Tuesday night will display 10 whole NBA games, a few of those carrying more significance than others. Two of those significant games include the fight for the 8th seed in the East between Orlando and Miami, and a clash between MVP candidates when Harden and the Rockets take on Giannis and the Bucks in Milwaukee! Strap yourselves in and get your odds and picks below!
Game 1: Orlando Magic (36-38) @ Miami Heat (36-37)
After an impressive win last night in Philadelphia, the Magic are keeping their playoff dreams strong. They enter tonight’s matchup with Miami just a loss behind them, with the possibility of taking 8th if they beat the Heat. Unfortunately for Orlando, they are playing on the second night of a back-to-back, making tonight’s game even tougher. Which Florida team will have the last laugh this season, the Magic or the Heat?
The Magic have now managed to win 5 games in a row, including a blowout in Philadelphia last night. Nikola Vucevic has played phenomenal, easily being one of the top centers in the entire NBA this season, yet has struggled in games against the Heat this season. Regardless of the situation, this is Orlando’s biggest and most important game of the year, and they’ll need to find extra energy to topple the Heat tonight.
- Poor 13-22 road record this year.
- 15-7 in games played since the end of January.
- Points leader Nikola Vucevic is averaging just 13 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in the 3 games against Miami, down from season averages of 20.8 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists.
- 24-20 against the rest of the Eastern Conference.
- Did cover the point spread last game, and have covered 4 of the last 5 games played, but didn’t cover the 5 games prior.
The Heat come into tonight as one of the stronger teams in March. They’ve managed to claw their way into the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, but the Magic are quickly catching up to them. Miami may not have a traditional star on their team, but they have multiple players on the roster capable of scoring 20+ any night. With some gritty defense and retirement season heroics from Dwayne Wade, the Heat now have a real shot of making the playoffs.
- 17-20 home record, good for 6th worst in the entire league.
- 9-3 record in March, but their 3 losses were against Toronto and Milwaukee twice.
- Team scoring leader Josh Richardson has averaged just 14 points on 29% shooting in the three games against Orlando, and 12.4 points on 35% shooting in his last 10 games, all down from 16.7 points on 41% shooting for the season.
- Currently lead season series 2-1 over Orlando. Goran Dragic didn’t play in the loss, but scored 26 points in the one victory he did play in.
- Just 21-24 against the rest of the Eastern Conference.
- Covered the point spread last game, and have been fantastic lately, covering 7 of their last 10 games overall.
Pick: Miami Heat -5.5
Although the Magic whomped the 76ers last night and have won 5 in a row, they find themselves in a tough matchup with the Heat. Their best player, Nik Vucevic, has struggled against the Heat all year, and they’re now playing in a back-to-back situation. Both teams have played well in the past month, but Miami has been downright scary, and I don’t see them losing to a winded Magic team. Expect Miami to win.
Game 2: Houston Rockets (47-27) @ Milwaukee Bucks (55-19)
Tonight features the top two MVP candidates squaring off. Harden is averaging 36.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 2.2 steals per game on 44% shooting from the field and 36.5% from downtown. Giannis compares in at 27.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, 6 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.5 blocks, and shoots an astound 58% from the floor! This is the third year Harden has been deserving of MVP, but Giannis is dominating the entire league and is the best player on the best team in the league. Despite who ends up winning the MVP, tonight will be a great chance for both players to make their case against one another.
Houston has been the best team since the All-Star break, losing just 3 games since. James Harden has eclipsed the 60 point mark twice this season, and the 50 point mark several more. Harden has absolutely been the reason for Houston’s success, single-handedly carrying his teams through several games. Against all odds, Houston now looks primed to lock up the 3rd seed in the Western Conference. What a year.
- 20-17 road record this season.
- 20-8 in games played against Eastern Conference opponents this year.
- 14-2 in their last 16 games, beating 6 playoff teams in that stretch.
- Shot just 37.6% in the one loss to Milwaukee this season. Harden had 42 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists in the loss, but also finished with 9 turnovers.
- Houston covered the point spread the past 2 games in a row, and have been a hot bet lately, covering the spread 6 of their last 10 games.
After Toronto managed to lose two games in a row, the Bucks now find themselves with a 4 game lead for the 1st seed. With just 8 games remaining, Milwaukee would really have to try to lose the 1st seed at this point. They do play 6 more games against playoff opponents, but they only need to win 4 games to secure 1st. Milwaukee has been short-handed lately with injuries, but that hasn’t stopped Giannis from carrying his team to victories. Can you say MVP?
- Best home record in the league at 30-6.
- 18-9 against Western Conference teams, good for half of their losses.
- Just 7-5 in the month of March, but have also been missing key players.
- Shot 48.4% against Houston in the one victory. Antetokounmpo tallied 27 points, 21 rebounds, and 5 assists. The Bucks will need another heavy dosing of that if they want to win again tonight!
- Malcolm Brogdon, Nikola Mirotic, and Pau Gasol are all still out with injuries.
- Have covered the point spread their last 2 games, and have consistently been an excellent bet all season, covering 6 of their last 10 games overall.
Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -4.0
This was probably the hardest game to pick all season, and it couldn’t have been a more fitting game, with the two MVP candidates in a neck and neck race to claim the crown. If Milwaukee is fully healthy, this is a much easier decision, but that isn’t the case tonight. Last time they met, the Rockets were missing Chris Paul and Clint Capela, making that victory come with an asterisk for the Bucks. James Harden will certainly go for 40+, but I think the Bucks will suffocate the rest of the Rockets on defense, resulting in another low shooting night for them. Expect the Bucks to win tonight.