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January 18, 2016 (3:42 PM ET)

There are two NBA picks tonight.

1: Take Boston Celtics on the Moneyline (-120) against Dallas Mavericks risking 3.6% to win 3%.

This is a Moneyline wager, meaning the team simply needs to win (no need to cover the short spread) for us to cash out.

The Mavs have beaten the C's five straight times, own a slightly superior record and are playing at home without any injuries, one might ask then: "Why are they underdogs tonight?!" That is a great question and one that has a valid answer behind it. This spread is not an oddsmaking error, it is quite sharp and in fact somewhat telling. Brad Stevens' side have numerous advantages in this matchup and we'll explore some of them in the next few paragraphs.

Brad Stevens consistently calls out genius plays out of timeouts and has proven that despite being the youngest coach in NBA, he might just be the smartest! Now in his 3rd year in charge, his team have fully bought into his philosophy and play hard for him. They are also a streaky bunch and thrive on momentum and confidence. That is evident by the fact that they recent dropped 4 straight games before winning 3 in a row coming into this one. The Mavericks are well-coached as well but they are an older squad and playing on back to back nights is no easy task for them. Even though many of their best players were rested in the 4th quarter of last night's blowout loss to Spurs, they did have to make the short trip back to Dallas and play the following night. The Celtics, on the other hand, all had the day off yesterday and will be full of confidence after squeezing out a narrow win in the nation's capital. Boston has had a lot of close contests in recent weeks and has learned a great deal from them. They are better equipped to 'close out' games at this stage of the season than many of their opponents.

One of the reasons Boston has been installed as a road favorite in this matchup is the fact that they are out for revenge. This is the second and final meeting between these two franchises, and with Celtics having dropped the first one, they will not want to be swept. The previous meeting was all the way back in November when inexperience got the best of Boston, as they allowed Dallas to erase an 18-point deficit and steal an unlikely victory! The players and the coaching staff no doubt remember that game and will be looking for payback.

One player in particular, Jae Crowder, might be poised for a big game. That's because the talented forward has transformed into an excellent two-way player and seems to be a jack of all trades. He's often the second leading scorer behind Isaiah Thomas for Boston while also guarding the opposition's main offensive threat and getting his fair share of rebounds, steals and assists! Crowder is a former Maverick and will want to show his old team that they made a mistake by letting him go, especially since he came over to Boston in the Rajon Rondo trade, a trade that turned out to be a complete disaster for Dallas! Look for he and teammates to get a W in Texas as they hang onto their 8th and final playoff spot in the competitive Eastern conference. The Celtics actually have a better record on the road than in Boston this season and should edge what could be a tightly contested battle.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Celtics are a perfect 7-0 ATS when seeking revenge on the road this season!
  • Mavericks have covered just 9 of 30 games after their last 3 constests went 'under' the total!
  • Celtics are 23-11 ATS when playing a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.

2: Take Brooklyn Nets at +11.5 spread against Toronto Raptors for 3% of the bankroll.

The Brookly Nets are the second worst team in the Eastern conference and at just 11-30 on the season, they will not be making the playoffs. Despite their ugly record, this team has not been a bad bet the line (spread) and that's because they've often been spotted a generous amount of points as they are being tonight. The Nets have lost many games this season but they've been competitive in the vast majority of them. It is the 4th quarter that often has been their undoing and where wins have turned into losses but that hasn't stopped them from covering inflated spreads like this one.

The Raptors are unlikely to be at their best tonight due to several different reasons. The primary one is that this is actually their first game in 4 days and only their second one since January 9th! Too much rest leads to rust and NBA experts will not be surprised to see them have to adjust to game speed and be somewhat out of rhythm, especially in the first half. These athletes are used to performing at high intensity action every other day or at most every 3rd day and yet an odd scheduling spot like this has Toronto players understandably sluggish after a lengthy layoff. If you're wondering why they have only played one game since January 9th, that's because the Raptors and Magic played a game in London last Thursday in London, England as NBA attempts to grow its brand interntionally. This is therefore not only an extended layoff but one that has had abnormal travel involved. This is Toronto's first game at Air Canada Center since January 3rd! The first game back at home after an extended road trip is often the trickiest as players have been away from family and friends for awhile and can't wait to spend time with them when they get back. All these factors lead to Raptors not being in the optimal physical or mental state tonight.

And yet the fact that they've won 4 straight games while the Nets are sinking, has led to an inflated spread such as this where all the value is on the underdog. A team that is on a winning streak does not like days off because that often messes with their timing and on-court chemistry. The Raptors may have won their last 4 games but haven't taken the court regularly over the last week and means they won't be as hot as another team on a 4-game winning streak that has had its normal schedule, rest and travel. 

The Nets are not a good team this year but they aren't a doormat like the 76ers either. They lose their fair share of games but they don't get blown out all that often. This is still a squad with proud veterans, ones that have made the playoffs in each of the previous few seasons and are not used to being embarrassed. After two double-digit losses, look for Brooklyn to play with more pride and urgency tonight, especially against an Atlantic division opponent that previously got the better of them. The fact that the Nets are 65-47 ATS (against-the-spread) when seeking revenge against an opponent over the last 3 seasons, shows that they do circle such games on their calendar as they look to deliver payback and a bit of retribution. They often end up falling short of the outright win in such games but their increased effort does see them cover the spread and we expect the same again tonight.

The Raptors beat the Nets 91-74 in Brooklyn just twelve days ago and will likely be overlooking their lowly opponents. That is a recipe for disaster when laying this many points. Interim coach and former Net, Tony Brown say he'll be demanding a more energetic performance from his players tonight as he can handle losses but can't accept lackluster efforts! He was critical of his squad after the blowout loss in Atlanta and essentially called them out publicly. Such psychological tactics often lead to an improved effort in the following game that is what we forsee tonight. With one team desperate to bounce back and at least put up a good fight while the other is in a complacent mood, look for this game to be closer than most anticipate. Even if the Nets are not competitive in this matchup and Toronto blowing them out, a backdoor cover is always a possibility with such an inflated spread! Look for Brooklyn to keep within this generous spread and avoid a third straight double-digit loss. 

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