The final weekend of March kicks off with a bang, holding host to nine games on Saturday night. The two games we’ll break down for today include the Celtics traveling to Brooklyn to face the Nets and the surging Blazers heading to Detroit for a showdown with the Pistons. Some of the top point guards in the league are playing in these games, so we’re in for some good basketball tonight!
Game 1: Boston Celtics (45-31) @ Brooklyn Nets (38-38)
The Celtics and Nets are meeting for the fourth and final time this season, with both being a part of the the fierce Atlantic Division. The Celtics have won 2 of the 3 games they’ve played against the Nets so far, and look primed to finish off the season series with the way Kyrie Irving has been playing lately. Or maybe we’ll see another wonderful performance from D’angelo Russell, who is rapidly becoming an emerging star for the Nets.
After a tight 114-112 victory over Indiana last night, the Celtics managed to steal the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference, although they do have one final game against the Pacers remaining. For now though, they’re leading the season series, putting them in 4th place. They’ve won two games in a row and have just five after tonight at Brooklyn, so each game becomes crucial if they want home court in the first round.
- Poor road record of 18-19 this season.
- Kyrie Irving has certainly found a comfortable rhythm lately, scoring 30+ in 7 of the last 9 games he has played in.
- Although they have won 2 in a row, they lost 4 in a row prior to that. Consistency has been nowhere to be found for Boston this season.
- 31-15 against the Eastern Conference, and 10-5 against the rest of the Atlantic Division.
- Failed to cover the point spread last game despite winning, and have only covered the spread 3 of their last 10 games.
The Nets are in the midst of the toughest stretch of their season, with their final eight games against playoff teams. They’ve lost the first two to Portland and Philadelphia, and now find themselves in danger of missing the playoffs entirely with their last six still against playoff teams. Orlando is just a game behind them, so it’s entirely possible the Nets slip out of the playoffs in just a few games time. Hosting Boston tonight is almost a must-win for the Nets.
- 21-16 home record this season.
- DLO has been mostly fantastic the past 5 games, averaging 29.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 10.2 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. He is also averaging 5.2 turnovers during that stretch.
- Fail to win against top teams. The Nets are just 2-5 in their last 7 games, with their 2 wins against non-playoff teams and their 5 losses all to playoff teams.
- Only 25-21 against the Eastern Conference, and just 7-7 against the rest of the tough Atlantic Division.
- Didn’t manage to cover the point spread last game, but they did cover the 4 games in a row prior. They’ve covered the spread 5 of their last 10 games overall.
Pick: Brooklyn +1.5
The Celtics played last night against Indiana, so they’ll be fatigued playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Kyrie Irving has been playing lights out lately, but the only reliable help he’s had lately has been Al Horford. Horford has also often rested on the second night of a back-to-back, but it is unclear what he’ll do tonight. The Nets have struggled to show up against tough teams lately, but with their playoff hopes on the line, look for a big game from the Brooklyn point guard rotation. Expect Brooklyn to win tonight.
Game 2: Portland Trail Blazers (48-27) @ Detroit Pistons (38-37)
The Blazers and Pistons meet for the second and final time this season, with Portland winning 117-112 just a week ago. The Blazers are a slightly different looking team since then, making tonight’s matchup a little more balance between the two teams. Either way, we’ll see Blake Griffin and Damian Lillard square off to see who can carry their team harder. Both men run the offense for their respective teams, who will come out on top?
If you haven’t heard the tragic news, center Jusuf Nurkic broke his leg during a double overtime game against Brooklyn. Nurkic was having a career best year, averaging 15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 1 steal per game on 51% shooting from the field and was the anchor of the Portland defense until he suffered a season ending injury.
This comes as a major disappointment for the Blazers, who are having a phenomenal year and find themselves now in the 3rd seed in the Western Conference. Portland as a franchise has a long running history of disappointing injuries (Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, and countless others), and it seems this year is no different.
CJ McCollum has also been out of action lately with a knee sprain, but the Blazers have persevered behind the leadership of Damian Lillard. It’s just too bad we won’t get to see what Portland at full strength would have been capable of in the playoffs this year. Best wishes to Jusuf Nurkic and lets hope for a speedy recovery.
- 19-18 on the road this season.
- It’s Dame time! Lillard is averaging 27.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 8.6 assists in March, leading the Blazers to a 10-4 record thus far.
- 9-1 in their last 10 games played.
- Absolutely lethal against the East. 24-5 record against the East, good for half their total wins.
- They’ve covered the point spread their last 2 games, and have covered 6 of their last 10 games overall.
The Pistons have been losing their fair share of games recently, but they’ve also been faced against several playoff teams. This team entirely rides on the shoulders of Blake Griffin, something a little worrisome considering the success of the Clippers during his tenure there. The Pistons sit in 6th place in the Eastern Conference, but are just a game and a half in front of 9th place Orlando. With 3 games still against playoff teams after tonight, the Pistons are in danger of missing the playoffs.
- Fairly solid 24-13 record at home this season.
- Blake Griffin has not played up to his usual excellent play in March, averaging just 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.6 assists on 42% shooting throughout the month.
- Despite Griffin’s quiet play, the Pistons are 9-6 in March, but just 4-6 in their last 10 games played during the month.
- Not a good team against the West. Just 12-15 in games with Western Conference opponents.
- Red hot cover team lately! They’ve covered the point spread their last 5 games in a row, and have covered 7 of their last 10 games overall.
Pick: Portland +5.0
Here’s the truth: Detroit is solid at home and they’ve been an excellent cover team as of late. Portland is also quite short-handed, now missing their 2nd and 3rd best players in McCollum and Nurkic. Having said that, there is no chance that Portland loses by 5 points tonight. The Blazers have won 6 games in a row, and are out for blood when they play the Eastern Conference. Lillard will have a strong game and the Blazers will win. Expect Portland to win tonight.