March 6, 2023
Three suggestions for early-in-the-week action
Toronto Raptors at Denver Nuggets
Ball Arena – Denver, CO
9:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Denver -6.0
Denver is a tough place for opponents to play basketball no matter what, as the altitude adjustment is always notable when coming in and out of town. But playing against these Nuggets? That’s a near impossible task.
Denver is 29-4 at home this season, the best record in the NBA. The Nuggets have won seven-straight games at Ball Arena, all by at least nine points, which would cover this spread.
They’re not just winning close games; they’re blowing teams out. In just the last month or so the Nuggets have beaten the Grizzlies at home by 16, the Clippers by 10, the Mavericks by nine, the Timberwolves by 34, the Hawks by 20 and the Warriors by 17.
Nikola Jokic is on a mission to win his third straight MVP and appears poised to do so. The center out of Serbia is averaging a triple-double with 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 10.0 assists per game.
Denver is steamrolling toward the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, with an extremely comfortable six-game lead over Memphis. Meanwhile, Toronto is just 12-20 on the road this season, including a loss in Washington by 11 points and a loss in Cleveland by 25 points over the last week. They did get a win against the Wizards in the second half of a back-to-back, but needed overtime to get it done.
The Nuggets will prove to be a much tougher task, one Toronto simply won’t be up for because they can’t match Denver’s firepower. Michael Malone’s squad will cover this one with ease.
Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Denver -6.0 (-110)
New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings
Golden 1 Center – Sacramento, CA
10:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Sacramento -5.0
Sacramento is one of the best stories in the NBA this year, as no one would have believed when the season started that the Kings would be battling for a top-two seed in the Western Conference come March. The 37-26 Kings are within striking distance of the Grizzlies, a team in turmoil with injuries and ugly off the court incidents involving superstar Ja Morant.
However, the reason the Kings are so good isn’t because of some crazy homecourt advantage. They’re 19-13 at the Golden 1 Center, a fine record, but they’re 18-13 on the road. That’s the reason they’re near the top of the standings, as it’s the best road record in the West.
In their last six home games, the Kings are just 3-3, never winning any of those games by more than five points. So, even in the close victories, they’re not covering this spread.
Considering these two teams also met just a month ago in New Orleans and it was a 136-104 Pelicans blowout, take the road underdog with confidence. New Orleans is battling like crazy to stay in the play-in tournament and earned a huge road win in Portland last week to put some distance between them and the Blazers. They also played the red-hot Warriors close on Friday night, earning a halftime lead and trailing by just four points after the third quarter before losing by nine.
This game means a ton to the Pelicans, and they’ll keep it close even if they ultimately falter. Take the five points and watch it come down to the final possession without a sweat.
Jason Schlefsky’s pick: New Orleans +5.0 (-110)
Calgary Flames at Dallas Stars
American Airlines Center – Dallas, TX
8:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Dallas -130
Talk about two teams going in opposite directions. The Stars have won three games in a row, while the Flames have lost five straight.
Dallas earned a statement 7-3 win over the defending champion Avalanche on Saturday afternoon, as the Stars have their sights set on a Central Division crown. Dallas has 81 points, as they also battle with the Knights and Kings for the No. 1 seed in the entire conference.
Meanwhile, the heartbreak in Calgary is real, as a once-promising season is going down the tubes. Not only are the Flames six points back of the final wild card spot, but they’ve been overtaken by Nashville in the standings, as well. The Predators, with their 68 points, have played three fewer games than Calgary, who trail with 67.
The Flames are just 2-5-3 over their last 10 games and have skated off losers in 11 of their last 15. The Stars have won four of their last five games and have outscored opponents 16-7 during their current three-game winning streak.
One team is steamrolling toward the postseason, while the other will be watching the playoffs from the couch after playing golf. Take Dallas with supreme confidence as they continue taking the fire out of the Flames.
Norm LaChatlier’s pick: Dallas M/L (-130)
Today’s best packaged deal
- Cleveland Cavaliers M/L -250
- Philadelphia 76ers M/L -240
Jason Schlefsky’s Two-Leg Parlay = -102
Cleveland gets a Boston team that is coming off of a heartbreaking, double-overtime loss to the Knicks. Meanwhile, the 76ers face a Pacers team that notched an emotional, last-second win over the Bulls. Less than 24 hours later, neither team will be able to ratchet things up once again.
Three Things We Learned…
Takeaways from a weekend full of great games and performances
Ja Morant has some issues
The Grizzlies looked like a team that would be a handful in the playoffs. They’ve lingered near the top of the Western Conference standings for most of the season, trailing only the Nuggets for home-court advantage in the postseason. On Friday night, however, it might have all fallen apart. Memphis lost at Denver, but what happened after the game was a much bigger problem. Ja Morant was live on social media at a club, brandishing a gun for all to see. The star guard has been suspended by the team. The league is looking into the issue. And Morant’s future, as well as the Grizzlies season, is suddenly murky.
Fields is the man in Chicago
Despite owning the No. 1 overall pick in a draft that is loaded with talented quarterbacks, the Bears won’t be making a change behind center. According to reports, general manager Ryan Poles has decided that Justin Fields is the QB of the present and the future in the Windy City. Thus, Chicago will be looking to trade out of the top spot, giving other teams a chance to snag one of the blue-chip prospects.
Let the madness begin
Yes, it’s still six days until Selection Sunday. And granted, the field of 64 doesn’t take to courts around the country for another 10 days. But that doesn’t mean the craziness is far away. In fact, it gets rolling today. All week long, at all times of the day, conference tournaments will be in action. Teams will be looking to pad their resumes and/or punch their tickets to the big dance. So, buckle up. It’s March. And the madness is here!