Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM
NBA Bubble Bets - Wednesday
Indiana Pacers vs. Houston Rockets
- Time/Venue: 4:05 p.m, AdventHealth Arena
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Pacers 43-28/4-2 (38-30-3, 4-2); Rockets 44-26/4-2 (33-37, 4-2)
- Line: HOU -7/232.5, HOU ML -278, HOU +225
Line Analysis: Considering the Rockets were blown out by San Antonio yesterday, the James Harden effect is on display given the spread here. He’ll be in the mix while Russell Westbrook rests and Eric Gordon returns from an ankle injury suffered in the final scrimmage before seeding games began. Nate McMillan has a banged-up team on his hands and promised to shuffle rotations and spread out minutes before play in the bubble began so we might be in for one of those games where he tinkers.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: McMillan has received a contract extension and has done a nice job developing his group, though there are criticisms about how archaic his offense can be. He’s dealt well without having Domantas Sabonis to play through after the talented forward had to leave the bubble to deal with a painful case of plantar fasciitis. It’s helped that Victor Oladipo decided to play and he’s been better than expected. T.J. Warren, a first-team all-bubble lock, has also been nursing a foot injury that could sideline him here if Indiana chooses the cautious approach. Gordon returning for the Rockets means he’ll be shaking off the rust while also getting time that Ben McLemore and Austin Rivers have used effectively to get themselves going over the past few weeks.
Handicapping Notes: Since scoring 153 points in that tremendous win over the Mavericks to open their bubble schedule, the Rockets have scored 120 or more points only twice in five games and have seen the ‘over’ cash only once. The regular-season meeting between these two went ‘under’ as Houston prevailed at home 111-102. Gordon, an Indianapolis legend, is the x-factor here. How effective will he be? Mike D’Antoni is prioritizing getting him some reps and will put the ball in his hands often. .
Nothin’ But Bet: Bet the ‘over’ on Harden assists. My expectation is he’ll look to facilitate for Gordon and others in this one.
Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers
- Time/Venue: 6:35 p.m. ET, AdventHealth Arena
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Raptors 51-19/5-1 (40-29-1, 5-1); 76ers 42-29/3-3 (29-38-4, 1-5)
- Line: TOR -5.5/220.5 TOR -250 ML, PHI +205
Line Analysis: Joel Embiid, Al Horford and Tobias Harris are all expected to play after being labeled questionable to play. The trio sat out Tuesday’s loss to Phoenix. The Raptors should have a full roster in play after a rest day on the heels of posting wins in both ends of a back-to-back against the Grizzlies and Bucks. They’re locked into the East’s No. 2 seed.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: Pascal Siakam hasn’t rebounded well but has found the range from the perimeter. Skinnier Marc Gasol is still every bit as impressive a defender as the larger model, and guards Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet have been tremendous. Both should play here, which means Philly point guard Shake Milton will have his hands full. Josh Richardson had a huge game in a loss to Portland before sitting out yesterday’s loss to Phoenix, so he’ll be the x-factor for the Sixers. Alec Burks comes off a great effort in Tuesday’s loss to the Suns and gives the offense some teeth now that he’s guaranteed a larger role with Ben Simmons sidelined.
Handicapping Notes: Toronto won two of three this season against its Atlantic Division rival but these teams haven’t seen one another since Jan. 22. The 76ers suffered both losses in Toronto, failing to crack the century mark. They beat the Raps at home 110-104 on Dec. 8 in the only meeting that didn’t go ‘under.’ The low side is 5-0-1 in seeding games involving the Raptors.
Nothin’ But Bet: We’ll get creative in this one and ride the 76ers to win the first quarter but the Raptors to ultimately take the game. That first-quarter winner/match winner prop pays +330 at FanDuel.
Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
- Time/Venue: 8:05 p.m. ET, Visa Athletic Center
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Heat 44-27/3-3 (36-33-2, 3-3); Thunder 43-27/3-3 (43-27, 3-3)
- Line: MIA -3/222.5 MIA -136 ML, OKC +115
Line Analysis: The Heat opened as a heavier underdog here and I don’t understand why. Both teams have been impressive in the bubble. This should be a pick’em. If Jimmy Butler is counted in as a participant, I’d expect this line to shift closer to that.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: The Heat dominated three of the four quarters against the Pacers as Jimmy Butler returned and shut down T.J. Warren, helping hold one of the bubble’s breakout stars scoreless in the second half. Goran Dragic (ankle) also returned, rejoining the starting lineup with rookie Kendrick Nunn “self-quarantining” after leaving the bubble. He’s not expected to play today but according to Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel beat writer Ira Winderman, that could change. Tyler Herro has excelled with more touches and seems well-suited to taking over Dragic’s role as chief catalyst off the bench.
Chris Paul played both legs of a back-to-back for the Thunder and appears to want to log reps and help teammates improve through these seeding games. Centers Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel have been banged up this week and have been excluded from the lineup the past few games. Mike Muscala has started in the middle and Darius Bazley has flourished in creating matchup problems by using his mobility as a small-ball big man.
Handicapping Notes: These are two of the bubble’s most impressive defensive teams, and it will be interesting to see if Bazley can have the same impact that he’s enjoyed over the past few weeks when facing Miami’s active frontcourt paced by Bam Adebayo. The ‘under’ is 3-3 for both teams but cashed more often than not prior to the regular season being put on pause as these teams established identities. The ‘over’ connected in the lone meeting back on Jan. 17. The Heat won 115-108 in OKC as a 1-point favorite but Adams didn’t play and Herro was ill. Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala weren’t part of the Miami roster yet.
Nothin’ But Bet: If Adams plays, I’d bet the first-quarter under.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets
- Time/Venue: 9:05 p.m. ET, AdventHealth Arena
- Records/Bubble Records (SU/ATS): Clippers 47-23/3-3 (39-31, 4-2); Nuggets 46-25/3-3 (33-34-4, 4-2)
- Line: LAC -5/227.5, LAC ML -220, DEN +184
Line Analysis: This number is right around where it should be, though it opened a little higher than I would’ve guessed and was sharply bet as some took the points with the Nuggets. These Western conference heavyweights are expected to meet in the semifinals if both hold serve as seeded favorites in their first-round series. L.A. sent a message in the most recent matchup between these teams on Feb. 28, prevailing 132-103 as a seven-point home favorite. Denver was a one-point underdog when it won at home on Jan. 12, but Paul George was absent for that 114-104 result. The total for both games closed in the 220-221 range.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch: L.A. super sub Montrezl Harrell is now expected to return on Friday after coming out of quarantine. His absence has opened the door for Ivica Zubac and JaMychal Green to split more minutes center, offering teams different looks in a manner that has proven effective. George and Leonard will likely rejoin forces and should be in the mix for this one and Friday’s finale against the Thunder.
The Nuggets are going to be without starting wings Will Barton and Gary Harris for one more game before potentially getting them back on Friday for a dress-rehearsal. Both have been too injured to play throughout the seeding games, giving Michael Porter Jr. and Jerami Grant opportunities to really contribute. Jamal Murray returned on Saturday and has looked sharp, allowing Monte Morris to return to the bench role that suits him best. He was the key to Denver’s cover against the Lakers on Monday.
Handicapping Notes: This would ordinarily be a massive game between the second and third seeds in the West since a Nuggets’ victory would trim the difference between the teams to a half-game. Without homecourt advantage in play, it means much less. It remains to be seen whether Doc Rivers and Michael Malone hold anything back since neither wants to tip their hand prior to an expected playoff meeting, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see this one wind up with a scrimmage feel. Harrell’s return and the fact that Malone is still taking a long look at the likes of P.J. Dozier and Bol Bol contribute to the feeling that this contest isn’t likely to get bogged down by many coaching tactics.
Nothin’ But Bet: Porter Jr.’s run is about to come to an end since Barton’s return will limit touches and potentially send him back to the bench. Expect him to be aggressive in making Malone’s decision a difficult one with a big game here. Ride the over a Porter Jr. points + rebounds prop.
Dennis Schroder is still in quarantine after returning from paternity leave and isn’t expected to play, while Paul just played in a back-to-back. I think the wrong team opened as the favorite in Heat-Thunder so I’ll be backing Miami to clinch the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference with a victory and taking points or backing the money line, whichever makes most sense depending on the book.
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