Betting preview for Sunday's NBA games


It is a big day! The regular season finale is here, so there is no need for a grand introduction. Below you will find game notes along with playoff scenarios for each game. 

Good luck!

Updated odds for every game can be found here.

Updated injury reports for every game can be found here.

*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back.

The Main Event

Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors (-5, 229.5)

Both teams enter this contest on winning streaks, but the betting market has severely overvalued one of these two franchises. Memphis is riding a five-game winning streak and 6-1 SU run, but over those seven games they are just 3-4 ATS. Meanwhile, Golden State is on its own five-game winning streak, but unlike Memphis, they are 7-1 SU and ATS in their previous eight games. Memphis has been highly respected by the market all season long, but this line today shows a real improvement in Golden State’s power rating. When these two met for a two-game series in March, the Warriors closed as 6.5-point underdogs in both meetings. Today, they open as five-point favorites at home. 

The Warriors defended the Grizzlies extremely well in those two games despite splitting the pair of contests. Memphis managed just 1.019 points per possession and shot 31% on 58 3-point attempts. They will need to improve on those figures to grab a win on the road against Golden State. That is easier said than done, as the Warriors have the second-best defensive rating in the league (103.9) over this eight-game streak, allowing opponents to shoot just 53.9% at the rim and 31.2% from the perimeter. Memphis has shot the fourth-best rate at the rim over their seven-game run, so this will be a battle of strength-on-strength that could dictate the winner of this contest.

However, the real matchup to watch is along the perimeter where the Grizzlies have regularly struggled on defense. Memphis has allowed opponents to shoot 39.5% from deep over the last seven games, and on the season it ranks 19th in overall perimeter defense (37.4%). When you have to defend one of the best perimeter players in league history, that does not bode well for the Grizzlies. That is also the biggest factor to consider in this rematch between these two clubs. Steph Curry missed both games against the Grizzlies earlier this season, and will be a massive factor in this faux play-in game.

Playoff Scenario

Winner takes all. The victor here will be the eighth seed in the play-in tournament, the loser will be the ninth seed. In other words, win and you get two shots at a postseason berth.

The Co-Main Event

Charlotte Hornets at Washington Wizards (-5, 229.5)

These two teams have been heading in the opposite direction for a while now. Washington is 16-7 SU/18-3-2 ATS since April 5 with the league’s sixth-best net rating (+ 5.4). Meanwhile, Charlotte is 6-14 SU/5-15 ATS in its last 20 games with the 24th-ranked defense (114.1). Bradley Beal has missed the last three games for Washington and is considered questionable to play today against the Hornets. Should Beal be on the court, the Wizards’ offense will be tough to contain for one of the worst defenses in the league. Washington averages 115.5 points per 100 possessions on offense when Beal plays, and when he and Russell Westbrook are together, they outscore opponents by 0.5 points per 100 possessions. That is not an impressive net rating, but it is much greater than the -5.0 net rating that the Hornets have posted over its previous 20 games.

Playoff Scenario

The winner here will take the eighth seed of the Eastern Conference and get two chances at a postseason seed. The loser will fall to either the ninth or 10th seed, depending on the outcome of Indiana’s game with Toronto.

The Prelims

Houston Rockets at Atlanta Hawks (-10.5, 233.5)

As we discussed in the previous edition of game notes, Houston continues to be one of the best ATS teams in the league over the last two weeks. With the Rockets' outright win over the Clippers on Friday, they improved to 5-0 ATS in their last five games and 8-4 ATS in their last 12 contests. Sure, the Hawks have a home-court advantage to play for in this contest, but how much is motivation worth to a point spread? The market has shown a tendency to overvalue Atlanta lately. Look no further than the team’s 4-3 ATS record over its previous seven games despite a 6-1 SU run.

Remember, this Hawks game is much later than the Knicks game against Boston. If New York wins then Atlanta has nothing to play for. We could see McMillan decide to rest starters in the hours before tip-off.

Playoff Scenario

Atlanta needs a win and a New York loss to grab homecourt in the first round of the postseason. A Hawks victory with a Knicks victory ensures a first-round series between the two that will tip-off at MSG.

Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers (-8.5, 230.5)

This number might surprise some, but the Nuggets have nothing to play for here and they want the fourth seed in order to avoid the Los Angeles Lakers early in the bracket. Meanwhile, Portland has everything riding on this result. Remember though, these numbers have all of these factors are baked into a number like this. There is little to no value in betting a favorite in end-of-season scenarios such as this one.

Playoff Scenario

All Portland needs to do is beat Denver and it avoids the play-in tournament. They can reach as high as the fifth seed with a win and Dallas loss. The Blazers fall to the sixth seed with a loss and Los Angeles Lakers win.

Los Angeles Lakers (-10, 223.5) at New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans will not have Lonzo Ball, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, among other role players, on the floor today. Thus, the Lakers, who will have LeBron James and Anthony Davis back together, are massive favorites on the road. However, there is a risk in a number like this. Should Los Angeles have a massive fourth-quarter lead, you can expect the coaching staff to call off the dogs and get everyone prepped for a potentially arduous road through the postseason. If that is the case, covering a massive number like this is going to be a tough task. 

Playoff Scenario

Los Angeles needs a win and Portland loss to clinch the sixth seed in the Western Conference. A loss will lock them into the seventh seed and the play-in tournament.

Boston Celtics at New York Knicks (-8.5, 215.5)

This is a pretty simple handicap: Boston is not going to play anybody with the seventh seed already locked in. Jaylen Brown, Evan Fournier, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Tristan Thompson, Kemba Walker and Robert Williams will all sit the final game of the regular season. As a result, the Knicks are as high as a 12-point favorite in most shops. However, the same situation can rear its ugly head here as with the Lakers game. If New York is up by around 20 points in the fourth quarter, why would any of the starters play the entire game?

Playoff Scenario

Boston has clinched the seventh seed and homecourt throughout the play-in tournament. New York can clinch the fourth seed and homecourt in the first round with a win.

Utah Jazz (-10.5, 226.5) at Sacramento Kings

This is one of the rare games in which one team has something on the line, the other does not, but the market is moving against the team still playing for something. Sacramento has still shown fight down the stretch, and enters the regular season finale 7-2 ATS in its last nine games. However, the injury report is lengthy for the Kings today: Richaun Holmes, Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley are unlikely to play, and De’Aaron Fox is not coming back. With that much offensive talent off the floor, how do the Kings manage against Utah’s defense?

Playoff Scenario

Really simple for the road team here: Win and the top overall seed in the postseason is yours.

Phoenix Suns (-9.5, 225.5) at San Antonio Spurs

Phoenix will not likely see many starters for San Antonio, which has nothing to play for. That is likely why we see the Suns up to 10-point favorites in most shops. They also play seven hours before Utah does, which means Phoenix will need to win before sitting back and learning their fate when the Jazz take on the Kings. Keep in mind, the Suns have the 27th-ranked defense in the league over the last 12 games. Not the defense I would trust to hold a double-digit lead on the road.

Playoff Scenario

Phoenix will finish no worse than second in the Western Conference. They can steal the top seed from Utah if the Jazz lose and they take care of business against the Spurs.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets (-11, 225.5)

Steve Nash was vocal in his desire to sit his stars here, but the Bucks’ win over the Heat make it more than likely we see some sort of time from James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Cleveland has been absolutely awful over the last 13 games, going 1-12 SU/1-11-1 ATS with a -15.1 net rating. Can they even benefit from Brooklyn resting stars in the fourth quarter?  

Playoff Scenario

Milwaukee’s win over Miami last night means Brooklyn needs a win today to ensure they finish second in the Eastern Conference.

Indiana Pacers (-6, 229.5) at Toronto Raptors

Expect all hands on deck for Indiana tonight. Sure, they rested Domantas Sabonis on Saturday, but this game means the difference between a home game and a road game in an elimination setting. I would expect those who can play will play. Meanwhile, Toronto is in the midst of a tank and will likely have no one of consequence out there in the season finale. It is why they are 5-6-1 ATS in their last 11 games and 3-9 SU over those contests. This game again raises the question: How much is motivation worth? Sure, Indiana is 5-0-1 ATS in its last six, but should they be laying this many points on the road?

Playoff Scenario

A win gives Indiana the ninth seed and a home game in play-in tournament. A loss for the Pacers locks them into the 10th and final seed.

Dallas Mavericks (-9, 230.5) at Minnesota Timberwolves

The Mavericks certainly have motivation for a victory here, and the once feisty Timberwolves have rolled over in its last two games, going 0-2 SU and ATS with a -12.3 net rating. Dallas has the fourth-best net rating in the league over the last month (+ 7.4) and their offensive rating of 118.5 is fifth in the league. Can Minnesota’s defense actually contain Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis?

Playoff Scenario

This one is easy. A win for Dallas gives them the fifth seed and a loss gives them the sixth seed.

Los Angeles Clippers (-9, 221.5) at Oklahoma City Thunder

Los Angeles showed a willingness to play the seeding game when it benched starters against Houston on Friday, so what would change here? The Clippers want the fourth seed in the Western Conference, and we have seen this number react accordingly. Can bettors stomach swallowing points with the worst team in the league?

Playoff Scenario

Los Angeles will clinch the fourth seed with a loss to Oklahoma City today. They can grab the third seed with a win and Denver loss to Portland.

Milwaukee Bucks (-3.5, 224.5) at Chicago Bulls

This game is dependent on a game hours beforehand. Is there really a scenario in which you can handicap it preflop without knowing what is going to happen between Brooklyn and Cleveland?

Playoff Scenario

This is fascinating. Milwaukee can still grab the second seed in the Eastern Conference with a win and a Brooklyn loss. The Nets’ game actually tips-off two hours earlier, so the result of that could impact who bettors see on the floor for Milwaukee. 

Miami Heat (-6.5, 217.5) at Detroit Pistons

Miami has almost nothing to play for, but is laying quite a few points on the road. The number is moving toward Detroit, and I would expect that to continue going forward.

Playoff Scenario

Miami does not control any aspect of its seeding destiny. The Heat need and win and a Knicks loss to Boston in order to climb a spot in the standings. The most likely outcome is the sixth seed and a rematch with Milwaukee in the first round.

Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers (-8.5, 222.5)

Philadelphia has absolutely nothing on the line. Why would we see anyone on the floor for the 76ers tonight?

Playoff Scenario

Nothing at stake here. Orlando is eliminated and Philadelphia has clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference

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