The NBA's regular season comes to close with every team in action but the Clippers and Suns on Wednesday. Several games have playoff ramifications and here are my top three ATS picks with BetOnline NBA odds.
Thunder vs. Timberwolves (+13.5)
It would be irresponsible to call any sporting event a lock because if one was then sportsbooks would be out of business. With that said, Wednesday's matchup between Oklahoma City and Minnesota is about as close to a sure thing as possible -- sadly no opening moneyline option on this. The Thunder have all the motivation of the world as they must win and have New Orleans lose at home to red-hot San Antonio for OKC to reach the playoffs. Those games do start at the same time so it's not like there can be much scoreboard watching. So the Thunder will be going all-out. Minnesota is missing just about every starter and rotation guy to injury -- Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Garnett, Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, Gary Neal and Anthony Bennett. Now it looks like another starter, shooting guard Kevin Martin, may also sit after missing Monday's matchup with illness. Thus you will have Andrew Wiggins and a bunch of nobodies (I suppose fellow rookie starter Zach LaVine could be good some day). In addition, the Wolves have dropped 11 straight and have all the motivation to make it 12, so keep this in mind when looking at the NBA betting odds. They hold the NBA's worst record by one game over the Knicks so a loss gives Minnesota the most ping-pong balls in next month's draft lottery. Also, the Thunder have had little trouble winning all three matchups this season and have won 20 of the past 23 in the series overall. How is this not at least a 20-point win?
NBA Free Pick: Give the points. The Wolves are 1-6 ATS in their past seven at home. OKC is 5-2 ATS in its past seven on the road against teams with a losing road record.
Magic vs. Nets (-7.5)
Brooklyn's players and coaches no doubt were watching Tuesday night's Wizards at Pacers matchup on TNT. Washington had a few chances to win that one, even though it meant nothing to the Wizards, before Indiana prevailed in double overtime. So the Pacers will make the playoffs with a win at Memphis on Wednesday (an ESPN telecast) and a Nets loss at home to Orlando. Brooklyn is in with a win or Pacers loss. True, the Magic have played better of late and appear to have a potentially fantastic backcourt of the future in second-year Victor Oladipo and rookie Elfrid Payton. But they also have dropped three straight. Brooklyn obviously will be playing with full intensity to get into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. And, really, would it totally shock anyone if the Nets were to upset the Hawks in the first round? In an ironic twist, the Hawks have the right to swap first-round picks this summer with Brooklyn. Obviously they will but how painful would it be for the Nets to get into the lottery and win it -- then have to hand it over? Brooklyn is 2-0 against Orlando this season and has never lost to the Magic at Barclays Center. The Magic are one of three teams to not win a game at Barclays (Clippers, Kings).
NBA Free Pick: Take Nets with your NBA picks. Brooklyn has covered five of its past seven after an ATS loss. The Magic are 2-6 ATS in their past eight vs. teams with a losing record.
Jazz vs. Rockets (-8.5)
Utah is simply playing out the string, but has shown major promise since the All-Star break in that this could be a contender for one of those last Western Conference playoff spots next season led by potential 2015-16 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. Houston still has plenty to play for. Should the Rockets win this game and San Antonio lose at New Orleans, which could happen, then Houston would be the No. 2 seed. If the Rockets and the Spurs both win, the Spurs are No. 2 and Houston No. 5 but still with first-round home-court advantage. If Houston loses and Memphis beats Golden State, the Rockets drop to No. 6. You also have the fact that James Harden is going for the NBA scoring title, although he probably would need something like 70 points to pass the Thunder's Russell Westbrook.
NBA Free Pick: Rockets. Houston is 4-1 ATS in its past five vs. the West. The home team has covered four of the past five meetings.