As we approach the All-Star Break, little has happened to shake anyone's confidence that it will be the Warriors and Cavaliers in the Finals. It's true that Cleveland has scuffled on the road (e.g., 0-7 ATS when the Cavs are unrested; and 0-9 ATS versus foes off a loss), but when the playoffs come around they'll, no doubt, be more focused.
Although this is a short week, it's long on opportunity to make some money, so let's take a look.Spread Watch
The Charlotte Hornets are in a major funk. After losing at home to the 76ers, as 8-point favorites, the Hornets are now 2-10 SU and 1-10-1 ATS over their last 12 games. This losing streak has coincided with the absence of Cody Zeller, who has missed nine of the Hornets last 10 games. Zeller is one of the better defensive players in the league and he's also averaging 10.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and has a 17.22 PER.
This week, the Hornets will have one more game before the All-Star break and that will be on the road at Toronto on Wednesday. Charlotte won the first meeting, 113-78 at home but Zeller was in the lineup for that game. Unless he's back on the court, it's best to stay away from the Hornets.
Well, so much for the Timberwolves morphing into a stand-out defensive team under new coach Tom Thibodeau. Minnesota ranks No. 24 in defensive efficiency, and has now gone Over the total in nine straight games.
This week, the Timberwolves will host the Cavaliers on Tuesday, before finishing up their pre-All-Star break schedule with a road game in Denver on Wednesday. Given that the Cavaliers are also going Over of late (six straight Overs and 11 of 13), and all three meetings the past two seasons have gone Over, look for Tuesday's game to be relatively high-scoring. Injury Watch
The Milwaukee Bucks have not had very good fortune. On the night that Khris Middleton returned from his injury, they lost forward Jabari Parker for a long time. Parker tore his left ACL for the second time in three years, and he'll miss about 12 months - if not more. Parker was averaging over 20 points per game, over six rebounds per game, and he had the fourth-highest points per game improvement (over last season) among forwards in the league.
For Milwaukee fans, the most depressing thought is that the Bucks have had their top three players on the floor for only one game this season - and now won't for the first half of next season, as well. The Bucks did start their week off on the right foot, with a 102-89 win over Detroit (Milwaukee's first game in its last 21 that it held its opponent under 100 points), but that was just the Bucks' fourth win (both SU and ATS) in their last 16.
Don't be surprised if Milwaukee finishes up its week with a loss to Brooklyn which is also struggling - riding a 13-game losing streak. For technical support, consider that teams playing on the road in their final game before the All-Star Break are a poor 19-39-1 ATS vs. losing teams, off back-to-back losses, since 1991.Schedule Watch
The Boston Celtics have won 10 of 11, including their last three which were road wins at Portland, Utah and Dallas.
This week, Boston returns home to play the 76ers (also winners of three straight - all as an underdog) before finishing up with a road game at Chicago. Since 1990, home favorites off three road wins have gone 75-55 ATS versus foes off a win. That bodes well for the Celtics. As does the fact that teams (like Philly) off three straight upset wins have gone 2-17 SU and 4-14-1 ATS in their next game. Look for Boston to blow out the 76ers on Wednesday.