NBA April Preview
The Phoenix Suns have been installed as the clear favorites to win the NBA Championship after embarking on a nine-game winning streak. Victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday saw Phoenix equal a franchise record for the most wins in a regular season, with several games remaining. However, the Suns are not the only team surging with momentum right now.
The Grizzlies, the Mavericks, the Raptors and the Hornets have all been on a tear in recent weeks, sparking seismic shifts in the conference standings. We are now entering the last 10 days of the regular season, and some teams are desperately battling to secure a play-in berth. Others are fighting to hold onto the top seeds, so it promises to be a couple of weeks. We have rounded up the most exciting games that lie on the horizon, provided key betting trends and offered a futures betting update.
Utah Jazz vs. Golden State Warriors
Saturday, April 2, at Chase Center
The Dubs have dropped down to fourth in the Western Conference standings after losing four games in a row. Steph Curry is still out injured, but everyone else is healthy as the Warriors prepare to head down the home straight. Jordan Poole has been one bright spot in an otherwise gloomy period for Golden State. He averaged 28.3 points, six rebounds and 5.5 assists for the week, and tied a career-high with 38 points last week, and the team needs him to continue shining in Curry’s absence.
The Jazz are also coming off a rough week. They went 0-3, and the undoubted low point came when they blew a 25-point lead against the Clippers. However, they bounced back with an emphatic win against the Lakers on Thursday. Utah now looks nailed on for an automatic playoff place, as it is three wins clear of the Timberwolves, and it now has a strong chance of overtaking the Warriors to claim the No. 4 seed. Saturday’s game could therefore prove to be crucial.
Charlotte Hornets vs. Miami Heat
Tuesday, April 5, at FTX Arena
The Hornets have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games. They picked the perfect time of year to go on a tear, as they are now up to No. 9 in the east, with an identical record to the Nets and the Hawks. They are all but guaranteed to secure a play-in berth, but they will still be jostling for position with Brooklyn and Atlanta in the final days of the regular season. LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges have been superb of late, so things are looking up for the franchise.
However, a road trip to Miami will prove difficult. The Heat are clinging onto No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They are currently one win ahead of the Bucks, two ahead of the Celtics and three ahead of the Sixers. It is looking extremely congested, so they need to keep winning. They were in trouble, but back-to-back wins against the Kings and the Celtics steadied the ship. Fans will be pleased to see Jimmy Butler step up, while Bam Adebayo looks back to his best. The Hornets have impressed, but Miami should win this one.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Toronto Raptors
Tuesday, April 5, at Scotiabank Arena
A four-game winning streak has carried the Raptors up to sixth in the Eastern Conference. They are now two games ahead of the Cavaliers, so they have some breathing room. However, Cleveland has the tiebreaker, so Toronto cannot afford to take a foot off the pedal now. They also have a great chance of leapfrogging the Bulls and securing the No. 5 seed, so their next few games will be important.
This could prove to be an entertaining showdown with the Hawks, who have also won four in a row. That has seen Atlanta nail down a play-in spot. They are currently No. 10, but they will want to clinch the No. 9 seed to ensure they host the first play-in game. After all, they have a +4 net rating at home this season and a -2.5 net rating on the road. Yet that also illustrates why the Raptors should win this game at Scotiabank Arena, led by the indomitable Pascal Siakam.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Brooklyn Nets
Friday, April 8, at Barclays Center
Both of these teams are destined for the play-in tournament. Neither will be able to challenge Toronto for the No. 6 seed, and they cannot be overhauled by the Knicks. They are currently seventh and eighth respectively, as Cleveland is two games ahead of Brooklyn. That represents a very respectable season for the Cavs, but a disastrous one for the Nets, who were the heavy favorites for the NBA Championship for several months.
Yet Brooklyn is 6-4 in its last 10 games, while Cleveland is 4-6. If the Nets win this game, they will clinch the tiebreaker against the Cavs, and they should be able to move into the No. 7 seed spot. They now have Kyrie Irving playing home games, which could make all the difference on April 8.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Thursday, April 9, at FedExForum
The Pelicans have moved up to ninth in the standings after beating the Lakers and the Trail Blazers in their last two games. They are now two games clear of the Spurs and the Lakers, so they should be able to hold onto a place in the play-in tournament. However, they must remain consistent in the final fortnight of the season. Brandon Ingram has been excellent, and CJ McCollum and Trey Murphy are on an upward curve, which is encouraging.
The Grizzlies have already clinched the No. 2 seed in the west, so they may start to take it easy now. Yet this will still be a stern test for New Orleans. After all, Memphis won four more games without Ja Morant in the past week, with Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks and De'Anthony Melton all on fire. The Memphis defense has been rock solid, making this a potentially tough game for Ingram and co.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks
Sunday, April 10, at American Airlines Center
Spurs and Lakers fans face a nail-biting week. The teams are now neck-and-neck with 31 wins apiece. San Antonio is currently sitting pretty at No. 10, as it owns the tiebreaker against the Lakers, but there is still plenty of time for that to change. If the Spurs are to hold onto a place in the play-in tournament, they will need to match the Lakers’ results in the days ahead.
It could go right down to the wire. San Antonio’s season ends with a showdown against the Mavericks, while the Lakers head to the Mile High City to face the Nuggets. Dallas is currently level with Golden State, as they each have 48 wins, but the Mavs hold the tiebreaker. They will need to match the Dubs’ results to hold onto the No. 3 seed, so this could be a big game for them too.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets
Sunday, April 10, at Ball Arena
The Lakers have fallen out of the play-in places after slumping to a grim run of four straight losses. However, they have the quality to overhaul the Spurs in the final stretch of the season. They should welcome Anthony Davis back from injury, while LeBron James is likely to put his body on the line if his team’s postseason hopes are still hanging in the balance.
This game could depend upon what is at stake for Denver. The Nuggets are currently No. 6 in the west, but they are level with Utah in the wins column and just two games behind Dallas and Golden State. If they are still jostling for position on the final day of the season, it could be a tricky game for the Lakers.
- The Memphis Grizzlies hold the best ATS record in the league this year (50-27), having covered the spread in 64.9% of their games.
- OKC are the only other team to cover in more than 60% of their games. The Thunder have covered 63.9% of the time.
- The Nets and Trail Blazers share the worst ATS record, having each covered in just 40% of their games.
- The Bulls have the best ATS record at home (25-12) and the Nets have the worst (8-29-1).
- The Thunder have the top ATS record on the road (27-11), having covered 71.1% of their away games. The Wizards have the worst ATS away record (12-24-1).
- Over has paid off in 58.4% of Minnesota’s games this season (45-32), which is a league high.
- Under has landed in 64% of the Mavericks’ games (27-48-2), which is also the highest tally in the league.
Futures Betting Update
The Suns are now the clear favorites for the NBA Championship. They are best priced at +310 with FanDuel, although some books will only go to +260. Despite their recent woes, many books still make the Nets the second favorites. Once again, FanDuel has a market leading +600 on Brooklyn, while DraftKings is only offering +475.
The best odds available on the Suns to win the Western Conference are +137, while the Dubs are +440, the Grizzlies are +800 and the Jazz are +1200. The Bucks and Nets are neck-and-neck at +300 to win the east, ahead of the Celtics (+450), Sixers (+475) and Heat (+550). Nikola Jokic has moved ahead of Joel Embiid in the regular season MVP race, and he is now the -185 favorite with BetMGM. FanDuel has +200 on Embiid.