March 29, 2016 (4:00 PM ET)
Tonight's NBA pick is a below average 2% wager.
Sports Profit System has won 12 of its last 15 NBA picks and is 17-8 with college picks in March!
There are two selections tonight.
1: Take Houston Rockets +2 spread against Cleveland Cavaliers for 2% of the bankroll.
Toronto's loss last night gave Cleveland a comfortable 3-game lead over its closest Eastern conference rival! With just 9 regular season games remaining, that is a healthy lead and one that might just set them up for a let-down tonight. That's because this particular matchup against Houston is suddenly NOT a 'must-win' game for them anymore, as it would have been if the Raptors had won last night! The Cavaliers would have needed a 'W' to keep the Canadian club at an arm's length in that case but now will be feeling no such urgency tonight. Afterall, while they'd like to win, a defeat would hardly be the end of the world given that they would still sit comfortably atop the conference.
LeBron James will be getting the night off for rest purposes and will not be on the court tonight. That is welcomed news for a Houston Rockets team that has a lot more riding on this game and needs wins badly! They are in danger of missing the playoffs and would fall out of a post-season spot if they lose tonight. The fact that Utah Jazz, Portland Blazers and the Dallas Mavericks all won last night piles more pressure on them to perform. This is a talented squad that often plays its best brand of basketball with its back against the wall and it wouldn't surprise us if they walked away with a win in Cleveland, just when everyone has written them off! For some reason, they tend to get up for playing the bigger teams and often perform admirable on nationally televised games but come out flat against inferior competition. Given that this contest is the prime-time portion of the TNT double-header, expect Harden and teammates to play with a sense of purpose and showcase their skills to the watching world! They are in desperate need of wins to make the playoffs and will be the more motivated group.
Since LeBron's return to Cleveland, the Cavaliers have won only 3 of the 15 games in which he sat out! He is undoubtedly the leader of this squad and their most important player as he affects the game at both ends of the court and intimidates the opposition with his presence and pedigree as one of the game's all-time greats! The Cavs have often struggled in his absence and could find it difficult against a talented and fired up Houston team that has a lot more to gain or lose from this game than they do. The self-proclaimed 'King' creates matchup problems for just about every team he steps on the court against with his size, athleticism and basketball IQ and the fact that he won't be there tonight gives the Rockets defense a big break! They had no answers for him in the last meeting between these two sides earlier this season but won't have to worry about his impact on this occasion. On the other hand, we don't believe Cleveland will be able to deal with James Harden effectively and if they do, he'll start dishing it out to teammates for open-look 3's as this is a team that has a number of capable outside shooters and Harden is a better 'assist-man' than he used to be!
Keep in mind that this Houston squad is made up of competitive and proud individuals and ones that don't take being 'swept' lightly. Having lost to Cleveland at home earlier this season, they'll be out for revenge in this contest and will do everything they can to avoid a season sweep! It's also worth remembering that Houston tends to play better when coming off a loss than they off a win. This is a team that enjoys 'bouncing back' and plays with a different level of energy when they last tasted defeat. They bounced back from a close loss to the Jazz with an important win over a quality club like Toronto before losing another nail-biter to the Pacers. Just like they did before, they are capable of coming out fired up on national TV and prove a point and have an excellent chance against a Cavaliers team that is missing its best player and might be more focused on resting players and limiting their minutes than getting results.
2: Take Valparaiso -2 spread (buy half a point) against BYU for 3% of the bankroll.
Valparaiso is a team that has flown under the radar this season and is likely not getting the credit that they are due. They have tasted defeat only 6 times this season and after dominating Horizon League play with a 16-2 record, culminating with a regular season conference title, this team seemed like they had done enough to get an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament regardless of how they fared in their conference tournament. A semi-finals loss to Wisconsin Green Bay however seemed to sway the committee and instead they ended up as a #1 seed in the NIT tournament.
Their NCAA Tournament snub had set a fire underneath this team and they have been on a mission in this tournament to prove that they deserve national recognition. They have torn through the tournament, dispatching some rather tough competition with relative ease, having defeated Texas Southern, Florida State and St Mary's enrout to this the Final Four. The Crusaders have one of the most underrated defenses in the country and that was on full display in their matchup with the Gaels. Valpo actually went into the locker rooms with a two-point deficit, but stifling second-half defense which held the Gaels efficient offense to just 13 points. In their first 3 games this tournament, this team has defeated their opponents by a combined 39 points! Valpo is clearly the better defensive team in this matchup today. The Crusaders are led by Alec Peters who's had another solid campaign averaging 18.5 points and 8.4 rebounds.
The BYU Cougars are a quality team and they picked up some impressive victories enroute to the Final Four, coming away with victories against Virginia Tech and Creighton. However the Cougars also had the advantage of playing all of their games on their home floor, a place where they have excelled this season. On the road however, they have been a completely different team. While their offense seems to click on all cylinders in Provo, they have sputtered at time on the road where 6 of the team's 10 loses this season have come in true road games! Meanwhile, the Crusaders are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games on neutral territory.
This really should be an entertaining matchup between two contrasting styles; Valparaiso was able to completely shutdown a St Mary's offense that gave the Cougars fits this season and should be able to contain a somewhat shaky BYU offense playing on the road. The Crusaders are the more fundamentally sound team in this contest and should be able to make the critical stop necessary late in the game to come away with the win and cover and punch their tickets to the championship game.
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