Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:53 PM
NBA Bubble Bets - Thursday
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Sacramento Kings
- Time/Venue: 1:35 p.m, HP Field House
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Pelicans 29-38/1-2 (34-31-2, 1-2); Kings 28-39/0-3 (34-31-2, 1-2)
- Line: NO -6/233.5, NO ML -200, SAC +165
Line Analysis: The opening line started at 3.5 to 4 points and has been bet up some with early action coming in on the Pels. The total was bet slightly down from 234-234.5 in a number that resides right around where I expected it would be. It closed at 225.5 and was surpassed to the ‘over’ in the Pelicans’ 117-115 win at Golden 1 Center on Jan. 4.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: The Pelicans are playing the first of a back-to-back and will worry about minute restrictions or sitting the likes of Zion Williamson and Derrick Favors after this one is in the books. Williamson played 25 minutes in Monday’s win over Memphis, the most he’s played in a game since Jan. 8. The Kings have all hands on deck as well.
Handicapping Notes: In Richaun Holmes and fellow Dukie Harry Giles, the Kings do have athletes who can at least make Williamson work around the basket, while the Pels will look to keep Fox from attacking early and getting teammates going. That could be an issue given that New Orleans’ up-and-down style is exactly what Fox prefers. He’s averaging 26.7 points and 6.0 assists thus far despite shooting just 3-for-15 from 3-point range. If he, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic find the range, Sacramento could surprise.
Nothin’ But Bet: Hield had 24 points and a team-high 12 boards in an active performance in the 117-115 loss early in 2020 and should be aggressive against the team that drafted him in an elimination game. Ride the ‘over’ on 16.5 points (-113).
Indiana Pacers vs. Phoenix Suns
- Time/Venue: 4:05 p.m. ET, Visa Athletic Center
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Pacers 42-26/3-0 (37-28-3, 3-0); Suns 29-39/3-0 (32-35-1, 3-0)
- Line: IND -3/229, IND -148 ML, PHX +126
Line Analysis: There looks to be value in riding the Suns on the money line since the Pacers being favored by a three-spot is exactly what I expected but the return on a Phoenix outright win offers a higher profit than anticipated.
Indiana beat the Suns in Phoenix 112-87 the only time these teams got together during the regular season back on Jan. 22. The Pacers closed as a one-point road favorite and the total fell shy of the closing figure of 221.5.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Domantas Sabonis remains sidelined and will be missed considering he finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds in that first matchup. Malcolm Brogdon’s neck isn’t expected to be an issue, while Victor Oladipo also seems to be playing without much discomfort.
active and making Kristaps Porzingis work on the defensive end.
Handicapping Notes: Devin Booker has been this sharp all season, so him beating Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for a game-winner was no fluke. Phoenix shot 4-for-20 from 3-point range in their loss to Indiana and will be looking to get going there. Without Kelly Oubre (knee) available, the Suns will have to rely on Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson to slow down Bubble MVP T.J. Warren, who has averaged just shy of 40 points per game through the first three contests in Orlando. He led the Pacers with 25 points in their win over the Suns.
Nothin’ But Bet: Myles Turner has been more assertive offensively without Sabonis in the mix and is especially aggressive getting out on the perimeter. Look for him to pull Deandre Ayton away from the rim by attempting a number of 3-pointers. I think he’ll hit at least two, which will go ‘over’ FanDuel’s number in their prop on Turner trifectas at a nice return rate of +134.
Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks
- Time/Venue: 4:05 p.m. ET, ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Heat 43-25/2-1 (35-31-2, 2-1); Bucks 54-14/1-2 (37-31, 1-2)
- Line: MIL -8.5/XXX MIL -380 ML, MIA +300
Line Analysis: There was no total on this as of the early morning when this was written, but I would imagine it winds up in the low 220s. Jimmy Butler’s absence was known since he ruled out and has been baked into the line, but expect the Heat to end up getting double-digits if Goran Dragic can’t go.
Totals in this series were set at 223 and 227.5 for Miami’s regular-season upsets of the Bucks. The Heat won as an 11.5-point underdog on Oct. 26 at Fiserv Forum and rolled 105-89 in South Florida on March 2 while getting five points.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Butler won’t play due to right foot soreness as he’s clearly gearing up to try and be 100 percent for his duel against Indiana’s Warren. Dragic’s x-rays on an ankle sprain suffered late in Tuesday’s win over Boston came back negative but he’s listed as questionable. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton didn’t play in the second half of Tuesday’s loss to the Nets, so this will be the first time they’ll play with the recovered Eric Bledsoe for longer than a few stretches of going through the motions. Bledsoe reported he was asymptomatic but struggled getting clean tests to rejoin the team following a bout with COVID-19. Pat Connaughton has returned too.
Handicapping Notes: Bam Adebayo vs. Antetokounmpo will be worth the price of admission and should give you pause in jumping on Milwaukee despite the Heat coming in shorthanded. Still, without Butler to offer a different look, Adebayo could have his hands full if he’s taken out of his game the way he was by Toronto. Adebayo was extremely aggressive to compensate and set the tone for the Butler-less upset of Boston, so he’ll be the x-factor here. Getting strong games from rookie guards Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn will likely also be essential to Miami’s chances.
Nothin’ But Bet: Let’s get crazy and chase a big payday here. Back Brook Lopez to score the game’s first basket in a Bucks’ win (+1300, FanDuel).
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks
- Time/Venue: 6:35 p.m. ET, HP Field House
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Clippers 45-22/1-2 (36-31, 2-1); Mavs 41-29/1-2 (35-32-3, 0-3)
- Line: LAC -4/231, LAC ML -174, DAL +146
Line Analysis: While the spread looks right about where I expected, the total is much higher than anticipated. The Mavs do own the NBA’s most efficient offense, but the Clippers are very capable of locking teams up. L.A.’s totals in the last three games have all hovered in the low 230s, while Dallas’ have been in the 232.5-236.5 range but have come in ‘under’ in two straight.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: The Clippers will play without point guard Patrick Beverley, who is out due to calf soreness. Key reserve big man Montrezl Harrell remains out, having lost his grandmother while being away from the team. He’s expected to be in the mix at some point but won’t play here. The Mavs are expected to again be without shooter Seth Curry, who sat the other night with a leg injury and is considered doubtful. Small guards J.J. Barea and Trey Burke are expected to fill in.
Handicapping Notes: The Mavs are looking for their first win in three tries against the Clippers, so this sets up nicely as Luka Doncic squaring off with two guys who would look to make his life miserable in a series in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Doncic shot just 40 percent in the two losses to the Clips, averaging 29 points, nine rebounds and 7.5 assists. He shot just 15 percent from 3-point range.
Nothin’ But Bet: Dorian Finney-Smith had a huge game on the boards in his most recent outing and has become one of Rick Carlisle’s favorite players due to his attention to all the dirty work. While him getting in foul trouble is a concern, it’s impossible not to ride the ‘over’ on 5.5 rebounds set at FanDuel (-146).
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets
- Time/Venue: 8:05 p.m. ET ESPN, Visa Athletic Center
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Blazers 31-38/2-1 (29-37-3, 2-0-1); Nuggets 45-23/2-1 (31-33-4, 2-1)
- Line: POR -4/XXX, POR ML -176, DEN +148
Line Analysis: The Blazers are benefiting from being the fresher group considering the Nuggets were extended by San Antonio on Wednesday. Portland was also so effective against Houston that one could argue this line is inflated, but sense of urgency is definitely in the Blazers’ favor since they’ve moved into the coveted ninth spot in the Western Conference playoff picture but have plenty of teams on their heels. It remains to be seen if Denver head coach Michael Malone holds anyone out on the second of a back-to-back.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Starting guards Jamal Murray and Gary Harris have yet to play in Orlando, but Murray appears close. Returning to face the Blazers’ star-studded backcourt would provide a huge boost. Wing Will Barton remains out as well. Portland is healthy and has multiple guys producing at a high level since Carmelo Anthony has produced efficiently and Gary Trent Jr. has been a revelation.
Michael Porter Jr. and Jerami Grant have each excelled in heightened roles due to having the ball in their hands more with Murray and Barton out. Both have thrived from beyond the arc, which could turn this game into a track meet if that continues.
Handicapping Notes: The Nuggets won both regular-season meetings against the Blazers, which certainly adds fuel to the fire for Portland, which envisioned fighting the Nuggets for the Northwest Division this late in the season. Instead, the Blazers find themselves looking for a shot at a No. 8 seed and a date with the Lakers. With games against the Clippers, 76ers and Mavs on deck, this one almost feels like a must-win considering Denver could pull back the reins since its playing on consecutive days with a short-handed roster.
Nothin’ But Bet: Jusuf Nurkic was run out of Denver by Nikola Jokic’s development. Although the two are friendly, you know a healthy and rejuvenated Nurkic will go right at his former teammate. Ride the ‘over’ on him scoring 17.5 points in this one. (-104).
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets
- Time/Venue: 9:05 p.m. ET, ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Lakers 51-16/2-2 (36-30-1, 1-3); Rockets 42-25/2-1 (31-36, 2-1)
- Line: LAL -1.5/XXX, LAL ML -126, LAL +108
Line Analysis: The Lakers didn’t show much life against a Thunder team that suffocated them from the jump, so it’s surprising to see them favored here despite Houston guard Russell Westbrook listed as questionable (quad). Although neither team “needs” this game, you can definitely buy the sense of urgency angle for the Rockets more than an L.A. squad that has just about wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. There has been no talk about any of the Lakers stars resting.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Expect this line to shift if and when we get definitve news on Westbrook. L.A.’s Anthony Davis scored just nine points in the loss to Oklahoma City, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope suffered a blow to his side that required treatment, so it remains to be seen how he felt this morning. James may play in a back-to-back, but his minutes could very well be limited since this game doesn’t mean much. L.A. head coach Frank Vogel does expect to have Dwight Howard back after he sat out with knee soreness on Wednesday.
Handicapping Notes: It’s always a party when these teams get together since L.A. natives James Harden and Westbrook relish taking down the Purple and Gold. James takes these games as personal challenges as a result, but I’m not sure that intensity is going to translate to the bubble with the Lakers becoming the first team to cross the halfway point in playing their fifth game on the Disney Wide World of Sports campus. The total for the most recent meeting was set a 239.5 but is unlikely to get up that high for this one.
Nothin’ But Bet: A Harden first basket in a Houston win “double” pays +1100 at FanDuel and would be worth a look given all the uncertainty in place.
I don’t see Doc Rivers showing his hand on how he intends to defend Doncic in the event that the Clippers and Mavericks square off in the playoffs. Without a key defender like Pat Beverley in the mix, throwing Dallas’ offense off its rhythm would be challenging anyway. Oddsmakers set the total a little higher than expected for a reason. I’ll recommend taking the ‘over’ in Clips/Mavs. Check out more free picks in multiple sports on the VegasInsider.com YouTube channel
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