Editor’s Note: Antony Dinero’s handicapping style focuses on player analysis, in particular X-factors for each team. Don't miss out on his daily winners exclusively at VegasInsider.com. Click to win!
Toronto at Indiana
Roy Hibbert has been struggling with consistency over the past few weeks, entering the past weekend without a double-double since Mar. 17 and actually going without a rebound on Apr. 4. While Larry Bird should've docked the 7-2 Hibbert a week's pay for embarrassing himself in failing to even meet with a board by accident, the goose egg apparently served as a wake-up call. Hibbert was a beast in Friday's upset of Oklahoma City, leading the way with 21 points and 12 rebounds by dominating Kendrick Perkins. In Saturday's 86-72 loss to Boston, he was one of the few Pacers with a pulse, winding up with 17 rebounds. No one is more vital to Indiana's aspirations of claiming the Eastern Conference's No. 3 seed than its All-Star Center, so count on his energy being the difference in whether the Pacers struggle with Toronto. The Raptors won't have Andrea Bargnani (calf) out there, but that actually aids the Raptors' defensive effort since active bodies Amir Johnson and Ed Davis will be over to help starter Aaron Gray if he struggles to handle Hibbert one-on-one. If he's sharp passing out of double teams and as active on the boards as he was this weekend, the Pacers are going to have an easier time covering double-digits.
Betting Notes – This will be the third and final meeting between the two teams this season. Indiana stopped Toronto in both of the first two games, with each being decided by five points (95-90, 90-85). Indiana is giving double digits tonight and the club has gone 4-0 straight up and 2-2 against the spread in this spot. The Raptors have seen the ‘under’ cash in five consecutive games, due to a lack of offensive talent.
Detroit at Orlando
Glen Davis had a fan favorite role carved out for him upon his arrival in a swap with Boston for Brandon Bass, but things haven't worked out that way. He was hoping to be more of an offensive threat than Stan Van Gundy saw him being out of the gate, so he moped and was ineffective as the primary big man off the bench. With Dwight Howard (back) out and Ryan Anderson working his way back from a nasty ankle sprain, Big Baby gets his wish to be the focal point inside in a critical game for the Magic's playoff seeding. Howard also missed last Tuesday's 102-95 loss in Auburn Hills, so Davis stepped up with 31 points and 10 rebounds on the heels of going for 18 and 16 in a loss to Denver that Howard also missed. He's averaging nearly 22 points and over 11 rebounds over Orlando's last four, so if the Magic is to get back in the good graces of a crowd that booed them lustily in Thursday's crushing loss to New York, it all falls on Davis' shoulders.
Betting Notes – Including last Tuesday’s win, the Pistons have won and covered three straight against Orlando. The Magic are 0-3 both SU and ATS in their last three home games. Orlando has allowed 104 and 103 points in the two previous games that Howard missed this season. The ‘over’ cashed in both affairs.
Oklahoma City at Milwaukee
Milwaukee sacrificed oft-injured former No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut to secure Monta Ellis' services as a closer. It looks like Ellis is game to help deliver on the Bucks' gamble, stepping up during their three-game winning streak with averages of 24 points and six assists as Oklahoma City visits. This is an identity game for the Thunder, who have stepped up their defense of late and put the clamps on the punchless Raptors on Sunday. With Thabo Sefolosha as the first line of defense and Russell Westbrook being pressed to become the lockdown defender he's athletically equipped to be, Ellis will have his work cut out for him, but it's not like he's a stranger to being the focal point of defenses. He's gotten accustomed to finding sweet spots at the Bradley Center over the past week, playing consecutive home games for the first time since being acquired in mid-March. How he fares against the Thunder will obviously be a critical factor in them covering, but may also be a great indicator in how seriously we should take Milwaukee's playoff push going forward.
Betting Notes – The Bucks have gone 6-6 both SU and ATS as home underdogs this season. Milwaukee has gone 7-10 versus the Western Conference this season, which includes a 4-4 mark at home. The Bucks have been a great lean to the ‘over’ (35-19) this season, especially at home (19-6) but tonight’s total is the highest (210.5) they’ve seen posted all season. OKC has failed to score over 100 points in five straight games, which has led to a 4-1 ‘under’ record over this stretch.
L.A. Clippers at Memphis
Blake Griffin brings his lunch pail to Memphis, so what better night than to see whether Zach Randolph is truly back? The Grizzlies' anchor hasn't been himself in this shortened season because he's never really been in shape. The extra weight he was carrying cost him 37 games due to knee problems resulting from the poor conditioning and even though he returned with a 25-point outburst on March 16, he's spent the last few weeks playing catch-up. This past weekend offered a tremendous sign, as Randolph came off the bench to deliver his first back-to-back double-doubles on 2012. His run delivered victories over the Heat and Mavericks, so another high-profile game against the Clippers is sure to keep him engaged. L.A. crushed the Grizzlies on March 24, so there's a revenge factor here, especially since Randolph struggled (6-for-16) in a 101-85 loss.
Betting Notes - The Clippers have gone 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS over their last 10, with both losses coming on the road. Los Angeles has beaten Memphis twice this season, but the two games were played at Staples Center. The Grizzlies will be playing their eighth game in 10 days tonight. Total players should note that the ‘under’ is on an 8-0 run for Memphis.
San Antonio at Utah
Paul Millsap was invisible in last night's 114-104 loss in San Antonio, so as the Jazz and Spurs square off in the second night of a home-and-home, his ability to bounce back is a major question mark. Millsap has been battling an energy-sapping stomach illness and was a major factor in the Spurs jumping all over Utah to ultimately lead by 17 (57-40) at halftime. Utah's second-half surge was keyed by ever-improving Derrick Favors replacing Millsap, who finished 1-for-8 in just 21 minutes, statistically his worst career start. Millsap's ability to be better in this return game would help Utah hang with San Antonio's depth, since last night's lopsided result ensured that Gregg Popovich didn't have to play a single player over 32 minutes.
Betting Notes - The Spurs have won 11 straight (8-1-2 ATS), with five of the victories coming on the road. After winning six in a row in mid-March, the Jazz have gone 3-6 (2-6-1 ATS) in their last seven. San Antonio has won all of its last six encounters against Utah, which includes the two encounters this season.