The NBA Regular Season is finally almost over... and yet even after 82 games some teams would give a lot of money for a few more chances to improve their playoff seeding out.
Has the NBA multiplied the frenzy of panic and stress for the final playoff seeds with this win-or-go-home Play-In Tournament for the 7th to 10th seeds in each conference? YES
Does LeBron James still want the dude who came up with this idea to get fired? No he doesn’t. Well, on third thought, maybe he does actually. Last year, the Lakers finished 11th in the West — capped by a loss to the Phoenix Suns on April 4, 2022 — but kept their postseason hopes alive all the way to the final week, thanks to the 10-team play-for-something format. We didn’t hear a peep from LeBron about firing the play-in genius. It was the year before that he wanted it gone. The Lakers had to win a Play-In game for the right to face the Suns in the 2021 playoffs and LeBron didn’t like that.
This year, Bron is in a very similar boat — facing the prospect of being stuck in the Play-In bracket — only this time he’s in the same boat and rowing alongside Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
This week, only two of the Lakers, Clippers, Warriors and Pelicans will nab the 5th and 6th seeds, securing a full playoff spot and a chance to upset the Suns and Kings, while the other two will have to win the Play-In to stay alive to face to the Grizzlies or Nuggets. At least LeBron is passing the 11th seed mantle off — to Luka Doncic. MVP huh?
On ESPN on Wednesday night, the Lakers and Clippers face off with those stakes at play. You also have the Pelicans and Mavericks try to stay afloat.
Make it more fun by putting a little green on the games and use DraftKings Sportsbook to parlay your way into a little money on a Suns off day.
CHICAGO BULLS at MILWAUKEE BUCKS
CHI Spread: +6.5 (-105) | Moneyline: +230
MIL Spread: -6.5 (-115) | Moneyline: -275
The Bulls have solidified their Play-In spot, with a 93% chance of taking 10th in the East and needing to win not one but two play-in games to make the real playoffs. But they’d much rather get up to 8th if they can, and a win here is absolutely imperative if they want to make that happen.
Can they beat the Bucks, who have pretty much locked up that #1 seed in the East (99%)? The Bucks might start resting guys ahead of what they hope is a long two-month playoff run.
Go for a parlay that has the Bulls stars getting the over on their O/U and a couple of Bucks bench players getting the over on theirs (like Ingles or Portis). Watch for ‘injury’ statuses on Bucks starters. Don’t count on all three of Giannis, Holiday and Middleton playing in this one as they get some rest for the upcoming playoffs.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
LAL Spread: +4.5 (-110) | Moneyline: +155
LAC Spread: -4.5 (-110) | Moneyline: -180
Phew, baby. You KNOW the Lakers don’t want any part of the Play-In. Yet there’s still a better-than-average (57%) chance they end up 7th or worse. Wouldn’t it be ironic to see the Lakers facing the Warriors again in a one-game Play-In for 7th or 8th, just like 2021?
Expect the Lakers, who are finally mostly healthy (who knows what % Bron is), to put out their best effort against Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook, while Paul George is sidelined, but it is the second night of a back-to-back after all.
You can also expect Russ to do everything in his power to beat the Lake Show, especially after being called a ‘vampire’ for sucking the life out of the Lakers locker room. He’s played 18 games for the Clips since being traded to the Jazz before the deadline. The Clippers are 8-10 with Russ, while the Lakers are 16-8 without him.
First of all, put some money on Russ’ rebounds and assists — though don’t go over 14 points for him. The Lakers are great at defending the paint and rim, and that’s the only place Russ can score these days unless something crazy happens.
On the other side, go ahead and bet on Anthony Davis dominating on the stat sheet, and the same for Kawhi Leonard. For smaller bets, I’d guess Jarred Vanderbilt and Ivica Zubac to beat their rebounding O/U, and for the wild card being Nic Batum topping whatever three-point O/U there is.
Always remember: Place your bets right here!
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