Celtics-Cavs Among Three NBA Games Worth Betting Monday

After an awesome Sunday in the Association, the NBA dials it back with a 6-game slate Monday. My favorite gambling looks are in the Hawks-Heat, Celtics-Cavaliers, and Pelicans-Kings.

BUYER BEWARE: We are in the NBA’s “load management” era. It might be best to wait until the final injury reports are released before placing a bet.

Atlanta Hawks (32-32) at Miami Heat (34-31), 7:30 p.m. ET

The best argument for the Hawks +3 is the zig-zag theory or betting a team doesn't lose twice to the same opponent in back-to-back games.

That's a strong angle because it's tough beating the same team twice in consecutive meetings. Miami beat Atlanta 117-109 at home Saturday and the Heat covered as 3-point favorites.

But, I'm ignoring the zig-zag theory in this Hawks-Heat meeting. These teams know each other well. Hawks-Heat are in the same division and met last year in the playoffs.

Miami beat Atlanta 4-1 in the 1st round of the 2022 Eastern Conference playoffs. The Heat are 2-1 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) vs. the Hawks this season.

Also, Miami has a better offensive and defensive shot quality, per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG). The Heat have a better wide-open 3-point-attempt rate (3PAr) on both ends of the floor as well.

Atlanta plays too much iso-ball, doesn't have enough shooting to space the floor and is easy to defend. Miami held Trae Young and Dejounte Murray to a combined 18 points on 5-of-27 shooting Saturday.

Miami has the two best players on the floor in Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. Bam is averaging 27.3 points on 62.7% shooting with 10.7 rebounds and a +22 net rating (nRTG) in the Hawks-Heat season series.

In his two games vs. Atlanta this season, Butler is averaging 24.5 points on 80.1% true shooting (.667/1.000/1.000) with 7.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and a +42 nRTG.

NBA Best Bet #1: Heat -3 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -4

Boston Celtics (45-19) at Cleveland Cavaliers (40-26), 7 p.m. ET

For this game, I will a fire a bet based on the zig-zag theory. Boston beat Cleveland 117-113 at home Wednesday. The Celtics failed to cover -4.5 when the Cavs "snuck in the backdoor" with a 35-21 final frame.

But, Boston won the 3rd quarter 41-26 so Cleveland was covering the spread at 75% of the game and those teams split the "four factors". The Celtics are 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS vs. the Cavaliers this season.

Cleveland has a better 3PAr on both ends of the floor since the All-Star break. The Cavs have a +5.0 nRTG and the Celtics are -2.3 over that span. Boston is 1-5 ATS with a -8.1 ATS margin since the All-Star game.

This is almost a "scheduled loss" for Boston, which hosted the Knicks last night (Sunday). The Celtics lost a hard-fought battle with NYK 131-129 in double overtime without C Robert Williams III and PG Malcolm Brogdon.

Boston going on the road to play another top-tier team the next night who wants revenge from a loss last week is a tough spot. Plus I wouldn't be surprised if the struggling Celtics gave a few starters the night off.

The Cavaliers are 22-11-1 ATS as home favorites this season with a +9.3 SU margin. Cleveland is 4-1 SU with a +15.4 non-garbage time nRTG at home vs. teams on the 2nd of a back-to-back, per CTG.

NBA Best Bet #2: Cavaliers -4 (-110) at DraftKings, up to -4.5

New Orleans Pelicans (31-33) at Sacramento Kings (37-26), 10 p.m. ET

The Pelicans have lost four of their five games since returning from the All-Star break (1-4 ATS). New Orleans lost its previous outing at the Warriors 108-99 Friday.

Sacramento won its 1st five games following the All-Star game but lost its last game to the T-Wolves 138-134 at home Saturday. The Kings are 4-2 ATS over their last six games.

NOLA blasted Sactown 136-104 in their 1st meeting this season on Feb. 5. The Kings were missing All-Star De'Aaron Fox and the Pelicans were without Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valančiūnas.

Fox is "questionable" to play with hamstring soreness (which sounds like a rest day is coming). Valančiūnas is also "questionable" and Zion is still sidelined with obesity or something.

New Orleans smacked Sacramento with a MASH unit and a rest disadvantage. The Pelicans were on the 2nd of a back-to-back vs. the Kings last month and out-performed them in all "four factors".

The reason a short-handed NOLA team could put up 136 on 3-seed Sactown is because anyone can score on the Kings. They have the worst defense rating since the All-Star break.

Five of the last six teams that have beaten the Pelicans play much better defense than the Kings. C.J. McCollum and Ingram can cover the number against a Sactown team allergic to defense.

NBA Best Bet #3: Pelicans +5.5 (-110) at DraftKings, down to +4.5