With only three 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.
Toronto Raptors (-6.5, 220) at Philadelphia 76ers
We mentioned in Tuesday’s notes that Philadelphia could be more offensively potent than first thought with the losses of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Sure enough, the 76ers scored 117 points against the Suns while averaging 1.28 points per possession and shooting 45.5 percent from deep. That game flew over the total, and now it is time to see if oddsmakers have made an adjustment to account for Philadelphia’s new style.
This version of the 76ers is also much less likely to play any sort of defense, and that manifested Tuesday when they allowed Phoenix to drop 130 points while averaging 1.41 points per possession. Toronto would love to face a terrible defense, as the Raptors come into Wednesday with the worst offensive rating in bubble (103.2). The Raptors have been able to shoot though, as they rank eighth in shooting among bubble teams (36.6 percent). Look for another high-scoring affair tonight.
Serge Ibaka, Knee (Questionable)
Patrick McCaw, Knee (Out)
Oshae Brissett, Knee (Out)
Not Yet Submitted
L.A. Clippers (-4.5, 228.5) at Denver Nuggets
There are all sorts of seeding implications in this contest. Los Angeles can put a bow on the second seed with a win over Denver, while the Nuggets can potentially slide to the fourth seed with a loss here and Friday night. If Denver is going to find any sort of sustained success, this defense has to revert to its regular-season form. The Nuggets are last in defensive efficiency in the bubble (121.5), 21st in opponent 3-point shooting (45.0 percent) and 19th in opponent field goal percentage (48.5).
Now, Denver must try to contain Los Angeles’ offense which is ranked fifth in Orlando in efficiency (117.9), and first in 3-point shooting (42.7 percent). After six games of lackadaisical defense from Denver, why would bettors expect anything else here? The spots in which the Clippers are fully motivated in the regular season are few and far between, but this should be one of them.
Lean: Clippers (-4.5)
Los Angeles Clippers
- Patrick Beverley, Calf (Out)
- Montrezl Harrell, Quarantine (Out)
- Landry Shamet, Foot (Out)
- Jerami Grant, Knee (Questionable)
- Will Barton, Knee (Out)
- Gary Harris, Hip (Out)
Wednesday’s game observations
Indiana Pacers at Houston Rockets
- Expect James Harden to play tonight against Indiana after he took Tuesday off for rest against San Antonio. Keep in mind, Russell Westbrook missed two games and came back to play just 27 minutes against the Spurs on Tuesday. The same could happen with Harden on Wednesday.
- Houston does not have much to play for. The Rockets hold a one-game lead over Oklahoma City for the fourth seed in the West, and have already clinched at least the fifth seed.
- Indiana, on the other hand, can still drop a spot to the sixth seed, but a win against Houston seals up the fifth spot for them.
- Danuel House Jr., Toe (Questionable)
- Russell Westbrook, Rest (Out)
- Victor Oladipo, Ankle (Questionable)
- Malcolm Brogdon, Neck (Questionable)
- Myles Turner, Neck (Questionable)
- T.J. Warren, Foot (Out)
- Domantas Sabonis, Foot (Out)
Miami Heat at Oklahoma City Thunder
- Miami clinched at least the fifth seed when Philadelphia lost to Phoenix on Tuesday. With their playoff path set, one has to figure the Heat won’t be sending out the dogs to close this game in the fourth quarter.
- Oklahoma City can reach as high as fourth in the West, or as low as sixth. They have just a 1/2-game lead over Utah for the fifth seed, so a win tonight would go a long way toward locking that up.
- The Thunder really miss Dennis Schroder and that three guard lineup. In their five games without him Oklahoma City has a 102.9 offensive rating, ahead of only Orlando and Washington in the bubble.
- Kendrick Nunn, Quarantine (Out)
- Kelly Olynyk, Thumb (Probable)
- KZ Okpala, Personal (Out)
Oklahoma City Thunder
- Steven Adams, Leg (Questionable)
- Nerlens Noel, Ankle (Questionable)
- Dennis Schroder, Personal (Out)