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Inside the Paint - Sunday
Now that college basketball is down to one game, the big boys in the Association take over the hardwood for the next few months. Today’s betting card features nine games, including a nationally televised double-header on ABC. New York and Oklahoma City will tip-off at 1:00 p.m. ET before the Lakers and Clippers battle in Los Angeles at 3:30 p.m. ET. After the afternoon festivities, gamblers can press or chase with seven evening affairs. With some help from our experts, let’s handicap the entire slate.

New York at Oklahoma City: The Knicks will look to win their 12th straight game Sunday when they visit Oklahoma City, who has been installed as a healthy 7 ½-point favorite. Can New York prove the oddsmakers wrong? handicapper Joe Nelson answers, “The Knicks are a team playing with a ton of confidence. New York is only two games ahead of the Pacers for the second seed in the Eastern Conference and the Knicks are one of just four teams in the NBA that is at least five games above .500 on the road for the season. Oklahoma City won in New York just a few weeks ago in a one-point game (95-94) and this will be a key game for New York to prove to itself that they are a legitimate title contender even with everyone already handing a Finals spot to Miami. Oklahoma City owns a dominant record at home and this is a team that is 16-4 ATS at home against above .500 teams. That is a broad category however and the record against the handful of elite teams in the league has been mediocre. This game features the exact same line as the meeting a month ago in New York but the Knicks played that game without Carmelo Anthony and nearly still won.” Total players should note that OKC has watched the ‘under’ go 7-1 in its last eight, which has helped by some solid defensive efforts.

L.A. Lakers at L.A. Clippers: Staples Center will be rocking this afternoon as the Clippers look to sweep the four-game season series against the Lakers and clinch their first-ever Pacific Division title. There has been some turmoil in Clipper Land lately but they put up a blowout win on Wednesday and will be ready to go according to our friends at Doc’s Sports. They said, “The Clippers have had three days off to prepare for this matchup. They are healthy and rested coming into this one, and they are 14-4 straight up this season with more than one day’s rest. Plus, we think that this Clippers team urgently wants the Lakers out of the playoff picture. If these teams did meet in the playoffs with the Lakers as the lower seed, it would effectively ruin a whole season of good work by the Clippers as this is still a Lakers town, and it would essentially be a home series for the Lakers. The Clippers have covered all three meetings this season, and two wins were by double digits. The last one was a 20+-point blowout. In fact, the Clippers have covered in 12 of the last 16 meetings, because the oddsmakers always give the Lakers the benefit of the doubt when setting lines.” No early line has posted due to the status of guards Steve Nash for the Lakers and Chauncey Billups for the Clippers.” If you’re looking to back another trend in this series, the ‘over’ could be a look considering its 8-0 in the last eight meetings.

Memphis at Sacramento:
I’m not surprised to see Memphis listed as a healthy road favorite but I was caught off guard with the opening total of 197. Sacramento has had one total listed under 200 since the All-Star break (Mar. 13 vs. Chicago, 121-79) and that went ‘over’ but it was real close. As long as Memphis doesn’t light up the scoreboard, which is easy to do against Sacramento, this one should stay ‘under’ the number based on the Grizzlies’ current defensive form. They’ve allowed 94, 86, 90, 76 and 86 points in their last five. Also, the Kings have scored 81, 69 and 101 points in their three losses to the Grizzlies this season. It seems like the oddsmakers are telling us something here.
Washington at Boston: Part of me believes the Celtics are tanking for the rest of the season and it makes sense. Boston wants to be the eighth seed and face Miami in the first round. Why? The Celtics probably won’t beat the Heat, but they’ll have a better chance with a healthy squad that’s fully rested. With that being said, Washington has turned its season around and the John Wall is becoming a fan of the bettors. The Wizards crushed the Pacers 104-85 as four-point home ‘dogs last night and make a note that Washington is 15-4 ATS in back-to-back spots this season. No early line was posted due to the status of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Even if Boston has that duo, I’d still take Washington, who is now 25-19 after a 4-28 start.

Orlando at Cleveland: The first of two meaningless games on Sunday’s card will be featured at the “Q” at 6:05 p.m. ET. If you bet on this game and win, don’t send us an email wanting to become a handicapper and if you lose, you better kick yourself in the ass. Normally, I’d lean shootout with a pair of non-playoff teams. For what it’s worth, these teams have combined for 212, 227 and 212 this season. However, a lot of the firepower from those affairs won’t be suited up tonight.  

Chicago at Detroit: Even though Chicago will be looking to complete the four-game season sweep against Detroit tonight, these games have been tight with Bulls’ three wins coming by a combined eight points. The Pistons will be playing on no rest after losing at Minnesota 107-101 as six-point road underdogs on Saturday. Detroit is 6-11 SU and 8-9 ATS but to be fair, 11 of those games were played outside of Michigan. In the five games played at The Palace, the ‘under’ went 4-1. Considering Chicago is banged up, a low-scoring affair could occur in this spot.

Utah at Golden State: You might want to wait on betting this game early, especially if the Lakers fall to the Clippers. If that happens, Utah would pull ahead of Los Angeles for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West with a road win tonight. It won’t be easy winning at Golden State, who has captured three straight and five of its last six. The Jazz are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games and that includes four consecutive covers on the road. The season series is knotted at 1-1 with the first two games played at Salt Lake City. The total is 1-1 as well.

New Orleans at Phoenix: This is the other meaningless matchup between two clubs that will be headed to the NBA Lottery in this year’s draft. Rather than look at the side, the total deserves attention. Oddsmakers sent out 196, which seems real high to me and it was steamed up to 198 last night. I say that because New Orleans has serious trouble scoring and Phoenix isn’t exactly a juggernaut. I’m aware that the Suns have given up 100-plus in seven straight, which has helped the ‘over’ go 6-1 but again, the Hornets’ offense is hard to watch. This will be the final meeting of the season between the pair and the rubber match, with each team winning at home this season.

Dallas at Portland: The late-night chase game will likely see bettors backing the Mavericks on the road, which hasn’t been a good investment (15-24) this season. Plus, Portland is 22-15 at the Rose Garden and that place still fills up. Even with those facts, it’s hard to back the Trail Blazers right now. The team has dropped seven straight (1-6 ATS) and four of those losses came by double digits at the aforementioned Garden. Dallas still has an outside shot of making the playoffs but it needs to win out and get a lot of help. This will be the last game of a road trip for Dallas and also the fourth game in six nights for the veteran club. The Mavericks are 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS versus Portland this season, with the lone loss coming by two points on the road. The first three games went ‘over’ but tonight’s total is inflated due to Portland’s inability to play defense lately. NBATV will provide national coverage of this game at 9:05 p.m. ET.

Chris David can be reached at

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