NBA playoff race heating up

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Mention the date “April 15” and the thought that comes to mind to most people is income tax returns are due. It also marks the end of the NBA regular season.

Barely six weeks remain until tax returns are due and 14 teams play their final games of the season. Sixteen teams will then prepare for two months of playoffs that will culminate in the crowning of an NBA Champion come the middle of June.

Fewer than two dozen games remain for teams to make a late season run to make the playoffs or improve their seeding.

The top 6 teams in the East are fairly secure, but 6 with losing records are within 2.5 games of the final two seeds. Starting this week Miami holds the 7 seed with a half-game lead over Brooklyn, Indiana and Charlotte. That trio is just one game ahead of Boston with Detroit just one game behind the Celtics.

With Chris Bosh sidelined for the rest of the season Miami will be hard pressed to make the playoffs. With Paul George now practicing, Indiana is in excellent position and possibly making some noise.

In the West, the greatest gap between seeded teams is Golden State’s 4.5 game edge over Memphis for the top seed. The second largest gap is the 3.5 games separating 7 seed San Antonio from 8 seed Oklahoma City.

With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both sidelined again the Thunder are vulnerable and start the week having lost 2 of their last 3 games following a 7 game winning streak. Westbrook is expected to return, perhaps by the end of this week, while Durant is expected back before the end of March.

OKC’s lead for the eighth seed is just a half game over New Orleans. Phoenix is another game and a half behind the Pelicans and their activity at the trading deadline suggests the Suns are looking forward more toward next season than making the playoffs.

With New Orleans also dealing with multiple key injuries, the prospects are excellent for the Thunder to hold onto that 8 seed although it is unlikely they will catch San Antonio for the 7. A healthy OKC matches up nicely against the likely top seeded Warriors. In fact, such an opening round matchup might be the Warriors’ toughest test en route to the Western Conference championship.

The final month and a half of the regular season should be entertaining.

One of the fast growing developments in sports wagering in recent years has been in game wagering. This type of wager has spread to most of the major sports books both in the Las Vegas area and throughout the state of Nevada.

In-game wagering allows for bettors to jump in and wager on a game, usually during stoppages in the action. The pointspread (or money line) is set to reflect the current status of the game and time remaining. The line might also reflect in-game injuries, foul trouble (in the case of basketball), etc.

One way in which in-game wagering can be approached is to look at NBA teams in the fourth quarter.

Two teams have outscored the opposition in the fourth quarter more than 60 percent of the time this season. Phoenix tops the list, winning 65.0 percent of their fourth quarters by outscoring their foes in 39 games, being outscored in 20 games and one fourth quarter was tied.

Chicago has won 63.3 percent of its fourth quarters, outscoring foes in 38 games, being outscored in 18 games and four games producing an equal amount of fourth quarter points scored and allowed.

Four teams are winning less than 40 percent of their fourth quarters and 3 of the 4 are teams currently among the teams that will make the playoffs.

The worst fourth quarter team has been Washington. The Wizards are 21-35-4 in fourth quarters this season, winning the ultimate quarter just 35.0 percent of the time. Next in line are Detroit (21-30-8, 35.6 percent), Milwaukee (22-34-3, 37.3 percent) and Oklahoma City (23-32-5, 38.3 percent).

These results are Straight Up, not ATS. In addition to utilizing this data to consider late in-game wagering situations you might also use the results to consider plays in competitively priced games prior to tip off.

Here’s a look at three attractive matchups this weekend.

Dallas at Golden State (Fri.): Golden State is 2-0 both SU and ATS versus the Mavericks this season, covering in those wins by 8 and 6 points with the most recent meeting a month ago. The Warriors were favored by 8 points in that game, also played on this court. Although the Warriors play next at the Clippers, that game is not until Sunday. GOLDEN STATE.

Washington at Milwaukee (Sat.): Despite Sunday’s win over Detroit, starting this week the Wizards had lost 11 of their last 14 games and are on a current 3-15 ATS run that includes a current 6 games ATS losing streak. Milwaukee is also in an ATS slump, going 2-9 ATS since February 4. Still, Milwaukee has won 8 of its last 9 home games whereas Washington has lost 7 straight road games with only one of those losses by less than 7 points. MILWAUKEE.

Chicago at San Antonio (Sun.): In their earlier meeting in Chicago, on Jan. 22, the Bulls spanked the Spurs 104-81 and did so as 5.5 point home underdogs. The Spurs pick their spots to give maximum effort and this would figure to be such a spot. SAN ANTONIO.

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]

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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