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April 3, 2016 (12:00 PM ET)

There are two NBA picks today.

The Major League Baseball season officially starts today and we could not be more excited! Last year, SPS went 91-68 and profited big thanks to largely focusing on short favorites and underdogs. This year, we have lofty goals again and are confident of a lucrative season ahead! Of course, like any other form of investment, it is a long-term deal and the baseball season in particular is a marathon and NOT a sprint as each team plays 162 regular season games! There will inevitably be both good and bad stretches along the way but we'll no doubt come out on top as we always have.

Given the small opening day card (only 3 games), we'll pass on the bases today and watch as observers before kickstarting our campaign tomorrow, a day with 12 games scheduled and no NBA action! Since some matchups start in the afternoon, moving forward, Sports Profit System may post picks as early as 10:00 AM on those days IF the early games present enough value.

1: Take Charlotte Hornets +7 spread against Cleveland Cavaliers for 3% of bankroll.

The Hornets have been the best team in the Eastern Conference since March (14-3 record), but are still largely flying under the radar! This is a deep and balanced squad that we pegged as a potential division champion months ago and now they're right in the thick of the Southeast division race. With a playoff berth already clinched, they can play with a loose and relaxed state of mind while at the same time knowing that there is a lot to be gained over the final stretch of the season as they can not only win a rare division crown but secure home-court advantage in the first round of the post-season! Only half a game separates 4 teams in the East standings between the 3rd-7th positions and two of those are Charlotte's division rivals, Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat. After playing second fiddle to those teams for years, Kemba Walker and company have their sights set on lofty targets this year! 

Steve Clifford's side heads into Cleveland full of confidence after winning 3 in a row and 14 of its last 17 games! They have been one of the league's best teams since the All-Star break and that's largely aided by the fact that they are playing solid defense. The Hornets have long been a solid defensive team under Clifford but after improving their offense and in particular 3-point shooting by a big margin this season, some of that defensive intensity had faded. Over the past two months, they've put it all together as they are excelling at both ends of the court and have a deep squad that presents the coaching staff with tactical versatilty. This is a roster that has a number of different players capable of contributing each night and changes its strategy in-game based on matchup strengths/weaknesses.

The Cavaliers are now 3 full games ahead of the Raptors in the race for the top seed in the East after Toronto lost last night. With only a handful of games remaining, it'll now be very difficult for the Canadians to overtake Cleveland and that gives Ty Lue's side a false sense of security. This Cavs squad has already shown its propensity to 'relax' when it has a healthy lead in the standings or to have let-down games after an impressive performance and that's why this particular matchup against Hornets might be a lot more challenging than it looks at first glance. That's because Cleveland is coming off an emotional overtime road victory against the team that they faced in the conference finals last year, Atlanta Hawks! As satisfying as that victory was, it sets them up for a potential let down spot tonight. Fatigue and tired legs could be a concern as well after LeBron logged 44 minutes and had to give it his all to secure the 'W' while Kyrie Irving was on the court for 42 minutes! The Hornets meanwhile are coming off two easy wins over the 76ers, in which they were able to rest plenty of their players and limited stars to less than 30 minutes. Charlotte will no doubt be the fresher of the two teams which gives them an advantage.

The Hornets have already beaten the Cavaliers once this season in a game that starting PG Kemba Walker was not even present! That gives them confidence. At the same time, they have lost 2 of 3 meetings with Cleveland this season and will want to even up the series. They remember what happened last time they visited 'The Q' and will be out for revenge. Given the tight race they find themselves in compared to the relatively 'safe' position Cleveland has, these games mean more to them than their opponents. It wouldn't surprise use if coach Lue decided to give a key player or two some rest or at least limit their activity. Charlotte can challenge for the outright win in this game and is being spotted too many points! Look for them to cover the generous spread one way or another.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Hornets are 18-6 ATS when seeking revenge for a road loss!
  • Cavaliers are just 6-12 ATS after giving up 5 or less offensive rebounds!
  • Hornets have covered 9 of 12 spreads when the total was set between 200-205 points!

2: Take Washington Wizards +7 spread (buy half a point) against LA Clippers for 3% of bankroll.

With the NBA regular season coming to a close, this is an interesting time of the year in terms of teams jockeying for playoff positions. The Los Angeles Clippers are poised to get the 4th seed in the Western Conference which ensures them at least home court advantage in the first round. Being 5.5 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder means they won't be grabbing the 3rd seed and on the other end, they hold a 6.5 game lead over Memphis below them which means they are essentially locked into that 4th seed and don't have much incentive to give it their all until the playoffs start. Doc Rivers has already shown that he has conceded attempting to move up in the standings as he rested without Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce and DeAndre Jordan in what could have been considered a pivotal matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder. At this point in the season, Rivers is likely looking to get into the playoffs with a healthy roster and while he would surely like to see his team win some games, that is not currently a priority. His focus will be on avoiding injuries and experimenting with different lineups and strategies, all of which benefit his team in the long run but not immediately.

Meanwhile, the Washington Wizards currently find themselves on the outside looking in in terms of a playoff berth. There is a 4 team bottle-neck for the 7th and 8th seed in the Eastern Conference with the Wizards currently 3 games back of the Indiana Pacers for the final playoff position. Washington will likely need to win their remaining games in order to make the playoff this season so we can expect to see an all-out effort from the players in this contest as they can ill afford another loss at this point in the season. This is also a revenge game for the Wizards as the last time these two teams met back on December 28th; it was the Clippers who came away with a convincing 108-91 victory. Washington actually won the battle on the stat sheet in that contest, out-rebounding the Clippers 45-37 and crashed the offensive glass which saw them grab 13 offensive rebounds. The difference in that contest however was that they allowed the Clippers to shoot 53% from the field compared to 39% for the Wizards. We expect a much better effort on the defensive end in this contest with their season potentially on the line.

This game will also mark the return of Clippers' big man Blake Griffin. Griffin is coming off a 4 game suspension following a fall-out in Toronto which led to a broken right hand. He has also been dealing with a quad injury that has kept him out of action since December. It is the Clippers intention to work Griffin back into the rotation in order to get him back into 'basketball shape" prior to the playoffs. While many will look at Griffin's return to be a positive for the Clippers, in this particular game we feel that he may be more of a liability than an asset. He has missed substantial time and because of that he may not be accustomed to playing at true game speed. Mistakes are often made in a players return and whether that be mishandling of the basketball or coming up too short / long on shot attempts, either of those things could hamper the Clippers' efficiency in this matchup! When laying a substantial amount of points as the Clippers are in this contest, those mistakes could seriously affect the team’s ability to cover the spread even if they win the game.

Washington should be the more motivated team in this contest as they are the ones with the most to play for. While the Clippers are a solid team, they cannot expect to win this game, especially against a desperate Wizards team if they do not give it their all. Talent alone is not enough to carry this team in this contest. The Wizards have a dynamic backcourt with Wall and Beal and even the slightest misstep is all that is needed for those two to capitalize on. We expect this to be a closely contested contest and the Clippers will be fortunate to leave the Staples Center with a victory. The determination of the Wizards should be enough to allow them to keep things competitive and stay within this generous number.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Wizards are 9-4 ATS on the road when the total was set between 205-210 points!
  • Clippers are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
  • Clippers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.

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