The NBA schedule keeps rolling on along with just about a week and a half until the end of the first half and the All-Star Break. The San Antonio Spurs had some COVID issues pop up and had a couple of games canceled last week and for this Monday, but hopefully it will be an isolated outbreak and the league will be able to get the remainder of the games in for February and head into March on a positive note.
The shortest month of the year ends on Sunday and we’ll be looking at games up until that point in this week’s situational spots and betting tips piece. The goal here is to find starting points for handicaps. Most spots aren’t going to be the sole justification for making a pick, but they are at least factors to strongly consider.
If you’re new to the article, you’ll pick it up as we go along. If you aren’t, it’s business as usual this week.
Here are the NBA schedule spots and betting tips for the week ending February 28:
Monday February 22
Miami Heat at Oklahoma City Thunder – We start in America’s heartland with a matchup between Miami and Oklahoma City. The Thunder are in a back-to-back with travel and are playing a fifth game in seven days. The Heat are playing the last game of a seven-game road trip with stops in Houston, Utah, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, and then Los Angeles again before this stop on the way home. I think we’ve got some tired legs for both teams here. Maybe we see a slow, sluggish game that winds up going under the total.
Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks – The Mavericks will attempt to take the floor here for the first time since February 14. Their home games were canceled because of the weather and power issues in Texas from the winter storm. Teams that are on at least six days of rest are 2-2 straight up and against the spread this season, though those long layoffs have been COVID-related. This one is not.
Charlotte Hornets at Utah Jazz – The Hornets kick off a road trip that will take them through the end of the first half with this visit to Salt Lake City. They’ll play six road games from Monday through next Wednesday before returning home for the Break. Generally speaking, the first game of a road trip is a good play-on spot because teams are trying to get the roadie off on the right note. The Jazz have two days off before this game and have been one of the NBA’s best teams, but with the Lakers at home on Wednesday, we could get a look-ahead performance here. Charlotte will be getting a lot of points and I like them to keep it close.
Washington Wizards at Los Angeles Lakers – The Wizards aren’t very good, but I can’t help but feel like they can be competitive on Monday. The Lakers will be coming off of games against the Nets and a Finals rematch against the Heat, who aren’t as good as they’ve been in the past, but it is against one of LeBron’s former teams. With that aforementioned game against the Jazz on Wednesday for Western Conference bragging rights and a degree of superiority, I can’t imagine we get a fully-focused Lake Show on Monday.
Tuesday February 23
Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers – This is an interesting spot. The Hawks are in the front-end of a back-to-back with travel. They’ll go right back home after splitting with the Celtics last week on Wednesday and Friday. The Cavaliers are really struggling badly these days. Maybe a little bit of time at home will help. Maybe an opponent like Atlanta will help, as the Hawks are better than the Cavs, but not substantially better. I’m not sure which way to look here, but trusting the Cavs has not been easy of late.
Sacramento Kings at Brooklyn Nets – Another game with some good angles, but maybe a tough one to gauge is this battle between Sacramento and Brooklyn. The Nets beat the Kings 136-125 last Monday in the California capital. This, though, is a traditionally bad spot for a team. The Nets are in their first home game back following a five-game road trip out west. The Kings are in a long east coast swing of their own. Maybe these spots cancel each other out more than anything, but it is a complex handicap.
Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic & Philadelphia 76ers at Tampa Raptors – One of those very common spots this season has popped up on Tuesday. The Pistons and Magic play again after playing on Sunday. Per usual, look through the box score and see if you can find something actionable. Was there a shooting outlier? Was there a big free throw disparity? These games should be second nature at this point.
The 76ers and Raptors are in the same spot as well coming off of Sunday’s head-to-head matchup.
Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets – An obvious spot here and one that will be baked into the line. Portland is playing a back-to-back with the second game in elevation. Denver is in the first game back after a four-game road trip. As much as I like the first game back angle, a B2B with the second one at altitude cancels that out. I don’t see anything that stands out enough as a spot here, but still an interesting game.
Wednesday February 24
Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks – This spot is oozing with intrigue. Boston is in a back-to-back against a team that they just played twice last week. The Celtics are also in a B2B road spot after playing the Dallas Mavericks on TNT on Tuesday. I can’t imagine they’re totally locked in for this one, even if there are no look-ahead factors. Both teams are in tougher travel spots, but I’d have to think Atlanta has a little more motivation here based on what happened last week.
Tampa Raptors at Miami Heat – The Raptors wrap up a 5-in-7 stretch here with a short flight from their adopted Tampa home down to Miami. The Heat are playing their first game back after a long road trip. This is Miami’s first home game since February 9. You have to think they’ll be a little weary here, but the Raptors are also in a compromising spot themselves. At least Miami had Tuesday off. I’m not sure we have a good angle here, but you could consider the spots both ways if you are interested in the game.
San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder – We’ll see if they can get back to work, but the San Antonio Spurs are scheduled to play for the first time since February 14 in this game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Spurs wound up with a COVID outbreak. It wasn’t weather-related. All of their games were going to be on the road. Four players tested positive and five games were canceled. If they can get back to it, they could still be shorthanded here in this one against the Thunder, so stay up on the latest. As mentioned above, teams on a long layoff have done okay, but the sample size is small.
Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz – This is a great matchup here with the two best teams in the Western Conference and quite possibly the two best in the NBA. This is a standalone road game for the Lakers, but you can bet they’ll be up for this one. The Jazz should absolutely be amped for this one, too. They are getting an ESPN slot against the champs. These are usually games when LeBron goes off, but the Lakers are missing Anthony Davis, so that could affect them here.
Thursday February 25
Sacramento Kings at New York Knicks – The Kings play a fifth game in eight days here and the fourth in six days on this east coast road trip. The Knicks have been at home for a while, so this spot doesn’t seem the least bit concerning to them. If the Kings wind up doing something special against the Nets on Tuesday with Brooklyn in that first game back, I’d be looking to fade the Kings here. Otherwise, a better spot to go against the Kings comes on Friday.
New Orleans Pelicans at Milwaukee Bucks – The schedule makers did the Pelicans no favors on Thursday. This is a back-to-back with travel for New Orleans to take on Milwaukee in the TNT time slot at 7 p.m. ET. That means a 6 p.m. CT game after playing a 7 p.m. CT game against the Pistons the night prior. The Bucks haven’t left home since getting back on February 14. This spot clearly favors the Bucks and could be strong enough to be factored into the number. I’d still look at Milwaukee here.
Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies – The Clippers and Grizzlies will play a back-to-back against each other on Thursday and Friday here. The Clippers are starting off a nice, little road trip that will run through the end of the first half. The Grizzlies are just pretty much plodding along, but they have played a lot of home games recently. Los Angeles has had a lot of injuries and aches and pains recently. Maybe they’ll finally be a little healthier by this time.
Friday February 26
Indiana Pacers at Boston Celtics – The Pacers and Celtics draw the ESPN slot on Friday and it is the first game of a four-game trip for the Pacers. It kicks off a 5-in-7 that runs through March 4, the last day of the first half. Boston is back at home after a short three-game trip. Consumer confidence in the Celtics has been waning a little bit and I’ll be curious to see how this game is priced. I think the spot is a little better for the Pacers in that it’s the first game of a road trip, but it will be price-dependent as all games are.
Sacramento Kings at Detroit Pistons – I’ll be fading the Kings on Friday. The Pistons are back home after a four-game road trip, but the Kings are wrapping up a 5-in-7 run on the road and they’ll have to jump right back into action again on Sunday against Charlotte at home. This is a back-to-back for the Kings as well. The Pistons aren’t in the best of spots, but they are at home resting on Friday night. It’ll be Detroit for me in this spot.
Phoenix Suns at Chicago Bulls – How invested will the Suns be in this game? They head to cold Chicago and then cold Minnesota before going to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on this three-game road trip. Games outside the conference aren’t going to get the competitive juices flowing much and this is a long way to go for this one. I often wonder about teams starting slow in these types of spots. Maybe the Bulls for the first half are a good look before the better team wakes up and gets going.
Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies – This is a pretty obvious one, but these two teams will have just played on Thursday night. See what happened, see how the line adjusted, react accordingly. It wouldn’t be a total stunner to see the Clippers sit some guys with the back-to-back or to maybe have some guys in the lineup that weren’t on Thursday. Stay up on the latest here.
Saturday February 27
New Orleans Pelicans at San Antonio Spurs – Might as well lead with this game just in case. If the Spurs can’t play on Wednesday, this will be their first game back after almost two weeks with a COVID pause. It is a 3-in-4 for the Pelicans, but you have to think the Spurs will look a little rusty here if they are back on the floor for the first time in 13 days. Again, it’s a touch-and-go situation and the Spurs could play Wednesday and be fine, but food for thought at least.
Indiana Pacers at New York Knicks – Are the Pacers going to be in for a little bit of a letdown spot here? The Knicks are a bit better than most people expected and the Eastern Conference as a whole hasn’t been particularly great. Even though the Knicks and Celtics weren’t that far apart in the standings as the week began, we know a primetime game against the Celtics means more than a game against the Knicks. We’ll see how the week plays out for these two teams, but I could be talked into the Knicks here.
Utah Jazz at Orlando Magic – This is a back-to-back for the Jazz with some puddle-jumper travel from Miami to Orlando. It isn’t a bad spot by any means, but it is a 4-in-6 with a more important conference game on the horizon against the Pelicans. Again, we’re talking about these scheduling spots and their impacts on teams trying to cover spreads. In this instance, a Jazz team that will likely be favored by a decent amount. Consider how Utah fared on Wednesday and Friday and then see how this game feels to you.
Sunday February 28
New York Knicks at Detroit Pistons – This isn’t the first instance of this scenario for this week, but the Knicks are playing a back-to-back with the second game on the road. That spot entered this week at 11-13 ATS, with the visiting team just 8-16 straight up. That is the role for the Knicks here. The others this week are Raptors vs. Heat on Wednesday, Pelicans vs. Bucks on Thursday, and Wizards vs. Celtics on Sunday.
Phoenix Suns at Minnesota Timberwolves – The Timberwolves are in a spot that has been much worse as far as back-to-backs go. Teams that play on the road and then back at home have really struggled in that spot. That is especially true of favorites, though Minnesota will not be one of those here. The Suns have the Lakers on deck, so we may not get a fully motivated performance, but any sort of effort is probably good enough against Minnesota.
Keep an eye out for these NBA spots every week at ATS.io!