NBA Perfect Ten (Week of March 27th
And down the stretch, they come! NBA teams are now finally in the home stretch and the playoff teams are separating from the lottery-bound squads as April approaches. Let’s take a look at the latest Top Ten.
Perfect Ten (Week of March 27th)
#10. Los Angeles Clippers (+800/+1900) - The Clippers’ odds shot up this week with George’s knee injury that will keep him out for at least two weeks. Strengths: Leonard has looked more and more like himself in the second half of the season. Weaknesses: If George can’t make it back from his knee injury, the Clippers are a first-round casualty. Last Week’s Rank: 5
#9. Memphis Grizzlies (+600/+1600) - The Grizzlies come into the playoffs as a true wildcard. Morant is back, but are they better than ever? Strengths: Athleticism, halfcourt defense, and Morant’s finishing ability. Weaknesses: Psychologically, can the Grizzlies keep it together in the playoffs? Last Week’s Rank: Unranked
#8. Golden State Warriors (+550/+1200) - Golden State is just a ½ game behind the banged-up Clippers for the fifth spot in the West… Strengths: Playoff experience and elite perimeter shooting. Weaknesses: Wiggins’ still doesn’t have a return date which places more pressure on Thompson on both ends of the floor. Last Week’s Rank: 8
#7. Cleveland Cavaliers (+1600/+4500) - The Cavs are nearly locked into the fourth spot in the East as the team prepares for its first playoff appearance post-LeBron. Strengths: The Cavs have a great halfcourt offense and Mitchell is one of the game’s best finishers. Weaknesses: Can the Cavs' perimeter shooting deliver in the playoffs when Mitchell is doubled? Last Week’s Rank: 9
#6. Phoenix Suns (+240/+475) - Phoenix is just 4-6 in its last ten games but blew out Philly at home in their last effort. Strengths: The Suns, at full strength, have a dominating offense and will be tough to slow down. Weaknesses: The Suns have to hope Durant can hold up in the playoffs. Last Week’s Rank: 6
#5. Sacramento Kings (+2000/+6000) - The Kings continue to battle Memphis for the 2nd seed in the Western Conference. Strengths: The Kings have scorers all over the floor and can force mismatches. Weaknesses: The Kings’ defense is not at an elite level. Last Week’s Rank: 8
#4. Philadelphia 76ers (+475/+1100) - The 76ers have lost two straight games and slipped out of the 2nd spot in the Eastern Conference. Strengths: The Sixers can shoot from long range and spread the floor around Embiid. Weaknesses: The Sixers' rebounding could be their undoing against the upper-echelon teams. Last Week’s Rank: 2
#3. Denver Nuggets (+330/+750) - The Nuggets won three straight to close the week and have a 3-game cushion on Memphis for the top seed in the West. Strengths: The Nuggets have enough of a cushion that they can likely rest Porter Jr. and Murray a bit down the stretch. Weaknesses: Can the Nuggets defend a healthy Suns team in the playoffs? Last Week’s Rank: 4
#2. Boston Celtics (+155/+330) - The Celtics bounced back into the 2nd seed this week, not surprisingly, shortly after the return of Robert Williams III. Strengths: Boston’s defense is taking shape right as the playoffs loom. Weaknesses: The Celtics still need to work out their rotation in preparation for the playoffs. Last Week’s Rank: 3
#1. Milwaukee Bucks (+145/+320) - The Bucks are up two in the loss column and have one more game left with Boston. The East’s #1 seed is their’s to lose. Strengths: The Bucks head toward the playoffs with a championship pedigree and improving health. Weaknesses: The Bucks must decide to rest or a full-blown effort for the #1 seed. Last Week’s Rank: 1
Top-Five MVP Candidates:
There isn’t any need to make this a five-player race anymore, it is clearly a two-man field. Jokic has been the front-runner for several weeks but has Embiid done enough to surpass him?
Joel Embiid (-150) - Another week and the odds have shifted once again. Embiid has gone from a lock for yet another runner-up finish to the overwhelming favorite, and now to just a modest favorite. The Sixers' drop in the standings and a recent calf injury may be the cause of this week’s drop. Philadelphia and Embiid just need a decent finish and the award should be his. Last Week’s Rank: 1
Nikola Jokic (+180) - Has the Joker reemerged as an MVP possibility? Jokic has the stats, and the MVP pedigree, and quite possibly will end up as the best player on the #1 seed in the Western Conference. If Jokic puts up another major statistical game or two down the stretch and Philly falters…you never know. He is correctly placed in the second spot but things are getting tight. Last Week’s Rank: 2
In parenthesis, conference odds and finals odds. Player MVP props are also in parenthesis. All odds Courtesy of Draftkings.com.
By Mark Ruelle