NBA Betting, DFS Guide: LeBron in Miami, Brow vs. the Blazers, More

NBA Betting, DFS Guide: LeBron in Miami, Brow vs. the Blazers, More article feature image

LeBron’s back in South Beach tonight. Cue the “LeBron James (rest) will not play” tweets and burning money GIFs. He’s rested in three of the six trips to Miami since returning to Cleveland. That’s 50% to the layperson.

We better pray Larry Drew doesn’t take a page out of Tyronn Lue’s or Coach Pop’s book and rest the stars. We already know The Beard is resting and all the Warriors are hurt; we could have a ton of DFS value plays tonight. Let’s get down to business! — Mark Gallant

 

All info as of Tuesday morning. Check back during the day and keep an eye on our Twitter handle for any updates.

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DEN-TOR | CLE-MIA | POR-NOP | MIL-LAC | Quick Hits


DENVER NUGGETS AT TORONTO RAPTORS (-8.5) | O/U: 225.5

7:30 p.m. ET

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

What I’m watching for: Nikola Jokic was a minus-17 vs. Joel Embiid on Monday night in another brutal loss to Denver’s playoff hopes. Somehow, thanks to their playing Minnesota twice and the Wolves’ loss to the Grizzlies, the Nuggets control their fate for the playoffs, but they have to start racking up wins. That starts with Jokic. He needs to get the better of both Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka if the Nuggets are to have any hope of coming off this road trip alive.

Meanwhile, expect the Raptors’ bench mob to get back on track after a rough game vs. the Clippers. Denver’s bench is one of the worst in the league, and inside and out Toronto should feast. Keep a special eye on C.J. Miles, who will have ample opportunity to get loose on the perimeter. — Matt Moore

What the metrics say: The Nuggets aren’t faring too well this season against the East’s best teams. They were blown out Monday by the 76ers 123-104, and they lost by 18 to this Raptors squad in early November. They just can’t seem to get all of their pieces healthy at the same time: Paul Millsap is finally back, but now important wing Gary Harris is out for a couple of games. Those two are perhaps the Nuggets’ best defenders, and the main lineup with Millsap but without Harris has been poor on that end of the floor. That combination of Jamal Murray-Will Barton-Wilson Chandler-Millsap-Nikola Jokic has blitzed teams offensively, scoring at a rate of 121.9 points per 100 possessions, but they’ve also been awful defensively, allowing 111.1 points/100. The net rating of +10.8 is obviously good, but it could regress against good competition like the Raptors, who rank third in defensive efficiency on the year. Can they stop this deep Toronto team? — Bryan Mears

Trend No. 1 to know: Elite teams (win rate of 70% or higher) like Toronto facing an opponent on a back-to-back (like Denver) late in the season (March-April) have gone 116-88 (57%) against the spread. — John Ewing

Trend No. 2 to know: With fewer than 10 games left in the regular season, the Raptors are the No. 1 seed in the East, with a win rate above 70%. Toronto is just the fourth team since 2005 to have an ATS losing streak of six or more games with a win rate of 70% or higher this late into the season: — Evan Abrams

  • 2007 Mavericks: Lost in the first round
  • 2013 Spurs: Lost in the NBA Finals
  • 2016 Spurs: Lost in the conference semifinals
  • 2018 Raptors: ?

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (-3) AT MIAMI HEAT | O/U: 220

8 p.m. ET | TNT

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

What I’m watching for: How the Love-Nance combo works. Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. have had almost no time together on the floor, but they should see more minutes vs. the Heat’s versatile frontcourt. The Heat can throw a lot of different looks at Cleveland, but the Cavs have just as much versatility with most of their rotation guys back. Expect a lot of lineup wizardry in play from both sides, and expect LeBron James to abuse James Johnson more than once. — Matt Moore

What the metrics say: The Cavaliers overhauled their roster at the trade deadline, and they need to get reps with the new guys plus LeBron James and Kevin Love, who is now back healthy. Early signs are promising on the offensive end, albeit in a small sample size …

That second lineup is our current projected starting unit for this game, and it has crushed opponents offensively, scoring 140.4 points/100 and posting a stupid 76.8% effective field-goal percentage in 47 minutes together. LeBron is on a ridiculous tear, and he’s at his best when he’s surrounded by five shooters; he’s especially dangerous with a deadly stretch 5 like Love. They’ll certainly test the Heat, who rank just 13th in defensive efficiency over the past 10 games. Ya know, if the starting lineup actually plays. — Bryan Mears

Trend No. 1 to know: The Cavaliers have lost 13 consecutive games straight-up on the road in Miami, losing by 12.3 PPG. Coming back to reality a bit: LeBron has lost three consecutive games SU as an opponent in South Beach, and his team has lost six straight as well.

With history on Miami’s side, the Cavs have actually covered four in a row heading into this matchup; it’s just the second time this season the Cavaliers have covered four straight. Dating to January 2015, the Cavs are actually 1-9 ATS in their past 10 games when they are on an ATS winning streak of four games or more. — Evan Abrams

Trend No. 2 to know: As a favorite of three or more points, Cleveland has gone 13-29-1 (31%) ATS this season. That said, the Cavs are 6-1 ATS in their past seven games as a favorite of three or more points. — John Ewing

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (-1) AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS | O/U: 221.5

8 p.m. ET

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

What I’m watching for: How will Portland counter the Pelicans’ three-guard lineups? That forces their weaker defenders, who are their star offensive players, to really buckle down. Damian Lillard’s going to get his points, but how he handles those responsibilities will be key. Meanwhile, the Pelicans have to make extra rotations because the Blazers are going to force switches on those three-guard lineups and try and punish them in the post.

E’Twaun Moore vs. Moe Harkless is a battle of two of the most underappreciated wings this season. — Matt Moore

What the metrics say: The Blazers have had a ridiculous schedule of late. Since March 12, they’ve played versus Miami, versus Cleveland, versus Detroit, at the Clippers, versus Houston, versus Boston and at Oklahoma City. Still, they’ve managed to drop just two of those, and they rank an impressive fourth with a +7.3 net rating over their past 10 games. These teams have played three times this year, although they haven’t met since DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending injury. He gave the Blazers immense problems in their most recent affair, going for 24 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists. The Pels will certainly be easier to defend this time around, although Anthony Davis is still a huge problem: Brow put up 36 points and nine rebounds in their most recent affair. The Blazers have largely been hot over the past month or so because of their offense; they rank just 12th with a 105.0 Defensive Rating over their past 10 games. You might be surprised to see the Pels open as 1.5-point favorites at home, but Brow should give them serious problems yet again. — Bryan Mears

Trend No. 1 to know: The Blazers are 24-16-3 ATS against the Western Conference this season — a top-five profitable team in the NBA in that spot. On the road, that mark gets even better, with Portland 13-6-1 ATS on the road against the Western Conference, covering the spread by 6.3 PPG. The Blazers are 7-1 ATS in their past eight games in the spot. — Evan Abrams

Trend No. 2 to know: In the last five years, the over is a ridiculous 124-74-3 (63%) in Pelicans home games. The over has been even better in high-total games (210 or greater), going 49-20-2 (71%). The total for tonight’s game opened at 222. — John Ewing

MILWAUKEE BUCKS AT L.A. CLIPPERS (-3.5) | O/U: 226

10:30 p.m. ET | TNT

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What I’m watching for: The Clippers are going to hang around in this game, despite it making no sense that they do so, and the Bucks are going to struggle for the exact same reason. That said, Eric Bledsoe should have a field day against the Clippers’ pick-and-roll coverage. Expect the Bucks to push the pace to get DeAndre Jordan a little out of his comfort zone. — Matt Moore

What the metrics say: The Bucks have had no problem putting up points lately, scoring at least 115.0 points/100 in each of their past eight games, but they own a middling net rating because of their awful defense during that span. In that same time period, they’ve allowed over 120.0 points/100 three times; those rank in the bottom-10 percentile of all defensive performances this season. It’s definitely nice to get young, talented Jabari Parker back in the mix, but he’s really tanked the Bucks’ defense. Lineups with him on the floor this season have allowed 115.7 points/100 on average, which ranks in the bottom-six percentile of five-man lineups on the year. They really fall apart whenever he’s on and Giannis Antetokounmpo is off. The Bucks are a dangerous team in the playoffs, but they need to figure out how to shore up their defense with their main core now that everyone is healthy. — Bryan Mears

Trend to know: Maybe you haven’t noticed, but the Bucks (and their opponents) have been scoring a lot of points recently … so much so that their past eight games have gone over the total by 17.9 PPG. That said, the books may be catching on, as their current total of 225 is the second-highest during the streak. Milwaukee had a total of 226 against the Cavaliers. — Evan Abrams

Quick Hits on the Rest of the Slate

SAN ANTONIO SPURS (-2) AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS | O/U: 201.5

7 p.m. ET

What I’m watching for: The Wizards badly need a win to avoid sliding to 7 or 8, although facing Boston in the first round might actually be favorable to the Wizards. Hmmm… — Matt Moore

Trend No. 1 to know: Since 2006-07, the Spurs are 20-2 SU and 18-4 ATS against the Wizards. San Antonio is winning by 13.5 PPG and covering by 5.6 PPG, and over that span no opponent has been more profitable for Spurs backers than the Wizards. — Evan Abrams

Trend No. 2 to know: The Spurs have historically been a bad bet as a small road favorite (three or fewer points), going 33-49-1 (40%) ATS since 2005. — John Ewing

CHICAGO BULLS AT HOUSTON ROCKETS (-13.5) | O/U: 213.5

8 p.m. ET

What I’m watching for (by Matt Moore):

— Matt Moore

Trend No. 1 to know: Dating back to 2005, Mike D’Antoni is one of the least profitable coaches in the NBA when his team is favored by more than 10 points (42-52-4 ATS). This season, the Rockets are 7-15-1 ATS in the role — bottom of the league with the Cavaliers, who are 1-9 ATS. — Evan Abrams

Trend No. 2 to know: With James Harden out and Chris Paul in, here is a look at how the Rockets have fared. Basically, they have effectively held their ground without the presumed league MVP: — Evan Abrams

  • Paul and Harden on: 891 minutes, +13.9 net rating, 97.8 pace, 58.2% effective field-goal percentage
  • Paul on, Harden off: 801 minutes, +12.5 net rating, 99.3 pace, 56.4% effective field-goal percentage

DALLAS MAVERICKS AT SACRAMENTO KINGS (-2.5) | O/U: 202.5

10 p.m. ET

What I’m watching for: You should send all of your memories of this contest to Cyber Dust. — Matt Moore

Trend to know: The Mavs are doing well with their tanking: They are 5-13 on the moneyline this season against teams with a win rate below 40% — the least profitable team in the NBA in that spot. — Evan Abrams

INDIANA PACERS (-7.5) AT GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS | O/U: 200.5

10:30 p.m. ET

What I’m watching for: Indiana has clinched a playoff spot and will most likely beat the Warriors in Oracle (due to their injuries). What a time to be a Pacer. — Matt Moore

Trend to know: The Pacers enter this game 45-28-1 (61%) to the under in their 74 total games this season — the most profitable team to the under this season. Over the past three seasons under Steve Kerr, the under in Warriors home games is 20-12-1 (62.5%) when the road team has an under percentage of over 55% for that same season. — Evan Abrams

Photo credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports