NBA betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Sunday 5/8

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

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Welcome to the daily NBA betting market report, your source for analysis on the betting lines for the day in professional hoops. For updates throughout the day follow me on Twitter, or check out The Edge daily at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT.

All game lines via VSiN NBA Odds page.

Market Report for Sunday, May 8th

*Lines are opening numbers

Phoenix Suns (-1.5, 215) at Dallas Mavericks

Game 4: Suns lead 2-1

After a massive win on Friday night to cut the series deficit in half the onus is on Dallas’ defense to turn in another incredible performance tonight. The Mavericks held the Suns to 1.068 points per possession, forced turnovers on 18.2% of their possessions and limited Chris Paul and Devin Booker to a combined 30 points. The biggest factor was cutting off the insane shot making from mid-range, and Dallas did so. Phoenix went 10-of-31 on all mid-range attempts on Friday night, nowhere near the mind-bending 55.3% they shot in the first two games of the series. If the Mavericks can once again make life difficult from that area of the floor then they can certainly replicate their defensive performance from Friday night, but the offense needs to continue to provide support for Luka Doncic as well.

Jalen Brunson finally showed up, leading Dallas in scoring with 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting, and three other Mavericks players not named Doncic scored more than 14 points. This is the kind of contribution that had been missing in the first two games of the series for Dallas, and it was clear the gameplan had changed for their offense. In the two games in Phoenix the Mavericks took a combined 35 attempts at the rim and went 21-of-35 (60.0%). On Friday the team went 20-of-25 at the rim and drew three shooting fouls. Doncic took smaller defenders into the post and backed them down regularly, drawing help and opening the floor for his teammates. Their shooting in the restricted area helped offset a 13-of-39 shooting night and led them to a win. One would expect that the offensive gameplan takes on a similar look today.

Despite the most recent result the betting market has not been deterred in its belief of the Phoenix Suns here. On Friday that line hovered around PK before closing Dallas -1 or even -1.5 in a few shops. As of this morning this line is as high as Suns -2 at multiple books which tells us that the market believed that being down two games in a series and coming back home was worth about three points to the line! So which of these is the extreme? Inflating a line because a team is in a situation is likely the answer to that question. A line of Suns -1.5 would be in line with where this series was in Games 1 and 2 with a slight adjustment toward Phoenix. There is some slight line value on Dallas here, but not enough to act for me. The total is where we have seen the biggest adjustment. After being bumped up in the last two games this now back to the number that was hung in Game (214.5). This series seems to be one where the total is going to be correlated to the side. If Dallas is going to win and cover this game it is going to take on the low efficiency, slow-paced look that Friday had. Should Phoenix win and cover their offense will put up high efficiency numbers and force Dallas to keep up, thus making it a higher scoring affair.

Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers (-1.5, 207.5)

Game 4: Heat lead 2-1

How different would this series look if Joel Embiid had been available the entire time? Embiid made his return in Game 3 and despite him scoring only 18 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the floor the Philadelphia 76ers were able to grab a game in this series. Embiid’s presence is enough to change a series, and bettors saw that on Friday. Just being on the floor made help defenders gravitate toward him, opening windows for shooters like Danny Green and Tyrese Maxey. It’s no coincidence that the 76ers had their best shooting night of the series (16-of-32) in the game that Embiid returned. Still, Philadelphia only averaged 1.14 points per possession in the win, but still took the game by 20 point due to Embiid’s play on the defensive end of the floor as well.

Miami only managed 0.898 points per possession in the loss, their lowest efficiency mark of the series, and much of that was due to Embiid’s return. Philadelphia defenders were able to close out with confidence on shooters knowing Embiid was behind them to deter attempts at the rim. Miami was limited to just 14 attempts inside four feet, their lowest attempt total of the series. Bam Adebayo had demolished the rotation of centers in the first two games of the series, averaging 23.5 points per game on 15-of-21 shooting and the Heat had outscored the 76ers by 41 points in his minutes in Games 1 and 2. However, he was limited to just 9 points on 2-of-9 shooting in Game 3 and Philadelphia was + 22 in his minutes. Embiid’s return was a massive factor in stepback for Adebayo, and it is only going to get harder now that Embiid has a game under his belt playing with the orbital fracture.

When news came down that Embiid was upgraded to doubtful the market was slow in adjusting its number, but once it was officially announced this line ended up closing Philadelphia -1.5 which is where we are at now for this contest tonight. If we are accounting homecourt as being worth those three points then this line tells us that the Heat are 1.5 points better than the 76ers on a neutral with Embiid back in action. That is not something I agree with, and it seems the betting market is thinking the same thing as -2 is up at multiple shops. Embiid’s presence changes so much for Philadelphia on both ends of the floor. One of Miami’s biggest weapons in Adebayo now has one of the best defenders at his position to deal with, and we saw how much that altered his production. These two teams are much closer to equal with one another with Embiid back, so I’ll play the favorite with what I believe to be a cheap number.

Play: 76ers (-1.5)

Best Bet Summary

76ers (-1.5)

Season Record: 92-75-2

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