March 4, 2016 (3:55 PM ET)
There are two NBA picks tonight.
1) Take Washington Wizards at +8.5 spread against Cleveland Cavaliers for 3% of the bankroll.
The Wizards travel to Quicken Loans Arena to take on the Cavaliers for a Friday night ESPN showdown. Washington has had the Cavaliers number, having won 2 of the 3 meetings this season. While the Cavs would like nothing more than to get a manner of revenge, it's important to note that the Wizards are currently tied for 9th place in the conference and are fighting for a postseason spot. We expect them to put in a solid effort and keep this game competitive even if they do end up losing.
Washington is one of the best offensive teams in the East and that's because they're getting contributions from everyone, including from 3-point range from the likes of Jared Dudley. The fact that players like him, Bradley Beal, Nene and Alan Anderson are coming off the bench as part of the second unit causes problems for most teams. In the three prior meetings this season, Washington has averaged 108.3 points on 50.8% shooting against the Cavaliers but simply reaching the century mark could be enough to cover this generous spread. They had previously been bit hard by the injury bug this season but are the healthiest they have been all season which has certainly paid dividends. Washington has won four straight heading into this game and and has confident and momentum on its side. Given the generous amount of points the oddsmakers have spotted them, we believe they should be able to stay within this inflated spread.
These two teams just played each other on Sunday and without LeBron James in the lineup, the Cavaliers were completely dominated by the Wizards, 113-99! They trailed by as many as 30 points and while they would like to return the favor, that isn't likely. That's because they are without Kevin Love who'll be rested tonight. The Celtics come to Cleveland tomorrow and there's no doubt that LeBron and teamates remember Avery Bradley's buzzerbeater from earlier this year! That was a nationally televised game and brought the Cavs a rare home loss. Coach Lue's decision to rest Kevin Love shows that their focus is not entirely on this matchup against the Wizards. They are seeking revenge against both of these clubs but to have them scheduled on back-to-back nights poses problems. That's because even if the Cavaliers do build a big lead at some point, they'll look to limit the minutes of their starters in preparation for tomorrow's game and that can always allow the Wizards to keep this within single digits.
Washington matches up well with the Cavaliers which is evident by their performances against them including in the first meeting of the season, in which LeBron did play but could not help his team secure the W. John Wall comes into this game playing very well and will relish another opportunity to showcase his talent on prime time against another All-Star calibre PG. He's taken leadership of this squad and put the team on his shoulders when they needed a lift. If he can hit a couple of 3's from long range tonight, that should open up the lane for him to drive to the basket since Cleveland will likely employ two shot-blockers in Tristan Thompson and Russian Center, Mozgov. While there is certainly no question that Cleveland will be out for revenge, a double digit victory on a nationally televised game against a surging team on the first of back-to-back nights is a tall order.
Cleveland wasn't very sharp in their most recent game against the Pacers and were somewhat fortunate to escape with a victory. The Cavs offense went cold from the field and shot only 43% from the game while allowing the Pacers to shoot 46%. They also allowed Indiana to shoot 44% from beyond the arc, going 8 for 18 from downtown. The Wizards are an incredibly productive team from beyond the arc having drained at least nine 3-pointers in three of their last 4 games! It also doesn't help that the Cavs last played on Monday night. They could be rusty, especially in the first half and that might just give the team from DC additional confidence. Washington would fall to a losing record if they don't win tonight, given that they are currently .500 on the season and that presents further incentive to give it their best shot. They need to continue winning to secure a postseason berth as they are on the outside looking in right now but very much within striking distance. They'll be knocking on the door of teams like Pistons if they leave Ohio victorious and would also set a new season-high with 5 straight wins! Although we believe they'll probably end up falling short of the win, they are a live underdog in this spot and the points should prove very precious! Back them against the generous spread as they can challenge for the outright win and keep this game within single digits.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Washington is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after one day of rest.
- Washington has covered 15 of 20 spreads as a 6.5 to 9 point road underdog over the last 3 seasons!
- Cleveland is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.
2: Take Charlotte Hornets at -3 spread against Indiana Pacers for 3% of the bankroll.
The killer bees are buzzing and have already stung the Pacers this season, beating them twice in Indiana! They are playing very well but are flying under the radar and are not yet getting the credit that they deserve. Steve Clifford's well-balanced side has won 8 of its last 10 games and is currently sitting 6th in the Eastern conference. They aren't satisfied however as they have set their sights on the Southeast division crown and are hopeful of beating out the Heat and the Hawks for it! They are about to open a 7-game homestand and the fact that they are sitting only 2.5 games behind leaders, Miami, means that is a realistic goal. Let's not forget that this team plays much better in Charlotte than it does elsewhere and that's evident in their impressive 20-9 home record this season! Michael Jordan and the front office have done a great job or creating 'home-court' advantage for the Hornets and it's starting to pay dividends.
Indiana will no doubt be looking for revenge in this contest but that doesn't mean they'll get it. Pacers have lost 11 of 13 games when looking to avenge a home loss this season! They have covered the spread only 3 times (out of 13) in this particular situation. This squad is talented but also somewhat fragile mentally and has some learning to do in that regard. To say the Hornets hold a psychological edge over them would be a valid statement. It is 'execution' and not 'motivation' that will determine if they can pull this one out and given their track record, they aren't likely to. After being spanked 117-95 right before the All-Star break, Pacers had no shortage of incentives to deliver some payback when they hosted Kemba Walker and company last week but despite an improved effort, they fell short again losing by a point! That left them greatly frustrated and is unlikely to help their cause tonight.
The Hornets have take both prior meetings this season on enemy territory and now have the rare opportunity to sweep the Pacers for the first time since their entry to the league back in the 1988-1989 season! It would be a historic feat and one that fills them with additional motivation. Charlotte has fared well against Indiana this year because they present matchup problems for them. This Hornets offense is a lot more diversed and potent than in years past and not only has a strong bench (second unit) but is capable of scoring in different ways. They are a much improved 3-point shooting team but also attack the basket when teams focus too much on their perimeter defense. And if it's not the under-rated Kemba Walker causing havoc by driving into the lane and finishing or dishing out assists, they also have the option to post-up and get their points in the paint through the likes of Al Jefferson and Indiana U product, Cody Zeller! This is a deep squad that has no true 'superstars' but has a lot of solid players, each capable of stepping up and hurting the opposition in different ways.
Unlike their opponents, Charlotte will be solely focused on the task at hand tonight. That's because they don't play again until March 7th and that is a non-conference game against the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves! Therefore they have nothing to 'look ahead to' or be distracted by whereas Frank Vogel's side has another important Eastern conference clash on deck tomorrow night. As much as they'd love to take this one, they also have the surging Wizards to worry about and plan ahead for. That means certain players' minutes may be restricted or they may decide to rest them if this game gets out of hand instead of trying to rally and mount a big comeback. Certainly this scheduling spot favors the home side as Pacers are in a back-to-back situation and what makes it tougher is that there is travel involved, given that both games are on the road. The Hornets have won 6 of their last 7 home games thanks in part to Kemba Walker averaging 29.5 points during that span and will be keen to start this homestand on the right note. This is a short spread to lay with the team that we believe will win the game, since only 2 numbers don't work for us. Hornets are 19-8 as a favorite this season and should win this game too!
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