Finally, the NBA regular season has come to an end.
But before we get into the playoffs, we have six play-in games set for this week including two that tip-off tonight. The winning teams of tonight's games will earn the seventh seed within their respective conferences. Let's take a look at the best bets for tonight's action.
Best Bets of The Night
Game: Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets -8.5
In this game, I’m really excited to see the Darius Garland and Kyrie Irving matchup. Nonetheless, the Nets should defend the home floor easily at Barclays Center. Cleveland allows the fourth-fewest points per game against opposing teams this season. The Cavaliers are one of the best defensive teams in the league with rookie Evan Mobley blocking shots, Garland guarding the perimeter, and Jarrett Allen as the anchor down low in the post, not to mention Isaac Okoro's on-ball ferociousness. It’s noteworthy that Allen has been ruled out for tonight’s game. Although the Nets aren't known for their big men, Allen's absence is significant and should result in Andre Drummond and Nicolas Claxton cleaning up on the boards as Mobley will be forced to start at the center position rather than power forward. The Cavs will have to play stifling defense to keep this game competitive and interesting. The Over/Under for tonight’s game is currently set at a relatively high 228.5 points. Despite Brooklyn's firepower on offense, Cleveland's defense should keep this game relatively low-scoring.
The Pick: Under 228.5 Total Points
Game: Los Angeles Clippers at Minnesota Timberwolves -3
With Paul George energized after what will be almost one week of rest, the Clippers’ outlook for tonight’s game against the Timberwolves isn’t bad at all. In fact, there are good reasons to think the Clippers will upset the T-Wolves and steal the seventh seed in the Western Conference. Los Angeles finished the season on a five-game winning streak, including their final victory of the season on Sunday despite resting Paul George, Nicolas Batum, and Reggie Jackson. The Clippers dropped a whopping 138 points in a dominant win over the atrocious Oklahoma City Thunder. What really stands out is that seven of the Clippers’ nine active players scored in double figures on Sunday. Amir Coffey, who is averaging 22.7 MPG and nine points per game this season, blew up for 35 points (13-22 FG) and 13 rebounds. If the Clippers scored that many points without their starters, what could they do to the T-Wolves with PG-13 and company active? To play it safe, we’ll take the Clippers to cover the spread tonight in Minnesota. That said, don't expect an easy win with D'Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, and Karl-Anthony Towns healthy and hyped to defend their home floor. This game is going to come down to the wire but if Paul George gets hot, the Clips could very well pull off the upset.
The Pick: Los Angeles Clippers +3
NBA Player Props
Game: Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets -8.5
Prop: Evan Mobley, Over 9.5 Rebounds (-102)
Jarrett Allen will be inactive tonight and rookie stud Evan Mobley will serve as Cleveland's defensive anchor in the paint. Mobley is going to be asked to do a lot on both ends of the court if the Cavs have any chance at upsetting the Nets in Brooklyn. Although Mobley averaged 8.3 rebounds per game this season, he’s the Cavs' only big man who has the wingspan and strength to haul in a ton of rebounds. Brooklyn is 12th in shots taken per game this season, averaging 88.4 field goals attempted as a team per game. This should help Mobley get into double-figures tonight off the glass, especially without Allen on the floor. Don't be shocked to see Mobley play 40 minutes tonight given Cleveland's lack of healthy big men.
Prop: Darius Garland, Over 25.5 Points (-108)
With Allen sidelined, Darius Garland will score closer to 30 points than the 25-26 points currently set for his line. Though he’s averaging 21.7 PPG this season, Garland has scored at least 25 points in six of his last 10 games. Especially against what should be a lethal offense between Kyrie and KD, the Cavs will need a big scoring night from their main ball-handler. Garland is a rising stud at the point guard position and is one of the league leaders in assists (8.6 per game and sixth in the NBA) but something tells me that with the seventh seed on the line, Garland will look to shoot more and get to the basket with his elite dribble-drive rather than serving as the playmaker for his teammates. Sure, he'll tally some sweet dimes but if the Cavs are going to compete, they need a monster game out of their young point guard. With Collin Sexton already out for the season, Garland is the only severe threat in Cleveland's backcourt. And don't forget that he dropped 31 points while only dishing out three assists in a losing effort to the Nets in the second-to-last game of the season. In four games against Brooklyn this season, Garland averaged 25.3 points and 8.0 assists in 39 minutes per game. Garland's percentages against the Nets from the field and deep were well below his season averages, not to mention, that he could play close to 45 minutes in this critical matchup. He should have no problem dropping at least 26 points.
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