The field of eight NBA teams in the East has been officially determined with Philadelphia being eliminated this past weekend, which gave Milwaukee the final spot. The Bucks could still overtake Boston for the seventh seed but likely their fate will be to finish eighth and have to face Miami in the playoffs’ opening round.
New York is currently seeded second with a 2½ game edge over third seeded Indiana and most likely the Knicks and Pacers will finish in those positions.
The fourth seed is controlled by Brooklyn. The Nets are two games ahead of Chicago for that all important seed that carries with it the final home court advantage for the first round. Atlanta sits in the sixth spot.
San Antonio leads Oklahoma City for the top seed in the Western Conference but the Thunder holds the tie breaker edge with a better conference record. OKC and the Spurs split their season series.
Denver starts the week a game ahead of Memphis and, barring an unusual final week, the winner of that battle finishes with the third seed and the loser drops to fifth with the Pacific Division champion LA Clippers getting the fourth seed.
Golden State and Houston are sixth and seventh and although neither has yet clinched a playoff spot both are in good shape with seventh seeded Houston 2½ games ahead of Utah with just five to play.
Utah starts the week 41-37 and clinging to a half game lead over the Los Angeles Lakers who are 40-37. Utah holds the tie breaker edge over LA by winning the season series two games to one.
Utah has four remaining games. The Jazz host Oklahoma City on Tuesday and Minnesota this Friday before ending the season on the road next Monday in a quick turnaround game at Minnesota and then next Wednesday at Memphis.
The Lakers have five games remaining, including back-to-back games this Tuesday and Wednesday hosting New Orleans and at Portland. They end the season with home games against Golden State, San Antonio and Houston.
Utah controls its destiny and will be favored to at least win both games against Minnesota. The key game in determining whether the Lakers will make the playoffs will be this Wednesday’s game at Portland. The Lakers have a long history of struggling at the Rose Garden.
Since the 2002-03 season, the Lakers are just 4-15 SU at Portland despite being among the NBA’s elite team for virtually this entire era.
It becomes especially important in handicapping and betting games over the final week of the season to be acutely aware of what is at stake for each of the teams involved. At the same time, be aware such items are also factored into the line.
Often, many professional bettors will sit out the final week of NBA action, focusing instead on getting ready for the playoffs by looking at likely or potential first round matchups and uncovering nuggets of information that may assist them when the matchups are solidified and opening lines appear.
Here’s a look at three games to be played this weekend.
Warriors at Lakers (Fri.): The Lakers are finally in a favorable situation and, despite being likely favored by a couple of baskets or so, they should keep the playoff hopes alive with a win, heading onto Sunday’s home game against the Spurs. LAKERS.
Clippers at Grizzlies (Sat.): Memphis is 30-8 SU at home while the Clippers are just 21-17 on the road. Memphis leads the league in allowing just 89.7 points per game. The Clippers are fourth at 94.8 ppg. UNDER.
Bulls at Heat (Sun.): There’s a good likelihood the Heat will be up for this game, a fact that will be reflected in the line. It should not matter, especially against a Chicago team that remains banged up and at less than full strength. HEAT.
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]