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It took me forever to make heads and tails of the final two NBA 2023 postseason play-in games but I’m finally ready to go to the window with bets.
First, the 10th-place Chicago Bulls (41-42) heads to South Beach to play the 8th-place Miami Heat (44-39) to a chance to play the 1-seed Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference 1st round.
Then the 8th-place Minnesota Timberwolves (42-41) host the 10th-place Oklahoma City Thunder (41-42). The winner advances to play the 1st-place Denver Nuggets in the 1st round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Chicago Bulls (10) at Miami Heat (8), 7 p.m. ET
- Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Everyone is betting the Bulls. They had a sensational comeback victory to upset the Toronto Raptors in the 1st play-in game. The Heat looked like dog-s*** in a 116-115 loss to the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday.
Per VSIN, nearly 80% of the action at DraftKings is on the Bulls at the time of writing. But, Miami opened at -5 and the Heat got up to -5.5 even though there is one-way betting traffic towards Chicago.
Not only do we have a suspicious line freeze but the Bulls don’t have an answer for Jimmy Butler. Whereas the Heat have Butler and Bam Adebayo to defend Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan.
All the pro-Chicago love in the betting market is an overreaction. Miami was terrible Tuesday but do we really think Butler and Bam will play that bad again? In an elimination game, no less. I think not.
Butler and Bam both got looks they usually make but missed Tuesday. Adebayo finished with just 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting and Butler hit only 6-of-19 shots.
Furthermore, DeRozan’s daughter was the MVP of Chicago’s win over Toronto. Her screaming during Raptors free-throw attempts legit had an effect. Toronto went 18-for-36 from the charity stripe.
Not only are the Heat better at getting to the foul line but Miami is 2nd in the NBA in free-throw percentage. Butler will bully his way to the foul line and the Heat will win by margin.
NBA Play-In Bet #1: Heat -5 (-110), up to -5.5
Oklahoma City Thunder (10) at Minnesota Timberwolves (8), 9:30 p.m. ET
- Odds courtesy of DraftKings.
Minnesota in its 108-102 overtime loss to the LA Lakers in their 7v8 play-in game Tuesday. Or perhaps the refs gift wrapped one for the Lakers. Either way, the T-Wolves had a chance to survive and advance and it got away.
OKC ground out a W over New Orleans Pelicans by winning the battle of possessions. The Thunder attempted five more field goals and committed four fewer turnovers. This should be OKC’s path to victory Friday vs. Minnesota.
The Thunder rank 3rd in adjusted offensive turnover rate (TOV%), per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), and 2nd defensively. They the 2nd-most points off of turnovers per game and the T-Wolves are 20th in points off of turnovers allowed per game.
Aside from Timberwolves PG Mike Conley, the rest of the team is turnover-prone. Per CTG, Karl-Anthony Towns is in the 40th-percentile in bigs in offensive TOV% and Anthony Edwards is in the 30th-percentile of wings.
Unlike the final NBA Eastern Conference play-in game above, I’m siding with the public hammering OKC. When you know, you know and it’s obvious the T-Wolves are falling apart.
Rudy Gobert is punching teammates, Edwards looks hurt and Minnesota’s best defensive player — SF Jaden McDaniels — is out with a broken hand after punching the wall.
The Thunder have been surprising opponents and bettors all season. They’ll at least keep this one close and I’ll sprinkle on OKC’s moneyline (+170) vs. the limping Timberwolves. PS, Thunder PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the best player on the floor.
NBA Play-In Bet #2: Thunder +5 (-110), down to +4
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