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Monday, 2 March 2015

NBA Picks March 2015

The All-Star Game has come and gone, the trade deadline is behind us and teams will have begun to turn their attention towards the Play Offs which will begin next month.

Aside from the Atlanta Hawks who will need to on a terrible run to relinquish the Number 1 Seed in the Eastern Conference, the Seedings in both the Western and Eastern Conference are going to be up for grabs. It should make it a fun six weeks as that all gets sorted out in the wash and this is a time when I am expecting to see teams really try and build some momentum to take into the post-season.

One sad bit of news over the last month was the passing of Anthony Mason, the New York Knicks' 1995 Sixth Man of the Year. At 48, Mason suffered a major heart attack and condolences have to be given to his friends and family because that really is no age to pass on.

Monday 2nd March
LA Clippers @ Minnesota Timberwolves Pick: The LA Clippers are going to finish off a tough four game road trip with this one at the Minnesota Timberwolves in a building where they are 10-1 against the spread in their last 11 visits.

There are a couple of concerns, for example the Clippers are coming off a really difficult three game stretch where they had to play Houston, Memphis and Chicago and they might ease off against 'just the Timberwolves'. The Clippers have also had a difficult time in back to back nights play, going 5-9 against the spread in the second of those, although they have at least have had a few more hours to recover from the win in Chicago.

However, Doc Rivers is finally getting what he wants from this team from a Defensive standpoint as the Clippers are holding teams to 92 points per game over their last five games. DeAndre Jordan has also been dominating the boards and could have a clearer path to do that if Nikola Pekovic misses out for Minnesota and that means second point chances for the road team.

Minnesota deserve respect for the way they have been competing despite being out of the Play Off picture in the Western Conference, but I do like the Clippers to end their road trip with another positive win.

Tuesday 3rd March
Houston Rockets @ Atlanta Hawks Pick: James Harden may have outplayed LeBron James to help the Houston Rockets overcome the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he has been suspended for this game having kicked James during that win. The absence of Harden and Dwight Howard is going to show off the depth that the Rockets have, but it will be a tough ask for them at the Atlanta Hawks who are 11-2 against the spread at home when playing a team with a winning record.

The Hawks showed off their own depth after resting a number of players in the win over the Miami Heat, but the likes of Jeff Teague, Al Horford and DeMarre Carroll all expected to return for this game. Atlanta can look for another statement home win before they face the Cleveland Cavaliers later this week, while it will be interesting to see the approach Houston have without their star player and knowing they face the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow.

That is the bigger game for the Rockets and it may help in giving Atlanta the edge as they have a few days rest before the Cleveland game. Houston are also 1-5 against the spread trying to revenge a home loss and I think the absence of Harden gives the Rockets a big problem in trying to break down an Atlanta Defense allowing just 91 points per game in their last five games.

Wednesday 4th March
Utah Jazz @ Boston Celtics Pick: The Boston Celtics took a big blow to their Play Off aspirations with a blow out defeat at the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. The Celtics aren't out of the picture in the Eastern Conference, but they have to quickly pick themselves up from that heavy loss and show that they have the ability to finish in the top eight in this Conference.

They are facing a Utah Jazz team that could reach a season high four wins in a row and are coming in off a surprisingly dominant victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Confidence will be high in the Utah camp, but I feel they could have really put in a lot of effort into beating Memphis and I am not sure that same effort will be there against a non-Conference foe who have a losing record.

Brad Stevans is expecting a response from his Celtics team and they should be well-rested having been blown out last night. Boston have responded by going 8-2 against the spread in back to back nights play earlier this season, but they can't overlook Utah and should be focused in front of their own fans.

The Celtics have a 4-0-1 record against the spread in their last 5 home games against Utah and I think they can cover the small point spread at home in this one, especially if they can reproduce much of what they did against the Golden State Warriors in their last game at the TD Garden.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Toronto Raptors Pick: The Number 1 Seed in the Eastern Conference is very much under the control of the Atlanta Hawks, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are the hot team in the Conference that will feel they can at least earn the Number 2 Seed.

LeBron James has said he doesn't care where Cleveland finish in the eight places in the Play Offs, but it would be silly for anyone to think the Cavaliers don't want the 'easier' First Round series. The top two Seeds will likely play teams with losing records and Cleveland can win in Toronto to move above the Raptors.

Kyle Lowry is missing, while the Cleveland team is back to full health and well rested having demolished the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. Toronto do have players like DeMar DeRozan and Lou Williams who can get extremely hot, but the Cavaliers have really put in a big effort Defensively and should have their way on the other side of the court.

Cleveland haven't been at their best on back to back nights play, but the rest means they have no excuses tonight. The Cavaliers have also been better against the top teams in the NBA, going 5-2 against the spread against teams with winning records in the second half of the season compared to their early 7-12 record against the spread in those games.

I expect Cleveland to have enough Offense to keep ahead of Toronto who may have a harder time scoring against an improving Defensive shape the Cavaliers are running.

Thursday 5th March
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Chicago Bulls Pick: The Oklahoma City Thunder had to surprisingly go through overtime to beat the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, but Russell Westbrook was back and completed a fourth straight game with a triple-double on the board.

A lot of people didn't seem to think Westbrook was capable of leading the Thunder and he was a detriment to Kevin Durant, but the Point Guard has proved his worth to Oklahoma City through the season. The Thunder will need him at his best again as they play on back to back nights against the injury-hit Chicago Bulls.

Both teams have big Play Off issues to resolve over the next month, but the absence of the likes of Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson is going to be tough to overcome for the Bulls. Chicago have been inconsistent of late and the Thunder have shown they can produce even off a long night of hard work as they had to go through on Wednesday.

Oklahoma City have won their last 2 visits to Chicago and while the Bulls are a decent home underdog, I like the Thunder to use Russell Westbrook and ride him to another win to keep them moving upwards in the loaded Western Conference.

Friday 6th March
Phoenix Suns @ Brooklyn Nets Pick: The scheduling has placed the Phoenix Suns in Brooklyn the day before the nationally televised game at the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the Suns can't look ahead with their recent struggles. That has dropped them down the Western Conference standings and they are now two games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder who are expecting to get Kevin Durant and Steven Adams back shortly.

They have every chance to beating the Brooklyn Nets if the home team comes out with the start they made against the Charlotte Hornets, but the Nets have also produced some big performances to beat the likes of the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors.

Phoenix have not been a good road team when only being dogged by less than three points, going 0-3 against the spread in that spot. The game against Cleveland upcoming can take away some focus, while the Suns have not been themselves coming out of the trades they made last month.

Dallas Mavericks @ Golden State Warriors Pick: The Dallas Mavericks are still trying to find their feet with Rajon Rondo in the line up and continue to struggle against the best teams in the Western Conference following their blow out loss in Portland on Thursday evening.

It doesn't get any easier for the Mavericks as they visit the Golden State Warriors especially as Dallas are 5-10 against the spread as an underdog, and just 14-19 against the spread when playing a team with a winning record.

Golden State have recently come off a long road trip where they had some inconsistent results, but they remain very good at home and they have covered the spread in 4 straight games against Dallas, including both games this season. It is a big number, but I like the Golden State Warriors to come through and cover.

Saturday 7th March
Let's just say the last two days have been awfully frustrating with both the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Brooklyn Nets having big leads in their games with five minutes remaining and both not only failing to cover, but actually losing outright. They had 9 and 15 point leads respectively, but both decided they didn't need to score another bucket and fell late in games they shouldn't have.

The saddest thing is that both teams are in desperate spots at the bottom of the Eastern and Western Conferences and those losses may come back to haunt them in the coming weeks.

Indiana Pacers @ New York Knicks Pick: The Indiana Pacers are off a big win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday, but they have to keep winning in a tight race for the lower Seed in the Eastern Conference. They have been playing better than their current position, could potentially have Paul George back in the coming weeks and should be far too good for the New York Knicks they destroyed earlier this week.

The Pacers haven't had as much success at Madison Square Garden, but this is the weakest Knicks team for some time and one that is regularly outplayed. There have been some positive shoots, but most fans accept New York need to play for lottery places in the Draft and the players on the court are just simply not good enough.

When the Knicks lose, they do seem to lose big and the Pacers are a very strong 10-2 against the spread in the second half of the season. New York are allowing an average of 111 points per game in their last five games and they are 4-11 against the spread when hosting a team with a losing record and I like the Pacers against my own team tonight.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Minnesota Timberwolves Pick: Losing Wesley Matthews for the rest of the season is a huge blow for the Portland Trail Blazers, but I think this team will rally around their fallen comrade and come through this game at the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves.

Replacing Matthews is almost impossible for Portland, but the team have to get together and show they still are a real threat in the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers still have the shooting power to be too strong for Minnesota who have had a hard time in their recent homestand.

They have a few days to digest the Matthews news following this game before Portland return home to take on Houston, but one concern has to be the struggles the Trail Blazers have had in Minnesota. The Timberwolves have also been very good when hosting teams with winning records, but Portland have something to prove and I like them to find a cover tonight.

Tuesday 10th March
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Dallas Mavericks Pick: When these teams met earlier in the season, it was the Cleveland Cavaliers that had struggled to find the right chemistry as they were crushed by the Dallas Mavericks. There does seem to be a clear shift in that side of things in March as Dallas have struggled to integrate Rajon Rondo into their starting Point Guard, especially when it comes to playing the better teams in the NBA.

On the other hand, Cleveland have found their groove and look favourites to at least finish as the Number 2 Seed in the Eastern Conference, although the loss to the Atlanta Hawks last week was troubling. There is no doubt that the Cavaliers have not been as good on the road as at home, and they have lost 3 of their last 4 road games.

Even with that in mind, I think Cleveland have been playing the better basketball of the two teams even if Dallas have been boosted by the returning Chandler Parsons. I do like Dallas' depth compared with the Cavaliers, but they are just 4-10 against the spread when playing a team with a winning record in the second half of the season.

Dallas have also gone 0-4 against the spread when playing a game behind three consecutive road games and I like the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Toronto Raptors @ San Antonio Spurs Pick: I have rarely backed the San Antonio Spurs this season, but they look a team that has smelt the Play Offs are approaching and have begun to return to something of the form that took them to the NBA Championship last season.

The defending Champions have every chance to build upon their record and perhaps earn one of the top four Seeds in the loaded Western Conference. It could be important to have home court advantage for at least the First Round for the Spurs and both Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker have picked up their form.

Compare that to the Toronto Raptors who have been slipping down the Eastern Conference as they have lost form at the wrong time. They look a team that might be a little fatigued and it is important for Toronto to try and look after their best players with the Play Offs only a month away.

San Antonio have been crushing opponents in their 5 game winning run and it might be a big ask for Toronto to keep up with their 8 losses in 9 games coming into this one.

Wednesday 11th March
Memphis Grizzlies @ Boston Celtics Pick: The Memphis Grizzlies have a very strong record at the TD Garden as they are 14-1 against the spread in their last 15 visits to the Boston Celtics and I believe they can extend that run.

The Celtics are dealing with a number of injuries that might mean they are short-handed in this game and they will have a bigger problem if both Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas are missing against a strong defensive team like Memphis.

Memphis have been holding teams to just 93 points per game over their last five games, but I think they can cover this spread thanks to the Boston defensive shape missing Bradley's presence on that side of the court too.

Credit to Boston for the way they have battled their way back into the Eastern Conference Play Off mix, but I think this is a game that might not mean as much as those coming up and injured players may be a little fatigued. That should give Memphis the chance to win this game even though they have another on deck at Washington on Thursday evening.

Friday 13th March
LA Clippers @ Dallas Mavericks Pick: The Dallas Mavericks were blown out by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday and they might be a little nervous of missing the Play Offs completely unless they can turn around their current form. It won't be easy against the LA Clippers who have won their last couple of games and very much looking for the First Round home series in the Play Offs.

It would take a big collapse for Dallas to miss the Play Offs at this stage of the season, but the trade for Rajon Rondo has yet to really see the team gel and they continue to struggle against the better teams in the NBA.

The Mavericks were dropped to 4-11 against the spread against teams with winning records in the second half of the season, while they have struggled against the Pacific Division all season with a 2-10 record against the spread.

The Clippers have won 5 of the last 6 games between these teams and even the absence of Blake Griffin didn't slow them down in a 17 point win here early last month. Los Angeles aren't getting much in terms of points, but I will back them with the head-start to cover.

Golden State Warriors @ Denver Nuggets Pick: The Golden State Warriors might have the best record in the Western Conference, but I am convinced they won't want anything to do with the Oklahoma City Thunder in a potential First Round series. Steve Kerr won't be looking ahead to that, but the prospect of that series has to have the fans salivating at the lips, especially neutrals like me.

For now, the Warriors will look to extend their lead over the Memphis Grizzlies for the Number 1 Seed in the West, but they have to be careful against the Denver Nuggets who have been rejuvenated since firing Brian Shaw.

Denver are pushing the tempo and using a mix of the bigs in the paint and the three point shooting to cause teams problems as they showed by knocking off the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks last time out. However, Golden State will be happy with an up-tempo game and this could be a lot of fun to watch.

I do focus on the spread, but this game jumps out with the 216 total points looking big unless both teams spread the floor and knock down their three pointers. With the speed both teams like to play with, this game could feature a lot of shots and I think the teams will both combine for at least 100 points each. The total will still be 16 points away, but Denver have spoken about how they want to push to help the fans get some free tacos by reaching 110 points and I think both teams will find the shooting to cover the big number.

Monday 16th March
Toronto Raptors @ Indiana Pacers Pick: These two teams might be on the opposite side of the Eastern Conference Play Off picture, but the form of the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors has also been contrasting. The Raptors are going to make the Play Offs, but have been struggling badly of late as a sense of tiredness has crept into the team, while the Indiana Pacers have won 8 of 9 games to move into the bottom Seeds of the Eastern Conference.

The Pacers may soon get a real boost from the return of Paul George, but they are not concentrating on that and instead looking for another win in their battle to finish in one of the Play Off positions. This is a tough portion of the season for Indiana who follow this game with visits to Chicago and Cleveland, but they are in the better form than Toronto and have been very good defensively in recent games.

I do think the Raptors have the kind of scoring power to cause problems, but they have just not been themselves of late and are struggling to prevent teams scoring against them at an alarming rate. Toronto have also failed to cover in their last 3 games being played on a back to back and I think the Pacers can become the latest team to take advantage of their issues.

Thursday 19th March
Minnesota Timberwolves @ New York Knicks Pick: There is only positions in the lottery on the line this Thursday as the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves travel to the New York Knicks. Both teams have gone through a horrific seasons and will be looking forward to the rebuilding projects that will take place once it is all over.

The teams are tied for the worst record in the NBA as both are 14-53 this season, but the New York Knicks at least came through their last game by stunning the San Antonio Spurs at home. On the other hand, Minnesota have lost 6 in a row and have barely been competitive in those games.

A problem for the Timberwolves is they put in a huge effort against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday and just fell short, but they are missing a number of players and it is a big ask for the same few players to raise themselves again just one day later.

New York are 2-0 against the spread when favoured by less than three points at home and they have shown some life by going 8-8 against the spread when facing a team with a losing record in the second half of the season. Compare that to the Timberwolves who are 2-4 against the spread in the same spot and add the tiredness that should be in the legs from last night and I am backing the Knicks to make it back to back wins.

Friday 20th March
Memphis Grizzlies @ Dallas Mavericks Pick: The Dallas Mavericks might finally be getting on the same page as they continue to look to improve their Play Off Seeding in the Western Conference and three consecutive home wins has given the team a real shot of confidence. The fact they have beaten the likes of the LA Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder following a blow out loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers is more reason to be happy as Rajon Rondo and Rick Carlisle also seem to be reading from the same hymn sheet.

Facing the Memphis Grizzlies is never easy and they remain in the Number 2 Seed in the Western Conference despite a pretty poor loss to the Detroit Pistons last time out. One concern has to be the lingering injury to Mike Conley which might see the Point Guard miss another game and the question will then be whether they can score enough points in this one.

The Grizzlies have also lost their last three road games and I am looking for Dallas to put another statement win on the board to show they are ready for the Play Offs which begin in one month's time.

My biggest concern is that Dallas have failed to cover in 6 of their last 7 games overall, but I like them to beat Memphis by at least four points in this game.

Sunday 22nd March
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Milwaukee Bucks Pick: The Cleveland Cavaliers are going back to the Play Offs for the first time since LeBron James first left the franchise and they are getting very close to wrapping up the Number 2 Seed in the Conference. Out of the teams chasing the Number 2 Seed, Cleveland have been in the best form and I think they can make knock off the Milwaukee Bucks who have begun to struggle down the stretch.

I am not sure if that is down to the pressure of trying to get back into the Play Offs or whether Michael Carter-Williams is yet to settle with his new team, but the Bucks have lost 5 in a row and are coming off a triple Overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets two nights ago.

That loss to one of their rivals at the bottom of the Eastern Conference Play Off picture is a body blow and Milwaukee could be forgiven for looking ahead to two big games against Miami and Indiana following this one as they look to keep those two teams behind them in the Play Off race.

Milwaukee have been struggling in the second half of the season and Cleveland can focus on this game completely and I like them to cover in this one.

Miami Heat @ Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: Both sets of fans will sympathise with the other as the Miami Heat meet the Oklahoma City Thunder with some big stars out of action. Chris Bosh is missing for the Miami Heat who also lost LeBron James in the summer, while Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka are indefinitely out for the Thunder.

There are other similarities with both teams looking for their one remaining star player to make the difference in games whether that is Dwyane Wade or Russell Westbrook and both have been playing very well. Both Oklahoma City and Miami are also at the bottom of their respective Conference Play Off situations which makes this game very important.

However, I do think the Thunder could perhaps be the more focused of the teams as Miami will be playing Milwaukee and Boston following this game, two rivals for their Eastern Conference Play Off spot. The Heat are also just 2-5 against the spread after playing three consecutive home games and Oklahoma City are still a very strong home team that can ride the Westbrook unbelievable form to another win.

Monday 23rd March
Houston Rockets @ Indiana Pacers Pick: This has essentially been set as a pick 'em game by the layers, but I think the edge has to be given to the Houston Rockets despite a loss to the Phoenix Suns which ended their three game winning run.

The Indiana Pacers have lost 5 in a row and are stumbling at the wrong time of the season as they battle to get into the Eastern Conference Play Offs, although the team is not far away from doing that. However, the focus for Indiana might be on games coming up this week as they visit the Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks and then have a six game stretch next week that may determine if they get into the Play Offs.

There is talk of a return for Paul George, which would be a real emotional lift for this team, but Rodney Stuckey's production off the bench will be missed. Of course Houston have injuries of their own, but James Harden is the best scorer on the court and the Rockets have bounced back from an upset loss by going 10-1 against the spread in their next game.

Houston are also 10-2 against the spread when playing after a ten plus point loss and I think the Rockets are the better team so I will take the point they are being given.

Tuesday 24th March
LA Lakers @ Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: The LA Lakers might been in a position to compete for the best possible pick in the Draft, but they have remained surprisingly competitive in recent games and have to be given their due for that. There is no doubt that the last two seasons have been as poor a stretch the Lakers have had in over a generation, but that doesn't mean they are willing to roll over for anyone.

They have covered in 8 of their last 10 games despite being 2-8 straight up in those games and the Lakers have found something of a groove with Jeremy Lin and Ed Davis.

It won't be easy against the Oklahoma City Thunder though who continue to put together brilliant games despite the absence of Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. Russell Westbrook has made it his personal mission to get the Thunder into the Play Offs and they can't afford to come out and drop this game with visits to San Antonio and Utah to come.

The Thunder are now 4-1 against the spread in their last five games at home and Westbrook is going to be the best player on the court by a country mile. In his current form, Oklahoma City should be too good the Lakers and cover a big number, even if they are 1-6 against the spread when favoured by double digits this season.

San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks Pick: It seems the San Antonio Spurs have been preparing for this part of the season all year and the defending Champions once again come to the fore in a tough Western Conference. They have been in very good form, aside from somehow losing to the New York Knicks, and San Antonio have begun to move up the Seedings, which could be important for them in April.

Let's face facts, no one wants to finish in Number 7 and Number 8 in the West and have to deal with the Golden State Warriors or the Memphis Grizzlies, so the two games that San Antonio and Dallas play against one another this week could be vital.

While the Spurs have gotten things going, Dallas remain the inconsistent team they have been for much of the last six weeks as they have struggled to integrate all of their new pieces. Monta Ellis is supposedly unhappy and the Mavericks have lost their last 2 games against quality teams in Memphis and Phoenix.

The Mavericks have won 3 of their last 4 at home against their in-State rivals, but Dallas are only 5-14 against the spread when playing a team with a winning record in the second half of the season. San Antonio do play Oklahoma City tomorrow night, but this is arguably a more important game for them and I like them to cover a spread that has moved in their favour continuously since opening as a pick' em line.

Wednesday 25th March
Atlanta Hawks @ Orlando Magic Pick: The Atlanta Hawks are going to finish with the Number 1 Seed in the Eastern Conference, but three losses to top teams over the last week has underlined the feeling that most don't believe they are the best team in that Conference. Losing is one thing, but the Hawks have been blown out by San Antonio and Golden State, while also losing to an Oklahoma City team without Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers flying, it is no surprise that Atlanta are seen as a weak Number 1 Seed so they have to start building momentum to take into the Play Offs. Winning games like this one are imperative to rebuild any lost confidence they may have, especially as the Orlando Magic have been struggling and missing some key players.

Defensively it has been a big problem for the Magic who have allowed at least 104 points in five straight games and Atlanta have been good at bouncing back from losses as the favourite, going 6-1 against the spread.

The number for this game is perhaps slightly on the high side, especially as the Hawks haven't covered in any of their last six games against Orlando. However, I like the bravado the Atlanta Hawks players have been speaking with in the lead up to this game and am looking for them to try and gain some momentum over the last month of the regular season.

Houston Rockets @ New Orleans Pelicans Pick: I don't have full faith in the Houston Rockets at the moment because they are a team that throws up a lot of three point shots and that is not a productive way to build consistency in my opinion. That is especially the case in the Play Offs when referees try and let teams play a little more without the slightest contact leading to fouls, but to that end the Rockets could be boosted as Dwight Howard nears a return.

His minutes will be limited as he works his way back into the rotation, but Howard gives Houston another avenue of attack and could make the Rockets a very dangerous team in the Play Offs.

For now they can concentrate on the regular season and trying to earn home court advantage in the First Round of the Play Offs, which could be crucial in enabling them to get through. They face a short-handed New Orleans Pelicans team that is just beginning to lose touch with Oklahoma City in the Number 8 Seed position and I do wonder if New Orleans have enough points to keep up if Houston are shooting effectively.

I should say if James Harden is shooting effectively as Houston are very reliant on the Point Guard taking over when they 'need' to make shots. The Rockets have lost their last two visits to New Orleans, but they can concentrate fully on this game against an opponent that has lost three straight games. New Orleans are missing Tyreke Evans, Omer Asik, Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson for this game and might not have enough to keep up with Houston in what has been set as a pick 'em contest.

Friday 27th March
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Brooklyn Nets Pick: The Cleveland Cavaliers are clearly the best team in the Eastern Conference after the recent struggles of the Atlanta Hawks and they can take another step to wrapping up the Number 2 Seed in the Conference. Catching the Hawks is not a big concern for Cleveland, but the top two Seeds should be positioned to play the two weakest teams that will reach the Play Offs so making sure they edge out the Chicago Bulls remains the goal.

Cleveland are finally on the same page with one another and are coming off an extremely impressive win over the Memphis Grizzlies on the road. The last month has seen the Cavaliers win a number of impressive games, while they also blew Brooklyn out at home to start off the 4 game winning run they are currently enjoying.

The Nets should be confident having won an important game against the Charlotte Hornets last time out, but they are just 3-10 against the spread when trying to follow an upset win. Brooklyn also lost Thaddeus Young in that game, but they have won 5 of their last 7 games to get back into the Play Off picture, although the Nets have been a better road team than at home.

That is especially the case when playing the better teams in the NBA as Brooklyn are 4-10 against the spread at home against a team with a winning record, while they have also given up far too many points of late. Coupled with the way Cleveland have got their act together at both ends of the court and I like the Cavaliers to come through and cover.

Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks Pick: The New York Knicks can't wait for the next three weeks to quickly come to an end as their horrific season shows no signs of life. The best thing for the fans will be the Knicks ending with the worst record in the NBA and hope they can earn the Number 1 Pick in the Draft and also bring in a couple of Free Agents to turn things around.

Injuries continue to decimate the roster and it looks like Alexey Shved could be out for this game to join Travis Wear in street clothes. Shved has actually played pretty well for the Knicks since coming in, but his absence might be a good thing for the long-term aims of the team.

The Boston Celtics were also expected to be a team looking for the best position in the lottery, but they have continued to defy those expectations even after trading away Rajon Rondo. If the season ended now, the Celtics would make the Eastern Conference Play Offs, but they have a lot of work still to be done if they are to achieve that.

That means not dropping silly games like this and Boston have blown out the Knicks twice already this season, while Isaiah Thomas could be better having got a game under his belt following a return from injury. It is a lot of points for the Celtics to cover, but they have bounced back from upset losses by going 8-3 against the spread in their next game and the Knicks have lost their last five games by almost 18 points per game.

Golden State Warriors @ Memphis Grizzlies Pick: This isn't a game that is going to have too many implications for the Number 1 Seed in the Western Conference with it being a matter of time before the Golden State Warriors wrap up that position. However, the Memphis Grizzlies need to show they are better than what they produced in a blow out home loss to Cleveland while also trying to hold off the Houston Rockets who are only 1.5 games out of the Number 2 Seed.

It is still an important game for the Golden State Warriors who have yet to beat the Memphis Grizzlies this season and a win on Friday means they have beaten every Western Conference Play Off team. That can be important for the mind even if the Warriors will have another chance to do that just days before the Play Offs begin.

However, by that time I would expect Steve Kerr to be resting some of his starters and so this is really the time for the Warriors to make a statement as to why they are the Number 1 Seed in the West. Cleveland's blow out loss over the Grizzlies makes them more dangerous and some suggest Memphis are the best match up against Golden State so all those doubters can also be put to rest in this one.

The Warriors are in the midst of a good run and should be well-rested for this one, while the Splash Brothers continue to propel this team to a lot of points. I like Golden State to put a big win on the board and dominate from the wings to give Memphis a real issue in trying to wrap up the Number 2 Seed in the Conference.

Sunday 29th March
LA Clippers @ Boston Celtics Pick: Any time Doc Rivers comes back to Boston will bring back memories of the 2008 World Champions Celtics team, but there are shoots of recovery in Bean Town that has to have the home fans excited. Boston and the LA Clippers are both looking to improve their prospects in the Play Offs which are now just three weeks away, but I think the spot for this game looks better for the in-form Clippers.

They have won 6 in a row and have blown out two teams with losing records in the Eastern Conference in a row, while there is good chemistry on the Offensive side of the court. The Clippers do play the Golden State Warriors next, but they have a day break before that game and compare that to the Boston Celtics who play the Charlotte Hornets tomorrow and then the Indiana Pacers.

Those two games are far more important for Boston than this one and I can't imagine the team will put in a huge effort to recover if they fall behind on Sunday, especially with minds turning to the Hornets game. The Clippers have won their last 3 games against the Boston Celtics and should have too much scoring power for them in this game as they look to chase down the likes of Memphis and Houston above them in the Western Conference.

Detroit Pistons @ Miami Heat Pick: There is still no room for the Miami Heat to let complacency set into their game if they are to make the Eastern Conference Play Offs, although they can't help the injuries that have hurt them at this time. Dwyane Wade is expected to battle through his knee issues to take the court on Sunday, but Hassan Whiteside and Chris Anderson might both miss out.

Fortunately for Miami, Greg Monroe doesn't look set to return, but they will still have their hands full with Andre Drummond as the Detroit Pistons just remain on the outskirts of a real Play Off battle. Games are running out for that to happen, but the Pistons have won 4 in a row and are playing well enough to give the Heat all they can handle in this one.

With Reggie Jackson running the point effectively, Detroit are a dangerous team and I don't think the Miami Heat should be favoured to beat many teams with the injuries they have. The Heat were blown out in Detroit last month and the Pistons are the team in form in this one so taking the points looks to be the right decision.

Monday 30th March
Boston Celtics @ Charlotte Hornets Pick: In three weeks time, the Play Offs will begin and games like this may decide which of these two teams are playing in the Eastern Conference last eight. The Boston Celtics gave up their 8th Seed when beaten by the LA Clippers on Sunday but they are just half a game behind the Brooklyn Nets, while the Charlotte Hornets are just half a game further back.

This game should have all the feel of a Play Off game with so much at stake and neither team has been in overwhelming form to think it will be easy for either. Charlotte needed Atlanta to rest their starters to snap their three game losing run and the Boston Celtics have won their last two road games which may give them the slightest of edges in this one.

I also like the fact that Boston have a strong 11-3 record against the spread when playing the second of back to back games and the Hornets are just 1-6 against the spread when favoured by 3.5 and 6 points at home. The pressure of being expected to win might go against Charlotte and I will take the points in this game.

Houston Rockets @ Toronto Raptors Pick: Dwight Howard will likely sit for the Houston Rockets and Kyle Lowry continues to try and get healthy for the Play Offs and will miss out for the Toronto Raptors in this game.

Both the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors are going to be playing Play Off basketball in three weeks time, but the Raptors look set to finish as either the Number 4 or 5 Seed in the Eastern Conference. On the other hand, Houston are in a real scrap to try and reach the Number 2 Seed in the Western Conference and moved into that spot thanks to another win on Sunday coupled with a Memphis Grizzlies loss.

The feeling is that Houston would prefer the potential match up with the Dallas Mavericks than the San Antonio Spurs and they are a team in form as they have begun to pick up their play in time for the post-season.

Houston haven't had much success in Toronto, but they have been playing the more consistent basketball and the Raptors are 0-2 against the spread as a home favourite of fewer than three points. Toronto are also 5-11 against the spread when playing a team with a winning record in the second half of the season and I will take the points even in Howard's absence.

Tuesday 31st March
San Antonio Spurs @ Miami Heat Pick: They might have met in the NBA Finals last season, but a lot has changed in the Miami Heat locker room that means they are struggling to merely return to the Play Offs. On the other hand, the San Antonio Spurs are looking every bit the defending Champions, although it is a big ask to come out of the loaded Western Conference, even if they have been improving in recent weeks.

You can't dismiss the San Antonio experience, especially if they can improve their Seeding over the next three weeks.

The Spurs look healthy thanks to the Gregg Popovich policy of resting starters through the course of the regular season and face a Miami team whose roster is gutted through injuries. This game arguably means more to the Spurs as they look to close on the teams above them while the Heat will be hoping to get a few bodies back for bigger games to be played later this week.

San Antonio are averaging over 111 points per game in March and getting close to that number should see them cover the spread in this game.

MY PICKS: 02/03 LA Clippers - 5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
03/03 Atlanta Hawks - 8 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
04/03 Boston Celtics - 1 Point @ 1.95 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
04/03 Cleveland Cavaliers - 4.5 Points @ 1.92 William Hill (1 Unit)
05/03 Oklahoma City Thunder - 3 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
06/03 Brooklyn Nets - 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Boyle Sports (1 Unit)
06/03 Golden State Warriors - 10 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
07/03 Indiana Pacers - 9 Points @ 1.92 Stan James (1 Unit)
07/03 Portland Trail Blazers - 4.5 Points @ 1.93 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
10/03 Cleveland Cavaliers - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (1 Unit)
10/03 San Antonio Spurs - 7 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
11/03 Memphis Grizzlies - 4.5 Points @ 1.93 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
13/03 LA Clippers + 1 Point @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
13/03 Denver Nuggets-Golden State Warriors Over 216 Total Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
16/03 Indiana Pacers - 5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
19/03 New York Knicks - 1 Point @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
20/03 Dallas Mavericks - 3.5 Points @ 1.93 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
22/03 Cleveland Cavaliers - 7.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
22/03 Oklahoma City Thunder - 4 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
23/03 Houston Rockets + 1 Point @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
24/03 Oklahoma City Thunder - 10.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
24/03 San Antonio Spurs - 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Boyle Sports (1 Unit)
25/03 Atlanta Hawks - 7.5 Points @ 1.92 Bet365 (1 Unit)
25/03 Houston Rockets - 1 Point @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
27/03 Cleveland Cavaliers - 8.5 Points @ 1.93 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
27/03 Boston Celtics - 9.5 Points @ 1.93 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
27/03 Golden State Warriors - 3.5 Points @ 1.93 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
29/03 LA Clippers - 6.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
29/03 Detroit Pistons + 3 Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
30/03 Boston Celtics + 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Boyle Sports (1 Unit)
30/03 Houston Rockets + 1.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
31/03 San Antonio Spurs - 7 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

March Update: 14-15-3, - 2.01 Units

February Final11-16-1, - 5.70 Units
January Final18-10, + 6.67 Units
December Final3-6, - 3.31 Units
November Final14-11, + 1.70 Units
October Final2-4, - 2 Units
Season 201548-47, - 2.63 Units

Final Season 201458-72-1, - 16.86 Units
Final Season 2013105-93-3, + 10.49 Units
Final Season 201279-53-1, + 27.48 Units

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