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March 18, 2015

ATTENTION: Picks will be posted at 2:00 PM ET on Thursday.
The four early afternoon games do not interest us but the rest of tomorrow's card features a couple of intriguing matchups.

SPS is extremely excited about March Madness and the NCAA tournament! We expect to have a solid showing and are confident of doing just that! Clients are encouraged to follow us on Twitter to keep up with all the latest news and information.

Take Portland Blazers at -2.5 spread against Miami Heat risking 3% of bankroll.

The Blazers continue their road trip as they travel to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat tonight. This is a situation that favors the road team. The Heat are coming off of their most impressive win of the season as they defeated the Cavaliers in their last contest. That was an emotional win for them and to knock off LeBron James' new club, every player had to give it all they had! While it must have give them confidence heading into this game, it also sets them up for a letdown tonight. Let’s not forget that despite their terrific performance Monday, the Heat are still the same team that is averaging just 94.7 points per game and is only 15-18 at home this season! They are also not a squad that carries momentum over from victories like the one they just had since they are just 1-9 ATS (against-the-spread) after their last 10 wins! They have not posted consecutive wins in a long time and are in fact a miserable and disappointing 0-12 ATS after an upset win as an underdog this season! 

Meanwhile the Portland Trail Blazers head into South Beach off a rare loss and will be determined to bounce back. The Blazers are one of the best teams in the entire league and sport an excellent 44-21 record on the season. Many will look at their loss to the Wizards as somewhat puzzling, however there were a lot of anomalies that contributed to it. They came into that game tired on the second half of a back to back schedule on the road having beaten the Raptors in Toronto the previous night. In the game itself, Portland had an uncharacteristically poor defensive showing as they gave up 25 fast break points, allowed the Wizards to connect on half of their shots and 58.4 percent of its three point attempts! They also allowed Washington to get to the foul line 26 times and gave up 25 assists. Much of that was due to the sheer speed and athleticism of John Wall creating havoc and while Goran Dragic and Mario Chalmers are good PGs, they don't have the same blistering acceleration as Wall. Washington had everything go right for them in that game while Portland couldn't make anything happen and had a frustrating performance that they'll want to quickly make up for. 

Let's not forget that the Blazers have won 8 of their last 10 and are averaging 102.8 points this season! LaMarcus Aldridge is a double-double machine and averaging 23.3 points to go with 10.5 rebounds while Damian Lillard had a poor performance against Wizards and will be keen to play better tonight. New acquisition, Arron Afflalo is shooting 39.2 percent from the field but can do a lot better while Center Robin Lopez is grabbing 6.9 rebounds for a team that leads the NBA in defensive boards! The Portland Trail Blazers are shooting 48.7 percent from the field in their last five games and have won 11 of their last 13 games when reaching the century mark. This is a quality team that has feasted on non-conference opponents this season and is simply the better team in this matchup.

The Blazers still have a lot to play for since it is the Memphis Grizzlies that currently occupy the #2 spot in the West. Memphis slipped up last night in a loss at Detroit which leaves the door open for Portland to close the gap in their pursuit of that #2 seed! They are also currently dead even with the Houston Rockets at the moment and a win tonight would create some breathing room in what is a closely contested Western conference race. Many thought that after Wesley Matthews went down with an injury, all was lost for this team. However while the loss of Matthews is a heavy blow, this squad  is starting to learn to play without him. Afflalo has stepped up and embraced his role on his new team and Nicolas Batum is starting to play well again after struggling earlier this season and posting career low numbers. The fact that the Frenchman is starting to play well is very important for Terry Stotts since Batum is a very well rounded player and one that can do a bit of everything. Now that he's got his confidence back, he will stretch the floor which opens up room for guys like Lillard, Afflalo and most importantly Aldridge who is nearly unguardable to put points on the board.

These two clubs met earlier this year at the Moda Center on January 8th and it was the Blazers that won comfortably by double-digit despite 23 points from D-Wade! They are 19-7 against Eastern conference opponents on the season and while we don't expect another blowout, we do believe this number is a small one to lay with the much better overall team. Portland has a healthier roster and has won 13 of its last 19 visits to Miami! 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Heat are just 11-23-1 ATS in their last 35 games vs. Western Conference. 
  • The road team is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings. 
  • Trail Blazers are 23-5 against teams with losing records!
  • Heat are 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 games when playing with one day of rest!
  • The Heat are 33-47 ATS vs. good offensive teams (scoring 99+ points/game) over the last 2 seasons.

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