Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM
NBA Bubble Bets - Friday
Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets
- Time/Venue: 2:30 p.m, HP Field House
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS):Magic 30-35/0-0 (31-32-2, 0-0); Nets 30-34/0-0 (31-33, 0-0)
- Line: ORL -6.5/212, ORL -280, BKN +230
Line Analysis:This is the second-largest spread among the first batch of seeding games and features the lowest total among this first batch of seeding games. The number falls in line with where the total for Brooklyn-Orlando games has been this season (212.5/213). The Magic have won and covered in both meetings against Brooklyn this season.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Orlando is likely to have talented starting forward Jonathan Isaac in the fold for the first time since he injured his knee on Jan. 1, so the team’s frontcourt will be stacked. Brooklyn will need center Jarrett Allen to avoid foul trouble since DeAndre Jordan is one of the many Nets who won’t participate at Disney.
Caris LeVert will serve as Brooklyn’s primary catalyst and must effectively deal with double-teams since opponents have him properly identified as one of the few guys Jacque Vaughn has at his disposal who can create breakdowns. Orlando point guard Markelle Fultz is also likely to play but is ramping up his stamina and will be one of a few Magic players operating with a minutes’ restriction.
Handicapping Notes: The Magic have scored three straight matchups between these teams, holding the Nets to 89 points in two of the victories. Spencer Dinwiddie had team-highs with 24 points and eight assists in the most recent meeting, a 115-113 Brooklyn loss, but is one of four players who suited up on Feb. 24 that won’t play here. Orlando scored 40 points in the third quarter of that victory and had been much more efficient offensively prior to coronavirus putting the league on pause. From Feb. 10-March 10, the Magic averaged 120.6 points per game over a 12-game stretch.
Nothin’ But Bet: Riding Orlando to cover third-quarter bets is a smart play since you figure they’ll be able to make any adjustments necessary after the opening 24 minutes. The Magic should impose their will to open the second half and are laying just 1.5 points and FanDuel (-118).
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail Blazers
- Time/Venue: 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Grizzlies 32-33/0-0 (34-30-1, 0-0); Blazers 29-37/0-0 (27-37-2, 0-0)
- Line: POR -2/224.5, POR -130 ML, MEM +110
Line Analysis: The Blazers will be favored for a fifth straight game, but those first four matchups involved a pair of games with Phoenix and home dates against the Wizards and Kings. None of those teams are expected to qualify for the playoffs. All four of those Portland games had totals that closed over 230, with the Washington matchup going off a 243.
The Griz won the lone meeting this season 111-104 on Feb. 12, holding the Blazers to 37 percent shooting. Rookie Brandon Clarke scored 27 points off the bench and Ja Morant added 20 points and nine assists.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Portland got center Jusuf Nurkic and power forward Zach Collins back from injuries and were plugged into the starting lineup immediately. A slimmer Carmelo Anthony will start at small forward, while Hassan Whiteside is now coming off the bench. In other words, it’s not the frontcourt rotation you remember from February. The Grizzlies lost wing Justise Winslow to a hip injury and were never able to deploy him since acquiring from Miami.
Handicapping Notes: Jonas Valanciunas reported in fantastic shape and will be the x-factor for Memphis here given Portland’s boost up front. He finished with 18 rebounds in the Feburary meeting, outplaying Whiteside, who was the only player taller than 6-foot-8 that saw any action that night. Anthony shot 1-for-15 and the Blazers’ highly touted backcourt shot just 16-for-44. The ‘under’ has prevailed in six of seven involving Memphis.
Nothin’ But Bet: Morant’s point-rebounds-assists is a highly attainable 31.5 since it’s likely he’ll be aggressive in testing out just how well Lillard’s sore feet move on defense. Ride the over at FanDuel (-116).
Phoenix Suns vs. Washington Wizards
- Time/Venue: 4:00 p.m. ET, Visa Athletic Center
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Suns 26-39/0-0 (29-35-1, 0-0); Wizards 24-40/0-0 (32-30-2, 0-0)
- Line: PHX -7/224, PHX -295 ML, WASH +240
Line Analysis: The Wizards may wind up being a double-digit underdog in every game they play in with the exception of this one and Sunday’s matchup with Brooklyn. Phoenix has such a tough schedule ahead of it that this is quite likely to be the long game in which it will be favored.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: The Wizards are without their top two scorers from the regular season with Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans sitting out, so they’re riding a youth movement and looking to push tempo to get cornerstones like Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown more seasoning. Ex-Wizard Kelly Oubre Jr. is still looking to play in the bubble but no update has been given regarding his availability. Backup center Aron Baynes is still working on his cardio but forward Dario Saric (ankle) is likely to participate after his sprain has improved over the past couple of days.
Handicapping Notes: The ‘over’ could be a popular play considering there have been at least 245 point scored in the past three matchups between these teams. Since a 149-146 Washington triple-overtime win on Dec. 22, 2018, the Wizards have pulled off wins by scores of 124-121 and 140-132 as recently as this past November. Beal has averaged 34.3 points over those three wins. Devin Booker has averaged 36.7 points over those same three games, scoring 50 in one of the losses.
Nothin’ But Bet: The Suns are laying just 3.5 points in the first half and should be the more cohesive unit since Mikal Bridges is playing with tremendous confidence and franchise players Booker and Deandre Ayton will be the best players on the floor.
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks
- Time/Venue: 6:30 p.m. ET, HP Field House
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Celtics 43-21/0-0 (38-23-3, 0-0); Bucks 53-12/0-0 (36-29, 0-0)
- Line: MIL -4.5/219, MIL ML -210, BOS +166
Line Analysis: The Celtics have one of the easiest schedules at the bubble and may not be in an underdog role again since their toughest remaining test – on paper – will come against Toronto. The Bucks play Houston next and will also see the Raptors, but they’ll be favored each time out. In fact, this is the least amount of points they’re laying in a favorite’s role since their Christmas Day setback in Philadelphia where they were a three-point chalk.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Milwaukee point guard Eric Bledsoe got to the bubble late after an asymptomatic bout with COVID-19 but he will not play against the Celtics. The same goes for backup swingman Pat Connaughton, who also battled coronavirus. Kemba Walker is expected to play just 18-20 minutes on a restriction as he looks to get his troublesome knee issues squared away before the playoffs begin, but the Boston’s injury report is otherwise empty.
Handicapping Notes: The Celtics handed Milwaukee its first loss of the season on Oct. 30, winning 116-105 at TD Garden on the strength of 17 3-point makes. Walker went 14-for-15 from the free-throw line and scored 32 points while Jayson Tatum was a plus-16 and scored 26 points. Outside of All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, Milwaukee shot 20-for-54 (37 percent). The supporting cast offered more help in a 128-123 Bucks win on Jan. 16, but Boston is 2-0 against the spread against the Bucks this season. Walker scored 40 points in the most recent meeting.
Nothin’ But Bet: Without Bledsoe to run the offense, look for Middleton to play a much larger role in facilitating offense. FanDuel’s points-rebounds-assists prop looks like low-hanging fruit at 29.5 (-108), so the over is one of my favorite wagers on Friday.
Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs
- Time/Venue: 8:00 p.m. ET, Visa Athletic Center
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Kings 28-36/0-0 (33-29, 0-0); Spurs 27-36/0-0 (25-37-1, 0-0)
- Line: SAC -3/220, SAC ML -164, SA +138
Line Analysis: The Kings are favored against the Spurs for the first time in over a decade, which tells you what oddsmakers feel about San Antonio as its 22-year run of reaching the playoffs is on the cusp of ending. These teams squared off in California’s capital city on Feb. 8 and a down Spurs squad was still listed as a 2.5-point favorite since the Kings were playing the second of a back-to-back. Sacramento won 122-102.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Although top forward Marvin Bagley III was ruled out after having his ankle stepped on, the Kings will actually have most of their players available without minutes restrictions despite numerous obstacles over the past few weeks. Harrison Barnes reported late due to COVID-19, Richaun Holmes drew extra quarantine for breaking boundary rules and point guard De’Aaron Fox just returned from a moderate ankle sprain. The Spurs will go small due to the absence of LaMarcus Aldridge and Trey Lyles being ruled out due to injury.
Handicapping Notes: The Kings have actually won four of their last five matchups with the more accomplished Spurs, doing so in an underdog role. The Spurs won the first meeting 105-104 in OT back on Dec. 6 in OT, but Fox didn’t play in that game. Buddy Hield scored 31 points and went 9-for-10 from 3-point range in the most recent 20-point blowout, while Barnes added 25 points.
Nothin’ But Bet: San Antonio is even-money (+100) in the race to 15 points at FanDuel, which isn’t a bad play considering that Sacramento has had such an uneven lead-up to these seeding games and Gregg Popovich figures to have a solid early game plan in place.
Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks
- Time/Venue: 9:00 p.m. ET ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Rockets 40-24/0-0 (29-35, 0-0); Mavs 40-27/0-0 (35-29-3, 0-0)
- Line: DAL -1.5/228.5, DAL ML -120, HOU +100
Line Analysis: The Rockets have been favored in this game throughout the entire lead-up, but most books changed course as of Tuesday due in part to Eric Gordon suffering an ankle injury. The total has been bet up steadily by those expecting a small-ball track meet. If the line closes where it currently resides, it will be the first time the Mavs are favored against Houston since late 2015, a stretch of 16 games.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Gordon’s injury will keep him out at least a week, which takes him out of the equation for a few of Houston’s toughest games since the Bucks, Blazers and Lakers are up next. Dallas is hoping to narrow the gap in the Southwest Division to just a half-game with a victory here. They won’t have big men Dwight Powell (Achilles) and Willie Cauley-Stein (opted out), so expect plenty of guards on the floor surrounding their three bigs, Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic.
Handicapping Notes: Considering that this season’s two matchups have produced final scores of 137-123 and 128-121 as these teams split both encounters in Houston, it’s no surprise that the ‘over’ here has been a popular bet. Luka Doncic went for 41 points and 10 assists in Dallas’ win and was absent for the most recent game, a setback on Jan. 31 at Toyota Center. James Harden is averaging 34.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 8.5 assists through the two games against the Mavs this season and looks to be in fantastic shape. Russell Westbrook has averaged 29.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists and is getting his conditioning back where it needs to be following his battle with COVID-19.
Both games against Dallas featured Clint Capela, who has since been traded to Atlanta, so this is the first time the Mavs will be getting a look at the small-ball squad featuring Danuel House, Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker in an undersized frontcourt. Rick Carlisle will have to try and exploit Porzingis’ advantages in addition to deciphering whether Marjanovic can stay on the floor against a team that wants to run at all costs.
Nothin’ But Bet: Look for Seth Curry to see plenty of time on the floor for Dallas and expect him to play a major role. Ride the over on the individual scoring prop FanDuel has for him as he should be good for more than 13.5 points (+102).
The Blazers as a money-line (-130) winner to ensure you don’t push or lose in a tight win is one of my Friday best bets . Check out more free picks in multiple sports on the VegasInsider.com YouTube channel
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]