March 9, 2016 (12:38 PM ET)
There are two picks tonight.
1) Take Dallas Mavericks at -2 spread against Detroit Pistons for 3% of the bankroll.
Two middle of the pack teams meet up in this non-conference matchup, both hopeful of playoff basketball but neither particularly safe in achieving that. The Mavs have slid down to 7th in the West after dropping their last 3 games while the Pistons currently find themselves just outside of a post-season spot in the Eastern conference. Dallas is now just 1.5 games ahead of Texas rivals, Houston Rockets and only 3 games in front of 9th placed Utah Jazz, a young squad that is hopeful of breaking its postseason drought in recent years and one that beat them on their home court in overtime just prior to the All-Star break! If the Mavs wanna hold on to their playoff position, they need to start winning games and we believe they'll do that tonight.
Mark Cuban's Mavericks have been a solid team at the American Airlines Center for years and this season has been no different. They are 19-14 at home compared to just 14-17 on the road and tend to raise their level of performance in front of their passionate fans. That's especially true when they are in 'bounce back mode', after a defeat! The fact that they are coming off of not one or two but 3 consecutive losses makes them a great bet tonight as this is a veteran squad that hardly ever loses 4 in a row. That's evident by the fact that they are 5-1 straight-up and ATS (against-the-spread) after 3 consecutive losses, over the last three years! They are 2-0 in this particular situation this season which shows that Mavs have lost three in a row on only two occasions all season and in both cases, they didn't allow a 4th straight defeat to come their way and we don't see that happening tonight either.
The Pistons need to go on a run between now and the end of the season as well if they want to make the playoffs but this particular game isn't really a must-win for them, like it is for the home side. Afterall, they're coming off a 20-point win against the Blazers and therefore don't have anything to necessarily 'bounce back' from. As visitors, the pressure isn't on them like it is on the home side (Mavericks) either and that means we may see another inconsistent effort from them as we've often seen, following wins. Detroit has 4 straight games against Eastern conference foes following this contest and they'll no doubt be more ambitious in those matchups. That's because while they would like to win this game, it will ultimately be their performances against East teams (direct rivals) that determine whether they go past the regular season or not. The fact that Pistons have covered only 4 of 16 spreads on the road against Western conference opponents is proof of that!
The Dallas squad is a veteran one, with an average age of 30 years old! The vast majority of their players have been involved in similar playoff races, previously in their NBA careers and so this isn't a team that panics easily. They have the experience to get them through rough patches and the inevitable ups and downs of a long season and that is precisely why they have often avoided long losing streaks. It's also worth knowing that Mavs have won 11 of 15 games this season following a double-digit loss! Big losses clearly don't sit well with them then as they tend to respond back with an emphatic performance. We expect Rick Carlisle's side to play with more urgency than the Pistons tonight and register a much needed 'W'! Their schedule gets a lot tougher after this game as the vast majority of their next opponents sport a winning record on the season and are playoff contenders. Look for them to get the better of a Detroit side that has lost 6 of its last 7 visits to Big D.
2) Take Georgia Tech at +1 spread against Clemson for 3% of the bankroll.
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are a team who is much better than their overall record suggests. They had lost a number of close games in conference play this season and had a few extra bounces gone their way, they would likely find themselves in a much better spot to make the NCAA tournament. That being said, they have done an excellent job of beefing up their resume as of late as they have won five of their last 6 games, including an impressive win over Pittsburgh in their last contest. The Yellow Jackets still have a chance to get an at-large bid into the tournament but they will need to make a deep run in this tournament. To keep their hopes alive, a win in this contest is a must have and we expect them to play with a sense of desperation and urgency in this matchup tonight.
The Clemson Tigers made some noise early in conference play with a number of high profile wins; however they have fizzled as the season has gone on. They have lost 4 of their last 5 games with their only win coming against a winless Boston College team who went 0-19 in conference play this season. Clemson is a team that has survived largely in part to their defense, which ranks 20th in the country, however their offense has been dismal ranking just 267th in the nation. The Tigers have had major issues with the Guard play this season as they have been wildly inconsistent. Donte Grantham has scored five points and three points (respectively) in two of his last four outings while fellow guard Avry Holmes went 0 for 6 from the field in a recent loss to Virginia.
These two teams managed to split the regular season meeting this year, however it was Georgia Tech who got the best of the Tigers in the most recent outing, just a few short weeks ago 75-73. Clemson had a scoring output in that contest which saw them going 12 for 26 from three point range, which is well above their seasonal average. They also committed only 8 turnovers, which allowed them to stay within striking distance. Georgia Tech dominated the paint and the glass in that contest and had 6 total blocks in the game. Those statistics should not change much as the Yellow Jackets are the more aggressive team. We don't expect Clemson to have as much success offensively in this contest which will likely be the difference.
At the end of the day, this is a matchup of two teams heading in opposite directions. Georgia Tech needs this win much more than their opponents and given how they well have been playing recently, we expect their hot streak to continue! As we has stated, Clemson has had some impressive wins this season, but those have come on their home court. Nine of their 13 losses have come either on the road or in neutral court venues this season and with this game being played at the Verizon Center is DC, we expect the Tigers struggles to continue. This is Georgia Tech's game to lose and we believe the wrong team is favored here!
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