We’ve got a busy eight-game slate across the NBA and while injuries are impacting some of tonight’s games, there are some crucial matchups upcoming.
The Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat will go head-to-head in an important game for the top of the East standing. The Milwaukee Bucks (one of the teams with a chance to move up in the East, face the Memphis Grizzlies and both teams could be missing their top players.
Our betting analysts are breaking down those matchups and more below. Check out their best bets for Saturday.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Pelicans||5 p.m. ET|
|Brooklyn Nets vs. Miami Heat||8 p.m. ET|
|Milwaukee Bucks vs. Memphis Grizzlies||8 p.m. ET|
San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Pelicans
|Tipoff||5 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Raheem Palmer: The San Antonio Spurs travel to take on the New Orleans Pelicans in a game between two teams competing for the final spots in the Western conference play-in tournament.
The Spurs are just two games behind the Pelicans and Lakers for the 9th seed in the West and this matchup could determine the tie breaker with the Spurs winning the first two matchups and the Pelicans winning their most recent game 124-91 on March 18.
Nonetheless many are viewing this as a possible revenge spot for the Spurs who have won three out of their last four games. Personally I’m not seeing it as the Pelicans have also won three out of their last four games and have done so playing in better form than what we’ve seen from the Spurs.
Over the past two weeks the Pelicans are sixth in Point Differential (+8.9), ninth in Offensive Rating (118) and third in Defensive Rating (109.1) while the Spurs are 16th in Point Differential (-2.4), 19th in Offensive Rating (114.1) and 16th in Defensive Rating (116.5).
The trade deadline move to bring in CJ McCollum from the Blazers has completely turned this team around as they’ve gone from scoring 109 point per 100 possessions to 118.1. They’ve also seen their net rating go from -1.4 to 5.6. Brandon Ingram could play in this game, which could add even more firepower to this Pelicans team but even without him, I think they’re in a good spot.
The Spurs are missing Romeo Langford, Doug McDermott, Lonnie Walker and potentially Devin Vassell. Overall, I think we’re looking at a repeat of the March 18th game between these two teams with the Pelicans winning and making their push for the play-in tournament against a Spurs team that doesn’t seem as motivated to make the postseason.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Miami Heat
|Tipoff||8 p.m. ET|
Kenny Ducey: It appears complacency has befallen the Heat.
A defense that had been the best in the league since the All-Star break has begun to look lackadaisical in recent games with an efficiency rating which has risen in each of the last four games all the way to a 126.1 mark against the Knicks on Friday. Over the last 10 days, the Heat have allowed 121 points per 100 possessions — the eighth-worst mark in the league — and gone 1-3.
The Heat have already locked up a playoff spot and may not even have much motivation to earn the No. 1 seed considering the Nets could be waiting for them in the first round should Brooklyn enter the play-in tournament.
Speaking of those Nets, they have been much-improved of late. Though they’re still lagging behind defensively, the offense has still excelled in that aforementioned 10-game stretch, putting up the fourth-most points per 100 possessions in the NBA. It seems with or without Kyrie Irving, this team has found ways to win in the last couple of weeks, but it’s undeniable this team is better on the road, where Irving has been able to play.
The Nets are a solid 21-16-1 against the spread on the road, and I think they stand a great chance here given what we’ve seen out of the Heat in recent games. The defense we have been able to depend on all season simply isn’t there at the moment. We may have to wait until the stakes are raised to see it again in all its glory.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Memphis Grizzlies
|Tipoff||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Austin Wang: Common sense says this will be high-scoring game with these two high-powered, fast-paced offenses. The total is currently at 233, which would make sense if both teams had a healthy roster. Given the injury report, I think there is an edge to take the under here.
First, Jrue Holiday will be out for the Bucks. He has missed 13 games this season and the Bucks have gone 11-2 to the under in those games, per the Sports Data Query Language at Gimme The Dog. The On/Off numbers show that the Bucks’ Offensive Rating dips from 120.5 to 108.7 with him off the court, per Basketball Reference.
Brook Lopez is has been back in the lineup for five games now and he is one of the most underrated defenders in the league. His presence gives them an immediate boost on defense, something that has been sorely lacking.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed as questionable. The current line of Grizzlies -2 implies to me that he may sit. If so, expect some bigger lineups with Lopez, Serge Ibaka and Bobby Portis, which makes me optimistic about the under here.
I know the Memphis Grizzlies continue to win and be successful without Ja Morant absent, but nonetheless, he still has an impact. The offense worsens, the pace slows down and their defense improves.
Finally, as I shared in my NBA totals report this week, there is one late season system that has been profitable over the years. Since the 2015-2016 season, regular season games between elite teams (defined as those with a 60% win percentage and greater) in February or later are 135-91-1 (59.7%) to the under. The logic here is that these teams ramp up the defensive intensity as they prepare for the playoffs and are still fighting for playoff seeding.