Perfect Ten (Week of March 20th)

With roughly ten games remaining in the regular season, the playoff seeds are taking shape but there is still more to sort out. Let’s take a look at this week’s Perfect-Ten and the Top Five MVP Candidates.

Perfect Ten (Week of March 20th)

#10. New York Knicks (+2800/+9000) - When this team is clicking, they can beat anyone. The lack of depth inside is worrisome. Strengths: The trade for Hart has strengthened the Knicks' depth and defense. Weaknesses: Like Cleveland, can the Knicks keep it up past one round of the playoffs? Last Week’s Rank: 9

#9. Cleveland Cavaliers (+1600/+4500) - The Cavs appear locked into what should be a highly entertaining first-round title with New York. Strengths: The Cavs can score in bunches and are dominant at home. Weaknesses: Will a tough first-round series with New York leave the Cavs with anything left in the tank should they advance? Last Week’s Rank: 9

#8. Sacramento Kings (+2200/+6500) - The Kings keep winning and keep getting ignored. Can they score their way through the playoffs? Strengths: Scoring and shooting. This team does both at an elite level. Weaknesses: They can be erratic with the ball and struggle against superior wing players. Last Week’s Rank: 10

#7. Golden State Warriors (+550/+1200) - This postseason, the Warriors will put to test the old adage of the heart of a champion. Strengths: Curry and Thompson playing at an elite level make the offense nearly unstoppable. Weaknesses: If Wiggins doesn’t return ready to go, the Warriors won’t get far in the playoffs. Last Week’s Rank: 7

#6. Phoenix Suns (+240/+475) - The Suns cooled off a bit after the Durant injury but remained the betting favorites to win the west. Strengths: Chris Paul should be rested and ready to go in the playoffs and Booker is playing at a high level. Weaknesses: Can the Suns and Durant turn it back on when he returns for the playoffs? Last Week’s Rank: 5

#5. Los Angeles Clippers (+600/+1300) - The Clippers continue to protect their two biggest assets, Leonard and George, and have gone just 5-5 in the last ten games. Strengths: At their best, this team is a nightmare for any defense. Weaknesses: Can George and Leonard hold up with the kid gloves coming off in the playoffs? Last Week’s Rank: 6

#4. Denver Nuggets (+340/+800) - The Nuggets have hit a rough patch but will have to collapse not to get the #1 seed in the West. Strengths: Ball movement and offensive efficiency. Weaknesses: Can they shake off recent rust before the playoffs? Last Week’s Rank: 3

#3. Boston Celtics (+155/+340) - The Celtics have gone just 5-5 in the last ten and dropped to third in the East. Strengths: Williams is close to returning and the Celtics have quality depth. Weaknesses: Can the Celtics regroup and gear up for another playoff run? Last Week’s Rank: 2

#2. Philadelphia 76ers (+450/+1000) - The oddsmaker still aren’t quite buying into the Sixers but they are the hottest team in the NBA. Strengths: The Sixers can put up points in bunches and have arguably the best two-man game in the league with Embiid and Harden. Weaknesses: Do the Sixers have enough on the bench to get them through against the NBA elite? Last Week’s Rank: 5

#1. Milwaukee Bucks (+175/+400) - The Bucks are still two games up on Boston in the loss column and yet, Boston remains the favorite in the East. Do the oddsmakers not trust the Bucks' health? Strengths: The Bucks just find ways to win and have had so few completely flat games this season. Weaknesses: Can the Bucks keep this veteran team healthy? 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?

  1. Joel Embiid (-220) - Somewhere, Susan Lucci is smiling. Everyone’s favorite MVP runner-up now looks like the heavy favorite with two weeks to go in the regular season. Embiid, on the strength of his superior play, his team’s hot streak, and a growing media sentiment for his case, has soared to the top of the list. He leads the league in scoring, has been a defensive stopper for a small 76ers’ team, and has stayed healthy. Barring an absolute reversal of media opinion, he is the likely NBA MVP. Last Week’s Rank: 2

  1. Nikola Jokic (+250) - Jokic hasn’t really done anything to fall in the rankings. He is still a nightly triple-double threat, he’s the best player on the team with the best record in the Western Conference and the two-time defending MVP. Unfortunately, Denver as a team hasn’t played well recently and, despite its record, many don’t view Denver as an NBA finalist. Oh, and the recent media uproar for Embiid hasn’t helped either. Larry Bird and Bill Russell will remain the only 3-peat MVP winners. Last Week’s Rank: 2

  • In parenthesis, conference odds and finals odds. Player MVP props are also in parenthesis. All odds Courtesy of

By Mark Ruelle

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Mark Ruelle

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.