Who’s sitting? Who’s starting? Inquiring minds want to know so they can make some smart NBA picks this weekend. Let’s try to sort out the wheat from the chaff.
This should be a magical time for making NBA picks. Some teams are so good, they’re resting star players before the postseason. And some teams are so bad, they’re resting star players in a bald-faced attempt to get even worse, thus improving their chances in the draft lottery. That’s what the NBA gets for conducting business the way it does.
The rest of us can profit from these perverse incentives, but it’s a bit like catching butterflies; it’s hard to say exactly which direction these teams will take from day to day – especially the good teams who don’t care too much one way or the other at this point. Let’s see if we can stay one step ahead of the NBA odds with this weekend’s marquee games.
The Rockets have made it easy for us. They came right out and said that resting players is a mortal sin – an obvious jab at Golden State, which has learned its lesson from last year and judiciously managed the stars' minutes. But the Warriors still beat Houston 113-106 Tuesday night as 1.5-point road dogs. And the Rockets might want to re-think their strategy now that southpaw James Harden (+10.3 BPM) is dealing with a sore left wrist.
Saturday: LA Lakers At LA Clippers (3:30 p.m. ET)
Will pride prevent the Lakers from tanking against their Staples Center roommates? Not if they know what’s good for them. The Lakers are trying to fight off the Phoenix Suns for second-to-last in the standings; they need all the lottery balls they can get if they want to keep their Top-3 protected pick and maybe get UCLA phenom Lonzo Ball in a purple-and-gold uniform. The Clippers beat the Lakers 133-109 as 10-point “road” faves earlier this month, so more of the same could be on the menu.
Sunday: Utah At San Antonio (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
The Spurs practically invented the DNP-Rest. But they’re also incredibly deep and talented, so this won’t be a gimme for the Jazz, even if they’re trying to hold onto the No. 4 seed in the West and home-court advantage in the first round. Utah’s also missing half its team after a rough March; Gordon Hayward (+4.2 BPM) is iffy with a left quadriceps contusion and Derrick Favors (–0.2 BPM) is out indefinitely with a bone contusion on his left knee. Contusions!
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