Southeast Division Preview (Mar. 1)

By Alex H.

Miami hosts Memphis Friday night in a game that has plenty going for it. The Eastern Conference-leading Heat has been flying of late while the Grizzlies are playing tough and making a real push out West. Both will use this game as a litmus test going forward into the final seven weeks of the season.

In addition to the big showdown in South Beach, the Southeast Division will be busy Friday night. All five teams will be in action following Thursday’s idle day, meaning bettors will have plenty to keep them busy.

Read on for the preview of Friday night’s Southeast Division action.

Memphis Grizzlies at Miami Heat

Life has been all smiles of late for the Miami Heat but a visit from Memphis on Friday could sour the party.

Winners of 12 straight and 17 of 19 games, as well as 10 straight at home, Miami (41-14, 25-3 home) has certainly hit form at the right time. Those early season jitters have been virtually erased under a cloud of big dunks and big performances. The trick now for head coach Eric Spoelstra will be to keep his side primed throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs. Friday night’s home game against the Grizzlies will be a good place to start.

Memphis (38-18, 15-10 road) is no stranger to winning. The Grizzlies have taken eight in a row and nine of the last 11, despite criticism in the wake of a trade that sent Rudy Gay to Toronto. The side continues to hold on to the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, and finds itself just two games back of the highly-touted Los Angeles Clippers.

Memphis showed its resolve on Wednesday, coming back from a 25-point deficit to defeat the Dallas Mavericks. At one point, Lionel Hollins’ side ran off 20 unanswered points. It is performances like these that will make Memphis a threat come playoff time.

Memphis will be confident entering American Airlines Arena on Friday night. The Grizzlies have compiled an 18-5 record against the Eastern Conference this season, including a 104-86 win over Miami on Nov. 11. This confidence might be short-lived. Miami is 21-5 against Western Conference opponents this season, and Golden State is the only Western Conference side to have picked up a win in South Beach, where the Heat is 25-3 all told.

Miami opens as the favorite with the spread at eight. With a 32-23-1 ATS record, Memphis is a popular pick to cover the spread, particularly as only Washington and Oklahoma City have been better at covering this season. Miami however has been fairly indifferent against the spread, compiling a 29-26-0 ATS overall record and a 26-26-0 ATS record as favorite.

The total opened at 190. Memphis (23-32-1) has favored the under this season while Miami (29-26-0) has favored the over.

Atlanta Hawks at Phoenix Suns

With the Southeast Division title effectively out of reach, Atlanta (33-23, 15-13 road) will look to improve its playoff seeding before April rolls around. Four straight wins and six from the last seven already have the Hawks firmly in the middle of a tough pack of teams that could finish as high as second. Now the side needs to make a sustained run.

Sat at the bottom of the Western Conference alongside New Orleans and Sacramento, Phoenix (20-39, 13-15 home) may have struggled in its first season post-Steve Nash but a pair of back-to-back overtime wins at least gives the fans something to cheer about. Wednesday night saw the Suns snap San Antonio’s 18-game home winning streak. The side would love to add a third straight win on Friday.

Atlanta has won five straight games on the road, and with Al Horford playing like he means it, Larry Drew’s side is favored to do so again in Phoenix.

The spread opened at 3.5. Both sides have struggled covering the spread this season, but Atlanta’s 16-12-0 ATS record on the road trumps Phoenix’s 9-19-0 ATS record at home.

The total opened at 196. Atlanta (29-26-1) has favored the over this season, while Phoenix (26-31-2) has favored the under.

New York Knicks at Washington Wizards

John Wall and the Washington Wizards will look to sweep the home portion of the season series against New York on Friday.

Washington (18-38, 13-16 home) looked like it had scored a buzzer-beating win against the Pistons on Wednesday. Looked like. Instead, Trevor Ariza’s shot never made it above the cylinder, let alone through it. The 96-95 loss marred a three-game Wizards winning streak and a period of seven wins in nine games. Randy Wittman’s much-improved side will look to return to winning ways and knock-off the Knicks on Friday.

New York (34-20, 13-12 road) defeated the Warriors 109-105 Wednesday night despite Steph Curry going off for 54 points in the Garden. The win marked a second straight, and coupled with Indiana’s loss to the Clippers on Thursday, sees the Knicks move back into the second spot in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks will look to continue to turn its recent fortunes – which include five losses in six games prior to this current streak – around with a win over the Wizards.

Washington began the season 0-5 against the Atlantic Division but has gone 3-1 since, including a win over the Knicks (Feb. 6). New York began the season 6-0 against the Southeast Division, before dropping that game to the Wizards. The season series between the sides is currently split at 1-1, with both teams winning at home.

The Knicks have lost four of the last five on the road, while Washington has won five of the last seven at home.

Bookmakers are waiting for more information on the playing status (day-to-day) of Nene before they release a line on this one. Head over to our NBA odds page to keep up to date.

For the record, Washington is 35-20-1 ATS this season including an 18-11-0 ATS record at home, a 3-5-0 ATS record as favorite and a 32-15-1 ATS record as the underdog.

New York has an overall record of 26-28-0 ATS this season, with a 11-14-0 ATS record on the road, a 19-25-0 ATS record as favorite and a 7-3-0 ATS record as the underdog.

Washington (21-34-1) has heavily favored the under while New York (27-25-2) marginally favors the over.

Houston Rockets at Orlando Magic

Orlando (16-42, 9-21 home) picked up a rare win (and on the road no less) on Tuesday in Philadelphia. True to form, Jacque Vaughn’s side followed this up with a home loss to Sacramento on Wednesday. The Magic’s current stretch of ineptitude stands at 30 losses from the last 34 games. The side has also dropped 15 of 17 at home.

Houston (31-28, 12-19 road) will look to rebound from a buzzer-beating defeat at home to Milwaukee on Wednesday, a loss that now has the Rockets just two games ahead of the Lakers for eighth spot out West. The streaky Rockets have dropped two of the last three on the road, but are 18-8 against Eastern Conference opposition this season. The Magic is 9-13 against the West, which is possibly the side’s best record of any this season.

Houston is favored on the road with the spread opening at 8.5. The Rockets (32-26-1 ATS) have a huge advantage over Orlando (25-33-0 ATS) who has covered just nine times in 21 tries at home.

The total opened at 214. The free-scoring Rockets (32-27-0) have favored the over, as have the Magic (31-26-0). Expect points to be put up in this one.

Charlotte Bobcats at Utah Jazz

At both collegiate and pro levels, North Carolina basketball has been tough to watch for one Tar Heel in particular this season.

Losers of 12 of the last 14 and eight of 10 on the road, Charlotte (13-44, 6-22 road) continues to edge out Orlando for worst record in the league. The Bobcats really are a mess.

Utah (31-27, 21-8 home) meanwhile has hit a rocky road of late, dropping three straight, and two straight at home, where the team has been consistently good this season. The Jazz may be playing the Bobcats at just the right time, particularly as the side is 13-8 against Eastern Conference opposition.

Charlotte’s record has few bright spots this season, but its tally against Western Conference opposition is especially woeful. The Bobcats are 3-22 against the West, with only a sweep over Minnesota and an overtime victory at home over Dallas to its credit. It’s hard to imagine anybody backing the Cats the rest of the way.

At the time of publication, bookmakers had withheld the line on this one. Again, check the NBA odds page for the latest information.

For the record, Charlotte is 20-37-0 ATS this season with an 11-17-0 ATS record at home, a 1-5-0 ATS record as the favorite and a 19-32-0 ATS record as the underdog.

Utah is 27-30-1 ATS this season with a 17-12-0 ATS record at home, a 16-15-0 ATS record as the favorite and an 11-15-1 ATS record as the underdog.

Both Charlotte (25-31-1) and Utah (28-29-1) favor the under this season.