The basketball sportsbook should be alive with action this Sunday. There are three marquee matchups in the NBA on March 4 when New York takes on Boston, Miami battles Los Angeles and Chicago steps onto the court to take on Philadelphia.
Miami has been the best team in the league so far this season but nothing is assured when they take a flight to the West Coast to battle the Lakers. Before Miami steps onto the court, a big time rival game takes place between suddenly tough to handle New York and showing their age Boston. Then, after the Miami vs. L.A. throw down, Chi-Town takes on Midwest foe Philadelphia.
New York Knicks at Boston Celtics
When: March 4 at 1:00 pm EST
Potential Betting Line: Boston -5.5
Analysis: Now that the Jeremy Lin stuff has somewhat subsided, the Knicks have come back down to earth. Sure, there are going to be a lot of haters who blame the Knicks going 2 and 3 straight up in their last 5 games on Carmelo Anthony. Some basketball experts set it up before ‘Melo’s return from injury by proclaiming that it “would happen”, unless ‘Melo “changed this and that”. Never mind that wonder boy JL has been a turnover machine: 8 versus Toronto on 2/14, 9 versus New Orleans on 2/17, 7 versus Dallas on 2/17 and 8, to only 3 assists, versus Miami on 2/23. The kid is still learning.
But, at least, even with Lin’s turnover issues, the Knicks have found a way to cover spreads. Going into the Feb. 29th contest versus the Cavs, New York is 3 and 3 ATS in its last 6 games. Boston was a horrible 1 and 9 ATS in its last 10 games going into its Feb. 29th battle versus Milwaukee. Then again, there’s a huge caveat to that 1 and 9 against the spread record. The Celtics played 6 out of those 10 games on the road. 3 out of the 6 road games were against Chicago, Dallas and Oklahoma City, 3 of the top teams in the NBA. Boston starts a 4 game home stand on Wednesday. The Knick game occurs on Sunday, making it the 3rd game during the 4 game home stand.
The Celtics shouldn’t have any issues covering the spread against still overvalued NYK this Sunday. Rajon Rondo, Boston’s point-guard, is averaging 1.6 steals per game. Rondo should force the turnover prone Lin to the bench before halftime, and my gut tells me that Wonder Boy stays there for most of the second half, like he did when facing Miami.
I’m with Boston.
Pick: Boston Celtics
Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers
When: March 4 at 3:30 pm EST
Potential Betting Line: Los Angeles Lakers -2
Analysis: Yes, Miami has been the best team in the NBA this season. Their record of 27 and 7 is mighty strong, but ATS wise the Heat haven’t been all that great. Miami is only 18 and 16 against the spread overall this season, 9 and 8 ATS both away and at home. Another factor to consider, if you’re thinking about backing the Heat with a basketball odds wager in their Sunday contest against the Lake Show, is that Miami plays the Lakers in the 3rd game of a 3 game road trip. The Heat is, however, 8 and 2 ATS in their last 10 games going into their Thursday night, March 1st contest, versus the Portland Trailblazers.
The problem with L.A. is that they are the Jekyll and Hyde of the NBA. The Lakers haven’t really done much to warrant any sort of backing, with dollars at least, since they are 16 and 18 ATS overall. Ah, but those awesome sports betting caveats! The main caveat for the Lakers is that they are 5 and 13 ATS on the road this season and an incredible 11 and 5 ATS at home. They take on LeBron and Co. at home on Sunday.
Such a strong home trend should not be taken lightly. It’s obvious that Kobe’s team plays much better at Staples Center than they do on the road. If this were the Heat’s first road contest, I’d probably take the 2 to 3 points (my prediction is that basketball betting odds makers will have to make the Lakers the favorites because of their home against the spread record), but this game will be Miami’s 3rd straight road contest. Because of that, I have to back L.A. to hand the Heat a rare loss straight up but a not so rare loss against the spread.
Pick: Los Angeles Lakers
Chicago Bulls at Philadelphia 76’ers
When: March 4 at 7:00 pm EST
Betting Line: Chicago -2.5
Analysis: The truth is that since Chicago is 28 and 8 and the Heat is 27 and 7, the Bulls and Heat have the same record as of Feb. 29th. The Bulls are a much safer team to back ATS because, for one, they aren’t receiving nearly the hype that Miami is receiving, therefore, Basketball betting handicappers usually get to back the Bulls while working with reasonable spreads.
Another reason to like Chicago is that they are 13 and 7 ATS on the road. That’s a darn good road record against the spread and one of the reasons that Chicago is a solid team to back versus the 76’ers this Sunday….at least on paper.
Philly is 12 and 7 ATS at home and they beat the Bulls 98 to 82 the last time the two teams met. Not only that, but Philly takes on Chi-Town after Chi-Town will have played San Antonio and Cleveland on the road. The 76’ers could surprise the Bulls in this game straight up. So, if the sportsbook shows Philadelphia at +120 on the moneyline to beat Chicago, bettors should definitely consider backing them.
In any case, the advantages for Philadelphia are many in this Sunday game: they took it to Chicago in the last contest between these two, an excellent home record ATS, Chicago will be playing in their 3rd straight road game, etc. I’m not going against those advantages. I see the Philadelphia 76’ers covering the spread against the Chicago Bulls and possibly beating Chicago straight up.
Pick: Philadelphia 76’ers