NBA - 505 Milwaukee Bucks @ 506 Brooklyn Nets
Projected Line: 190 points | Brooklyn by 8 points
Milwaukee was one of the teams that was needing the All Star Break the most. They had lost 4 of their last 5 games and their only win was at home against a shorthanded Sixers team by just two points! Not good! The key for this bad run has been Larry Sanders's absence, who is their only decent frontcourt player. The good news is that Sanders is likely to play tonight, as even though he will be a game-time decision against the Nets tonight, he said that he has "70-30" odds to play! Besides that, there are some trade rumors involving some Bucks's players. It is being reported that the Bucks are interested in J.J. Redick, while Brandon Jennings has been also involved in trade rumors. It is being reported that the Bucks are interested in J.J. Redick, while Brandon Jennings has been also involved in trade rumors. Also there are rumors about a trade involving Monta Ellis going to Atlanta for Josh Smith. So, Milwaukee is also having to deal with off-court distractions. They need Larry Sanders to comeback at a good level to boost their defensive efficiency, while Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings need to be consistent! The good news is that the Bucks's starting backcourt has a good matchup tonight against Brooklyn. We know that Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are big slow footed guards, so Ellis's and Jennings's quickness is the main reason why Milwaukee is 2-0 against Brooklyn this season: they shot 8-13 FG and 8-19 FG on the first game against the Nets, while in the second game they shot 7-14 FG and 9-15 FG. By the way, the Nets's loss on their second game against the Bucks was the last straw that caused Avery Johnson to get fired.
Brooklyn was humiliated at home against San Antonio by getting scored 29-60 in the second half. But then, even without Deron Williams, they managed to make a nice bounce back and beat Indiana on the road and then defeat Denver at home on their last game before the All Star Break. Deron Williams is probable for tonight and he told reporters yesterday that he is playing tonight. However, he doesn't know how many minutes. The week off has helped him, but not a lot. As Rod Boone tweeted, "Deron hasn't been able to jump off his left leg with any explosion this season. Said he can't dunk off it. Needs to jump off both to dunk." Moreover, Boone reported, "Deron said he feels a little bit better today than he did this time last week. Not a big change, though." Mike Mazzeo added that "D-Will says he really needs more rest, but there's no time. Said he feels a little better after prp." This will be a home-home back to back series, as these two teams will face each other once again tomorrow, but this time at Milwaukee. It's important to check Brooklyn's mental toughness levels for tonight, as they clearly lost their first two games against Milwaukee this season. The Bucks play at a completely different style from the Nets, as while Brooklyn operates mainly in the halfcourt, the Bucks are a fast paced team. We will have in here the Bucks's speed versus the Nets's height/power/slowness. In the first two games, the Nets couldn't adapt to this matchup. Have they learnt the lesson and will they be more competitive tonight?
The first two games between these two teams were fast paced games (94 pace factor for both games), so the games were played Milwaukee's way and this explains a lot the final score. Brooklyn's average pace this season is 86.93, but their two games against the Bucks had a pace of 94! In the first game, Brook Lopez didn't play and this was a huge handicap for the Nets, as Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries shot just a combined of 7-18 (39%) FG! With no presence down low, the Nets was a jump shooting team, but with 7-25 (28%) 3pts, their offense sucked. On defense, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings had big games, with Milwaukee being sharp in transition with 16 fast break points, while shooting 6-10 FG on transitions with 1.29 PPP. In the second game, Brooklyn was on a terrible spot, as they were playing their third game in four nights, while they were also on a back to back spot. They had lost at home against Boston on Christmas Day and they were at the time on their worst moment of the season that made Avery Johnson getting fired after this game. They got crushed by the Bucks, who had 3 days off to rest and prepare this game. Brook Lopez played against the Bucks this time and he simply crushed them with 9-18 FG, 21 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks in 29 minutes! Once again, it was the Nets's poor outside shooting (4-21 3pts and 6-20 FG from 16-23 feet) that made them lose the game. On a fast paced game, the tired Nets got ran over by the Bucks's quick backcourt, who also shot 10-17 3pts, while their transition looked great again with 19 fast break points. Also note that Brooklyn was playing without Deron Williams.
For tonight's game, we will finally have a healthy Nets facing the Bucks! Deron Williams hasn't been physically at 100% this season, but there won't be a time of the season where he will be fresher than today! I doubt that the Nets will fall in the same trap of playing a run and gun game against Milwaukee. The first two games against the Bucks had a game pace of 94, but on their last game against Denver (119-108), the final score might indicate that it was a run and gun game, but it wasn't as the pace was just 87.30! So, I really believe the Nets won't be running with the Bucks tonight, something that will cause a lot of problems to Milwaukee's offense that struggles on half court sets.
Milwaukee's two main strengths on offense this season have been their pick and roll ball handler plays and transitions, however they have been struggling on these two areas over their last 10 games! I don't know if Larry Sanders's absence has caused this or not, but the truth is that they dynamic hasn't been the same lately. Their season average on pick and roll ball handler plays is 0.77 PPP, but they had just 0.65 PPP on their last 10 games, while their season average on transitions is 1.15 PPP, but they have regressed to just 1.00 PPP on their last 10 contests! With the Nets turning tonight's game into a halfcourt game and with the Bucks struggling in being efficient on their transitions, Milwaukee's two main edges that they had on their first two games against Brooklyn are now gone.
On the other side, we have Brook Lopez who will dominate tonight. Even if Larry Sanders returns tonight, it won't be 100% healthy plus Lopez dominated a healthy Sanders on the last game between these two teams, so I believe Lopez will crush the Bucks down low tonight. This will be the key for an easy Nets win tonight, who will be fired up for this contest. Also note that we will have a back to back game between these two teams tomorrow at Milwaukee, so I wouldn't be surprised if the Bucks simply give up in the middle of tonight's contest if they get down on the score and start thinking about getting revenge at home in the following day. As I expect this game to be played at a much slower pace than in the first two games between these two teams and with the Bucks struggling on offense, I'll be taking both the Nets and the Under in here.
Pick: 3 units (Single Dime Play) on 505/506 Under 195 @ -115 / 1.87 on Bovada
Pick: 3 units (Single Dime Play) on 506 Brooklyn Nets (-4,5) @ -110 / 1.91 on Bookmaker
Final Score: Milwaukee 111 Brooklyn 113
NBA - 507 Memphis Grizzlies @ 508 Detroit Pistons
Projected Line: 189 points
It looks like Memphis is making progress with their new look roster in comparison to the "Rudy Gay Era". With Tayshaun Prince in Memphis instead of Rudy Gay, there aren't a lot of doubts that Memphis will continue being an elite defensive team, so the main question was related to their offense. Gay is very talented, but he takes too many bad shots, something that Prince doesn't do. So far, Prince is averaging "just" 10.3 points per game at Memphis, but he is shooting 49.2% FG and committing just 1 turnover per game, in another proof of Prince's great IQ. Memphis's offense was in a groove coming out to the All Star Break. They had four consecutive games with an offensive rating higher than 105 - something that had only happened once earlier on this season! If Memphis is able to be more consistent on offense during the second half of the season, then they can be a really tough team to beat due to their toughness, defense and now with an improved offense as well.
With Jose Calderon running the show, Detroit is clearly a better team. Not only Calderon is having great shooting numbers since he joined the Pistons (9-17 FG and 24 points on the team's last game against Washington), as he knows how to control the flow of the game and give the ball to Greg Monroe on the right spots, who is having the best month of the season because of that with 18.4 ppg, 52.6% FG and 13.3 rpg! I remember that not so long ago, Monroe shot 44.9% FG during December! Detroit is now playing in a more uptempo style, while creating more transition chances, but they need to control their turnover numbers in order to be efficient on this style, as they committed 20 and 17 turnovers in two of their last three games! Detroit ended the first half of the season by winning three of their last four games and they have expectations in having a good second half of the season and who knows if they have a shot at the 8th seed, if Milwaukee struggles during the second half of the season?
Memphis has been playing clearly better on offense lately, but their defense has been regressing. The main factor for that has been their poor transition defense, as in three of their last five games, they have allowed more than 15 fast break points to their opponents. Memphis's transition defense is #7 in the league with 1.10 PPP allowed for the season, but they have allowed 1.27 PPP on their last five games! This can quickly become a problem against the Pistons, who have now as their new philosophy to score fast with 15.3 fast break points per game over their last six games! On the other hand, the Grizzlies will have an edge down low with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, as the Pistons are far from being a good interior defensive team, especially without Andre Drummond. Detroit's spot up defense is #30 in the league with 0.92 PPP allowed for the season, but their numbers are even much worse lately with 1.17 PPP allowed over their last five games! With the Grizzlies having the edge down low, this will give more space on the outside to their shooters and with their new good offensive dynamic, Memphis has a great spot to have a nice offensive game tonight.
The previous game between these two teams ended with a 90-78 result, but the game was actually being a decent scoring game, until the fourth quarter where Memphis outscored Detroit by 14-12! That won't happen tonight, with both teams being much better on offense lately, so I believe this game will be a relatively high scoring game, therefore I'll be taking the Over in here.
Pick: 3 units (Single Dime Play) on 507/508 Over 185,5 @ -110 / 1.91 on Bookmaker
Final Score: Memphis 105 Detroit 91
NBA - 511 Boston Celtics @ 512 Denver Nuggets
Projected Line: Denver by 4 points
Denver ended the first half of the season banged up and beaten up by losing their last three games. It was a brutal span for them that ended up in Brooklyn with the Nuggets playing their fourth game in five nights, having played a triple overtime game at Boston in the middle of that span. To make things worse for them, Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari didn't play the last two games and even though Denver was competitive, they couldn't win the two games down the stretch. For today, Denver finally had some rest and Iguodala and Gallinari will be back for tonight's contest, where Denver is coming back home where they have a 22-3 record so far on this season.
The game between these two teams at Boston two weeks ago was one of the best games of the season so far. Boston should had won in regulation, but then they should have lost in the first overtimes. The Celtics have been losing players almost every single week, but they keep remaining competitive due to a great team chemistry that they hadn't shown early on the season. Paul Pierce and Jason Terry are rested for tonight's game, while Kevin Garnett only played six minutes in the All Star game, so the Celtics's veteran players won't have to deal with dead legs for tonight's showdown. The Celtics were obviously outrebounded by Denver in the first game between the two teams, but they managed to compensate that by forcing turnovers, while being more assertive at the free throw line. They will need to do the same thing tonight if they want to be competitive on this contest, as Denver will surely be ready for some payback tonight.
Just because the Nuggets are playing at home, this doesn't mean that they will crush every single team that they face in Denver! Before going on their recent road trip, the Nuggets had a series of games where they crushed their opponents at home, but where they also had some favorable matchups. We know that Denver crushes their opponents in transitions, especially at home, and they faced Sacramento (#26 on transition defense), Houston (#27), New Orleans (#28), Milwaukee (#21) and Chicago (#29)! Boston is still ranked #30 on transition defense, but since their game against Miami where they lost Rajon Rondo for the season, they received a huge boost on this area by starting Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee together in the backcourt. Boston is allowing 1.23 PPP this season on transition plays, but since that game, they have allowed just 1.07 PPP! Boston's defense has been an elite team on defending pick and roll ball handler plays and in forcing turnovers, so I like the Celtics on this matchup and this is why I took them with a -2 line in the game played at Boston two Sundays ago.
Of course that Denver will be playing at home, but we aren't talking about one of those bad physical spots where the Celtics are crushed due to their lack of physical ability. I expect Boston to be competitive tonight, with their offense taking advantage of the fact that Denver's defense is a weak team in closing out on the shooters. This is why in the first game Boston had more success on the outside with 13-30 (43.3%) 3pts than on 2pts shots, where they shot 30-78 (38.6%) FG! I believe the Celtics will be a competitive underdog tonight, so I'll be taking them in here.
Pick: 3 units (Single Dime Play) on 511 Boston Celtics (+8,5) @ -110 / 1.91 on Betonline
Final Score: Boston 90 Denver 97
NBA - 513 Golden State Warriors @ 514 Utah Jazz
Projected Line: 201 points
The Warriors looked good in early February. They were in the fight with Memphis for homecourt edge in the first round of the playoffs and they had a tough stretch of games against teams that were fighting with them for the playoffs. They were looking confident, but suddenly they lost five games in a row and so, they are coming from this game on a 5-games losing streak. In four of those games, the Warriors were completely outgunned by their opponents by allowing 140, 119, 116 and 116 points! They allowed 20 fast break points per game during this span, while their opponents shot an average of 70% FG at the rim! If Golden State wants to be more competitive, I suggest that they start defending better once again, as their last five games were a complete disaster! It seems that this will be their motto for tonight's game at Utah: "Offense will come and go, but if we can't get stops - can't hold opponents to near 100 or under 100 - we're not going to have a shot," Stephen Curry said. "That's what we've relied on to get to this position."
Utah's coach Tyrone Corbin has finally decided to trust on his younger players and this decision was the correct one, as they won their last two games of the first half of the NBA season, with a great home win against Oklahoma City and then a road win at Minnesota. Utah was the underdog in both games, they were won these two contests on a very impressive way. The key for that was quite simple: avoid giving heavy minutes to the starters, especially on the backcourt, and trust more on the young guys coming off the bench like Alec Burks, DeMarre Carroll, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. It seems that Gordon Hayward will be back tonight, so Utah will have their best playmaker available for tonight's game. The key for Utah will be once again to know how much will coach Corbin trust on his young guns in tonight's contest. The matchup between Jamaal Tinsley and Randy Foye versus Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will clearly favor Golden State, but if Alec Burks and DeMarre Carroll are inserted on the court, then the Warriors will have more offensive problems on this matchup than expected. In the first game between these two teams, Golden State won at Utah by 94-83. If the Warriors are able to limit Utah's offense once again and leave them in the 80's, then this will definitely be one hell of a defensive bounce back from the Warriors, as they have been terrible on defense lately.
I believe we will have in here a clear attempt from Golden State to have a defensive bounce back. All the statements that I've read from them point at this direction and that's normal as they lost their last five games because of poor defense. Their lack of defense was especially evident in the perimeter, as their recent opponents shoot the following from the 3pts line: Houston 23-40 3pts, Oklahoma City 8-23 3pts, Memphis 8-20 3pts, Dallas 11-20 3pts and Houston 10-34 3pts. That's a combined of 60-137 (43.8%) 3pts! The good news is that they will face a Jazz team that is horrible on spot up shooting and so, Golden State's defense will be able to focus in packing the paint like they did it on the first game of the season at Utah, where the Jazz scored just 40 points in the paint, while shooting just 10-15 FG at the rim.
Regarding Utah's defense, I believe Coach Corbin will continue giving extended minutes to his young guards that defend much better than the current starting backcourt and on this specific matchup against the Warriors, it is imperial for Utah to put its young backcourt backups on the court, in order to avoid Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack from torching Jamaal Tinsley and Randy Foye. Therefore, I expect youngsters like Alec Burks and DeMarre Carroll to do a good defensive job tonight, preventing the Warriors's backcourt from having a big offensive game. I don't see this game being the high scoring contest that most people are expecting in here and so, I'll be taking the Under in here.
Pick: 3 units (Single Dime Play) on 513/514 Under 204 @ -110 / 1.91 on Bovada
Final Score: Golden State 101 Utah 115
NBA - 517 San Antonio Spurs @ 518 Sacramento Kings
Projected Line: 213 points
The All Star Break was great for San Antonio, as they were in the middle of a road trip. On their last game at Cleveland, they had Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili back, but their offensive machine was fully oiled yet and so, the Spurs struggled a bit and only won the game down the stretch with a three pointer from Kawhi Leonard. For tonight, San Antonio will be rested and healthy, so I expect their offensive machine to be fully ready to pound the Kings tonight.
Sacramento has been playing at an insane pace lately, as their last four games had a pace factor of 96.88, 93.77, 95.10 and 97.09! The Kings have a deep roster and it seems that their current philosophy is to attack early on the shotclock and this is why they have scored 25, 16, 28 and 26 fast break points on their last four games! They are a very athletic team and so, I don't believe they will change their playing style for tonight's game, especially at home where they have the support of a crowd trying to make the Kings stay in Sacramento.
So, with the Spurs on a wide open game, we have an excellent spot for San Antonio's offense to shine against Sacramento's defense that has been regressing even more lately. They have the worst pick and roll ball handler defense in the league, so we can expect Tony Parker to have a monster game tonight and considering the surprisingly poor game that Tony Parker had in the previous game against Sacramento (1-5 FG and 4 turnovers), I expect him to bounce back big time tonight and crush the Kings's defense.
We have all the necessary conditions for a super high scoring game in here and so, I'll be taking the Over on this contest.
Pick: 3 units (Single Dime Play) on 517/518 Over 209 @ -110 / 1.91 on Bookmaker