Betting preview for Saturday's NBA games


No lead is safe in the NBA, and bettors of the last two Phoenix Suns games know that all too well.

Two nights after blowing a 24-point lead to Brooklyn at home, the Suns found themselves down 11 to the Pelicans entering the fourth quarter. Phoenix, much like a mythical bird that is born from the ashes of its corpse, erupted in the final quarter of play. Chris Paul scored five points and assisted on five more buckets, and the Suns used a 27-5 run to win and cover against the Pelicans.

New Orleans allowed Phoenix to average 1.299 points per possession last night, and the over is now 20-2-1 in the last 23 Pelicans games. Stan Van Gundy has some work to do in Nawlins, and that defense is showing zero signs of improving. Does the ‘Naw’ stand for the response these Pelicans players have when asked to play defense? I’ll see myself out, and you can enjoy today’s NBA notes.

Note: *indicates that team is on the second leg of a back-to-back

Updated injury reports can be found here.

Updated odds for every game can be found here.

The Main Event

Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers (-3.5, 214.5)

There is no question the Lakers are in a low point of the regular season. They are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games, and coming off of a drubbing at the hands of the Nets on Thursday night. Over these 13 games, Los Angeles is averaging just 110.2 points every 100 possessions, and shooting just 30.7 percent from beyond the arc. The issues surrounding this offense are real, and there does not seem to be help coming anytime soon. Dennis Schröder has already been ruled out for this game as well, leaving the Lakers shorthanded when it comes to shot creation.

This struggling offense must now face a Heat team that has been spectacular on defense, even as they struggle themselves on offense. Since Jimmy Butler’s return, Miami has the fourth-best defensive rating in the league (108.7), which has allowed them to outscore their opponents over that stretch despite the 23rd-ranked offense (109.6). 

Two bad offenses and two great defenses will meet at Staples Center tonight, so it is not surprising to see this total bet down from 214.5 to 208 which is the widely available number at the time of writing . What is surprising is the side. Do you think Miami is power rated the same as Brooklyn? No? Then why are the Lakers laying the exact same number today as they were on Thursday?

The Co-Main Event

Phoenix Suns* (-3, 224.5) at Memphis Grizzlies

Kudos to Phoenix for overcoming the Pelicans last night, but we do need to address the defense the Suns have put out there lately. In the five games prior to last night, Phoenix had posted a 115.7 defensive rating, 22nd-best over that stretch. The Pelicans averaged 1.125 per possession last night overall, but that is really watered down by the poor fourth quarter. I believe the Suns are overvalued, specifically when it comes to their defense, and that has proven to be true over these last six games.

Memphis has not been much better lately. The results are starting to show, as the team has covered its last two, but the defense has not improved. Over their last nine games, the Grizzlies are giving up 120.6 points every 100 possessions, and opponents are shooting a league-best 43.2 percent from deep! Given the issues both teams have, it won’t be a surprise to watch this total balloon in the hours leading up to tip-off.

The Prelims

Golden State Warriors* (-2, 230.5) at Charlotte Hornets

It has been nearly a week since Charlotte has played, and with Devonte’ Graham sidelined due to a knee injury it is hard to get a read on what the Hornets will be when they take the floor against Golden State tonight. The Warriors had won four of five games heading into Friday’s game against the Magic, but a rare night of bad defense gave Orlando the victory. Golden State is now 5-8 SU and ATS on the road this season. 

Sacramento Kings (-2, 233.5) at Chicago Bulls*

The Kings are 0-5 SU and ATS in their last five games with a -10.3 net rating, the 27th-ranked defense (122.3) and an offense that is managing just 112.0 points every 100 possessions. Should they be laying points on the road to anyone? 

Chicago has been the better team statistically across the board, and last night covered against Philadelphia. The market has been pretty high on Sacramento since that 7-1 SU/8-0 ATS run earlier this month, but this seems to be too high for a team that is on even footing with them.

Washington Wizards at Portland Trail Blazers (-3.5, 242)

Let’s keep this simple. Portland is 8-2 SU and ATS in its last 10 games with the fifth-best offense in the league (119.7), and the eighth-best net rating (+ 3.9). The betting market has refused to adjust its perception of this team, and has actively bet against them in each of the last four games. Today, they are finally getting right, driving this number up a point to 4.5 at most shops. Until this run ends, why go against Dame D.O.L.L.A.?

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Matt Youmans: Heat (+8.5) at Nuggets. View more picks.


The Lombardi Line: Both the Nuggets and Heat shot poorly in Game 1 of the NBA Finals - and the total is down five points in Game 2 (219.5 to 214.5). Consider betting the OVER if you expect any positive regression. View more tips.