Three NBA Locks For A Bounce-Back Saturday, February 25

After running my fat mouth about a perfect Thursday, I took a 0-3 crap on Friday betting the NBA. It was a disgrace all the way through with misreads and bad injury luck.

But, as I always say, I stand by my handicaps and put all the blame on the players and coaches. Just kidding. I don't say that often.

Anyways I'm getting it back Saturday by taking shot at two games casual NBA fans will care about — Nuggets-Grizzlies and Celtics-76ers — and a game no one cares about (Pacers-Magic).

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.

Indiana Pacers (26-35) at Orlando Magic (25-35), 7 p.m. ET

Toss out the results for the 1st three Pacers-Magic meetings this season. Indiana is 2-1 straight up (SU) and 1-2 against the spread (ATS) but both teams were missing key players in all three games.

NBA 2023 is dominated by the 3-point shot. Orlando is tied for 29th in defensive wide-open 3-point-attempt rate (3PAr) allowed and Indy leads the NBA in wide-open 3PAr offensively.

Both of the Pacers' starting guards — Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield — competed in the 3-Point Contest on NBA All-Star weekend. Indiana will make Orlando pay if the Pacers get a bunch of wide-open looks.

The Magic are just 3-4 SU (-3.7 SU margin) and 2-5 ATS (-7.8 ATS margin) as favorites and 0-3 ATS as 1-to-2.5-point favorites. Essentially, you want to back Orlando as a 'dog.

Most of the betting action is on the Magic and they are turning into a public team. There are a lot of Orlando fans at The Ringer and these dudes talk about the Magic's young core like they are the '86 Celtics.

But, Haliburton is the best player on the floor. Haliburton is gonna get a bunch of open 3-point looks for teammates vs. Orlando's weak 3-point defense.

NBA Best Bet #1: Pacers +2.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +1.5

Denver Nuggets (42-18) at Memphis Grizzlies (35-23), 8 p.m. ET

I'm all about fading the Grizzlies until C Steven Adams returns to action. Adams means too much to Memphis's offense because he's an elite offensive rebounder.

Since the Grizzlies struggle running half-court sets, they rely are gaining more possessions via forcing turnovers and grabbing offensive boards.

Per (CTG), Memphis's offensive rebounding rate declines by 10.1% when Adams is off the floor. That's in the 99% of all centers in the NBA.

No Adams also forces Grizzlies All-Star PF Jaren Jackson Jr. to play more defense on NBA MVP favorite Nikola Jokic. Jackson is the favorite to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year but that could motivate Jokic to light him up.

Denver crushed Memphis 105-91 back in December. The Nuggets out-performed the Grizzlies in three of the "four factors". Memphis was missing SG Desmond Bane but Denver was without PG Jamal Murray and SF Michael Porter Jr.

Jokic only scored 13 points (though he added 13 rebounds and 13 assists) and I think The Joker has more success Saturday. Jackson gets into foul trouble way to easily and Jokic is crafty enough to play him off the floor.

The bottom line is the Grizzlies have been terrible offensively without Adams and the Nuggets crush bad offenses (17-5 SU with a +9..4 non-garbage time net rating, per CTG).

NBA Best Bet #2: Nuggets +2.5 (-110), down to +1.5

Boston Celtics (43-17) at Philadelphia 76ers (39-19), 8:30 p.m. ET

I should probably stay away from Celtics-76ers because I never win betting Boston games. It doesn't matter if I bet on or against the Celtics they mostly screw me. Plus the Sixers were my "cursed team" last season.

However, I like how the Sixers look and I'd bet them as a home underdogs vs. anyone in the NBA currently. Philadelphia is on a 5-game winning streak (5-0 ATS) dating back to pre-All-Star break.

The 76ers rallied back from a 17-point deficit to beat the Grizzlies 110-105 Thursday. The Celtics needed overtime to get past a plucky Pacers team 142-138.

James Harden is ballin' under the radar. You could say "Harden is doing his job" but The Beard is averaging 25.4 points on 49.4% shooting (44.7% from 3) with 9.4 assists during Philly's 5-game win streak.

Boston won and covered the 1st two games of this regular-season series with the Sixers. Yet the Celtics were the home team and they are just 1-4 ATS in their last five visits to Philadelphia.

Harden has arguably been the best player in the 1st two Celtics-76ers meetings this season. He is scoring 30.5 points on 82.9% true shooting (.607/.500/.950) and a 160 offensive rating!

Frankly, if the Philly role players help Harden out, the Sixers should win Saturday. Typically, role players perform better at home so I'm expecting the other guys to step up.

Now that the Celtics-76ers is back in the City of Brotherly Love and the Harden-Joel Embiid thing is clicking, gimme the home team in this coin-flip matchup.

NBA Best Bet #2: 76ers +1.5 (-110) at DraftKings, down to pick 'em

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.