It’s a rather odd night in the NBA on Monday. There are seven games on the schedule, and only two of them feature teams that are favored at home. The other five games all feature road favorites. I haven’t kept track of such things, but my theory is this is more likely in March and April than earlier in the season.
After all, of the five home dogs tonight, only one of them has a winning record (Miami). The other four (Knicks, Cavs, Bulls, and Spurs) are a combined 80-158. More importantly, those teams are no longer entertaining the idea that they could make the playoffs. Lottery balls are far more important to them than the chance to be swept in the first round.
It leads to some tricky situations, and some we can take advantage of. All three of my picks tonight involve those home dogs, and — SPOILER ALERT — I’m not taking any of them.
All lines via William Hill Sportsbook.
1. Jazz at Cavaliers: Jazz -8.5
Utah has been one of the streakiest teams in the NBA this season. From Dec. 7 to Jan. 14, the Jazz won 20 of 23 games and were 32-13. Then they lost five straight and followed that losing streak with a four-game win streak. Do you know what they did after that? Yep, they lost four straight, a streak that came to an end on Friday night in a 129-119 win over the Wizards. Tonight they begin a road trip against the Eastern Conference, and I expect a new win streak to begin until they run into the Celtics. The Jazz are 14-7-1 ATS against the East this season, and they’re 21-14-1 ATS following a win. Cleveland, meanwhile, is only 12-18-2 ATS at home this year.
2. Bucks at Heat: Bucks -3
Milwaukee played on Sunday night, beating Charlotte 93-85 in an ugly game in which it was easy to imagine the Bucks were looking ahead to this game. It’s a situation the Bucks have excelled in this season, as they’re 7-1 ATS in the second game of a back-to-back this year, and they’re 23-14 ATS against Eastern Conference opponents. The Heat have been terrific at home, on the whole, this season, but things have slowed down a bit in recent weeks. While Miami is 19-9-1 ATS at home on the year, they’re only 5-5 ATS in their last 10. They’ve also performed much better when favored this season (23-17-1 ATS) than as an underdog (8-10-1). The Bucks don’t have the best record in the NBA by accident, so let’s not overthink this one.
3. Mavericks at Bulls: Mavericks -3.5
On the surface, there are a lot of reasons to take the Bulls in this matchup. The Mavs are on the second leg of a back-to-back and are playing the final game of a road trip that’s taken them from Texas to South Florida, up to Minnesota and now to Chicago. Oh, and there’s a decent chance they’ll be without at least one of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis — if not both. The Bulls, meanwhile, have only played one game in the last week, and just got Wendell Carter back from injury. But it’s important to remember that the Bulls are awful. The one game they’ve played in the last seven days was a 10-point loss to the Knicks, and they’ve only managed to win one of their last 11 games. This is a team that has checked out on the 2019-20 season. There are rumors swirling about change in Chicago’s front office, as well as on the sideline with a coach in Jim Boylen who none of them seem to be all that fond of. Plus, the Bulls have been awful at home this season (13-18 ATS overall, 5-9 as a dog) while the Mavs are 12-3-1 ATS as road favorites.