Heat ATS Included In Three NBA MLK Day Gambling Looks

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a low-key important day in the NBA regular season. There are nine games scheduled in the NBA for MLK Day and I have picks for Pelicans-Cavaliers, Heat-Hawks, and Suns-Grizzlies.

You can listen to the audio versions of these handicaps on my recently launched NBA Hoops At Lunch show on the OutKick Bets Podcast feed Monday-Friday.

(Buyer beware: It’s the “load management” era in the NBA and players are sitting out more games. It would behoove you to wait until the final injury reports before betting.)

New Orleans Pelicans (26-17) at Cleveland Cavaliers (27-17)

The first Pelicans-Cavaliers meeting this season tips off at 3 p.m. ET. New Orleans had its three-game streak of Overs snapped Friday in a 116-110 win at the Pistons.

Cleveland is 3-3 Over/Under (O/U) in the last six games and lost at the Timberwolves 110-102 Saturday, which went well Under the 224.5-point total.

First, and foremost, the Pelicans are still without All-Stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Plus the Pelicans could be road weary since they are on the final of a five-game road trip.

Cleveland Cavaliers C Jarrett Allen grabs a rebound against the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
Cleveland Cavaliers C Jarrett Allen grabs a rebound against the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NOLA is 0-5 O/U in those spots with a -17.3 O/U margin. Also, the Pelicans are 1-5 O/U in their past six games with two days of rest. The Cavs are 2-4 O/U on a rest disadvantage with a -4.8 O/U margin.

Both offenses are middle-of-the-road in terms of efficiency in the past two weeks and each team’s defense has a higher rating than the offenses. Neither send opponents to the foul line often and both a good defensive rebounding teams.

Finally, the Cavs play at the slowest-pace in the NBA and are 17-29-1 O/U as home favorites with a -2.5 O/U margin since the beginning of last season.

NBA Best Bet #1: UNDER 222.5 in Pelicans-Cavaliers at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to 221.5

Odds for the UNDER in New Orleans Pelicans at Cleveland Cavaliers from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Monday, Jan. 16th at 11:45 p.m. ET.
Odds for the UNDER in New Orleans Pelicans at Cleveland Cavaliers from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Monday, Jan. 16th at 11:45 p.m. ET.

Miami Heat (24-20) at Atlanta Hawks (21-22)

The Heat, sans All-Star Jimmy Butler, beat the Hawks 106-98 in their first meeting this season in Atlanta. Miami has covered seven of its last 10 meetings with Atlanta, including last year’s first-round playoff series that the Heat won 4-1.

Miami ‘s key to victory in those games is winning the battle of possessions. The Heat had a higher rebounding margin in six of those 10 meetings and fewer turnovers in six games, tying with the Hawks twice.

More importantly, Atlanta is too easy to defend. The Hawks are 21st in offensive rating and have the third-worst shot quality in the NBA, according to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG).

The Heat are fourth in defensive rating and allow the fewest paint points per game (PPG). This season, Miami is 11-6 SU vs. bottom-10 offenses, per CTG, while Atlanta is 8-10 SU vs. top-10 defenses. 

Miami Heat SG Tyler Herro handles the ball against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Miami Heat SG Tyler Herro handles the ball against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. (Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Miami has a massive coaching edge and not nearly as much talent as Atlanta. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is the reason Miami were the 1-seed in last year’s Eastern Conference Playoffs and why the Heat are in playoff contention this season.

The Heat are an NBA-best 17-8-2 ATS in division games with a +5.1 ATS margin since 2021. They are 4-1-1 ATS this season vs. divisional foes with a +4.2 ATS margin.

Again, my assumption is this is based on Spoelstra’s familiarity with these teams. Since the beginning of last season, the Heat are 20-3 straight up (SU) as favorites in-division with a +10.1 SU margin.

Finally, the Hawks have been on the road for six of their last seven games and could be a little sluggish back at home. 

NBA Best Bet #2: Heat moneyline (-115) at DraftKings, up to -130 before laying up to -2.5 with Miami

The Miami Heat's odds at the Atlanta Hawks from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Monday, Jan. 16th at 11:45 p.m. ET.
The Miami Heat’s odds at the Atlanta Hawks from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Monday, Jan. 16th at 11:45 p.m. ET.

Phoenix Suns (21-23) at Memphis Grizzlies (29-13)

This is more of a vibe bet without much analysis needed. Phoenix beat the crap out of Memphis 125-108 on Dec. 27 without All-Star Devin Booker but I think the Grizzlies get payback Monday.

Memphis has the best defensive rating in the NBA and Grizzlies PF Jaren Jackson Jr. has the best odds to win 2022-23 NBA Defensive Player of the Year (-135) at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Memphis Grizzlies big Jaren Jackson Jr. pumps up the crowd while playing the Phoenix Suns at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee.
Memphis Grizzlies big Jaren Jackson Jr. pumps up the crowd while playing the Phoenix Suns at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Justin Ford/Getty Images)

Phoenix on the other hand is without Booker and Chris Paul and has the worst non-garbage time offensive rating in the NBA over the past two weeks. The Suns have scored 104 or fewer points in seven of the last nine games.

The Grizzlies are sixth in wide-open 3-point-attempt rate allowed. “Wide-open 3s” are defined by the shooter having at least six feet of distance from the defender.

The Suns sunk 55% of their 3-point attempts (17-of-31) Dec. 27 vs. the Grizzlies and I’m literally betting that doesn’t happen again. If Phoenix doesn’t get hot from behind the arc, I don’t see how it goes Over its team total.

Lastly, Memphis has allowed at least 112 in six straight games so its defense is due for a slump-busting performance.

NBA Best Bet #3: Phoenix Suns UNDER 108.5 Team Total (-110) at DraftKings

The Phoenix Suns' team total at the Memphis Grizzlies from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Monday, Jan. 16th at 11:45 p.m. ET.
The Phoenix Suns’ team total at the Memphis Grizzlies from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Monday, Jan. 16th at 11:45 p.m. ET.

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Written by Geoff Clark

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