With less than 20 games to the playoffs, every game becomes crucial to secure playoff standing and avoid certain matchups in the first round. Three Western Conference teams look to improve their standing this Tuesday night, with the San Antonio Spurs playing the Dallas Mavericks and the Portland Trail Blazers taking on the Los Angeles Clippers. See odds and your best picks below!
Game 1: Dallas Mavericks (27-39) host San Antonio Spurs (38-29)
Rookie of the Year candidate Luka Doncic will play host to the San Antonio Spurs, who are looking to maintain control of the 6th seed in the Western Conference. The Mavericks are close to being eliminated from playoff contention, having lost 5 games in a row, while the Spurs have done the exact opposite, being winners of their last 5 games.
The Mavericks won’t be making the playoffs this season and are just playing out the rest of the regular season. With the 6th worst record in the league, they’re in decent position for a lottery pick in the draft. They’re also waiting until next season for trade acquisition Kristaps Porzingis to return from injury, giving more pressure-free practice time for Doncic to run an NBA offense.
- Doncic is listed as questionable after suffering a mild knee strain in a game against the Rockets. Doncic is leading his team in points, rebounds, and assists per game, averaging 21.1pts/7.4rbds/5.6asts.
- 21-12 when playing at home this season.
- 2nd round pick Jalen Brunson has scored double digit points in four straight games, including 18 points in both of his last two games.
- Have lost 10 of their last 11 games, and won only once since the all star break.
After a stretch of losing 7 out of 8 games in the middle of February, San Antonio has been red hot, winning their last five games in a row. This includes a win two nights ago against the team with the most wins in the league, Milwaukee. Now in 7th place in the Western Conference, the reliable Spurs are in excellent position to reclaim 6th places or even move higher if Portland or OKC lose a bunch of games.
- LaMarcus Aldridge has been on fire the last 6 games, averaging 26.7 points and 9.7 rebounds on 56% shooting.
- Winners of 5 in a row, including victories over Milwaukee, Denver, and OKC.
- 12-22 on the road this season.
- Rudy Gay is likely to miss his second straight game due to illness.
Pick: San Antonio Spurs -5.5
I made the mistake of picking against San Antonio the other night against the Bucks, but I won’t do that here. The Spurs have won 5 in a row, the Mavs have lost 5 in a row. If Luka Doncic doesn’t play, the Spurs should coast to an easy victory. Even if he does play, it’s hard to say the Spurs lose when they’re playing this well. The Spurs should win without much issue.
Game 2: Los Angeles Clippers (39-29) host Portland Trail Blazers (40-26)
With the Excellent play of the Clippers recently, tonight’s matchup with the Blazers has become far more interesting. After beating Boston, the Clippers have now won 5 in a row and are just a loss behind Portland. After a 5-game win streak in February, the Blazers have now lost 3 of their last 5 games, and are losing ground to OKC and Houston for the 3rd seed.
The Clippers have exceed all expectations since the trade of Tobias Harris, relying on the stellar play of Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell. Now in sole possession of the 6th seed, the Clippers have a genuine chance of moving as high as the third seed if other teams don’t play well.
- 19-12 at home this season.
- Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, winning against Boston last night.
- Lou Williams has been lights out the last two games, scoring 40 against the Thunder and 34 against Boston, shooting 27-44 between the two nights.
With Houston snatching up the 3rd seed, the Thunder and Blazers are neck and neck for the 4th spot in the Western Conference. The Blazers have lost some momentum recently, but play against playoff teams only 5 more times this season. Tonight’s matchup with the Clippers is crucial if the Blazers want any chance at the 3rd seed.
- 15-17 on the road this season.
- Currently leading the season series against the Clippers, 2-1.
- Lillard time can happen any night – he dropped 51 against the Thunder just a few nights ago.
- CJ McCollum has found his shot recently, shooting 50% from three in the month of March.
Pick: Portland Trail Blazers -2.5
This pick definitely took a while to decide, but ultimately came down to the fact that the Clippers are playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Last night’s victory against Boston they shot over 61% from the field, a feat they won’t repeat tonight. The Blazers and Clippers always play a tough matchup, but I think the extra rest will benefit Portland. The Blazers win tonight.