The regular season is beginning to wind down now as the Play Offs loom on the horizon, but there is still plenty for teams in both the Eastern and Western Conference to be playing for.
Seeding is important, but the bigger prize is simply getting into the Play Offs and it does look like both Conferences are going to come very close to the end of the regular season before their eight respective Play Off teams are decided.
At the moment it does look like the top two teams in the Western Conference will be the ones to beat when it comes down to the NBA Finals being decided, but there is a lot of basketball still to be played and maintaining good health is more important than Seeding at this point of the season. Finding the right formulas in the rotation and getting players on the same page is key for the top teams and that is where the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs look to have an edge over the other teams that people are expecting to challenge.
Wednesday 9th March
The first week of March was a mixed time for the picks, but ultimately came up with a small profit, but I am looking for a bigger move in the positive direction.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Charlotte Hornets Pick: Two franchises that are linked in recent years meet in Charlotte on Wednesday, but it does look like only the Hornets have genuine Play Off ambitions. The New Orleans Pelicans have been decimated by injuries through the season and are 6.5 games out of the Play Off positions in the Western Conference although they will continue to play hard and try to 'spoil' things for others.
On the other hand the Charlotte Hornets are currently the Number 6 Seed in the Eastern Conference and have been playing well enough that they are looking upwards rather than down in the Seedings. There might only be 2.5 games between Charlotte and Number 9 Detroit, but the same number of games separates them from Number 4 Miami and a chance for a home First Round series.
The Hornets have won four in a row and I can understand them being the favourites in this game, but it still seems like too many points for them to cover. Charlotte have had to battle to put together their wins for the most part and they are not really a team you would ask to cover big numbers at home.
Charlotte are 4-6 against the spread when hosting a team with a losing record this season and they are 4-8 against the spread when set as the home favourite asked to cover between 6.5 and 9 points over the last couple of seasons. New Orleans still have enough playmakers to score points and have only lost one of their last six games by more than nine points.
The Pelicans are also 16-6-1 against the spread in their last twenty-three games against Charlotte and I will take the points in this one.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Boston Celtics Pick: The Memphis Grizzlies had a two game road trip at two of the better Eastern Conference teams, but being short-handed was only going to make things more difficult for them. It didn't matter in their first game at the Cleveland Cavaliers as the Grizzlies minus four starters still managed to knock them off on Monday.
Now they will be looking to do the same at the Boston Celtics despite the fact that Memphis will still likely be missing Zach Randolph, Matt Barnes, Mike Conley and Chris Anderson. That is a big hole to fill in the starting line up against a well rested Boston Celtics team that had two tough games on Friday and Saturday.
The Celtics are looking to hold down the Number 3 Seed in the Eastern Conference from the Miami Heat who are just half a game behind them. Boston might not have the superstar that other teams have, but they play very effectively as a team and are one of the better teams in the NBA as their 9-5 record against the spread when hosting teams with a winning record suggests.
That team mentality means they are unlikely to overlook Memphis in the same way Cleveland did and I think it will be tough for the Grizzlies back ups to produce another big performance following the one against Cleveland. This is a team that is just 6-9 against the spread as the road underdog this season and who have gone 4-6 against the spread when facing a team with a winning record while on the road.
Memphis have a strong record in Boston, but they are just 1-3 against the spread following a win as the road underdog and I like the Celtics to cover what looks a big number.
Miami Heat @ Milwaukee Bucks Pick: The Miami Heat have gotten through a nice portion of their schedule by moving to the brink of overtaking the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Seeding. They have another game against one of the 'weaker' teams in the Conference on Wednesday before the challenges definitely increase in strength in the coming days.
It has been made clear by the players that they have to win the games against the so-called lesser teams if the Heat are to improve their standing in the Eastern Conference and build confidence for a Play Off run. Miami will be confident they can win here as Milwaukee have dropped five of their last seven games and all of those have been to teams in or around the Play Off places.
A young Milwaukee team have struggled with their consistency which isn't a surprise, but they have matched up well against the Miami Heat and given this veteran team plenty of problems. The Bucks had covered in five straight games against Miami, but saw that run snapped in a loss to them at home six weeks ago.
Miami have also made hay against the teams with losing records, going 10-5 against the spread on the road in that spot, while Milwaukee are 6-10 against the spread when hosting a team with a winning record. The Heat are also 9-3 against the spread as the road favourite this season and I like them to beat Milwaukee who are just 1-3 against the spread when trying to earn revenge for a loss as the home favourite this season.
It will likely be close as games between these teams has tended to be in recent meetings, but I like the Miami Heat to cover on the road before bigger tests.
Thursday 10th March
The New Orleans Pelicans should really have covered on Wednesday having been down just four points with two minutes left and the Miami Heat had a couple of really unfortunate plays with a three point lead in the Fourth Quarter that changed the whole complexion of that game.
It means it was a mixed bag of results from Wednesday to open the week.
Atlanta Hawks @ Toronto Raptors Pick: Two teams who are chasing big things in the Eastern Conference meet on Thursday and both are in decent form heading into this one. The Toronto Raptors genuinely believe they can overtake the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Number 1 Seed in the Conference, while the Atlanta Hawks have their eyes on at least the Number 3 Seed.
Atlanta have won three in a row during this road trip they are concluding on Thursday and the only loss in the five game trip was to the Golden State Warriors. Win at the LA Clippers and the Utah Jazz are impressive and the Hawks believe they can have a real impact in the Play Offs before this team changes through Free Agency this off-season.
It won't be easy for the Hawks to continue their run at Toronto who only recently saw their twelve game home winning run come to an end. They were back to winning ways last time out against the Brooklyn Nets and the Raptors may feel they have the best back court in the NBA.
The Raptors have a very impressive 10-3 record against the spread when hosting a team with a winning record and they are 5-1 against the spread in their last six against Atlanta. I have to respect how well Atlanta have played as the road underdog of 6 points or fewer this season, but I do believe Toronto are the better team and will find a way to cover in this one.
Friday 11th March
The Toronto Raptors got the job done on Thursday after a couple of losses of concentration and that has moved the week up with three days to go.
There are a lot of games on Friday, but only one stands out for me.
Detroit Pistons @ Charlotte Hornets Pick: The Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets are two teams desperately fighting it out for their places in the Eastern Conference. Both teams are coming in with some good wins behind them, but it is the Hornets who I believe are in the better form and looking more consistent at this moment.
Charlotte have won five in a row and covered the spread four times in that run against the closing number. They have cracked 108 points in all of those games and they are now facing a Detroit team who have struggled Defensively through the course of the season.
It has been a little better from the Pistons in recent games and they have had two impressive wins over Portland and Dallas from the Western Conference. That will give Detroit confidence but they are just 2-6 against the spread in the last eight games against the Hornets which is tough to ignore.
The Hornets have won three of the last four home games against Detroit and covered in each of those wins. Al Jefferson has restored the starting line up to full health and Kemba Walker is in exceptional form and I do think Charlotte will dig in deep to pull away and win by around six-ten points.
Saturday 12th March
I am just going to put down the two picks I have from the games on Saturday due to timing issues today.
Sunday 13th March
Saturday proved to be another solid day for the weekly picks in the NBA and I am hoping to conclude it with another solid pick.
Indiana Pacers @ Atlanta Hawks Pick: The teams trying to get into the Eastern Conference Play Offs are in for a battle over the last few weeks of the regular season. This is the kind of game that both Atlanta and Indiana will look back on to decide whether these teams are in the Play Offs and also how their Seeding is decided.
Both teams have been in good form with four wins from their last five games and so confidence will be high for both. The winning team in this one might be able to challenge for a First Round home series, but the losing team will be looking over their shoulder at the Chicago Bulls in the Number 9 in the position in the Conference.
The home team has won the last four in the series and I do think that might give the Atlanta Hawks the edge in this one. The Hawks are 15-7 against the spread in the last twenty-two games at home against Indiana and the Pacers are just 6-9 against the spread when set as the road underdog of 6 points or fewer.
Indiana are just dealing with a few more injuries at the moment too and I think Atlanta will be able to pull away as this current squad looks for one more big season before changes are inevitably made in the summer.
MY PICKS: 09/03 New Orleans Pelicans + 9 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
09/03 Boston Celtics - 8.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
09/03 Miami Heat - 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
10/03 Toronto Raptors - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
11/03 Charlotte Hornets - 4 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
12/03 Charlotte Hornets - 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
12/03 Detroit Pistons - 10 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
13/03 Atlanta Hawks - 5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
March 1-6 Final: 8-7, + 0.32 Units
February Final: 21-27, - 7.77 Units
December Final: 27-21-3, + 3.67 Units
November Final: 27-22-1, + 2.69 Units
October Final: 5-4, + 0.57 Units
Season 2016: 109-104-6, - 4.32 Units