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At the moment, NBA fans will get to see a meeting between Eastern Conference powerhouses in primetime at full strength when the Milwaukee Bucks host the Philadelphia 76ers on ABC.
On top of the Bucks-76ers but I’m also taking a side in a Southeast Division matchup with the Miami Heat hosting the Atlanta Hawks.
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.
Atlanta Hawks (32-31) at Miami Heat (33-31), 8 p.m. ET
Hawks-Heat Saturday is a possible Eastern Conference playoff play-in preview. Miami is currently a half-game ahead of Atlanta in 7th-place in the East.
These teams met last year in the 1st round of the NBA playoffs and the Heat beat the Hawks 4-1. Both are playing on no rest. They are also tied 1-1 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) in their 2022-23 season series.
Miami lost to the Knicks 122-120 at home Friday thanks to NYK All-Star Julius Randle’s game-winning 3-pointer with :01 remaining. Atlanta crushed the Trail Blazers 129-111 as 8-point home favorites.
There were reasons to believe Jimmy Butler would miss the Heat’s game Friday when the Knicks shot up to 3.5-point favorites after opening as slight ‘dogs. Hell, I fell for it and laid the 3.5 with NYK.
I’ll readily admit that I have an anti-Hawks bias. They have a worse offensive and defensive shot quality than the Heat, according to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG).
Everyone in Atlanta stands around and watches Trae Young waste the shot clock and the Hawks end up settling for contested mid-range jumpers.
Granted, Miami takes too many mid-range jumpers too. However, I prefer Butler and Bam Adebayo attempting mid-range field goals than Trae and Hawks combo guard Dejounte Murray.
Atlanta is 2-6 SU on the road in the 2nd of a back-to-back with a -12.1 non-garbage time net rating (ranked 27th), according to CTG. The Hawks are 1-4 ATS in their last five visits to Miami as well.
NBA Best Bet #1: Heat -2.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook
- Betting strategy: Definitely wait until Butler’s official game status is announced. If Butler plays, I’d take Miami all the way up to -3.5.
Philadelphia 76ers (40-22) at Milwaukee Bucks (45-17), 8:30 p.m. ET
This isn’t a hot take but the Bucks are my No. 1 power rated team in the NBA and have been the whole season. Even when the Celtics were waxing teams, I never put Boston ahead of Milwaukee at full strength.
The Sixers are just 2-3 SU and ATS since the All-Star break and a 133-126 vs. the Mavs in the most recent outing on Thursday. The Bucks have won 16 in a row and are now 1st in the East.
These teams are tied 1-1 SU and ATS and both games were in Philadelphia. The Bucks are 27-5 SU and 20-11-1 ATS as home favorites with a +8.4 SU margin. The Sixers are 5-7 SU and ATS as road ‘dogs.
I’m going back to the well with the Bucks who’ve I bet several times over their current win streak. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best player on the floor (another hot take) and out-plays Joel Embiid when these teams met.
Giannis is outscoring Embiid 32.1-27.2 PPG, out-rebounds him 13.9-10.9, outshoots him 54.1-42.7%, and has a better assist-to-turnover ratio. The Bucks vs. the Sixers are 8-5 SU all-time when both play.
Milwaukee has a better shot profile than Philadelphia on both ends of the floor, per CTG. The Bucks have two elite defenders for the James Harden and Embiid in Jrue Holiday and C Brook Lopez.
With all due respect to 76ers PF P.J. Tucker, he cannot stop Giannis. No one in the NBA can. Giannis has been on a tear lately and his next victim is the Sixers.
NBA Best Bet #2: Bucks -4.5 (-110), up to -5.5
- Betting Strategy: Milwaukee opened at -5 and is dropping. Perhaps we can get a better number for the Bucks if we wait closer to tip-off.
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.
FOLLOW GEOFF ON TWITTER: @Geoffery_Clark
Listen to the ‘OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark’ podcast HERE.
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