Portland Trail Blazers (27-20, 6th in west) @ Dallas Mavericks (30-16. 3rd in west)
Spread: Dallas -8
Money lines: Dallas -180, Portland +160
This matchup, which would be a first round playoff series if the season ended today, is more one-sided than it looks on paper. Portland has made a yeoman’s effort this season while dealing with injuries to both centers (Greg Oden, Joel Pryzbilla) and to forward Nic Batum who only now just came back. Just lost to the Blazers is All-Star SG Brandon Roy who is irreplaceable on this squad. Dirk Nowitzki is having an MVP-caliber season (if LeBron wasn’t in the league), and cannot really be stopped.
Prediction: Dallas 94- Blazers 81
Game 2) New Orleans Hornets (25-20, 9th in west) @ Memphis Grizzlies (25-19, 7th in west)
Sportsbook outlook: (*approximation)
Spread: Memphis -5
Money Lines: Memphis – 160, New Orleans + 140
The New Orleans Hornets are led by All-Star guard Chris Paul and CP3 has been terrific once again this season with 20.5 PPG, 11.1 APG, 4.6 RPG with 2.27 steals a contest. The players around him however, have been merely average. F David West has been bothered by an ankle of late but has been solid averaging 17.7 PPG and 7.6 RPG. New Orleans has begun starting rookie guard Marcus Thornton after a trade of former starter Devin Brown to the Bulls. Memphis has looked like a machine recently and All-Star Zack Randolph leads the way for this young team that features Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Memphis is 17-5 at home this season and New Orleans is 9-16 on the road. Expect Memphis to ride the rejuvenated Zeebo Randolph to the W.
Prediction: Memphis 101- New Orleans 90
Game 3) Charlotte Bobcats (22-22, t-7th in east) @ Sacramento Kings (16-28, 3rd from the cellar)
Spread: Charlotte - 1
Money Lines: Charlotte – 115, Sacramento -105
This under the radar matchup is listed for one main reason: The Bobcats stink on the road. Charlotte is 4-17 away from home while the Kings have 13 of their 16 wins in Sacramento (13-9). Kings G Tyreke Evans is the odds on favorite for rookie of the year and with former all-star Kevin Martin back from injury, provide for a lot of scoring. The Kings are a good young team battling growing pains this season, but have lots of promise. If they can ship Martin for a first round pick, they would be smart. Charlotte is led by first time All-Star Gerald Wallace and his high flying ways. Expect to see little defense and some spectacular plays in this potential, and likely let down game for the Bobcats.
Prediction: Sacramento 112- Charlotte 105
Gambling Advisor: If you parlay these three games, you will be in good shape to start the weekend. Take the money lines in games 1) and 2) and the spread for the Kings in game 3).