The NBA regular season comes to a close on Thursday with a 13-game slate and eight of the matchups have playoff implications. Heres the skinny.
Dallas at Atlanta
The Mavericks have clinched a playoff spot, but they can earn the No. 6 seed with a win and a Denver loss. If that occurs, Dallas will face the L.A. Lakers in the first round instead of the No. 2 seed, Oklahoma City. Atlanta is in the playoffs as well and it could lock up homecourt against Boston in the first round with a win tonight or a Celtics loss. The Hawks opened as four-point favorites and are up to 5 and 5 ½ at most shops.
Cleveland at Chicago
The Bulls can earn the top overall seed for the playoffs with a victory. The line has jumped from 12 ½ to 15 at most outfits. Chicago can also earn the top spot if San Antonio loses at Golden State later tonight.
Philadelphia at Detroit
The 76ers can be the seventh or eighth seed. If Philadelphia beats Detroit, it will then need New York to lose at Charlotte. If that scenario happens, the 76ers will face the Heat instead of the Bulls in the first-round of the playoffs. Philadelphia was bet against heavily last night but it still managed to beat Milwaukee, who was also short-handed. Tonight, the 76ers are getting 9 ½-points against the Pistons, which was bumped up from 7 ½ points.
Orlando at Memphis
The Magic are locked into the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and will open against Indiana. The Grizzlies are in the playoffs as well but they need a win tonight at home to secure homecourt in their first-round battle against the L.A. Clippers. This line opened at 14 and is now at 15.
New York at Charlotte
The Knicks need a win or a 76ers loss to secure the No. 7 seed, which earns them a battle against the Heat. If the Knicks lose and 76ers win, New York will face Chicago. The frontcourt of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler are expected to rest tonight. The line is short (4.5) against the Bobcats, who have dropped 22 straight games.
Milwaukee at Boston
The Celtics need a win and a Hawks loss to secure homecourt against Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs. The Bucks suited up nine players last night and most would expect the same tonight. Ray Allen is out for Boston, and the status on the other All-Stars is up in the air.
Denver at Minnesota
The Nuggets are in the playoffs and they can lock up the No. 6 seed with a win at Minnesota or a loss by Dallas at Atlanta. Denver is giving eight points on the road and the money-line is minus-450 (Bet $450 to win $100).
San Antonio at Golden State
The Spurs squeaked out another win with their bench last night at Phoenix and most would expect the same squad playing in the Bay Area tonight, especially if Chicago beats Cleveland at home earlier. If the Cavaliers somehow beat the Bulls, then the Spurs can lock up the top overall seed. Either way, coach Greg Popovich will probably trot out the B-Squad and that could easily get it done against the Warriors band of rookies. San Antonio has been installed as a six-point road favorite.