February 8, 2016 (4:00 PM ET)
There are 2 picks tonight.
1) Take Philadelphia 76ers at +9 spread against LA Clippers for 3% of the bankroll.
The average NBA bettor sees this spread and salivates at the idea of backing the red hot Clippers to win by 'only' 9 or more against the worst team in the league! They don't bother taking other factors into consideration and that flawed thinking has put them on the wrong side of many lines including a similar situation when the mighty defending champions, Golden State Warriors, visited Philadelphia earlier this year. On that night, we easily cashed out our tickets with the lowly Sixers as the spread was simply inflated given the unfavorable scheduling spot, the California team found itself in and this matchup is in many ways alike.
The Clippers are not only physically tired after playing the Miami Heat yesterday but are coming off a hard-fought nationally-televised contest that saw them edge what was a tight game. Chris Paul and company had to give everything they have to get the W at South Beach and came up clutch in the 4th quarter. Important players logged 34+ minutes and may have heavy legs tonight. To make matters more difficult, this is a back-to-back situation with travel involved as Doc Rivers' side had to hop on a plane to Philly after Sunday's contest.
Philadelphia is a poor but much improved team and no longer a complete doormat as they used to be. They stand out to be counted now and are playing with much more confidence than earlier in the season. Brett Brown's squad has particular surprised Western conference opponents as they've often overlooked them only to find out this team does have some talent and athleticism. They've fared well against teams that previously blew them out and play with a chip on their shoulders when seeking revenge. That is the case here tonight. That's because LA has not only beaten this ball club 8 times in a row but has done it in ruthless fashion in recent meetings. Back on January 2nd for example, they humiliated the Sixers winning by 31 points! It should be mentioned however, that, that game took place at Staples Center and was their first of the new year. They naturally wanted to start 2016 with a bang and they did. How motivated are they to blow out this non-conference bottomfeeder all over again? Not much. They obviously want to win this game but it matters little to them whether it comes by 6 points of 16 points. The fact that they have covered only 3 of 12 spreads when listed as a road favorite of 6.5 to 9 points is a testament to that! Furthermore, the fact that they've taken care of this franchise so easily in recent meetings leaves them vulnerable in this spot. That's because this is precisely the type of matchup that creates 'complacency' and not every player will be fully focused on the task at hand.
The Clippers will be satisfied with their 2-0 start to this East coast road trip and if there's one game they will 'overlook', it'd be this one. That's because sandwitched in between yesterday's impressive win in Miami and Clippers' next game (after this one) when Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce return to Boston, is this particular matchup against lowly Philadelphia! Don't be surprise if they let the 76ers in through the backdoor after mounting a double-digit lead at half-time or by the end of 3 quarters. It's not uncommon for a team to have a comfortable lead going into the 4th and final quarter before the inferior squad wins the last interval and sneaks in within the generous spread. There are a number of different ways that Philly can cash out tickets for sharps and that's just one of them. It should be noted that much to many people's surprise, the 76ers have actually been a profitable team to bet on in these situations given their 17-6 ATS record in home games against non-conference opponents over the last two seasons!
We believe Brett Brown's squad has a better chance than the betting public anticipates tonight and may even challenge for the outright win! This is a big game for them whereas the Clippers are on a roll and don't think much of a team like 76ers. Not only that, they've had Blake Griffin rumors circulating around recently which is another source of distraction. Playing on consecutive days is no easy task but involve travelling into that equation as well and a potential lack of focus and concentration and this is no doubt an inflated spread! We'll gladly take the 9 points as we believe they could prove very precious and come into play. Philadelphia should put up a better fight than most expect and keep this within single-digits! They are coming off a morale-boosting win and while we don't expect them to notch another one, we do believe they'll keep this respectable and within the generous line Vegas set.
2) Take Orlando Magic at +8.5 spread against Atlanta Hawks for 3% of the bankroll.
This is the second game of a back-to-back home and home set which saw the Orlando Magic come away with a narrow 96-94 victory yesterday in Orlando! Nikola Vucevic, who finished the contest with 22 points and 9 rebounds, hit a contested 18-footer at the buzzer to secure a much needed Magic win. PG Elfrid Payton contributed 12 points and 12 assists and scored or assisted in his team's final six baskets on the night, proving especially effective when it mattered most, in the 4th quarter! That W marked just the 3rd win in the last 18 contests for the Magic and there is no doubt that it was a confidence booster for this squad. It was an important victory for a team that has had some incredibly unfortunate luck in close games. They have been involved in a league-high 12 games that have been decided by 3 or less points and many more by 3-8 points which shows that they have been competitive in the vast majority of their games and tonight should be no different.
This contest is a classic case where the spread is inflated on the home favorite due to public perception. The Hawks are the better overall team from a statistical standpoint but Orlando does pose certain matchup problems for Atlanta, especially on the glass. The Hawks managed to grab 18 offensive rebounds in yesterday's contest, which is certainly not the norm for them and somehow they still managed to lose the game! We don't expect Mike Budenholzer's squad to be nearly as dominant on the boards again. The Hawks were also extremely efficient from beyond the arc, connecting on 13 of their 28 three-point attempts for just under 50% which still was not enough to secure the victory. In this contest, even if Atlanta does happen to secure the W, we believe it will play out much like last night's contest in that it'll likely be decided in the final minute with either team capable of winning.
Dennis Schroder received 5 stitches after yesterday's game and is questionable for tonight's contest. Schroder plays a big part in the rotation off the bench, splitting time with Jeff Teague at the point guard position. If he doesn't feature tonight or is limited, it is a big loss for ATL. Meanwhile, the Magic could get an important piece of their starting lineup back if Tobias Harris returns tonight. No Magic player has made more of an impact in their wins as Harris this season who other than missing yesterday's game has been everpresent. The talented forward is connecting on 49% of his shots with a defender within two feet of him and has morphed himself into less of an isolation scorer this year. A staggering 86% of Harris’ shots have come on catch-and-shoot opportunities and shots inside of 10 feet! His return would no doubt boost what should already be a confident group of Magic players. That's evident by the fact that this squad is 7-1 ATS after an upset win as an underdog!
With such a quick turnaround from yesterday's heartbreaking loss, we wouldn't be surprised if the Hawks came out just a bit flat in this contest. They'll be motivated to bounce back but Orlando is finally feeling good about itself as well and has plenty of incentive to play well. With the spread listed at where it is at, the Hawks will need to put in a solid performance from start to finish in order to win this game by double digits and we simply don't see that happening. Scott Skiles' bunch has been in a large number of competitive games this season and already holding a victory over the Hawks will do a lot for their previously fragile confidence. We believe Orlando is a live underdog in this contest and while they may end up losing the game, it should be a close one and one in which they stay within this inflated spread. Keep in mind that the Magic are 11-1 ATS since 2015 as a dog off a win in which they got less than 15% of their points from the charity stripe (free-throws)! Take the generous points with Orlando.
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