Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

Inside the Paint - Friday

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Even though the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament receives all the attention at the sports books, the NBA continues to offer up betting opportunities. March Madness bettors who clobbered early with the underdogs may’ve chased on Thursday with Association plays and if you did bet favorites, then accept our congratulations. The ‘chalk’ went 5-1 straight up and 4-2 against the spread last night and that included three easy winners late in the Kings, Pistons and Warriors. Total bettors riding the ‘under’ also prospered as the low side went 5-1.

Friday’s card has seven games and listed below is my quick handicap and fearless "Best Bets."

Memphis (29-42 SU, 33-37-1 ATS) at Orlando (34-38 SU, 38-33-1 ATS)

This is a must-win spot for the Magic, who are fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conferenec. The pair just met recently in Memphis on Mar. 10 and the Grizzlies captured a 105-97 win as one-point home favorites. Orlando is now listed as a 6 ½-point home favorite and it comes into this game with three straight wins and covers albeit against non-playoff teams. The Grizz are certainly in that class too and they did just beat Houston 126-125 at home on Wednesday. Is this the letdown spot? It certainly feels like it and even though Memphis is 6-2 ATS versus the number in its last eight, both losses came on the road.  The ‘under’ (208) cashed in their recent meeting and the low side is on a 4-1 run in this series. Also, the Magic are on a 5-0 ‘under’ run in their last five games but Memphis brings in a 5-1 ‘over’ mark into this contest and it’s been chucking from 3-point land a lot recently. I thought the total might get pushed up based on the Grizzlies recent form so I’ll buy into the line and lean low.

Best Bets: Under, Memphis Team Total Under

Denver (48-22 SU, 37-33 ATS) at New York (14-58 SU, 30-40-2 ATS)

The Nuggets (-11) are laying a big price at Madison Square Garden and they’ve gone 11-6 as road favorites this season but they’re just 6-11 ATS. Denver is playing on no rest after beating Washington 113-108 last night. The Nuggets have been great in these situations, going 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS on back-to-back spots. Denver has won two straight and seven of the last eight meetings versus New York and it’s gone 6-2 ATS during this run. The ‘over’ has cashed in five straight between the pair and the Knicks have allowed 129.3 points per game in their last three. I’m expecting another blowout and the Nuggets have the depth to fill up the scoreboard. 

Best Bet: Denver Team Total Over

L.A. Clippers (42-30 SU, 40-31-1 ATS) at Cleveland (19-53 SU, 35-36-1 ATS)

These teams will meet twice over the next eight days with the rematch coming at the Staples Center on Mar. 30. Even when the Cavaliers had a loaded roster over the last two seasons, the Clippers have gone 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS in this series. Times have certainly changed this season and Los Angeles enters this game as a road favorite. Make a note that Doc Rivers and company have been very good in that role (9-2 SU, 8-3 ATS). Cleveland has turned a profit for bettors (9-4 ATS) since the All-Star break and it enters this game off back-to-back wins against playoff teams (Pistons, Bucks). Be aware that the Cavaliers haven’t won three straight all season (0-3 SU, 0-3 ATS) and I believe that’s the angle you press here.

Best Bet: Los Angeles Clippers

Oklahoma City (42-30 SU, 36-36 ATS) at Toronto (51-21 SU, 31-40-1 ATS)

Quick rematch game here as the pair finish off a home-and-home set at the Scotiabank Arena from Canada on Friday. Toronto defeated Oklahoma City 123-114 in overtime on Wednesday as a five-point road underdog. Prior to that win, the Thunder had won and covered three straight games in this series and four of the last five. Point guard Kyle Lowry (ankle) will miss another game for the Raptors. It’s hard to make a case for Oklahoma City, who has dropped four straight games both SU and ATS. All of the losses came to playoff teams and the offense (103.8 PPG) hasn’t been clicking during this skid. Toronto has gone 29-7 at home this season and that includes a 5-2 mark since the All-Stark break. If OKC loses this game tonight, they could fall from the fifth seed in the West down to the No. 8 spot. Make a note that the Thunder have gone 17-9 SU and 15-11 ATS versus the East this season and Boston is the only team to sweep them (2-0) in their non-conference matchups. I’m going to buy the mild surprise in this spot and lean to the road underdog.

Best Bet: Oklahoma City ML

San Antonio (42-30 SU, 40-31-1 ATS) at Houston (45-27, 33-37-2 ATS)

This is a quality game and a tough one to handicap. Both teams have been playing great and both of enter this game off losses. San Antonio stifled Houston 96-89 on Nov. 10 as a 3 ½-point home underdog but the Rockets have won the last two meetings (136-105, 108-101) between the pair this season. This is a big step up in class for San Antonio, who is 9-1 in its last 10. However, only two of those games were on the road and they were against the Hawks and Mavericks. Houston has been a bit of a bully lately as well and its last game against a playoff team came on Mar. 13, which ended in a 106-104 loss at home to Golden State. The ‘under’ is on a 5-1 run in this series and I expect a tight game tonight as these teams are projected to meet in the first round of the playoffs in the 3-6 matchup.

Best Bet: Under

Miami (35-36 SU, 39-32 ATS) at Milwaukee (53-19 SU, 42-28-2 ATS)

Another quick rematch game here as the Bucks rallied past the Heat last Friday for a 113-98 win as five-point road underdogs. Miami led by 20 points (62-42) at halftime before Milwaukee embarrassed them with a 71-36 effort in the second-half. Since that collapse, the Heat have won and covered three straight and the last two were impressive wins at the Thunder and Spurs. Miami has dropped two straight games to the Bucks by double digits but they did capture the previous six meetings between the pair. Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected back for the Bucks on Friday but key pieces in Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic remain ‘out’ tonight.  The ‘under’ is on a 6-1 run in this series and I’m not expecting fireworks tonight.

Best Bet: Under

Brooklyn (37-36 SU, 39-34 ATS) at L.A. Lakers (31-40 SU, 26-43-2 ATS)

The Nets were looking at a 0-4 mark on their current seven-game road trip this past Tuesday but they pulled off an improbable 123-121 comeback win over Sacramento. Brooklyn outscored the Kings 45-18 in the fourth quarter and All-Star D’Angelo Russell went nuts with 44 points. The former Laker will try to repeat that effort on Friday against the team that gave up on him. Los Angeles will be playing its first game at home after a five-game road trip and LeBron James is expected to give it a go tonight. These clubs met in the middle of December and the Nets earned a 115-110 win over the Lakers as 1 ½-point home underdogs. I’m expecting a nice back-and-forth game tonight and if the shots fall from distance for Los Angeles, this game should go high.

Best Bet: Over

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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