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NBA’s 5-game Tuesday card is highlighted by an NBA on TNT doubleheader, one of which I have action on. My gambling looks in the NBA Tuesday are in the Heat-Cavaliers, Clippers-Bulls, and Pelicans-Nuggets.
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.
(Word to the wise: 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 (28-23) at Cleveland Cavaliers (31-21), 7 p.m. ET
Cleveland dismantled Miami 113-87 in their 1st meeting this season as 7-point home favorites. However, the Heat were missing Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo for that game.
Butler is “questionable” to play as of the NBA’s 11:30 a.m. ET injury report but the line movement indicates he is playing.
The Cavs opened as 5-point favorites for this meeting and they got up to -5.5 before the market took it down to the current number (-4).
Cleveland is just 5-5 straight up (SU) in the last 10 games. Four of those victories were against a Kawhi- and PG-less Clippers, a terrible Rockets team, a Giannis-less Bucks and a Pelicans team missing their two leading scorers.
A mostly healthy Heat team would be a step-up in competition for the Cavs. Miami allows the fewest points per game (PPG) in the NBA and 3rd in defensive wide-open 3-point-attempt rate (3PAr) allowed.
Cleveland’s frontcourt isn’t good enough offensively to win its matchup against Heat big Bam Adebayo who is one of the best defensive players in the NBA. The Cavaliers’ slow pace will allow the Heat to setup their half-court defense.
Finally, Miami is the better team in the “clutch,” which is defined by games within a 5-point margin with five minutes remaining.
The Heat are 19-15 SU in the “clutch” with a +6.8 net rating (nRTG) and the Cavs are 16-14 SU with a +2.8 nRTG. Butler is the best player on the floor and he is one of the best closers in the NBA.
NBA Best Bet #1: Heat +4 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +3.5
Los Angeles Clippers (28-25) at Chicago Bulls (23-26), 8 p.m. ET
I’m gonna throw out the recent Clippers-Bulls head-to-head history. Chicago was 2-0 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) vs. LAC last season but Kawhi Leonard missed both games.
The bottom line is Kawhi and Paul George beats DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine in an NBA Jam matchup. All four are iso scorers that stand between 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-8.
But, the Toronto Raptors traded DeRozan for Leonard and immediately won the 2019 NBA title. George is literally better than LaVine at everything and his teams win more.
In their previous game, the Clippers rested Kawhi and PG, a 122-99 loss at the Cavs. The loss snapped a 5-game winning streak (4-1 ATS) but the rest day helps the Clippers in this spot.
These Leonard rest days are a regular occurrence now. LAC is 6-3 SU in Kawhi’s 1st game following a rest day this season. But, I like what I’m seeing out of the Clippers recently.
They have the 2nd-best non-garbage time offensive rating over the past two weeks, per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG). The Clippers are getting closer to their peak powers.
SG Luke Kennard’s recent return is a sneaky big addition to their lineup. Kennard is a sharpshooter that greatly helps LAC’s floor spacing. He is third on the Clippers in non-garbage time on/off net rating behind Leonard and George, per CTG.
Leonard is on fire lately too. He is 29.3 PPG on 59.1% shooting (45.8% from 3) over the last nine games. Kawhi has hit at least 50.0% of his shots in all nine of those games.
The Clippers have a better shot quality on both ends of the floor and significantly so on defense, according to CTG.
NBA Best Bet #2: Clippers -3 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -3.5
New Orleans Pelicans (26-25) at Denver Nuggets (34-16), 10 p.m. ET
Let’s fade the supposed sharp money backing the Under and follow the public betting the Over. Generally, you’d want to do the opposite but the Under feels like a fake-sharp wager.
Pelicans-Nuggets opened with a 233.5-point total, per TeamRankings.com. DraftKings Sportsbook is reporting via VSIN that more money is on the Under whereas more bets are on the Over.
The oddsmakers are reacting to the cash column of the betting splits by lowering the Pelicans-Nuggets total down to 231 at the time of writing. But, I consider this an overreaction based on recency bias.
Both Pelicans-Nuggets meetings this season have gone Under the total including last Tuesday when Denver eked past NOLA 99-98 on a total set at 232. Yet this matchup’s total opened at 233.5. Hmmm.
Furthermore, the Pelicans have the worst non-garbage time offensive rating in the NBA over the past two weeks, per CTG. The Nuggets have gone Under the total in four of their past six games.
All of this intel was already baked into the sportsbooks’ original total, making this a good buy-low spot for both the New Orleans and Denver offenses.
The Nuggets attempt the 6th-highest frequency of shots at the rim and the Pelicans are 7th, per CTG. Denver has the 2nd-worst defensive field goal percentage vs. shots at the rim and NOLA has the worst.
Their weak interior defenses explains why the Nuggets and Pelicans are both bottom-10 in wide-open 3PAr allowed. As in they each give up a lot of uncontested 3-pointers.
Lastly, all three referees assigned to Pelicans-Nuggets have officiated more Overs this season and they have a combined 60-47 Over/Under record.
NBA Best Bet #2: OVER 231 in Pelicans-Nuggets (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to 232
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