April 10, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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The regular season wraps up next week in the NBA as all eight playoff spots are wrapped up in the Eastern Conference. The Western Conference still has the last playoff seed up in the air with the Lakers, Jazz, and Mavericks fighting it out for the eighth position. Back in the East, the two teams trailing the red-hot Knicks in the Atlantic Division hook up in Beantown for the final time this season.
Nets at Celtics - 8:05 PM EST
These two rivals are meeting up for the first time since Christmas in Brooklyn when the Celtics ran the Nets, 93-76 as short underdogs. The last time the Nets invaded TD Garden in late November, Rajon Rondo and Kris Humphries were involved in a benches-clearing melee that turned all the momentum on Brooklyn's side. The Nets cruised to a 95-83 victory as 3 ½-point 'dogs, despite shooting just 40% from the floor.
Brooklyn is creeping closer to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs at 44-32, sitting less than three games ahead of Chicago and Atlanta for home-court advantage in the first round. On Brooklyn's recent eight-game road trip, P.J. Carlisemo's club cashed the 'over' seven times, while breaking the 107-point mark five times. Since mid-February, the Nets own a solid 7-3 ATS record as a road underdog.
The Celtics cashed easily in Sunday's 107-96 home victory over the Wizards as 5 ½-point favorites, just the third cover in the last 12 games. In the role of a favorite, Boston is just 2-5 ATS the previous seven contests after an 11-1 ATS run at TD Garden from late January through March.
Lakers at Blazers - 10:05 PM EST
Los Angeles heads up to the Rose Garden tonight with no rest following Tuesday's 104-96 home victory over New Orleans. The Lakers pulled a half-game ahead of the Jazz for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference after Utah was tripped up by Oklahoma City last night, as the Lakers take on the coldest team in the league tonight.
The Blazers are in the midst of an 0-8 SU/ATS slide, including five consecutive home losses. Portland is not a very deep team, but this club is hurting right now with Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews both expected to miss tonight's contest. In the five-game home skid, the Blazers have been limited to 98 points or less each time, including a 96-91 defeat to the Mavericks on Sunday in which Portland fell behind by 24 points at halftime.
The Lakers have won four of their last five during this late-season surge, but failed to cash in last night's win over the Hornets as 8 ½-point favorites. Los Angeles has struggled in the role of a road favorite recently, covering just one of its last five when laying points away from the Staples Center. The Lakers are 2-1 SU/ATS in the season series against the Blazers, but the lone loss did come at the Rose Garden on Halloween, 116-106.
Spurs at Nuggets - 10:35 PM EST
San Antonio fell a half-game behind Oklahoma City for the top record in the Western Conference after the Thunder won at Utah on Tuesday. The Spurs will have a tough task tonight with a trip to the Pepsi Center in Denver, as the Nuggets shoot for their 21st consecutive home victory.
Both teams' star point guards are expected back in the lineup tonight, as Ty Lawson will likely play limited minutes for the Nuggets. Lawson missed seven of the last eight games with a heel injury, as Denver put together a 6-1 SU and 3-4 ATS record in this stretch. Tony Parker will suit up for the Spurs after sitting out Saturday's home win over the Hawks with a shin injury, as San Antonio looks to improve on a recent 2-7 ATS slide.
During Denver's 20-game home winning streak, the Nuggets have cashed 15 times, while three of the ATS losses came as a favorite of at least nine points. The home team has won all three meetings in the season series, including Denver's 112-106 triumph in mid-December as 2 ½-point favorites. San Antonio has lost each of its last four road contests, while scoring less than 95 points in each defeat (4-0 to the 'under').
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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