April 4, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
The Friday NBA card puts several interesting matchups in the spotlight with the regular season winding down. The Thunder plays with no rest at Indiana, while the Grizzlies look to stay hot against the Lakers at Staples Center. We'll start with a pair of Eastern Conference playoff squads going in different directions at Madison Square Garden.
Bucks at Knicks - 7:35 PM EST
Unless Boston melts down and Milwaukee goes on an insane run in the final eight games of the season, there is an unlikely chance that the Bucks and Knicks will meet in the first round of the playoffs. Currently, Milwaukee is 2 ½ games behind Boston for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference, while New York is pretty much set for the second position after winning 10 consecutive contests.
The latest victory for Mike Woodson's team came in Atlanta on Wednesday, sweeping a back-to-back set over the Heat and Hawks. New York has done a tremendous job cashing in this hot streak, covering nine of 10 times with the lone ATS defeat coming against Charlotte as 14-point favorites. The Knicks' offense is clicking at home during this span, topping the 106-point mark in all five contests at MSG.
Milwaukee is going backwards at the moment by losing six of their last eight games, while posting a 2-6 ATS mark. The Bucks have dropped four straight games away from the BMO Harris Bradley Center, as Jim Boylan's squad has been limited to less than 93 points in each defeat. The Knicks took the first two meetings with the Bucks this season, including a 96-86 home triumph as five-point favorites in early February.
Thunder at Pacers - 8:05 PM EST
Indiana returns home from a four-game road trip after winning all four contests, as the Pacers welcome Oklahoma City. The Thunder is fresh off a home victory over the Spurs, as OKC owns an 8-5 SU and 7-6 ATS record on the second of a back-to-back. Oklahoma City trimmed its deficit to a half-game behind San Antonio for the top record in the Western Conference after last night's victory.
The Pacers have won five straight games overall, but the perfect 4-0 road trip distanced themselves from the Bulls in the Central Division race. Indiana's once dormant offense has exploded during this winning streak by topping the 100-point mark five times, including 109 points in Monday's victory over the Clippers. Frank Vogel's team is playing with revenge after losing at Oklahoma City in December, 104-93 as 11-point underdogs.
The Thunder has taken five of their last six games following a two-game skid to the Grizzlies and Nuggets in mid-March. OKC has cashed the 'under' in six of the past seven contests, including four straight 'unders' with totals listed at 200 or below. In four games as a road underdog this season, the Thunder has put together a 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS record, with the lone outright triumph coming over the Clippers last month.
Warriors at Suns - 10:05 PM EST
When these two teams met on opening night in Phoenix, the Suns closed as a two-point favorite and lost by two points to their division rivals. The roles have definitely changed five months later as Golden State goes for the four-game series sweep of Phoenix, while trying to solidify the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoff race.
Mark Jackson's team is rolling with victories in six of the past eight games, as four of those wins came at Oracle Arena. The Warriors went through a 1-9 stretch away from the Bay Area from February through mid-March, but Golden State grabbed two of three on its last road trip, including a blowout of the Rockets in a triple-revenge spot. The Warriors are coming off consecutive triumphs over the Hornets and Blazers at home, but Golden State is 0-4 SU/ATS in their last four opportunities to win three straight games.
Since trouncing the Lakers at home on March 18, the Suns' season has officially set with seven consecutive setbacks. Phoenix has covered just twice in this stretch in home losses to Indiana and Brooklyn, while getting destroyed by the Clippers on Wednesday, 126-101 as 16 ½-point underdogs. The defense has been to blame by allowing at least 102 points in six straight contests, resulting in five 'overs.'
Grizzlies at Lakers - 10:35 PM EST
Three teams are fighting it out for the third seed in the Western Conference playoff race, as Memphis tries to stay hot with its fifth consecutive win. The Grizzlies captured their fourth victory in a row by dispatching a beat-up Portland squad on Wednesday, 94-76, while limiting their fourth straight opponent to less than 94 points.
Memphis grabbed the first two meetings at home with Los Angeles this season, while scoring exactly 106 points in each victory. The Grizzlies cashed each time as short favorites, while Memphis seeks its third win in the last four trips to Staples Center. Lionel Hollins' squad owns a mediocre 6-7 ATS mark in the road 'dog role, while losing the last two times when receiving points on the highway at Utah and Denver.
The Lakers are battling it out with the Jazz for the eighth and final playoff position in the West, as Los Angeles has won three of four since a three-game skid. The Purple and Gold has hit the 'under' in the last two victories against the Mavs and Kings, while limiting each team to below 98 points. Since losing to the Clippers to close out the first half of the season, the Lakers have won eight of nine home contests, while barely grinding out a profit at 5-4 ATS.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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