Today’s Top Picks: Three NBA best bets, including one moneyline ‘dog, with pre-All-Star motivation a factor

Wednesday night is the last full NBA slate before the All-Star break, as Thursday night will include only two games and then everybody is heading home or to Chicago. That can lead to some tricky situations when it comes to handicapping games.

Some teams are ready for the break and will show that kind of effort on the court. There’s no way to predict who those teams will be, though I’d imagine teams with nothing to play for, or that are on the end of a road trip, are more likely than others. So keep that in mind before making any plays on Wednesday night.

All odds are via William Hill.

1. Pistons at Magic: Magic -7.5

One team that might not be all that interested tonight? The Pistons. Detroit has lost three straight and nine of its last 11 games. You’d think that would take them out of the playoff picture, but this is the Eastern Conference, so they’re only five games out of a playoff spot. The team they trail by five games? That would be Orlando, which has lost 10 of 13. What a sport! Anyway, Orlando won its last game, and it’s facing a banged-up Pistons team that has been awful against the spread all season long. The Pistons are 9-16-1 ATS on the road, 6-13-1 as road ‘dogs, and only 11-27-1 against Eastern Conference opponents. Fade them here.

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2. Hawks at Cavaliers: Cavs +110

Another example of how awful the bottom half of the Eastern Conference is: the Atlanta Hawks — who are 15-40 overall, and 6-23 on the road — are favored on the road against the Cavs. Cleveland is only 13-40 and 6-22 at home. So, you know, these are two great teams. Still, while both stink, Cleveland is better rested as the Hawks have played four games in the last week already, and have traveled from Atlanta to Minnesota to Boston, and then back to Atlanta before heading to Orlando. Now they’re going north to Cleveland. If there’s a team looking for a weekend off right now, it’s the Hawks, so there’s plenty of value on Cleveland at home here.

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3. Blazers at Grizzlies: Grizzlies -3.5

The Grizzlies get a Portland team playing the second leg of a back-to-back. The Blazers lost to New Orleans by 21 on Tuesday night and are playing their fifth game in the last seven days. None of which bodes well for a team that is only 12-17 ATS on the road this season and 10-16-1 ATS as an underdog. Memphis, meanwhile, is 8-3 ATS when it’s favored at home this season as well as 20-12-1 ATS against Western Conference foes.

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