Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks
NHL Pick: Anaheim -120 odds (March 22nd 2017)
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The set-up: The 39-24-9 Edmonton Oilers have 87 points and are tied with the 38-23-11 Anaheim Ducks in the West’s Pacific Divsion, four points behind division-leading San Jose. However, as the two teams get set to meet tonight at the Honda Center, they both have to be concerned with the re-hot Calgary Flames, who have climbed to within one point of them.
Edmonton: The Oilers will take a four-game winning streak into Wednesday night’s matchup, looking to end a 10-year postseason drought. Connor McDavid owns NHL highs of 82 points and 57 assists and workhorse goaltender Cam Talbot (37-20-8, 2.32 GAA & .922 save percentage) will attempt to help Edmonton clinch the season series with a win tonight (Oilers have won two of three over the Ducks). Talbot will make his 11th successive start, as well as his 23rd appearance in the past 24 games and his league-leading 66th this season.
Anaheim: For the Ducks, John Gibson is still nursing a lower-body injury so Jonathan Bernier, is expected to be in net. Bernier owns a 7-2-1 mark with a 1.78 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in his last 10 outings.
The pick: The Ducks are coming on strong down the stretch, earning points in six of their last seven games (5-1-1), including victories over division leaders Chicago, Washington and San Jose. Yes, Talbot has been terrific in goal for Edmonton but Bernier hasn’t taken a backseat to anyone these last 10 games. Play the home team.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Portland Trailblazers
NBA Point Spread Pick: Bucks +4.5 (March 21st 2017)
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The small-market Bucks are below the radar screen having won eight of their last 10 while going 7-3 ATS. One of those defeats came to Golden State this past Saturday when Milwaukee ran out of gas playing for the third time in four days, sixth in nine days and without rest. The Warriors certainly can make a tired road team look terrible. The Bucks aren’t nearly that bad. Milwaukee enters this matchup having been idle the past two days. So the Bucks should have their full energy. This spot is fraught with danger for Portland.
The Trail Blazers are home for the first time in 10 days having gone an impressive 4-1 on their road trip that concluded Sunday at Miami. The Trail Blazers are coming off straight-up victories against the Spurs, Hawks and Heat. They were underdogs in all three of those games. Now the Trail Blazers have to adjust to being back home while avoid suffering a letdown after such heady road performances. Recent history is not on the Trail Blazers’ side here. Portland is 1-5 ATS the past six times as a home favorite with the one cover occurring against the Nets, who have the worst record in the NBA by far. On the season, Portland is just 14-17 ATS at home. I find it hard to back Portland as home chalk when it gives up 110 points per game. Only four teams surrender more points per game. The Bucks, by contrast, rank 10th defensively allowing 5 1/2 fewer points per game than the Trail Blazers. Milwaukee has been playing excellent defense lately, too. If you discount the Warriors’ game, the Bucks have held six of their last eight opponents to 98 or fewer points. The Bucks defeated the Trail Blazers, 115-107, at home on Dec. 7 in the previous meeting.
It’s not a fluke. The Bucks are active in the paint – where the Trail Blazers are vulnerable – and can match Portland’s athleticism. I would take Giannis Antekokounmpo over Damian Lillard as the best player on the court. The Bucks outscored the Trail Blazers by 24 points in the paint during their earlier victory.
(Editor’s note: Stephen Nover is 33-21 on his last 54 premium and free NBA plays for 61 percent and has won his last four NBA plays. He has a Top Ticket totals play going today in the NBA in addition to this free selection.)
Phoenix Suns vs. Miami Heat
NBA Point Spread Pick: Heat -12 (March 21st 2017)
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This is going to look like a huge number for Miami to be laying at home against the Suns. The Heat just lost 104-115 at home to the Trailblazers as a 6-point favorite and it came after the recent injury to Dion Waiters. I just don’t think not having Waiters matters against the Suns, who have packed it in and are tanking to improve their lottery status. Phoenix has just shutdown Eric Bledsoe just because. Same thing with Tyslon Chandler. They are also without Brandon Knight and likely missing Devin Booker in this one. The Suns simply don’t have the talent available to be competitive against a team like Miami, who is fighting for their playoff lives, especially on the road. Give me the Heat -12!
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