Saturday’s NBA main slate features three games. The action gets underway at 6:00 p.m. ET and the final game tips off at 9:00 p.m. ET. Let’s survey the slate and pick the best bets for Saturday night.
Pelicans +5.5 (-110)
The NBA lucked out on Saturday night. There are three games on the slate and two of them matter. Either the schedule makers got lucky or they have a crystal ball. The Pelicans cannot ease up. Although they have nothing to gain, they have a lot to lose. If the Pelicans lose their last two games and the Spurs win their final two games, then the Pelicans will have to play the play-in game on the road. The Pelicans have worked too hard to blow this. They’ve won nine of their last 14 games and are 9-5 ATS over that span. Memphis is a tough place to play, but on the Pelicans’ 14 game charge towards the playoffs, they are 5-2 on the road — the Pelicans were road dogs in three of those wins.
Memphis has nothing to play for, but they don’t want to stumble into the playoffs and their backups can keep pace with the ninth seed. However, every team in the NBA is playing on Sunday, but Memphis and the rest of this slate will all close with a back-to-back before the playoffs. It’s possible that Memphis doesn’t give 100% on the front end of a back-to-back to close out the season. If Memphis pushes in one of the last two, it will likely be the final game of the season.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Pelicans SG/SF Brandon Ingram (hamstring) has been ruled out. Grizzlies PG Ja Morant (knee) will start.
Kings +12.5 (-110)
Every game can’t be meaningful. In fact, most of the Kings’ games this season have not been meaningful. Their season was over before Luke Walton was fired. Nonetheless, the contractually obligated Kings have taken the court every night and are not in last. If they win their final two games — a longshot given their remaining opponents — they could finish in 11th place, just one spot out of the playoffs.
The Clippers have a tough play-in game on Tuesday vs. the Timberwolves. That will be their third game in four days. Their is no way that the Clippers are wearing out their players in a meaningless game against the Kings on Saturday night. The bench is going to get all off the minutes — we’re talking 40 minutes from the scrubs — and the Kings aren’t complete jokers (29-51). The Kings would like to end the season with a couple of wins rather than a four-game losing streak. The money line is tempting, but taking the points is much safer.
Spurs +6.5 (-110)
Both teams have something on the line. The Spurs are locked into a play-in spot and a home game in round one is still possible. The Warriors are in third in the West, but they could drop to fourth if they lose their final two games. Despite the importance of this game, Klay Thompson will rest because the Warriors are going to need him to carry the offense in the playoffs. The Spurs are also sitting their stars (Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Doug McDermott, Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl), but the Spurs have been without their stars for most of their current hot streak.
It’s unbelievable that the Spurs are not only alive, but are surging without Murray and Poeltl. They’ve had nothing to lose for weeks, so they’ve played loose for weeks. The Spurs have won seven of the last nine and have covered in eight of those contests. Whatever Pop told them, it worked. Don’t expect this team to step off the throttle. This kind of magic can disappear if a team takes a night off. Golden State might need this game more in the standings, but psychologically the Spurs can’t stop. They’re like sharks. If they stop swimming, they die (this is a myth but it sounds cool). On paper, the Spurs should not win this game with this roster, but the same thing could have been said for the previous seven wins.
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