April 5, 2016 (4:00 PM ET)
There are two NBA picks tonight.
1) Take Phoenix Suns +14 spread against Atlanta Hawks for 3% of bankroll.
The Atlanta Hawks are no doubt the better team and will in all likelihood win this game but that does NOT mean they will cover this inflated spread. The Suns have dropped 6 in a row and will be motivated to record a 'W'. And while we don't believe they will leave as victors, their efforts should see them keep this game more competitive than most believe and stay within this generous number. This is a squad with proud veterans like Tyson Chandler, Ronnie Price and PJ Tucker who dont take losing lightly and won't just lay down without a fight. It's been an embarrassing season for them and the last thing they want is to suffer another blowout defeat. This roster also features some young talent in the likes of Devin Booker, Alex Len and Archie Goodwin. One man that has a point to prove is former Hawk, John Jenkins who'll get playing time as a guard for Phoenix and can be a sharpshooter if afforded time and space.
Mike Budenholzer's club last played four days ago on April 1st and will be a bit rusty tonight. Atlanta is just 7-11 over the last 3 seasons when playing with 3 or more days of rest! They own a losing record in this particular situation and yet now are asked to not only win this game but do so in blowout fashion by 15 or more points! We believe the oddsmakers are asking a bit too much of them here. The Hawks will do enough to win this game but it makes little difference to them whether it comes by 8 points or 18 points! Their only goal is to secure a 'W' while going into their next game injury-free. In fact the most immediate game after this is one that they have circled on their calendars. That's because they host the Toronto Raptors on Thursday and would love nothing more than to exact revenge on a team that has gotten the better of them this season including as recently as on March 30th.
Don't be surprised if the Hawks take their foot off the gas pedal and give lesser members of their squad playing time in the second half. They have more important games coming up and will want to be fresh and healthy for those. Therefore, even if this game isn't competitive, the Suns may always stay within this inflated line via a backdoor cover. But we actually believe, this game will be closer than most anticipate as Earl Watson's side does not want this losing streak to get out of control. The Suns hold a key advantage on the glass and should have the rebounding edge. Offensive boards will give them second-chance points and additional opportunities to put up points. The Hawks are often out-rebounded by opponents due to the relatively smaller front-court duo of Al Horford and Paul Millsap. Against the likes of Alex Len and Tyson Chandler, Phoenix should win the battle of the boards and stay within this generous spread. The Suns have already beaten the Hawks once this season and while we don't expect them to sweep the season series, we don't believe this is a complete mismatch either. Take the precious points as they are likely to come into play.
2) Take Minnesota Timberwolves +15.5 spread against Golden State Warriors for 3% of bankroll.
The Warriors have set their sights on passing the 1995/1996 Chicago Bulls by becoming the first team in NBA history to win 73 games! We believe they might do that but that doesn't mean they will win every game in blowout fashion. Winning this game against Minnesota is quite likely, covering this inflated spread on the other hand, is another matter. That's because Vegas understands that the public is in love with Golden State and wants to be part of their history-making season. For that reason, they continuously inflate their spreads and have put a premium on them! This matchup should have a line of -12 by our estimates but because the oddsmakers want to reduce liability and get some action on the unfancied underdogs, they've spotted them an extra basket so they don't get one-sided action on the defending champs. That's when sharps identify that 'value gap' and take advantage.
The T-Wolves do present some matchup problems for the Warriors with the size and athleticism of Karl-Anthony Towns. The leading candidate for the Rookie of the Year award is too big for Draymond Green to guard and will force coach Kerr's hand, in terms of putting Andrew Bogut or Festus Ezeli on the court. The issue is that Ezeli has been sidelined for months and has only recently come back from a lengthy layoff. He participated for a total of 9 minutes in his return to action against the Blazers! Meanwhile Andrew Bogut is definitely a defensive presence and a legitimate rim-protector. The Warriors are a much better defensive team with him on the court than off of it but he missed the last game due to a rib injury and is at less than 100%. We expect him to get some minutes but in less than ideal shape, it remains to be seen how effective he can be.
We successfully backed Minnesota against these same Warriors on March 21st, in a game that they easily covered and had a chance to win outright! That contest went right down the wire and was decided in the final minute when Golden State finally pulled away. We believe Steph Curry and company will be more wary of this talented team and put up a better effort tonight but that doesn't mean they'll cruise to a blowout! At this point in the season, the MVP and his support cast are looking visibly tired and aren't at their best. Heavy legs have started to take a toll on them and they are now simply focused on winning games and don't care much about the margin. They gain nothing by destroying the competition. The Warriors have not fared well as double-digit favorites in recent weeks and have other matters to be focused on, than blowing out the opposition!
Golden State hosts the San Antonio Spurs in the following game and will no doubt have revenge in mind. After being outplayed for one the few times this season, they will want to avenge that defeat and prove a point against the perennial West powerhouse! The coaching staff will have one eye on that upcoming matchup and will look to limit the minutes of star players tonight in order to keep them fresh. The fact that the Warriors have already beaten the Timberwolves 3 times this season, means they may look past them and assume they can breeze through it. Complacency is a killer in professional sports, especially in relation to covering big spreads. The Warriors will find a way to win this game but it won't be a walk in the park. Minnesota is undervalued right now after not covering the line for 5 straight games but they often get up for the big games against big teams and this falls into that category. This is their biggest game of the season and their version of a 'playoff game' while the Warriors have Memphis and San Antonio to think about, two teams that they'll face twice in the final 4 games of the season! The Wolves have been spotted too many points and can stay within this generous spread.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Timberwolves are 49-27 ATS when seeking revenge for a home loss!
- Warriors are only 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games as a double-digit favorite.
- Timberwolves are 14-9 ATS when the total is set at 210 or more points.
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