CLIPPERS (-2.5) at TIMBERWOLVES (231.5), 8 p.m.
Pick: Clippers (-2.5)
This feels like a square pick, but we’re going to take Los Angeles laying the deuce and the hook here.
The Clippers (44-30) are the much better team and have been on a tear winning nine of their last 10. There’s an outside chance they could have home-court advantage in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs as they come into play tonight three games behind Portland in the loss column for fourth place in the conference with eight to play. The Blazers just lost big man Jusuf Nurkic for the season thanks to a gruesome injury late in its victory over the Nets last night.
Elsewhere on the injury front, Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson all remain sidelined for Minnesota (33-40). Some of these players have already been shut down for the rest of the season for the Timberwolves and prior to a win against the lowly Grizzlies, the Wolves had lost five in a row and failed to cover in all five of those games. Minnesota certainly looks like a team ready to go on vacation and the Clippers somehow have the best record in the NBA since they traded Tobias Harris. That Doc Rivers guy can coach.
PISTONS (+8) at NUGGETS (212), 9 p.m.
Pick: Over (212)
Prior to Sunday night’s 124-88 loss in Indiana, the last time the Nuggets (49-23) scored less than 100 points was on Jan. 28 in a 95-92 victory in Memphis. Our guess as to why this total is so low is that Denver has had lots of games this season where it wins by double digits and plays well enough defensively for totals to still land in the 200-215 range. A recent 111-93 win against the Knicks last Friday and a 115-99 victory against the Lakers on March 6 are examples of that. Therefore, that makes the over in Nuggets games correlated to the underdog against the spread.
There’s not much of a concern about Denver’s offensive output so it’s a matter of if Detroit (37-36) can get over the century mark tonight. If it weren’t for how good the Nuggets are ATS at home (having covered 23 of 36 games in the Mile High City), we’d be on the Pistons and the points here. But, taking the over instead is another way of banking on Detroit to remain quasi-competitive tonight with its playoff fate still up in the air.