In this season’s frenetic relentless 66-game schedule, there’s no time to pause and reflect in the NBA. Probably no bad thing for the Miami Heat who will not want to dwell for long on the manner of Sunday’s heavy defeat to title rivals Oklahoma City. A sign perhaps that the tag of being championship favourites has passed to the Thunder?
Miami get an immediate chance to disprove that theory on Monday when they travel cross-country to meet Indiana, who they demolished 118-83 earlier this season despite the absence of Dwyane Wade. LeBron James had 33 points that night and over a run of five straight victories over the Pacers, he has averaged 30.2 ppg. Miami can be backed at 1.63 to win tonight, with Indiana at 2.3.
With the race to make the play-offs now entering the final stretch, it looks like the Eastern Conference post-season line-up is now down to nine contenders. And the final spot could be between the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks, who also square off on Monday.
Since dumping Mike D’Antoni as coach, the Knicks – with the aid of a weak schedule - have won four straight at home under replacement Mike Woodson to move 1.5 games clear of the Bucks. However Milwaukee are making a charge of their own, with five consecutive victories of their own. And they come to Madison Square Garden having won eight of their last nine meetings with the Knicks. Milwaukee are available at a good value 3.15, with the Knicks looking short at 1.37.
The only team to clinch a play-off berth so far is the Chicago Bulls, who host Denver. The Nuggets are the league’s highest scoring team, averaging 103 points per game, but they have shipped at least 112 points in each of their last four outings. It could make for a high scoring affair but Chicago, the NBA’s second-best defensive team, will relish the challenge of shutting Denver down.
Best Bet: Back the Milwaukee Bucks at 3.15 to beat the New York Knicks.