-1 in its last 5 road games.
- Bobcats are 13-29 ATS when coming off an upset win as an underdog the last 2 seasons.
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