Saturday’s NBA Playoffs slate is huge with four games starting with a must-win matchup between the 76ers and Nets (1 p.m. ET) then Suns vs. Clippers (3:30 p.m. ET) on TNT. On the evening slate, we’ll see two matchups on ESPN: Bucks vs. Heat (7:30 p.m. ET) and Grizzlies vs. Lakers (10 p.m. ET).
Our Action Network analysts are focused on the two later games with three best bets today, including a series pick for the No. 1 seed in the East. Read on for their expert picks for Bucks vs. Heat and Grizzlies vs. Lakers.
NBA Odds & Best Bets
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|Bucks vs. Heat Player Prop|
|Bucks vs. Heat Series Bet|
|Grizzlies vs. Lakers Total|
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat
|Pick||Jimmy Butler o1.5 Steals (-125)|
|Tipoff||7:30 p.m. ET|
Bryan Fonseca: Most of the Playoff Jimmy charm are the sudden gaudy offensive numbers, but a big portion of the increase in production is his defense.
Jimmy Butler, in general, is and has been one of the best defensive players in the NBA for close to a decade at this point.
But if you watch the standout playoff performances he’s had, you’ll see deflections, you’ll see coast to coast layups after steals, and you’ll see interceptions while playing the passing lanes as well as any other wing in the league. I’ve affectionately called him the Ed Reed of the NBA since he’s been a Miami Heat player.
Over 1.5 steals? Let’s give it a shot. Butler has had two or more steals in each of his last four games — that includes the first two of this series and the two Play-In games. He averaged 1.8 steals per game this season, and stole the pill twice or more in 38 of 68 contests — including these four on this run.
He wasn’t fully his typical Playoff Jimmy self in Game 2 — he was still largely very good, but most of the rest of his team sucked — so he didn’t put up the big numbers people get accustomed to from Butler in the spring. That said, he still played well, and his lack of second half minutes should give him a bit of rest prior to Game 3.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat
|Pick||Bucks -1.5 series line (-125)|
|Tipoff||7:30 p.m. ET|
Brandon Anderson: This is my favorite series bet heading into the weekend, and I think it’s badly mispriced. This is a simply a bet on the Bucks to win the series before Game 7.
It’s 1-1 right now, but I’m not sure we’ve really learned that much the first two games. The Heat had literally their best offensive game of the season in Game 1, and the Bucks set an all-time franchise record for shooting in Game 2. Neither game was particularly competitive.
Normally that would mean some respect to the underdog stealing home court advantage, but I’m not buying it. This is just Miami basketball. The Heat are built to take and give up a ton of 3s so shooting variance games will happen — and they have twice already.
But when those things even out, Milwaukee is still a far better team. They’re better on offense, better on defense, and far more consistent, and they can continue to win even if Giannis Antetokounmpo remains out or limited. Miami simply doesn’t have enough offense to push this to seven, not against this stifling Bucks defense and especially not with Tyler Herro out.
Can the Heat steal one more, a home game with some hot role player shooting? Sure. I don’t see them getting two, and I’d be much more surprised to see them push the series to seven than just not winning another game this season. This bet gives me a one-game buffer if the Heat do steal another, but I fully expect the Bucks to take care of business and finish the job soon enough, starting with a win in Game 3. This is my best way to bet that right now.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Lakers
|Tipoff||10 p.m. ET|
Chris Baker: First Lakers home game in two years so you can expect the crowd at Crypto.com arena to be absolutely electric. The nerves of the first home game of a playoff series usually translate into a faster, more frantic pace. We saw this in Game 1 of this series when these teams erupted for 124 points in the first half of the game.
Granted, Ja Morant is listed as questionable for this one but he actually did participate in Memphis’ non-contact practice on Friday. Morant being available would be huge for this over but I think that Tyus Jones has more than proven that he can replicate the offensive efficiency the Grizzlies have with Morant.
Another factor leading me to this over is Luke Kennard’s outstanding play across two games. Kennard is a +18 through the first two games and you can be sure that his minutes will continue to ramp up as he continues to positively impact the game. Kennard has only played 50 minutes thus far but I would expect him to creep up towards 30 MPG going forward. We also saw John Konchar and Santi Aldama play 14 minutes each in Game 2. All three of these bench guys are effective spacers and are massively beneficial for the offensive efficiency of the Grizzlies.
On the flip side of the ball, I would expect some general positive regression from a Lakers team that shot 45.3% effectively from the field in Game 2. That ranks as a 10th percentile performance for them, and we saw what they are capable of in Game 1 when they exploded for 128 points.
I’d argue that 128 point performance is far more representative of what we should expect from this Lakers offense given the matchup against this Grizzlies defense. Even in Game 2, we saw the Lakers attempt 42% of their shots at the rim!! That is an elite offensive rim rate and I would expect them to improve on these shots in Game 3 back at home.
This total isn’t accurate based off of these two teams season long profiles (both top-eight in pace) and the potential return of Morant to the lineup. Expect these two to clear this number in what should be a shootout in L.A. on Saturday night.