NBA Expert Picks & Predictions (Sunday, Aug. 2): How We’re Betting Kings-Magic and Bucks-Rockets
Photo credit: Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Westbrook.
Bubble NBA action continues in Orlando Sunday with a couple awesome games in Blazers vs. Celtics and Bucks vs. Rockets.
Motivation will continue to be a big factor in this short eight-game sprint, which could provide some betting value.
Our staff is here to break down their favorite NBA bets for Sunday’s slate and has found value in two games:
- 6 p.m. ET: Sacramento Kings vs. Orlando Magic
- 8:30 p.m. ET: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Houston Rockets
Sunday NBA Betting Picks
Brandon Anderson: Bucks vs. Rockets
|Bucks odds||-4.5 [BET NOW]|
|Rockets odds||+4.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-182/+155 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||243 [BET NOW]|
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
The truth is that this may simply come down to the Rockets’ 3-point percentage. Houston attempts 44.3 threes per game, but that number should be in the 50s or even the 60s given the Bucks defensive scheme.
Expect Russell Westbrook to be limited in this game. Milwaukee is so good at the rim that it will be more than happy to let Westbrook take his chances there. That should enable the Bucks to tilt their defense heavily toward James Harden.
He had a monster first game back and looks refreshed and rested, but he will need to be the best player on the court for the Rockets to have a chance.
At some point, the Rockets are going to go cold on all those 3s. And when they do, Milwaukee could exploit those misses in transition and put the game away quickly with a big run.
The Bucks lead the league in pace, and long rebounds off missed 3s jumpstart transition opportunities even more.
So many 3s means there’s always variance and room for the Rockets to get hot. If they take 60 threes and make 40% of them, that’s 72 points already — before adding in 2s and all those Harden free throws. Of course, the Bucks are one of the best in the league at limiting freebies.
If you want to bet on variance, you should consider parlaying the Rockets’ moneyline with the over. The Bucks are going to score, so if the Rockets beat them, Houston will have to hang a big number.
I’m going the other way. This feels like a nightmare matchup for Houston, and I like the Bucks to put the game away with a few big runs when the Rockets go cold. I’m all over them at -4.5 and happy to bet up to -5 as needed.
The Pick: Bucks -4.5 (would bet up to -5)
Bryan Mears: Magic vs. Kings
|Kings odds||+2.5 [BET NOW]|
|Magic odds||-2.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+114/-136 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||227 [BET NOW]|
|Time||6 p.m. ET|
As I wrote in the Action app when I made this pick last night: I get the bubble is in Orlando, but are we giving the Magic home-city advantage here?
I’m honestly not sure there’s much separating these two teams other than record, which the Magic have bolstered because they play in the East.
I do think the market is underrating the Kings, who were starting to put things together a bit more prior to the COVID-19 layoff. Stud young PG De’Aaron Fox was making late-season improvements and playing quite well. Head coach Luke Walton is a problem, sure, but this team isn’t 2.5-points-worse-on-a-neutral-court-against-the-Magic bad.
And motivation is key here: The Kings dropped their opening game and can’t afford at all to lose this one. It’s essentially win or go home. The Magic, meanwhile, are ostensibly locked into a spot as the 7- or 8-seed in the East.
The Pick: Kings +2 or better, ML to +110
Reed Wallach: Magic vs. Kings
This is a tricky game to handicap, because we have seen very few teams play their second game in the bubble. Luke Walton let his young roster loose on Friday, with most key contributors playing over 30 minutes at a track meet pace. Orlando, on the other hand, had the game locked-up early; no one played more than 26 minutes.
This line opened at Orlando -3. These two met once and played it close, and I do not think there is much separating the two ball clubs.
Sacramento has the size to check Nikola Vucevic down low and the wings to stick on Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon. Orlando is much more physical, and if Friday night is any indication, it should be able to get to the line at will and get the Kings into foul trouble.
Ultimately, I’m going to side with the Kings for the second time in as many games as underdogs this time. Excluding Sacramento’s loss in its final game before the league suspension, the Kings are 5-1 coming off of a loss when the following game has a spread of less than four, according to Bet Labs.
I expect the Kings to respond to the opening loss and for Orlando to regress to the mean a bit after a non-competitive game. Give me Sacramento down to +2.
The Pick: Kings +2.5, would bet down to +2