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Breaking Down The Best Bets Four NBA Games With Major Playoff Implications For Friday Night

Posted by on 2/20/2015 1:33:30 AM

The NBA trade deadline has come and gone and now that it is in the rearview mirror the focus will completely turn to the second half of the schedule and how the playoff picture unfolds. Only two games separates 3rd from 7th in the Western Conference right now while as many as six teams are right there in contention for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference with two games separating 7th from 12th. Here is a quick look at four of the most important games for Friday night and the best bets to win them.

Toronto Raptors @ Atlanta Hawks

Friday, 7:00 PM ET

The Raptors put together three straight wins entering the NBA All-Star break and will look to keep that momentum going when they visit the top team in the East on Friday night. The Hawks have a 6.5-game lead on Toronto for top spot in the East and a big reason for that is their 25-3 record at home. A 3-3 stretch before the All-Star break might have been a wake up call for Atlanta but they are still on pace to easily set a franchise record for wins in a season. The Hawks will have to be careful not to burn themselves out down the stretch but coming back from the break they should be able to find a way to put together another important win at home against the Raptors.

Pick: Atlanta

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Washington Wizards

Friday, 8:00 PM ET

The Cavaliers went in to the break on a 14-2 run but both of their losses came over their last four games and it will be important to find that confidence the team had during their 12-game win streak. The All-Star weekend couldn’t have come at a better time for a Washington team that struggled heading in to it and now they hold just a half-game lead over Cleveland for the fourth spot in the East heading in to this contest. The Wizards want to win now but not at the expense of risking their future while the Cavaliers have gone all-in to bring a championship home this season. The difference in those two attitudes will prevail when these teams meet on Friday night.

Pick: Cleveland

Houston Rockets @ Dallas Mavericks

Friday, 8:30 PM ET

Houston has dealt with a ton of injuries including the loss of Dwight Howard and yet they continue to find ways to win games while relying on players like Donatas Motiejunas, Josh Smith and Corey Brewer. A big part of that has to do with James Harden and his MVP level of play but the Rockets have also done an excellent job of supporting him and holding down the fort with Howard sidelined. The Mavericks are dealing with their own injury issues with Rajon Rondo, Tyson Chandler and Monta Ellis all hurt and their struggles against the top teams from the West will likely continue in this one.

Pick: Houston

San Antonio Spurs @ Golden State Warriors

Friday, 10:30 PM ET

Golden State is locked in to the top seed and the defending champion Spurs will have a lot of work to do to climb the ladder in the West where only two games separates them from third place. San Antonio has battled injuries all season long but now it’s the teams in front of them dealing with injury issues and the Spurs are getting healthy just in time. The Warriors will be ready for them on Friday night as the Splash brothers look to test their skills against a team they will probably have to beat if they go all the way to the NBA Finals. Golden State ranks No. 2 in offensive efficiency and No. 1 in defensive efficiency and you can expect them to come out firing after getting some much-needed rest after All-Star weekend.

Pick: Golden State

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