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Monday NBA Betting Preview

4/23/12

With just four days left in the NBA regular season, the last postseason spot is still up for grabs in each conference while some other playoff teams who have already qualified are battling for seeding. After losing to the San Antonio Spurs (47-16) twice in three games, the Los Angeles Lakers (41-24) helped themselves and the Spurs with a huge 114-106 double overtime win against the Oklahoma City Thunder (46-18) on Sunday.

San Antonio is 1 1/2 games ahead of Oklahoma City for the top seed in the Western Conference, and the Lakers own a half-game lead over the Clippers (40-24) for the lead in the Pacific Division and the third seed in the West. The Spurs (-13.5) are the hottest team in the league right now, riding a seven-game winning streak into a home matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers (28-36) on Monday. The Blazers were eliminated from postseason contention long ago but crushed San Antonio 137-97 in the last meeting at home back on February 21. Portland is 8-3 against the spread in the past 11 meetings. Our predicted final is Spurs 127 Blazers 101.

The Milwaukee Bucks (30-33) and Philadelphia 76ers (33-30) are both fighting for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and each of them will be in action on Monday as well. The Bucks need to win their last three games and have the 76ers lose their final three to have any shot at the postseason. Milwaukee (-10) will try to beat the Toronto Raptors (22-42) for a seventh straight time at home while Philadelphia (-8.5) visits the New Jersey Nets (22-42). The 76ers will get into the playoffs with a victory, and they are also fighting the New York Knicks (34-30) for the seventh seed in the East. Our predicted score Bucks 101-97.

Two other games featuring teams who are already in the postseason include the Memphis Grizzlies (39-25) hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers (21-42) and the Detroit Pistons (24-40) visiting the Indiana Pacers (41-23). The Grizzlies (-13) are just 1-8 ATS in the last nine meetings with Cleveland and sit one game behind the Clippers for the fourth seed in the West. The Pacers are locked into the third seed in the East and have gone 7-1 ATS in the last eight home meetings with the Pistons.

The lone game on Monday's slate without a team in the playoff picture is the Charlotte Bobcats (7-56) against the Washington Wizards (17-46). The Bobcats have lost a franchise-record 20 games in a row after suffering a 114-88 home defeat to the Sacramento Kings (21-43) on Sunday while the Wizards became the only team in the NBA to beat both the Chicago Bulls (48-16) and the Miami Heat (46-18) on their home court this season with an 86-84 victory at Miami on Saturday

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