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This is the second-to-last day before the NBA begins its All-Star break. There are 10 games on the Wednesday slate. Below, I handicap and make picks for the Heat-Nets, Mavericks-Nuggets and Pelicans-Lakers.
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.
(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 (32-26) at Brooklyn Nets (33-24), 7:30 p.m. ET
This is a coin-flip game (Brooklyn -1, -110) with a low total (214) so Heat-Nets will probably come down to the final possession. If that is the case then give me the Heat.
Brooklyn just shipped off Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline. In return the Nets got a bunch of players who either don’t create their own shot or cannot create shots for others.
Newly acquired combo guard Spencer Dinwiddie is an iso-scorer predominantly and forwards Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson need a true point guard to get them looks.
The oddsmakers are saying Heat-Nets will hit “clutch” time, which is when a game is within a 5-point margin inside of five minutes to play. Brooklyn is second in “clutch” net rating (nRTG) and Miami is sixth.
That was the Nets with KD and Kyrie. Without them I have far less confidence in Brooklyn’s half-court offense. Especially against this tough Miami defense, which allows the fewest paint points per game (PPG).
The biggest concern with betting the Heat typically is their injury report. They are down a couple of starters with guards Tyler Herro, Victor Oladipo and Kyle Lowry already ruled out.
But, both Jimmy Butler and All-Star Bam Adebayo aren’t on the injury report. This is Miami’s final game before the All-Star Break so I’m betting Butler and Bam play.
Also, the Heat lost their previous game to the Nuggets 112-108. I expect Miami to get-right heading into the All-Star Break against a Brooklyn team that is ahead of the Heat in the standings.
NBA Best Bet #1: Heat moneyline (-105), up to -125 before laying up to -2.5 with Miami
- (Betting strategy: Wait until Miami’s final injury report is released. There is at least a 30% chance Butler could start his All-Star break early.)
Dallas Mavericks (31-28) at Denver Nuggets (40-18), 9 p.m. ET
This is the Mavericks-Nuggets regular-season finale. Dallas is 2-1 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) vs. Denver thus far but the Nuggets were missing Nikola Jokic in two of those contests.
Denver’s lone win over Dallas this season was 98-97 without Jokic, Jamal Murray and SF Aaron Gordon are “questionable” to play Wednesday.
Between the Nuggets’ injury report and the Mavs acquiring Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline, everyone is betting Dallas. Per VSIN, nearly 75% of the bets placed at DraftKings Sportsbook are on the Mavs, making them a “public ‘dog”.
There is a saying in sports betting that goes public ‘dogs get slaughtered (by sportsbooks). This applies to Mavericks-Nuggets because Dallas cannot play any defense.
In the two games both Luka Doncic and Kyrie have played together, the Mavs are 0-2 SU and ATS and are allowing 126 PPG. My bet is that essentially Denver’s backup can point up points on Dallas.
Also, the Nuggets light up bad defenses at home. Per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), Denver is 11-2 SU at home vs. bottom-10 defenses with a +13.7 non-garbage time nRTG (ranked 5th) and a +2.8 ATS margin (8th).
If Murray and Gordon end up playing then the Nuggets will probably get up to -6.5 or -7 favorites. But if they don’t then I expect Denver wing Michael Porter Jr. and backup combo guard Bruce Brown to step up.
NBA Best Bet #2: Nuggets -5 (-105), up to -6.5
- (Betting strategy: I’d jump on Denver ASAP. If Murray and Gordon play the Nuggets should get up to -7 ish but if they don’t the lowest it’ll get would be Denver -3.5. I’d rather take the Nuggets at -5 now than -7 later.)
New Orleans Pelicans (30-28) at Los Angeles Lakers (26-32), 10 p.m. ET
These teams are tied 1-1 SU and ATS in their season series with the home team winning and covering both. The Pelicans evened the season series with a 131-126 win vs. the Lakers Feb. 4.
Granted, it was before the Lakers made big changes to their roster by trading Russell Westbrook and a 2027 1st-round draft pick for Jarred Vanderbilt, D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis played in the previous Pelicans-Lakers meeting and LeBron is “questionable” to play Wednesday. My hunch is LeBron plays but that means this is his first game with these new teammates.
James having to play nice with his teammates and working them into the action could take a few games. Also, I like how the Pelicans have played since Brandon Ingram has returned to the lineup.
Ingram came back Jan. 25 after missing nearly two months, knocked off the rust and is scoring 30.0 PPG on 55.2% shooting over his last five games.
Over the past two weeks, the Pelicans are 4-2 SU and ATS with a +3.5 adjusted nRTG (9th) and a +7.3 ATS margin (2nd), per CTG.
They are playing harder and you know this is a game NOLA will get up for considering Ingram’s and Pelicans PF Larry Nance Jr.‘s history with the Lakers.
The Pelicans have several defensive wings to throw at LeBron but the Lakers don’t have anyone that can guard Ingram. Furthermore, NOLA’s aggressive defense can frustrate LeBron and Russell.
New Orleans SG C.J. McCollum is “questionable” to play, which is another reason most of the market is betting the Lakers.
But, McCollum’s backups — Jose Alvarado and Kira Lewis Jr. — have much better adjusted on/off nRTG’s so I’m not sweating his status.
NBA Best Bet #3: Pelicans +4 (-105), down to +2
- (Betting strategy: Wait until LeBron’s official status is announced before betting New Orleans. If LeBron plays and McCollum sits then LAL could close at -5 or higher. I’m taking the Pelicans regardless of LeBron’s status.)
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