With only four days of NBA seeding games remaining in the bubble, there is plenty still to be decided before the 2019-20 postseason.
In this column, we'll give an analytical preview of a few of the day's top games and give game notes on the rest to help bettors with their wagers.
Tuesday's top games
Phoenix Suns (-9.5, 226) at Philadelphia 76ers
The Suns continue their march toward a potential play-in series, this time facing a short-handed 76ers squad. Phoenix has been tremendous on both ends of the floor in the bubble, but its defense has seen the biggest improvement. The Suns are second among bubble teams in defensive rating (104.5), and opponents are shooting just 30.1 percent from beyond the arc. The perimeter defense is likely unsustainable, at least to this extent, especially when you consider Phoenix is allowing 36.2% to opposing shooters on the season.
This also matters because Philadelphia is going to have a different look on Tuesday: The 76ers played five games without Simmons and Embiid, and during that stretch they ranked second in offensive rating (122.4). During that surge Philadelphia shot 44.3 percent from three on 37.0 attempts per game. They will be a test for Phoenix’s improved perimeter defense.
- Tobias Harris, Ankle (Questionable)
- Al Horford, Knee (Questionable)
- Joel Embiid, Ankle (Out)
- Josh Richardson, Rest (Out)
- Ben Simmons, Knee (Out)
Portland Trail Blazers (-4.5, 238.5) at Dallas Mavericks
Portland needs to continue its winning ways, so the team can remain in control of its destiny. The Trail Blazers have been quite fortunate lately, as their last three games faced teams that rested multiple starters or who lost starters in the game due to injury. Even with that help, Portland went 2-1 SU/ATS with just a + 3.1 net rating and trailed in the fourth quarter of each game.
Now, they get Dallas on the back end of a back-to-back, but the Mavericks rested every starter Monday. One can assume that the Mavericks will be playing at close to full strength against the Blazers. While Dallas has its own issues defensively, this could be a spot for bettors to get some value betting against a Portland team that could be overvalued by the market.
- Hassan Whiteside, Hip (Probable)
Tuesday’s game observations
Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic (-4.5, 221.5)
- Brooklyn has been profitable in Orlando, going 4-2 SU/ATS in Orlando.
- The Nets’ 48.2% rebounding rate could get them into trouble against a good rebounding team like Orlando, which grabs 51.2 percent of all available rebounds.
- Orlando has struggled to find offensive consistency, posting a 104.6 offensive rating in its last four games.
- Caris LeVert, Thigh (Out)
- Joe Harris, Groin (Out)
- Jarrett Allen, Ankle (Out)
- Garrett Temple, Rest (Out)
- Terrence Ross, Personal (Out)
- Evan Fournier, Illness (Out)
- Aaron Gordon, Hamstring (Doubtful)
- Michael Carter-Williams, Foot (Doubtful)
Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs (-4.5, 237)
- San Antonio has been much quicker in Orlando. During the regular season their pace was a projected 100.60 possessions even 48 minutes. In six seeding games their pace is 104.92, third quickest in the bubble.
- Houston’s pace is 105.83 in Orlando, which could mean plenty of possessions for both teams tonight.
- The Spurs still do not defend. They have a poor defensive rating in the bubble, and teams are shooting 47.9 percent from the floor, 37.1 percent from deep.
- James Harden, Rest (Out)
- Russell Westbrook, Quad (Questionable/Likely)
- Danuel House Jr., Toe (Questionable)
- Eric Gordon, Ankle (Out)
- Bryn Forbes, Quad (Out)
- Trey Lyles, Illness (Out)
- Derrick White, Knee (Questionable)
Boston Celtics (-3, 226) at Memphis Grizzlies
- Memphis is 19th in the bubble in offensive efficiency (106.5), but still has a -0.8 net rating in the seeding games because the Grizzlies are fourth in defensive efficiency (107.2).
- The Celtics absolutely crushed the Grizzlies defensively in their first meeting, limiting them to just a 94.1 offensive rating.
- Boston holds the right to Memphis’ draft pick this year, but it is top-six protected. The Celtics can improve the pick’s value by knocking the Grizzlies from postseason contention.
- Daniel Theis, Foot (Probable)
- Tyus Jones, Knee (Out)
- Jaren Jackson Jr., Knee (Out)
- Justise Winslow, Hip (Out)
New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings (-2.5, 232.5)
- New Orleans has a + 3.5 net rating with Lonzo Ball on the floor, but Ingram, Holiday and Williamson off the floor.
- The Pelicans destroyed the Kings at the rim five days ago, shooting 88.5 percent on attempts within four feet of the basket.
- New Orleans’ offense has been slightly overvalued by the market. Totals in their six seeding games are 5-1 to the under.
- Jrue Holiday, Elbow (Out)
- Brandon Ingram, Knee (Out)
- Zion Williamson, Knee (Out)
- De’Aaron Fox, Shoulder (Out)
- Kent Bazemore, Calf (Questionable)
- Marvin Bagley, Foot (Out)
- Richaun Holmes, Hip (Out)
Milwaukee Bucks (-7.5, 231.5) at Washington Wizards
- Milwaukee hasn’t taken the bubble seriously, but its power rating never adjusted. As a result, the Bucks are 2-4 SU/ATS in Orlando.
- Washington has many issues, but the biggest one is one offense. The Wizards have a 102.9 offensive rating in the bubble (last), and are averaging just 105 points per game.
- The Bucks have not put the forth the same effort on defense, and it has resulted in a 111.3 defensive rating, 9.1 points higher than their regular-season mark.
- Shabazz Napier, Ankle (Questionable)