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Jeez Friday sucked and I took an 0-3 thrashing in the NBA. I standby my handicaps and shift the blame to the players and coaches who let me down. Yet I’m confident in my three NBA looks Saturday.
The games I’m handicapping are the Miami Heat vs. Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors, and Dallas Mavericks vs. Sacramento Kings. Fade or follow at your own discretion.
(Buyer beware: It’s the “load management” era in the NBA and random injury news. NBA players are sitting out more games. It would behoove you to wait until the final injury reports before betting.)
Miami Heat (31-25) at Orlando Magic (23-33), 7 p.m. ET
Heat-Magic is priced as a coin-flip at the moment because the Heat are on the 2nd of a back-to-back (B2B). The oddsmakers are pricing in the possibility of Jimmy Butler sitting Saturday.
Miami is 4-3 straight up (SU) and 2-4-1 against the spread (ATS) on the 2nd of a B2B. Orlando is 5-4 SU and 5-3-1 ATS when playing with a rest edge.
But I think there’s a chance Butler plays Saturday, which would give Miami at least a 1.5-point boost. In his two games with no rest, Butler has his best offensive rating and true shooting rate of any rest split.
Also, Butler lit up the Magic for 29 points on 58.8% shooting (9-of-12 from the foul line) with 6 rebounds and 6 assists in Miami’s 110-105 home win vs. Orlando on Jan. 27.
Anyway, the reason I’m willing to gamble on Butler’s availability is because the travel is short and the All-Star break is next weekend and he’s not an All-Star.
Butler is certainly a top-15 player in the NBA but he’s actually happy to get a vacation instead of doing the All-Star game thing. The Heat only play two more games after the Magic before the break.
Even if Butler sits we might not be totally screwed. Heat All-Star Bam Adebayo and reigning NBA 6-Man of the Year Tyler Herro can pick up the slack while Butler rests.
Both teams have poor offensive ratings and strong defensive ratings so Heat-Magic could be a rock-fight. I have a lot more faith Miami can execute in crunch-time than the young Magic.
In fact, Orlando is 28th in “clutch” net rating. “Clutch” is defined as games within a 5-point margin inside of five minutes in regulation. Butler is one of the best closers in the NBA.
Hopefully he plays and we get a good number.
NBA Best Bet #1: Heat moneyline (-115) up to -125 before laying up to -2.5 with Miami
Los Angeles Lakers (25-31) at Golden State Warriors (28-27), 8:30 p.m. ET
Call me crazy but that Rob Lowe look-alike of a Lakers GM, Rob Pelinka, got a pretty good haul for Russell Westbrook. Lakers’ new F Jarred Vanderbilt is a good rotation player and who will do the dirty work for LAL.
Newly acquired guards D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley can space the floor for LeBron James with their outside shooting. Russell’s basketball IQ is terrible and if Beasley isn’t hitting his jumper he is worthless on the court.
But, Russell went nuclear vs. the Warriors while playing for the T-Wolves on Feb. 1. He scored a team-high 29 points and hit seven 3s including 14 in the 4th quarter of Minnesota’s 119-114 overtime win. Russell used to play for Golden State so this is a revenge game for him.
Also, the Warriors will be without Steph Curry for the near future and Gary Payton II failed a physical putting his trade to Golden State in jeopardy. This negates the Warriors’ edge in the backcourt.
LeBron has been ruled out of this game and we saw Anthony Davis dominate when LeBron missed games earlier this season. In five games without LeBron from Jan. 11-22, Davis put up 30.3 points, 17.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.
Finally, Draymond Green is a great defensive player but a little overrated in my opinion. If AD is motivated, I think he’ll dominate Green.
NBA Best Bet #2: Lakers +5.5 (-110) down to +4.5
Dallas Mavericks (31-26) at Sacramento Kings (31-24), 10 p.m. ET
Rumor has it that Dallas All-Star Luka Doncic will return Saturday. Luka has been sidelined for the past four games with a sprained ankle.
This will be Luka’s 1st game with new teammate Kyrie Irving who’s looked good in his 1st two games for the Mavericks. There’s a chance this Luka-Kyrie connection could be lethal until Kyrie blows it up.
The Mavs beat the Kings 122-114 as 4.5-point favorites in Sacramento last night (Friday). Dallas jumped out to a 45-25 lead in the 1st quarter but got out-scored in the next three quarters.
Sacramento had a cold night shooting with a 9-of-27 night from behind the arc while Dallas went 18-for-43 from deep. It was the Kings’ 1st home game back after a six-game road trip so they should bounce back Saturday.
If this game is close late, give me the Kings. Sacramento All-Star PG De’Aaron Fox is one of the best “clutch” players in the NBA this season. The Kings have a better net rating than the Mavs in the “clutch” (11.6-4.4) as well.
Finally, there’s a decent possibility Luka and Kyrie need a few games to figure things out. Dallas’s offense should slow down if Doncic plays Saturday and the Mavs’ defense will get worse.
NBA Best Bet #3: Kings moneyline (-125) up to -130 before laying up to -2.5 with Sacramento
You can listen to the audio versions of these handicaps on my NBA Hoops At Lunch show on the OutKick Bets Podcast feed Monday-Friday.
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