Sunday’s NBA main slate features six games. The action gets underway at 6 p.m. ET and the final games tip off at 7:30 p.m. ET. Let’s survey the slate and pick the best bets for Sunday night.
Celtics -6 (-110)
This is one of the marquee matchups of the month. The Timberwolves have won 11 of their last 14 and covered in each of those wins. With that kind of run, they should be a lock tonight. That’s not the case because they’re facing the even hotter Boston Celtics. On Jan. 8, the Celtics began their current heater (28-7), and they’ve only gotten hotter — 21-3 since Jan. 29 (14-9-1 ATS). Over the last 15 games, the Celtics have the No. 1 offense and No. 3 defense in the NBA — their +11.7 Net Rating is the best in the league. The second-best Net Rating over that span belongs to Minnesota (+11.3). Wouldn’t it be crazy to see these teams match up in the finals? Stranger things have happened. A quick survey of the league and a Celtics-Timberwolves finals doesn’t sound that crazy.
Boston is the pick because they are on another level. They’re not a hot team, they’re a complete team. They beat the Jazz by 28 in their last game and haven’t played since Wednesday (a rare three-day break). They did not cover in the contest before that, but that was in a win against the Thunder — one of the worst teams in the league but one of the best at covering. Teams feel sorry for the Thunder and take it easy on them. The Thunder end up getting blown out but cover by the skin of their teeth. The Timberwolves present a formidable task, but that’s what the Celtics want. They seem to enjoy these challenges. Every night is an opportunity for the Celtics to remind the league that they are the actual best team in the NBA.
Warriors -7.5 (-110)
The last 10 games, like the season, have been rough for the Wizards. They beat the Pistons in their last game. The Wizards also beat the Lakers on Mar. 19, but the Lakers were on the second game of a road back-to-back and were coming off a dramatic overtime win the night before in Toronto. The rest of Washington’s games have been losses, and they failed to cover in seven of those eight losses.
Golden State has problems of their own, but only one real problem: Stephen Curry is out. A little over a week ago, the Warriors beat the Wizards by double-digits, but that was behind a 46-point effort by Curry. That’s a significant amount of offense to replace, but the Wizards are also without their leading offensive weapon. Kyle Kuzma is out for the fifth consecutive game. Missing Curry is a much bigger deal, but the Wizards were bad with Kuzma and now they’re abysmal.
Pelicans -3.5 (-110)
Good teams win games without playing games. The Lakers are not a good team. They must bend every rule for every advantage. The NBA injury report is manipulated on a nightly basis by the Lakers, yet they’re still a 31-42 team. At some point, they might realize that no one is falling for LeBron James’ fake injuries. “Wow. LeBron is on the injury report! Let’s completely change our game plan,” said no one ever. Meanwhile, the Pelicans have dealt with real injuries, but are still hanging on to playoff hopes.
How the mighty have fallen. Schadenfreude is sweet. The Lakers stole Anthony Davis from the Pelicans and won a bubble championship that no one counts, but now the Pelicans are getting the last laugh. The Pelicans are playoff contenders, while the Lakers are pretenders. Davis progressively breaks down every day like the Third Law of Thermodynamics, but entropy doesn’t appear to faze Zion Williamson. The phenom is doing between-the-legs dunks and could return for the playoffs. At which point, he could turn the league on its head.
Who isn’t rooting for the Pelicans? Who is rooting for the Lakers? Even Lakers fans are done with this team? LeBron is playing for all-time records. He knows the playoffs are out of sight. Their chances slipped away weeks ago. This team can’t win, and it can’t be counted on to cover. The Lakers have lost seven of the last 10 (4-6 ATS). Over that span, the Lakers have a -5.8 Net Rating (23rd). Their offense has been average of late, as it has been all season, but their defense is the third-worst over the last 10 games (120.5 defensive efficiency). This has been the story since Davis got hurt. The Lakers have kept up their offense and pace, but their average defense became a terrible defense. In contrast, the Pelicans have been perfectly average over the last 10 games. Their offense ranks 13th, their defense ranks 17th and their Net Rating is +0.8. The average team with hope should cover at home against the bad team that has given up.
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