Our handicapping expert identifies the most entertaining games from this week's NBA schedule and explains why these contests offer great betting value for your NBA picks.
Saturday, March 19
Cavaliers vs. Heat
LeBron James returns to Miami when his Cavaliers visit the Heat on Saturday. The Cavaliers are coming off a 94-85 loss in Utah on Monday and they host the Mavericks and visit the Magic before their game with the Heat. Miami on the other hand will be more rested because they host the Hornets on Thursday before facing the Cavaliers. The season series between these two teams is tied 1-1, with each one winning on their respective home court. Facing his great friend Dwyane Wade always gets LeBron James fired up, but will that be enough against a talented Heat team that is tough to beat at home?
Warriors vs. Spurs
The Warriors visiting the Spurs is not only the Game of The Week but also a preview of what many expect to be the Western Conference Finals. Both teams are solid on both ends of the floor and they're playing at an extremely high-level. San Antonio is currently 32-0 at home, so it will be interesting to see if the Warriors can ruin that perfect record. As mentioned above, the Spurs have to host the Clippers and Trail Blazers before this clash with the Warriors. Golden State on the other hand hosts the Knicks on Wednesday and travels to Dallas on Friday. The Warriors lead the season series 1-0 after a convincing 120-90 home win behind 37 points from Stephen Curry. Tim Duncan missed that game with soreness in his right knee and we can expect his presence to make this a very different game here.
Sunday, March 20
Trail Blazers vs. Mavericks
The Trail Blazers play the Mavericks on Sunday in a game between two teams fighting for playoff positioning in the West. The Trail Blazers are currently sixth in the Western Conference standings, a half a game over the eight-place Mavericks. This will be the second meeting between these two teams. Dallas won the first meeting 115-112 in overtime in Portland behind 30 points from Deron Williams and 28 points from Dirk Nowitzki. Damian Lillard had 25 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in the loss. Can the Trail Blazers get some payback here?
Wednesday, March 16
Thunder vs. Celtics
The Oklahoma City Thunder visit the Boston Celtics in a game between two talented teams that aim to make deep playoff runs. The Thunder are coming off an impressive 128-94 against the Trail Blazers on Monday while the Celtics lost a close home game, 102-98 against the Rockets, which ended Boston's 14-game winning streak at the TD Garden. These two teams met on November 15 and the Celtics beat the Thunder 100-85 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena behind 26 points from Marcus Smart. Russell Westbrook finished with 27 points while Kevin Durant missed the game with a left hamstring strain. Will Kevin Durant's presence help the Thunder against a Celtics team that plays very well at home?
Bulls vs. Wizards
The Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards meet in a game with playoff implications for both teams. The Bulls are in eight-place in the Eastern Conference standings, two and a half games over the tenth-place Wizards. Chicago is coming off a close, 109-107 win at Toronto on Monday while the Wizards crushed the Pistons 124-81 on Monday. This will be the third meeting between these two teams this season. Their series is tied 1-1 and this is a must-win spot for both squads, so look for them to come out ready to play.
Thursday, March 17
Nuggets vs. Hawks
The Nuggets will try to play spoilers when they visit the Hawks on Thursday. The Hawks are in fifth-place in the Eastern Conference while the Nuggets have a slim chance to reach the Western Conference playoffs. Denver is currently six games behind the eight-place Mavericks. The Nuggets have won four of their last five games, and their lone loss in that span was in a highly-contested 124-119 visit to the Heat. The Hawks won the first meeting with the Nuggets 119-105 in Denver but don't overlook the Nuggets when placing your NBA picks on Thursday.
Trail Blazers vs. Spurs
The Portland Trail Blazers clash with the San Antonio Spurs in a what should be a tough game for the visitors. San Antonio is 32-0 at home as of this writing after a 93-85 win against Oklahoma City while Portland is coming off a 128-94 loss in a visit to the Thunder. The Spurs host the Clippers on Tuesday before this game with the Trail Blazers. San Antonio leads the season series 2-0 after a 113-101 win in Portland and a 93-80 win at home. Wait for the NBA odds to be released before betting this game because the Spurs might not cover a large spread since they tend to rest key players occasionally.
Friday, March 18
Celtics vs. Raptors
The Celtics and the Raptors collide in a potential playoff preview. Toronto is currently the second-best team in the Eastern Conference with Boston sitting in third-place, 5.5 games behind them. The Raptors lead the season series 2-0 after a 113-103 win at Boston and a 115-109 win in Toronto. Don't ignore Toronto's dominance against Boston but don't underestimate the Celtics. Don't forget that a short-handed Bulls team recently beat the Raptors in Toronto.
Warriors vs. Mavericks
The Warriors will continue their pursuit of history with a visit to the Mavericks, a team that could play them in the first round of the Western Conference. The Warriors are the best team in the league, they lead the West by four games over the Spurs while the Mavs are in eight-place, two games over the Jazz. The season series is tied 1-1, with each team winning on their respective home court. The Mavericks beat the Warriors 114-91 in Dallas while Golden State won 127-107 at home. Look for the Mavericks to play the Warriors tough at home once again. Dallas might have lost five of their last six games but hosting Golden State will motivate them.