The NBA was probably happy that basketball fans turned their attention this weekend to the college version of the sport, as controversy surrounded the league for the second straight weekend when its nationally televised game lost its luster due to the resting of star players.
Of course, with the Playoffs on the horizon this issue will be soon forgotten. Let's take a look at what's ahead this week in the NBA.Spread Watch
The Memphis Grizzlies had a most impressive week. David Fizdale's crew won and covered four games, and capped it with a 104-96 upset win of the San Antonio Spurs. And this stretch of strong play came out of nowhere, as Memphis had plunged to its lowest emotional point of the season right before, with five straight losses (including three at home).
This week, the Grizz will face three teams that they have beaten twice each this season: New Orleans (2-1), San Antonio (2-0) and Golden State (2-1). Remarkably, Memphis is the only team in the league to own multiple wins this season against both the Warriors and Spurs. And they have held the Spurs, who average over 106 points, to just 85 points per game.
Manu Ginobili touched upon exactly why that is after Saturday's loss, "They're a tough team. They are physical. They got us out of our comfort zone."
But as we saw in Memphis' third meeting this season vs. Golden State, it's tough to beat a great team three times in a row. After losing the season's first two tilts with Memphis, Golden State blew them out, 122-107, on February 10.
Look for San Antonio to react similarly Wednesday, as the Spurs are 18-5 SU and 15-8 ATS as a favorite when playing with double-revenge from losses in the first two meetings of a season.
The Milwaukee Bucks' defense has finally started to click. It's held seven of its last 13 opponents to under 100 points, and has gone Under the total in three straight, and 11 of its last 13 games.
Coach Jason Kidd subscribes to the theory that defense wins games, and Milwaukee's 9-4 record in its last 13 games certainly supports that. And they currently own the NBA's second longest win streak (14 games) when holding its opponent to under 100 points (only the Rockets' streak, at 20 games, is longer).
Milwaukee currently sits in seventh place in the congested Eastern Conference - three games out of fifth place, but also two games out of tenth. Thus, you should expect the Bucks' intensity on the defensive end to remain constant as they makes a push toward the playoffs.
This week, the Bucks will travel out west to Portland and Sacramento, before returning home to host Atlanta and Chicago. The Kings (11-5 Under), Hawks (11-4 Under) and Bulls (9-2 Under) are all on extended streaks of their own playing low-scoring games, so consider taking the Under when the Bucks meet up with each of them this week.Injury Watch
The Miami Heat have been sizzling hot since January 17, as they've won 23 of 29 games (24-5 ATS) to move into a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. But the Heat's good fortune took a hit in Friday night's win over Minnesota when starting shooting guard Dion Waiters suffered a sprained ankle. Waiters - Miami's 3rd leading scorer - has been a big part of Miami's resurgence, but he's likely to miss several weeks. Josh Richardson and Wayne Ellington will pick up extra minutes, and are both capable players, but Waiters' absence will surely have a negative impact.
Indeed, in Miami's very first game following this injury, they were upset at home by Portland and saw their seven-game ATS win streak snapped in the process.
This week, the Heat will host the Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors, before heading north Sunday to play Boston. That game against the Celtics will be a tall task for Erik Spoelstra's men, as Boston's won all three meetings this season, and six straight, overall.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are in a dogfight with the Clippers and Grizzlies for the all-important fifth seed, which would enable them to avoid the Warriors, Spurs and Rockets in the first round. This week, the Thunder have to play two of the NBA's top three teams (Warriors, Rockets) sandwiched around a game on Wednesday vs. the league's hottest ATS team (76ers).
Oklahoma City has defeated Philly 15 straight times (10-5 ATS), which is the second longest active win streak against an opponent (only Cleveland's 16-game win streak vs. Orlando is longer).
The Thunder are also the second hottest ATS team, with five straight point spread wins, so they don't have to be too worried about the fact that Philly has covered six straight games, and 15 of 18.
But the games vs. the Warriors and Rockets are another matter, entirely, as OKC is on an 0-6 SU/ATS run vs. the Warriors (including all three meetings this season), and are 3-8 SU and 2-9 ATS vs. the Rockets.
The good news, though, for OKC in Monday's game vs. the Warriors is that it's a super 41-19 ATS in the regular season when playing with revenge vs. an opponent off a SU/ATS win. So, don't be surprised if Russell Westbrook & Co. snap their losing streak to the Warriors.