Today boys and girls we are going to break some of some of The Western Conference schedules leading into the NBA Playoffs. We have already touched on NOLA and OKC in previous articles, so today will focus on the race to the postseason at the bottom of the conference. Thirteen teams were invited from The Western Conference and in all honesty I think it was a way to get Pelicans and Zion into the eight seeded position.
Three of the four teams behind Memphis are tied up in a dead heat, and the fourth team is a half game behind them. The NBA knew what they were doing when they set this up, also another reason more teams were invited from The West cause it is such a tight race at the bottom of the standings. This will make for exciting basketball and give people a reason to tune in, I think they will anyways but this is just an added bonus. This will make the teams at the top of the standings work harder because for these teams at the bottom every game counts, and it’s not just a “exhibition” game. The season is on the line for the teams in the race. We have already covered The New Orleans Pelicans pretty extensively a few weeks ago in my article NBA Future Bet.
This bottom tier is a true wildcard tier and literally anything can happen, this will in turn wreak havoc with the betting lines and how the book makers will have to create lines to entice action on side or the other. This reminds me of handicapping The NCAA Basketball Tournament because these lines are opening generically…what I mean by that is they are all one point spreads and 220 totals. These lines are soft because not even the guys making the odds know what is going to happen and it is a good opportunity for gamblers and handicappers to be able to find the breaks in the Vegas algorithms and turn a positive ROI off of it.
The first team we will look at is the current eighth seeded Memphis Grizzlies. In order for these guys to hold onto that seed Ja Morant and Co. will have to navigate some treacherous waters where their first three games come against teams that are directly behind them in the seeding order. They will open on 7/31 versus Portland, 8/2 versus San Antonio, and will then turn around on a back to back to play none other than NOLA on 8/3. Needless to say could make or break The Grizz chances to make the play off or not. They will have to win against Portland and NOLA for sure.
Their schedule doesn’t get any easier after that either, as they face Jazz, Thunder, Raptors, Celtics, and The Bucks to finish off the season and that is not a favorable situation as all these teams are at or close to the top of the standings. Like I said every game counts and the end of this season will be like the MLB wildcard race, and it is going to be awesome to watch and to handicap. Right now the Memphis chance to win The Conference is +10000, where as NOLA is +4000 and Portland is +6000. Both NOLA and Portland the teams directly behind Memphis are pulling better odds to make the NBA Final. Futures odds are a direct reflection of things that will happen short term, for example why do two lower seeded teams have better odds than Memphis? Now, there are a few teams behind The Grizz that have worse odds than them. Suns, Spurs, and Kings are all +20000 to make the NBA Final.
The Sacramento Kings will be traveling cross country as one of those “added” teams but they carry a very respectable ATS road record of 21-12. If the season picks up like it left off I like these guys to do some underdog spread covering in final games. The issue here is that they play NOLA twice, they also play Rockets, and round out the season playing the LeBron lead Lakers, which could be potential great underdog spot.
The top six seeds are basically locked in and will be playing for seeding positioning, we also have a seven game gap between Dallas and Memphis which could make things interesting if certain teams go hot or cold in Orlando. The Mavericks have a semi favorable schedule to be able to maintain their current placement as a seven seed where they only play three top seeded teams in the Bucks, Clippers, and Rockets. Although they will have a match up versus one of the gunner teams in Portland on August 11th.
Like I said earlier this is a very interesting time to be handicapping these games, but it all starts with being able to look forward and be able to see future potential match up’s and being able to see how certain things fall into place. If you are playing against Vegas and the odds makers, then you are playing a game of Chess not Checkers. What makes this year different than all the years past is how unique this format is and makes for a golden opportunity to able to take advantage of it. As the odds change and more game lines start coming out we will be able to clear the fog and find the light at the end of the tunnel.
*Jack Robinson is the Senior Content Writer at PicksCity.com and Contributing Writer for Inside The Thunder at SI.com who carries a tracked record on all sports and all plays from April of 2018 at 972-788-55 a 55.2% winning percentage via sportsaction.com