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NBA takes center stage…until Sunday night

Posted on March 12th, 2010

I’m steering clear of NCAA basketball until after the tournament seeding is set. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to gamble on this weekend! The big brother of college basketball is always offering some intriguing matchups. Let’s see what the NBA has going on.

Let’s preview the Toronto at Golden State game on Saturday. The Raptors are a team on the slide, which could more now than ever spell the warning signs of a Chris Bosh departure after the season. While second in the Atlantic standings, they’re hovering at .500 and threatening to fall out of the playoff picture after losing 3 straight. Yes, they have the drive and incentive to win these games, but their defense is just another story. I know Golden State is horrible, but the Raptors are 10-21 on the road this year. Expect Toronto to get a 6-point line as a favorite, but I’d bet against that. Either Golden State is going to surprise this weekend or at least play it tight at home. The Warriors might have a horrible record, but they put up 107 ppg, and that coupled with Toronto’s awful D means they have a chance.

I keep coming back to Boston and Cleveland, but if you’re gambling on basketball these days, these are the games and the teams you’re keeping an eye on. Boston and their on-again, off-again Paul Pierce show travel to a Shaq-less Cleveland team on Sunday. The Cavs have held their own lately, winning 4 of 5 heading into tonight’s game at Detroit. But with Shaq out and Jamison DTD, you have to wonder when enough is enough, especially against a team still capable of competing in Boston. The Celtics are playing .500 ball for a month now, and score 4 fewer points per game than Cleveland. For this game, I full expect the Cavs to be favored by 5 points or more, and I’d probably feel comfortable taking that bet for the Cavs. I’m also tempted to bet the under here. Both teams are banged up and tired, and I can see some sloppy play from both sides. At this point, the only thing Cleveland needs to do is make sure to keep that 4-game distance between them and the Magic. The Celts are good to keep that No. 3 seed, even though the Hawks have passed them in overall standings. They need a win bad, but it won’t be against Cleveland this weekend.