The final week of the NBA season can return some weird sports handicapping picks. The top teams in the Association are looking forward to the postseason, some teams are clawing for their playoff lives, and a number of clubs are in full-on tank mode – hoping to improve their chances of landing a top lottery pick in the draft.
It’s that final group that may hold value as the schedule comes to a close. Oddsmakers are fully aware of these teams and the tendencies to tank, which means books are piling on the points for their final outings of the year.
There could actually be value in betting the worst teams in the NBA in the home stretch of the season, and these are the sides to watch out for:
Phoenix Suns (20-59 SU, 36-41-2 ATS)
The Suns are shutting down top player Devin Booker and have the bulk of their starters currently in street clothes to close out the campaign. That hasn’t stopped Phoenix from converting into cash for NBA bettors in five of their last six games entering the weekend. The Suns have been gifted an average pointspread of +10.3 points in that span, which is just enough to cover as underdogs given the team went 1-5 SU in those same games.
Phoenix holds great value in its upcoming games with New Orleans and Golden State. The Pelicans haven’t been playing well and are clinging to a postseason spot, while the Warriors are locked into the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoff and running with a skeleton crew due to injuries to their biggest stars and bench reserves. Following those games, the Suns’ finale is against Dallas – another tanking team – which is without Dirk Nowitzki for the remainder of the year.
Memphis Grizzlies (21-57 SU, 33-43-2 ATS)
The Grizzlies made no secrets about their tanking plans when they were blown out 140-79 by Charlotte on March 22. And since that game, Memphis has been pegged with an average spread of +11.5. That thick layer of padding is why the Grizz are making money in recent outings, going 4-1 ATS in their last five entering the weekend.
Memphis has four games left before the offseason, two against tanking teams and two against clubs pushing for the postseason. The Grizzlies are home to Sacramento and Detroit and should hold value at home, wanting to give the faithful something to cheer for before hitting the road for games in Minnesota and Oklahoma City. The Grizz will be catching a stack of points in those two final outings.
Chicago Bulls (27-51 SU, 41-36-1 ATS)
The Bulls have actually been a solid bet this season, most memorably during their crazy-hot run in December. Back then, Chicago looked like it could be a quiet playoff contender – given the state of the Eastern Conference. Fast forward to April, and the Bulls have bottomed out. At least, they’ve maintained that ATS value. Chicago has covered the spread in four straight entering the final weekend of the season.
The Bulls put a bow on the 2017-18 season with four games – two of which come in a home-and-home set against fellow bottom feeder Brooklyn. They play the shell of a Celtics team and close the calendar against Detroit at home – a game Chicago will want to win, regardless of temptations of tanking. Chicago is really going five on, five off with its rotation and features a lot of guys playing for a contract, so expect some effort in the final games of the campaign with NBA careers hanging in the balance.