The NBA’s regular season has come and gone, but the playoffs are right around the corner. But before we can enjoy playoff basketball, we get to enjoy play-in basketball. The NBA will start things off with the two games between the two seventh and eighth seeds.
Here are my top NBA betting picks for Tuesday’s set of play-in games.
1. Cavaliers +9.5 | -110 at FD Sportsbook
We’ll start today’s column by targeting one of this season’s most profitable trends. The Brooklyn Nets just can’t cover at home. Sportsbooks know that they can give Brooklyn’s opponent a few extra points and still draw in massive numbers of tickets—for instance, the Nets currently own 62% of the tickets as almost double-digit favorites.
So how bad has Brooklyn been in the Barclays Center? They are an atrocious 9-31-1 ATS on their home court, the worst such record in the association. That gives them a win rate of 22.5%—and their opponents a win rate of 77.5%! If you had bet $100 against the Nets at home every game this year, you’d be $2,000 in the black.
Of course, the do-or-die nature of the play-in tournament comes with considerably higher stakes than any old regular-season game. The Nets even covered an 8.5-point spread in their most recent home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which they won by 11. However, Brooklyn entered the fourth quarter down by five points. They needed to give both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving a combined 80-plus minutes to lock down the win. Cleveland took a more responsible approach in managing its star talent.
I don’t think the Cavaliers will get an upset win, but they should at least cover tonight.
2. PPD: Andre Drummond Double-Double/Nets to Win | +160 (.75u) at FD Sportsbook
We’ll target another line in Brooklyn’s matchup against Cleveland with this play. Andre Drummond notched a double-double in Brooklyn’s win over the Cavaliers last week, and he has recorded 11 double-doubles with the Nets in only 24 appearances. He has a double-double in his last two games and in six of his last nine.
Drummond is averaging 11.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game for the Nets. Those numbers jump to 12.3 points and 11.3 rebounds over his last 10 games. With the man averaging a double-double per game, it’s hard to understand why the implied odds for him to get one sit at +110.
Despite their big roster, the Cleveland Cavaliers actually make for a decent target here. The team has struggled to defend opposing bigs without Jarrett Allen. Over their last 15 contests, the Cavaliers have allowed opposing centers to score 30.1 points per game, the third-highest mark in the association, and the most among teams still in the playoff race. They have allowed opposing centers to nab 16.7 rebounds per game, too, which ranks 11th highest.
We’ll pivot play the player performance double market for a bit of extra value—with Brooklyn’s moneyline at -450, this parlay should have odds of +157, but FanDuel Sportsbook is handing out some extra juice. An SGP of Drummond to get 10+ points, 10+ rebounds, and Brooklyn to win would have odds of +152, too.
3. MIN vs. LAC Wire to Wire: Any Other Result | -140 at FD Sportsbook
I typically only target big favorites on Wire to Wire markets, but I actually think this is good value for Any Other Result here. The Minnesota Timberwolves have played some exceptional basketball this season, and they deserve to be favored over the Los Angeles Clippers. However, their 2.5-to-3.5-point advantage suggests this game will be close, and I expect several lead changes as the experienced Clippers look to return to the playoffs.
A few quarter-based trends support this play. Minnesota ranks fifth in average first-quarter margin this season (+2.2), but Los Angeles ranks 22nd (-1.3). In contrast, Minnesota ranks 25th in average fourth-quarter margin (-0.9), but Los Angeles ranks third (+1.1). Tyronn Lue is an exceptional second-half coach, and the Clippers have been able to come back from massive deficits in his tenure.
I expect the Timberwolves to get out to a hot start at home. But at some point, the moment may catch up to their inexperienced roster, and the Clippers should take over the lead by the end of either the third or fourth quarter. I like targeting Los Angeles to cover tonight, but you’re better off waiting for the live spread to adjust—this market makes the most sense to bet before tip.
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