The Orlando Magic are trying to hold off the Washington Wizards for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but that will be tougher with the news that starting Magic guard Evan Fournier will miss an extended period of time with a sprained UCL suffered last week. Fournier is averaging 18.8 points this season. Here’s a look at two early-week matchups around the NBA. Check back for Mybookie NBA odds.
Top NBA Betting Picks of the Week / March 9th Edition
Boston at Indiana
- When: Tuesday, 7 PM ET (NBA League Pass)
Could be a first-round playoff preview and would be if the Celtics finish third and Pacers sixth. Indiana isn’t sliding lower than sixth but could in theory get as high as fourth. Boston probably doesn’t slide below third but could get to No. 2.
Boston lost for the fourth time in five games Sunday, 105-104 at home to Oklahoma City. Dennis Schroder stripped the ball from Kemba Walker and scored on a layup with 8.5 seconds left. The Thunder were down as much as 18 in the first half. Boston had a chance to win the game, but Jayson Tatum was short on a fadeaway. Gordon Hayward led the Celtics with 24 points. Tatum had 19 points and Marcus Smart added 19 points and 10 rebounds. The Celtics have lost four straight at home for the first time since 2015.
Indiana won its second in a row Sunday, 112-109 in Dallas. Victor Oladipo played through his sore right knee and hit 6-of-18 shots for 16 points, four rebounds, seven assists and a block. Domantas Sabonis hit 8-of-13 shots and a 3-pointer for 20 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and a steal.
The Pacers are without one of their best players, Malcolm Brogdon, indefinitely with a torn hip muscle. Brogdon is averaging 16.3 points and 7.1 assists in his first season with the Pacers. The Pacers are 12-2 this season when holding opponents to 100 or fewer points, and 6-0 when they hold opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field.
These teams have met just once this season, a 122-117 home Pacers win on Dec. 11. Brogdon scored 29 points and made all 15 of his free throws, the Holiday brothers combined for 20 fourth-quarter points and Indiana rallied from a 10-point deficit. The Pacers snapped a seven-game losing streak against Boston, which included a first-round playoff sweep last season. Aaron Holiday scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. Justin Holiday had 17 points, nine in the fourth. Sabonis had 15 points 14 rebounds and four assists. Indiana’s bench outscored Boston’s 47-19. Walker scored a season-high 44 points, making seven 3-pointers and dishing out seven assists to lead Boston. Jaylen Brown had 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists before fouling out.
Denver at Dallas
- When: Wednesday, 8 PM ET (ESPN)
Another potential first-round playoff matchup but from the Western Conference. The Nuggets are likely to finish anywhere from second to fifth in the West and Dallas somewhere from fourth to seventh.
Expect a close game as the first two between these two have been. On Oct. 29 in Denver, the Mavericks won 109-106. Maxi Kleber had 14 points, seven rebounds and a key block late, and Dallas overcame off nights from Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic. Dallas had nine players score double figures, tying a franchise record, on a night their two top scorers combined for 22 points on 7 of 26 shooting. Doncic had 12 points and Porzingis 10. No Mavericks player scored more than 14 points. Doncic and Porzingis were also cold from deep, missing 12 of 14 from 3-point range. Nikola Jokic had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to lead Denver.
On Jan. 8 in Dallas, the Nuggets won 107-106. Jokic scored 26 of his 33 points in the second half. He had the winning basket with 7.9 seconds left in the fourth when he backed down on the right side of the lane and got a favorable bounce on his left-handed layup. The Mavericks’ final possession ended with an errant pass that eluded Tim Hardaway Jr. behind the 3-point line. Doncic led Dallas with 27 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Porzingis was out injured.
Doncic, who turned just 21 years old on Feb. 28, has posted a franchise-record 22 triple-doubles. The previous club record was 21 by Jason Kidd, who played in 500 games with Dallas. It took Doncic just 119 games to tie Kidd’s then franchise record and 122 games to break it. Twenty-one of Doncic’s career triple-doubles occurred before his 21st birthday. That’s by far the most triple-doubles by a player 20-or-younger in NBA history.
NBA Week 21 Expert Picks
Back Mavericks and Celtics.