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March 1, 2017

There are two NBA picks tonight.

There will be a lot more NBA action after March Madness! In the meanwhile, the focus is primarily on the college hardwood, where despite a recent slump, Sports Profit System has had a very solid season overall.
 

#1: Take Minnesota Timberwolves +7 spread against Utah Jazz for 3% of the bankroll.

The Jazz may be the division leaders but they are in a vulnerable spot tonight. That's because they went toe-to-toe with main rivals, the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, only to fall narrowly short in a 3-point loss. It was a gut-wrenching defeat for a team that expended a lot of energy in trying to mount a comeback. After OKC opened the game by hitting its first twelve 3-point attempts, Utah was in deep trouble. Yet, they showed their character and rallied! Unfortunately for them, it was ultimately to no avail as Russel Westbrook almost single-handedly willed his team to victory by scoring the final 12 points, in another Triple-Double performance. The fact that they put so much effort into that game diminishes their chances of a 'W' tonight, as most starters logged heavy minutes.

Not only did the likes of George Hill stay on the court for 38 minutes last night, the team had to hop on a plane to fly from Oklahoma City back home, to play another game, just 24 hours later! It's a tough task after what was such a physical contest yesterday. The T-Wolves, on the other hand, cruised to victory against the Kings on Monday and after a day of rest on Tuesday, they are fresh and ready for this matchup. Minnesota doesn't have Westbrook but they do have two extremely dynamic athletes in Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Those two are playing at an even higher level since Zach LaVine was lost to a season-ending injury and are coming off an incredible month in February. They're playing with a lot of confidence right now and so is PG Ricky Rubio, a player that like many European NBA players is under-rated. Rubio isn't the athlete that Westbrook is but he's been dishing out assists for fun and has also been finally shooting the ball with confidence. He's running a very efficient offense for the Timberwolves and could pose problems for a normally-stout but tired Jazz defense.

Don't count the T-Wolves out just yet. They were noted as the team to watch by us a month ago and have done their playoff hopes no harm since. While many looked at the Pelicans as a potential post-season team after the acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins, we pinned Minnesota as an outsider to potentially secure that 8th and final playoff spot in the Western conference. They certainly have their hands full as they are fighting for one spot with 5 other teams (Blazers, Nuggets, Kings, Mavericks and Pelicans) but we believe they have what it takes to go on a run and give themselves a good chance in the final week of the season. Because unlike New Orleans for example, there's no need for squad chemistry to be rebuilt and a new player to integrate into their system. In fact, after a few months under Tom Thibodeau, they now finally understand the way he wants them to play and are therefore a better team now than earlier this season.

We expect them to head to Salt Lake City and give Utah a real fight tonight. This is a divisional game and with the Jazz being the current leaders, they have a target on their back. The Jazz are a solid team this year but this is the second night of a back-to-back schedule with travel involved, and for that reason, we believe they are laying too many points. This line should have been closer to -4 in our opinion as Minnesota is a live underdog and capable of an outright upset. This is a contest that'll likely go down the wire and get decided on the final couple of possessions. If that is indeed the case, the 7 points are extremely precious and likely to come into play, even if the Wolves fall short. Back the underdogs at this generous price as they are the ones that present all the value from a wagering standpoint.
 

#2: Take Indiana Pacers +10 spread against San Antonio Spurs for 3% of the bankroll.

The Pacers lock horns with the Spurs tonight and we don't believe this will be as lopsided of a game as many expect. Generally speaking, San Antonio is in a different class but on this particular occasion, there are certain factors at play that could make this matchup a tightly contested one. This is Spurs' first game at AT&T Center after their annual rodeo road trip and that makes it a bit more challenging. With players having been away from their homes and families for awhile, some may be slightly distracted with matters to attend to, especially since this is their only home game before they head out on the road again after tonight!

Coach Nate McMillan showed great insight and guts in Indiana's visit to Houston when he employed a couple of unorthodox lineups that paid great dividends. He went to a very rarely used three guard combo featuring Monta Ellis and Rodney Stuckey while electing to keep star small-forward Paul George on the bench for big minutes. George had struggled out of the All-Star break after trade rumors didn't mount to anything and you could visibly see the frustration in his body language at times. Pacers started the game terribly against James Harden and the Rockets and faced an 18-2 deficit before rallying to win that game! It was a truly morale-boosting victory for a club that was starting to doubt itself. It was the type of 'W' that gets labeled a true 'Team Win', as everyone pitched in and played a role. When nearly the entire squad, including fringe players stay together and fight through adversity as they did in the last game, it uplifts the entire team and builds chemistry. We believe Indiana's win over the Rockets was an important one in that regard and should give them the necessary confidence heading in to Alamo City.

Tony Parker has been instrumental to San Antonio's success over the last decade and has been playing some great basketball again recently, over the last few games. The veteran French playmaker is likely to sit this one out however as he's dealing with a bruised quad. The issue is not a serious one but coach Poppovich has shown over the years that he'll exercise caution in the buildup to the playoffs with his aging players and point-guard Tony Parker certainly fits into that category. We believe he'll be unavailable to play tonight which will likely result in Dejounte Murray getting the start. The rookie might be one for the future but has a long way to go at the moment and rarely gets meaningful minutes. He's logging less than 8 minutes per game and has averaged just 3.4 points and yet will be tasked with going up against Jeff Teague and company tonight. It's likely that experienced backup Patty Mills, will end up playing more than Murray but while an excellent shooter, he does not possess the same playmaking abilities as Parker. The absence of the starting PG for San Antonio means this could be more of a dogfight than the betting public anticipates.

San Antonio is likely to win this game but to do so easily by double-digits is probably too much to ask for. The Pacers have a healthy squad heading into this one and will be up for this game. They will likely fall short at the end but should be competitive enough to stay within what is a very generous spread. The line is inflated in our opinion and presents great value on the underdogs. Pulling off the outright win as they did against Houston, when they were also installed as +10 underdogs is in all likelihood just out of reach, but putting up a good fight in what could be a fairly close game is not. Look for the visitors, a group that has learned to play as a team and built good chemistry, to give San Antonio a challenge and cash in tickets for sharp bettors.




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