After some early struggles, I’ve hit my stride in the homestretch of the NBA season. I’ve gone 2-0 on my NBA Picks in three of the last four days, and I nailed both my plays on Thursday night. The two conference leaders were at home last night, and they were both popular plays by the NBA betting odds as short favorites. However, the Milwaukee Bucks were blown out by 41 points, and the Denver Nuggets lost by 19 points. That led to some overreactions on Friday morning, but both teams had a legitimate reason for laying an egg. Milwaukee was out of gas as it was playing its fifth game in seven days, and Denver didn’t have Nikola Jokic due to a calf injury.
Let’s keep this hot streak going this weekend with a few more plays. There are only two games to pick from on Saturday, April 1, 2023, so the goal is not to fall into an April Fool’s Day trap.
NBA Betting Odds at BetRivers Sportsbook
Dallas Mavericks at Miami Heat
Both these teams have hit a rough patch recently. The Dallas Mavericks have lost seven of their last ten games and are in danger of missing out on the Play-In Tournament entirely, while the Miami Heat may be forced into the Play-In Tournament after losing three straight games. Miami could even relinquish its Southeast Division lead if its not careful as the Atlanta Hawks are just 1.5 games behind at this point.
Dallas is 15-24 on the road at this point, and the Mavericks have not been good on defense since they pushed their chips into the middle of the table with the Kyrie Irving trade. The Mavericks went on the road and knocked off two Western Conference contenders in their first two games after the trade, but they are just 5-10 with Irving on the court since that point. That includes back-to-back losses to the tanking Charlotte Hornets, and that’s when we really saw the alarm bells go off.
Meanwhile, Miami is 25-14 at home, so the Heat should certainly be favored by the NBA betting odds here provided all of their players are healthy and there are no surprise scratches. Jimmy Butler is playing well despite the team’s recent woes, and Bam Adebayo should be able to thrive here.
The key to this game is whether or not Miami can hit its threes. The Heat have a handful of guards that are known as quality shooters, but the only one that is hitting over 35% is Tyler Herro. Dallas no longer has a good perimeter defense, so look for Herro and others to lead the Heat to a win and a cover here.
Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans
It’s kind of hard to believe that the New Orleans Pelicans were at the top of the Western Conference three months ago. New Orleans was 23-12 on December 31, and the Pelicans looked like a lock to make the postseason at that point. However, they went on a 10-game losing streak a couple weeks later, and they have been hovering around .500 over the last two months.
New Orleans is playing its best basketball since December with six wins in its last seven games. However, you can downplay most of those wins. The Pelicans defeated Houston, San Antonio, Charlotte, and Portland, and they beat Denver when Jokic wasn’t in the lineup. The one quality win they did have was on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers, so that will lead to some action on them here.
However, the Pelicans were somewhat fortunate to beat the Clippers too. LA was without Paul George and both Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook had off nights. New Orleans got an incredible performance out of Trey Murphy III who hit 10 of his 12 three-point attempts, and Brandon Ingram had a very uncharacteristic 13 assists.
In their last meeting, the Pelicans put together an A+ performance, while the Clippers were at a D+ or even a D.
That is unlikely to happen again, so I’ll roll with the Clippers on the road even if they are a favorite by the basketball betting line in the Big Easy.