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It’s taken 64 games for the Los Angeles Lakers to be in position to make the playoffs but with just 18 games remaining that is what happened over the weekend.

The latest win over Chicago on Sunday has the Lakers in eighth place in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of ninth seeded Utah.

However, the Lakers still do not control their own destiny as that half game could be made up by the time you are reading this column. The Jazz hosted Detroit on Monday night and a win would tie them with the Lakers at 33-31.

Because Utah has won two of three games against the Lakers, with no more regular season meetings the Jazz would claim that eighth playoff seed if the two are tied at the end of the regular season. Still, the Lakers are having their greatest success of the season, winning 16 of the last 22, some in dramatic fashion.

Games against Toronto and New Orleans within the past week saw the Lakers snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with tremendous fourth quarter comebacks. Naturally, star Kobe Bryant was instrumental in both of those wins.

Miami became the first team to mathematically clinch a playoff spot and start this week on an 18-game winning streak. The defending champions remain heavy favorites to repeat and LeBron James is all but certain to be league MVP.

As noted last week the Eastern Conference playoff teams are all but certain with an 8½-game gap between eighth seeded Milwaukee and No. 9 Toronto. The Bucks host Miami on Friday and many NBA observers predict this is where Miami’s winning streak will end, assuming the Heat get past Atlanta and Philadelphia.

But don’t be too hasty in agreeing with that sentiment. Miami lost to the Bucks by 19 points in Milwaukee at the end of 2012 and might be focused to avenge that defeat. A better candidate to end Miami’s streak might be Boston, which hosts Miami next Monday and catches the Heat playing a third game in four nights.

Fatigue becomes a major factor at this time of the season and many coaches will routinely rest players, especially against lesser foes and often in the second of back to backs.

It becomes very important when handicapping the NBA over the final few weeks of the season to be aware of such situations and decisions. There are numerous free sites on the internet that track injury information on a frequent basis, often hourly in some cases.

Although professional bettors have the budgets to pay for such information, through live odds services or other sources, many of the free sites are not that far behind in providing such information, including starting lineups as game time approaches. The Internet is indispensable as a source of valuable information and should be a major tool for anyone who bets the NBA on a regular basis.

More than 900 games have been played thus far and the lines makers have done an excellent job in setting totals lines. Through Sunday, the OVER holds a narrow 463-462 edge with 17 pushes.

Many if not most NBA teams exhibit streaks throughout the season. Paying attention to not just what has happened but also to a team’s upcoming few games astute bettors can take advantage of these OVER streaks.

Most of the mainstream media regularly makes note of teams’ straight up winning and losing streaks. Handicapping sites often note ATS winning and losing streaks. A much smaller number focus and report on streaks involving Totals. This should illustrate that totals can be a profitable endeavor as the less attention that is given to a certain area of handicapping, the more opportunities to exploit that area are created.

Here’s a look at three games of interest this weekend.

Lakers at Pacers (Fri.): The Lakers’ win at Brooklyn on Feb. 5 is their only one against a team that started this week with a winning record. The previous win was at Golden State back on Dec. 22.

The Pacers are a solid 25-7 at home whereas the Lakers are just 11-20 on the road. Los Angeles is playing its third game in four nights. PACERS.

Grizzlies at Jazz (Sat.): Memphis’ solid play has received little attention. he Grizzlies start the week on a 12-1 SU run, cashing tickets for their backers in 9 of those wins. Memphis currently is seeded fourth but only one game behind the Clippers. Utah has struggled lately, losing 4 straight and 7 of 8 through Sunday. The Grizz are still a fine 22-8 at home but does own a fine 17-11 road record.

Memphis has not missed a beat since trading star Rudy Gay. Both Utah’s Paul Millsap and Memphis’ Zach Randolph have missed time in recent games with injuries. The spot favors the hosts who last played on Wednesday. Memphis is off what should have been a tough contest Friday night in Denver. JAZZ.

Knicks at Clippers (Sun.): The Knicks are without Amar’e Stoudemire for at least the next month and Carmelo Anthony’s return to the lineup remained questionable at the start of the week. They are playing the fourth game of a five game road trip that concluded Monday in Utah.

The Clippers won the earlier meeting in New York, 102-88 on Feb. 10 and are 12-3. The Clips have fared very well against second tier teams and in the more favorable scheduling spot. CLIPPERS.

Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]

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About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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