Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM

NBA Bubble Bets - Monday

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Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat

  • Time/Venue: 1:35 p.m, HP Field House
  • Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Raptors 47-18/1-0 (36-28-1, 1-0); Heat 42-24/1-0 (34-30-2, 1-0)
  • Line:  TOR -3.5/220, TOR -144, MIA +122

Line Analysis: Uncertainty over the availability of Heat star Jimmy Butler has kept oddsmakers from placing a line on this one. Late reports suggest that he’s expected to play despite missing practice on Sunday over an issue that the Heat opted not to disclose. When he was unlikely to play, my personal number favored the Raptors by 5.5 points with a total of 219.5.

The Raptors and Heat have played each other on two occasions this season and each was favored by 5.5 at home. Miami won both games and held the defending champs to just 76 points in the most recent matchup in South Florida on Jan. 2. The total has been set at 212 and 214 in their matchups.

Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Butler was everywhere in helping set the tone in Miami’s impressive rout of Denver on Saturday and played 30 minutes, second only to shooter Duncan Robinson. Derrick Jones Jr. and Andre Iguodala would be in for a minutes boost if Butler can’t play.

Bam Adebayo did a great job in making Nikola Jokic work for everything he got and he figures to try and do the same against Toronto’s Pascal Siakam. Kyle Lowry took advantage of the Lakers’ issues at the point and dominated with a 33-point, 14-rebound night, looking awfully spry. The Heat’s weakness lies at the point too with rookie Kendrick Nunn and sixth man Goran Dragic being most vulnerable at the defensive end, so you can count on Toronto looking to exploit the strengths of Lowry and backcourt mate Fred VanVleet in those matchups at the point of attack.

Handicapping Notes: Miami snapped a four-game losing streak at the hands of the Raptors with their two victories this season but haven’t won three straight since 2014, the LeBron James era. Miami held the Raptors to 31.5 percent shooting in the only 2020 meeting as guards Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet shot a combined 7-for-32. The Raptors put together the most impressive defensive effort in the first round of bubble games in shutting down the Lakers, holding them to 35 percent shooting.

Nothin’ But Bet: Miami’s Robinson leading the team in minutes goes to show you how much Erik Spoelstra appreciates the spacing he provides for the offense since opponents have to respect his range out to 30 feet. He’s given the green light to let it fly whenever possible, so look for him to outperform the 13.5 points FanDuel set on him (-104).

Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Time/Venue: 4:05 p.m. ET, ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena
  • Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Nuggets 43-23/0-1 (29-33-4, 0-1); Thunder 41-24/1-0 (41-24, 1-0)
  • Line: OKC -4.5/219, OKC -196 ML, DEN +164

Line Analysis: The Thunder are a heavier favorite than I anticipated they would be but oddsmakers clearly don’t expect Jamal Murray to warm up his hamstring enough to play. Wings Will Barton (knee) and Gary Harris (hip) will miss another game and are being treated with kid gloves since Denver wants to ensure both are healthy for the playoffs. OKC dominated against Utah on Sunday in a wire-to-wire win where it led by as many as 29 points.

A victory would pull Oklahoma City within a half-game of the Northwest Division lead. The Thunder were a 1.5-point favorite at home when these teams played on Feb. 21 and was a six-point underdog when these teams played on Dec. 14. They’ve split their games this season. The total was set at 204 for the first game but was up at 216 a six months ago and stayed ‘under’ by a single basket.

Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Michael Porter Jr. struggled as a starter, shooting 2-for-8 from 3-point range and disrupting ball movement with some selfish decisions. Monte Morris handled point guard duties effectively but doesn’t offer the same threat from the perimeter that Murray does, making Denver easier to guard. Without Barton and Harris, Torrey Craig and Jerami Grant will see more action. While Bol Bol is fun to watch, undrafted third-year wing P.J. Dozier is ahead of him on the depth chart and will likely play a larger role in this key matchup.

Steven Adams finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds in outperforming Rudy Gobert and now takes aim on Jokic. Nerlens Noel managed four blocks in less than 18 minutes and looks healthy and confident too.

Handicapping Notes: Chris Paul struggled during the scrimmages but happily called his own number often against the Jazz, shooting 7-for-11 from the field while finishing with 18 points, seven boards and seven assists. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the team with 19 points and 12 shot attempts as the budding All-Star continues to improve. The ‘under’ has prevailed in four of the last six games involving Oklahoma City, which is really getting great mileage from rookie Luguentz Dort and young wings Darius Bazley and Hamidou Diallo. Those guys are in for more minutes with Dennis Schroder out on paternity leave.

Nothin’ But Bet: There’s no way you shouldn’t take a shot at Gilgeous-Alexander recording a triple-double at +10000 at FanDuel. You probably won’t win but those are fantastic odds and he’s plenty capable of doing so if he hits the boards harder.

Indiana Pacers at Washington Wizards

  • Time/Venue: 4:05 p.m. ET, Visa Athletic Center
  • Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Pacers 40-26/1-0 (35-28-3, 1-0); Wizards 24-42/0-2 (32-32-2, 0-2)
  • Line: IND -6.5/227.5, IND -295 ML, WASH +240

Line Analysis: The Wizards are getting a little more respect from oddsmakers than I anticipated since I placed this line at Indy -8. Perhaps there will be a letdown after Indiana pulled a crucial upset of Philadelphia despite falling behind early and missing forward Domantas Sabonis and point guard Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon is returning from his neck issue. Victor Oladipo is sitting out.

Indiana was a three-point favorite at home when these teams squared off at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Nov. 6 and the total for this game is very similar to what it was set for in that game despite the absence of Sabonis and Bradley Beal.

Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: I don’t think we’ll see Sabonis in the bubble until at least the playoffs if he manages to get back at all. Brogdon is a different story since he wasn’t scratched until roughly 90 minutes before tipoff against Philadelphia. Oladipo and Aaron Holiday handled duties at the point of attack effectively and will be in for similar run if Brogdon is unable to shake the neck pain that sidelined him.

The Wizards are the first team to play a back-to-back, which is another reason I question this line since it doesn’t appear that the books penalized them for it. Washington center Thomas Bryant, who spent multiple seasons in Bloomington playing for the Indiana Hoosiers in college, comes off a brilliant 30-point, 13-rebound game in Sunday’s loss to Brooklyn. He’s played three games on the second of a back-to-back, shooting 63 percent while averaging 14 points and 6.3 rebounds.

Handicapping Notes: The Wizards have very little room for error after failing to hold on to a fourth-quarter lead and losing to Brooklyn. A victory would’ve helped close the gap on the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, potentially leading to a play-in series. Instead, another loss here would essentially mean Washington is indeed just playing out the string the rest of the way, so Scott Brooks will have his hands full keeping his mismatched, depleted roster interested if they fall behind early here. The Pacers have won four of the last five matchups with Washington, winning by at least seven points on each occasion.

Nothin’ But Bet: We nailed the first basket in the Wizards/Nets game by backing Jarrett Allen for a return of +600 at FanDuel and will got back to the well by riding Wizards center Bryant at +750 to give Washington an early 2-0 lead.

Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Pelicans

  • Time/Venue: 6:35 p.m. ET, HP Field House
  • Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Grizzlies 32-35/0-2 (34-32-1, 0-2); Pelicans 28-38/0-2 (33-31-2, 0-2)
  • Line: NO -4.5/237.5, NO ML -200, MEM +168

Line Analysis: By my estimation, the books did take yesterday’s taxing loss to the Spurs ot this opening number since it’s a little higher than my personal figures indicate it should be. Memphis still has a 3.5-game edge on the Pelicans but has seen its lead over the current No. 9, San Antonio, to just two games. Portland is 2.5 back, and the Grizzlies will certainly start to feel the pressure after coming up short late in the first two games.

The Pelicans are also feeling pressure after blowing a lead to Utah in the bubble opener and getting absolutely destroyed by the Clippers over the weekend. New Orleans was a 3-point underdog at Memphis when these teams played on Jan. 10 and pulled a 126-116 upset but were favored by 7.5 points at home following Zion Williamson’s debut and dominated 139-111 at Smoothie King Center. The total was set at 242 each time.

Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Williamson scored 24 points in his lone game against Memphis, shooting 60 percent. He didn’t played more than 15 minutes in either contest last week and doesn’t figure to play more than 20 on Monday despite a heightened sense of urgency kicking in. Ja Morant will win the Rookie of the Year this season but has averaged just 16 points and six assists against Pelicans’ standout defender Jrue Holiday. Brandon Ingram comes off a 14-point game and never found a rhythm against the Clippers, so expect him to be more aggressive here.

Handicapping Notes: The Pelicans have won four of five against the Grizzlies as they enter what is essentially a must-win. It's therefore no surprise to see them favored considering Memphis is playing the second of a back-to-back. Alvin Gentry hasn’t had a great showing at the bubble thus far, getting outcoached by Quin Snyder and Doc Rivers. It’s on him to give his team their best chance to win even with Williamson unlikely to surpass 20 minutes of floor time. Deciding which 20 minutes he’s out there for could make all the difference.

Nothin’ But Bet: The Grizzlies have started slowly in both games they’ve played in Orlando to date, rallying in the second half before falling just short. Considering Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins will be wary of how much his team has in the tank and will be looking for better play in the first half, taking the 2.5 points in the opening 24 minutes is the right call. FanDuel has this available at -110.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Philadelphia 76ers

  • Time/Venue: 8:05 p.m. ET, Visa Athletic Center
  • Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Spurs 29-36/2-0 (27-37-1, 2-0); 76ers 39-27/0-1 (28-34-4, 0-1)
  • Line: PHIL -7/227.5, PHIL ML -300, SA +245

Line Analysis: There were no eyebrows raised by this number. I had it in the 6.5-7.5 range and don’t expect to see it any higher or lower than that unless someone is scratched pre-game. Philly’s upset loss to the Pacers has them running sixth in the East while the Spurs have moved up to the coveted 9th spot out West by being the only team to pull off a pair of upsets.

The Spurs were a 7-point underdog in Philadelphia on Nov. 22 and lost 115-104 despite holding Ben Simmons to just 3-for-10 shooting. San Antonio has lost four of the last five matchups but do own a 123-96 rout back in 2018 as the lone outlier.

Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Brett Brown is again facing massive criticism after his Sixers blew a lead against the short-handed Pacers and again put their inconsistency on full display. Shake Milton starting at the point was no surprise since that tweak was well documented in conjunction with Simmons moving to power forward and Al Horford transitioning to a sixth man role, but he struggled with the first unit and ultimately lost minutes to Raul Neto. To his credit, Horford played much better than expected and Simmons got wherever he wanted but again neglected to stretch the defense by refusing to take even a single 3-pointer.

It will be interesting to see whether Gregg Popovich chooses to sit anyone for San Antonio’s lone back-to-back in the bubble. Dejounte Murray is the most likely to have his minutes monitored since the Spurs have been cognizant of making sure to treat his knees with kid gloves.

Handicapping Notes: Rudy Gay has been excellent thus far, but it remains to be seen if the Spurs choose to ride small ball considering how big Philadelphia’s roster is. Jakob Poeltl and Drew Eubanks will be on Embiid duty, which may not give Pop much of a choice if both land in foul trouble. Tobias Harris led the Sixers in scoring in their lone matchup with San Antonio this season and has been told to hunt 3-pointers aggressively to keep defenses honest. Expect him to be the x-factor here, with DeMar DeRozan and Gay playing similar roles for the Spurs.

Nothin’ But Bet: Riding Harris to score at least 25 points in a 76ers victory pays +400 at FanDuel. He scored 30 in the loss to Indiana on Saturday night and led Philly with 26 points on 10-for-16 shooting in the regular-season victory over San Antonio.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz

  • Time/Venue: 9:05 p.m. ET, ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena
  • Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Lakers 50-15/1-1 (35-29-1, 0-2); Jazz 42-24/1-1 (31-33-2, 1-1)
  • Line: LAL -6/217, LAL ML -245, UTA +200

Line Analysis: The total here is a little lower than I expected it would be and I’d imagine that this spread is likely to get to 6.5 or 7 when public money comes in on the Lake Show after Davis and James are officially ruled in. L.A.’s totals for their first two games were set at 220 and 225 but both went to the low side by a significant margin.

Utah also saw its first two games go ‘under’ 229 and 219 despite splitting against the Jazz and Thunder.

The Jazz are 0-2 against L.A. this season but haven’t seen the Lakers in 2020. They managed to score just 86 and 96 points in a pair of losses, failing to cover the spread each time. The Lakers shot 14-for-29 from 3-point range in Salt Lake City in the most recent matchup (Dec. 4), leading to a 25-point blowout. Totals have been set at 212.5 and 216, falling in line with where this one resides.

Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Former Laker Jordan Clarkson has played a vital role of the bench for Utah and will have to play catalyst if the Jazz are to pull off this upset. The Jazz are averaging just 100 points per game and have really struggled to replace the 20 points per game Bojan Bogdanovic brought to the table, not to mention the improved spacing he provides.

The Lakers have gotten improved play from University of Utah product Kyle Kuzma and newly acquired Dion Waiters off the bench and hope to see that continue. Dwight Howard hasn’t been as productive in a reserve role as he was during the regular season but he figures to have his name called early in helping Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee deal with Rudy Gobert.

Handicapping Notes: James has put an emphasis on defense in bubble play and couldn’t have been happy watching his guards struggle to contain Lowry on Saturday night. With catalysts like Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley and Clarkson to keep tabs on in a bounce-back effort, we should expect to see adjustments. The Lakers suffered through a five-game losing streak and a four-game skid in 2020, so don’t fall for the narrative that they’re unbeatable following a loss. Utah has gotten help with the Nuggets struggling but now have to be wary of surging Oklahoma City in the race to win the Northwest. They play Denver on Aug. 8 and Dallas on Aug. 10 and must deal with the suddenly hot Spurs twice too.

Nothin’ But Bet: Although LeBron is a threat here, I expect Davis and Gobert to neutralize one another inside and look for Mitchell to emerge as the highest scorer on either team. That pays +320 at FanDuel.

NBA Daily
Free Pick

Brett Brown will look to try and get the Sixers back on track against his former boss Gregg Popovich, who will undoubtedly have a few ideas on how to give his Spurs the best chance to go 3-0 in seeding games despite a short-handed roster that is at a significant size advantage. My guess is we’ll see a lot of zone and taking the air out of the action. Ride the under in that 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 3-3 SU & and 2-3-1 ATS mark on Sunday. Depending on where you got the spread, the Celtics either failed to cover or pushed vs. Portland.
  • The 'under' went 4-2 on Sunday
  • The point-spread has only mattered in two games so far (Clippers-Lakers, Celtics-Blazers)
2020 NBA Reseeding - Betting Results
Span Favorites-Dogs (SU) Favorites-Dogs (ATS) Over-Under (O/U)
Yesterday 2-3-1 2-3-1 2-4
Overall 10-7-2 9-8-2 10-9

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