NBA Bubble Bets – Saturday

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Miami Heat vs. Denver Nuggets

  • Time/Venue: 1 p.m, HP Field House
  • Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Heat 41-24/0-0 (33-30-2, 0-0); Nuggets 43-22/0-0 (29-32-4, 0-0)
  • Line:  DEN -1.5/211, DEN -120, MIA +100
Line Analysis: The Nuggets opened as a one-point underdog when lines were initially released but they were quickly bet up to a two-point favorite. Nikola Jokic’s bout with COVID-19 may have affected that number, but Miami’s Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn were also stricken and reported to the bubble late. With both cleared to play, Miami has moved to just a 1.5-point underdog. The Heat was a five-point ‘dog in Denver back on Nov. 5 and suffered a 109-89 loss. The total for that matchup closed at 211.5.

Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: The Heat have all 17 players they brought to Orlando ready to play entering their first seeding game, so Erik Spoelstra will select the 13 he expects will be the most useful and will likely find a way to play most. Michael Malone doesn’t have the same luxury, having already ruled out starting wings Will Barton (knee soreness) and Gary Harris (hip strain). Point guard Jamal Murray (hamstring) is questionable and there’s really no reason to force anything. We could see Jokic and Paul Millsap surrounded by teammates like Monte Morris and Torrey Craig in the starting five.

Handicapping Notes: Miami lost to the Nuggets by 20 in opening their first West coast road trip of the season. Barton and Murray were catalysts, combining for 36 points and eight assists. Jokic was held to 4-for-12 shooting and just five boards. The Heat shot 36 percent as Jimmy Butler, Adebayo and Nunn combined to shoot 9-for-35.

Nothin’ But Bet: Butler will likely fixate on defending and getting teammates involved in lieu of scoring for most of this one, so expect the Heat’s leader to surpass the 12.5 rebounds + assists prop available at FanDuel (+104).

Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Time/Venue: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena
  • Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Jazz 42-23/1-0 (31-32-2, 1-0); Thunder 40-24/0-0 (40-24, 0-0)
  • Line: OKC -1.5/217.5, OKC -116 ML, UTA +110
Line Analysis: Utah was a 1-point favorite when this line was set to open July, but the number flipped to the Thunder being favored the single digit. The total has been steadily bet up to where it currently resides after being available as low as 210.5 at one point. CG Technology had it at 211.5 on Friday morning but has similarly adjusted its numbers.
The Thunder were a 9-point underdog when they fell 100-95 in Utah on Opening night (Oct. 23) and won outright (104-90 as an 8.5-point ‘dog on Dec. 9. There was a huge disparity between the totals as the books put a number of 221.5 on the first one and just 206.5 in the December meeting. Both went under.

Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Andre Roberson is back for Oklahoma City after over two years battling back from a serious knee injury. He’s a difference-maker guarding wings, adding to the arsenal of athletic perimeter defenders Sam Presti has assembled. The Jazz come off a huge comeback win over New Orleans in which Jordan Clarkson played a huge role as the primary catalyst off the bench.

Handicapping Notes: Paul hasn’t shot the ball well in scrimmages but focused on getting teammates involved and has deferred to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder. The Thunder trio matches up against Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley and Clarkson, who weren’t together for the first few matchups.

Outside of Clarkson, no Utah reserve played even 15 minutes. Forward Georges Niang, guard Emmanuel Mudiay and center Tony Bradley combined to shoot 2-for-10, which won’t cut it since Clarkson can’t be tasked with the heavy lifting off the bench every time out. Adams shot 1-for-8 against Rudy Gobert’s defense in the opener and played better in the second matchup but still gave up 19 points and 17 boards on 9-for-10 shooting. Adams has looked great in the bubble thus far, so if he can be better against Gobert, the Thunder could close the 1.5=game gap between them and Utah.

Nothin’ But Bet: FanDuel has a player performance double prop that pays out +530 if Adams grabs 12 boards and the Thunder wins. That sounds like a winner to me.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Clippers

  • Time/Venue: 6:00 p.m. ET, HP Field House
  • Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Pelicans 28-37/0-1 (33-30-2, 0-1); Clippers 44-21/0-1 (35-30, 1-0)
  • Line: LAC -5/226, LAC -175 ML, NOP +180
Line Analysis: These numbers were hung well before the first game these teams played on Thursday night and weren’t altered much. The scoring flurries that Friday produced have led to bets on the ‘over’ that are pushing this total up some. These teams have met three times already this season and the total has hovered around 233 on each occasion, with the ‘over’ prevailing every time. The teams have combined for 259 or more twice. L.A. has won two of the matchups but only covered when it was favored by 13 at home (134-109, Nov. 24).

Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Patrick Beverley played despite not practicing, coming off the bench. Ivica Zubac and Landry Shamet also participated, so Doc Rivers is going to let his team play itself into shape during these seeding games. Without key reserves Lou Williams (quarantine) and Montrezl Harrell (family issue) available, there are plenty of shots and touches to go around. The Pelicans are taking it easy with Zion Williamson, who they don’t feel is ready for the grind since he had to leave the bubble to tend to a family matter. Don’t expect him to play more than 20 minutes or so.

Handicapping Notes: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 58 points per game against the Pelicans this season. Brandon Ingram only played in two games and shot 40 percent, averaging 22.5 points per game, a figure below his season average. Holiday has dominated, shooting 63.6 percent from 3-point range while averaging 27 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists. After losing to Utah, this is a must-win for a Pelicans squad that has fallen behind Portland in the race to finish ninth in the Western Conference. The Clippers, undoubtedly set to finish second or third, aren’t playing with the same sense of urgency.

Nothin’ But Bet: Look for Leonard to finish as the high scorer in this contest, which pays +105 at FanDuel.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Indiana Pacers

  • Time/Venue: 7 p.m. ET, Visa Athletic Center
  • Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): 76ers 39-26/0-0 (28-33-4, 0-0); Pacers 39-26/0-0 (34-28-3, 0-0)
  • Line: PHI -5.5/216.5, PHI ML -225, IND +200
Line Analysis: The Sixers were just a four-point favorite until earlier this week, when Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis was ruled out due to plantar fasciitis that forced him to leave the bubble. The total has been bet up from 210 to 216.5, which is higher than the previous three totals in their matchups that range from 207.5-215. The ‘under’ is 2-1. Indiana has covered all three meetings, winning outright twice.

Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: It’s no secret that the Sixers have a different look with Ben Simmons now at power forward and another scorer/creator in the backcourt mix in Shake Milton. Al Horford started to look comfortable as the anchor to that second unit in scrimmages, so Philly has the edge in quality depth given that the Pacers are suiting up without their leading scorer. Victor Oladipo is expected to play but hasn’t committed to doing so for the duration of these seeding games. Myles Turner will be counted on to be more assertive offensively with Sabonis out.

Handicapping Notes: The Pacers won the last two contests between these teams but Joel Embiid didn’t play either time. He scored 32 points and got to the line for 15 attempts in the 119-116 win on Nov. 30. Turner finished 1-for-8 from the field and picked up five fouls in that game, so he’ll have to be much more effective here for Indiana to have a shot. Oladipo hasn’t played in any of the games so far. The ‘over’ has prevailed in six straight games involving Philadelphia.

Nothin’ But Bet: Embiid netting a double-double in a 76ers win will actually get you +104 at FanDuel and is one of my favorite wagers for Saturday.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors

  • Time/Venue: 8:30 p.m. ET ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena
  • Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Lakers 50-14/1-0 (35-28-1, 0-1); Raptors 46-18/0-0 (35-28-1, 0-0)
  • Line: LAL -4/216, LAL ML -158, TOR +150
Line Analysis: Like most totals, this figure has been bet up over the past 72 hours, climbing from 213.5. The Raptors will be the last team to debut in Orlando, which is ironic since they’ve been working out longest since they were forced to vacate Canada. Toronto is a four-point underdog, which means the defending champs have come up in the eyes of oddsmakers considering it was a 10.5-point underdog at Staples the only time these teams met (Nov. 10). The Raps won outright 113-104, handing the Lakers their second loss of the season.

Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: It will be interesting to see whether either James or Davis dials back the intensity after that clash with the Clippers packed a playoff atmosphere into a bubble setting. Kyle Kuzma and Dion Waiters could more time with the West’s top seed essentially wrapped up. The Raptors are healthy and set to deploy the Eastern Conference’s deepest roster, which has been fortified by a slimmed-down Marc Gasol.

Handicapping Notes: The Lakers have lost 10 straight games to Toronto, so that alone is incentive if James wants another challenge this early in the bubble. He went just 5-for-15 in that 113-104 loss on Nov. 10 and Pascal Siakam ended up a plus-15 to produce an upset without Ibaka or Kyle Lowry available. That Gasol/Ibaka combination is going to be a handful for everyone if they can stay healthy, so Davis may get a tougher test than he did against the Clippers. We’ll know pretty quickly if L.A. will respect this as a Finals preview to send a message to the defending champs or whether it opts to punt, having already posted the more important win this week.

Nothin’ But Bet: I expect the Raptors to be ready to play and think it might take the Lakers a few possessions to get fully engaged and decide whether they’re up for testing themselves for another intense 48 minutes this early in the process of resuming play. Ride Toronto to be first to 15 points at FanDuel (+100).

NBA Daily
Free Pick

I like the Thunder to post a victory over Utah in a game with major seeding implications out West. Ride the money line (+120) rather than laying the 1.5 points considering it will probably be a tight one. Check out more free picks in multiple sports on the YouTube channel

NBA Betting Results
Reseeding Action

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under - O/U

Take Note

  • Favorites posted a 5-1 SU & ATS mark
  • The 'over' went 6-0 on Friday
  • Bettors pressing first-quarter (6-0) and first-half (6-0) 'over' bets also cashed big
  • Spurs (+3.5, ML +145) were lone underdogs to win on Friday
  • The point-spread has only mattered in one game so far (Clippers-Lakers)
2020 NBA Reseeding - Betting Results
Span Favorites-Dogs (SU) Favorites-Dogs (ATS) Over-Under (O/U)
Yesterday 5-1 5-1 6-0
Overall 6-2 5-3 6-2

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