Tuesday NBA Betting Picks (Aug. 18): Our Favorite Bets For Magic vs. Bucks and Trail Blazers vs. Lakers
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Playoffs are finally here! Monday’s opening games were everything we could have asked for and we have four more games on the docket Tuesday, headlined by the red-hot Portland Trail Blazers vs. the Los Angeles Lakers.
Where’s the value? Our staff is here to break down their favorite NBA bets for today’s slate and has found angles in two of the four games:
- 1:30 p.m. ET: Orlando Magic vs.Milwaukee Bucks
- 9 p.m. ET: Portland Trail Blazers vs. LA Lakers
Tuesday NBA Betting Picks
Brandon Anderson: Magic vs. Bucks
|Magic odds||+13 [BET NOW]|
|Bucks odds||-13 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+800/-1250 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||225.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||1:30 p.m. ET|
Let’s keep this nice and easy. The Bucks are the best team in the bubble and the Magic are worst.
The Magic have three guys who are definitely positive players. Jonathan Isaac is out for the season. Aaron Gordon is playing with an injured hamstring. Nikola Vucevic is healthy but playing against the best interior defense in the league.
The Bucks played at a 70-win pace through February until the games stopped mattering. They’re the league’s best defense and will swarm the Magic, who simply do not have enough ways to score. Their path to keeping a game close is a barrage of 3-pointers, and few teams in the league are as ill-equipped to drop a barrage of 3s as the Magic.
Per our Bet Labs database, double-digit favorites are 65-50-3 against the spread in the playoffs since 2005. I am on record saying I don’t think the Magic will keep any game in this series within single digits. Bet on the the Bucks setting the tone early and ultimately getting the sweep. I’d play this to -14.5.
The Pick: Bucks -13
Malik Smith: Trail Blazers vs. Lakers
|Blazers odds||+6 [BET NOW]|
|Lakers odds||-6 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+205/-250 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||230 [BET NOW]|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
Offense has been a big issue for the Lakers since the restart — they rank 20th in Offensive Rating (104.5) and 21st in effective FG% (49.5%) over the past two weeks, according to NBA Advanced Stats.
As you might already know, offense has not been an issue for the Trail Blazers. They have been the best offensive team in the bubble sporting a league-best 122.5 Offensive Rating and have scored 110 points in 15 straight games, a streak that dates back to late February.
The engine that has kept the Trail Blazers going is obviously Damian Lillard, who averaged 44.2 points per game, shot 54% from the floor and 47% from deep (on 14.2 attempts from 3) during the five-game stretch that got the Blazers into the No. 8 seed. Even in a video game those numbers would be ridiculous.
But one number that is worrying is Lillard’s minutes. He has played 40 or more minutes in seven games already during the restart, including 45 minutes against the Grizz in Saturday’s play-in game. Yes, he’s in the prime of his career and they don’t have to travel across the country for these games, but that is a lot to ask of a player night in and night out.
I don’t feel great about betting the Blazers against the spread for the full game, but I do like the Trail Blazers to cover the first half. They are 3.5-point dogs in the first half and are 3-1-2 against the first half spread over the past six games, per our Bet Labs tool.
The Blazers are the best scoring first-half team in the bubble, while the Lakers have gotten off to slow starts — fourth-worst Offensive rating in the first half during the seeding games. I expect the Lillard and Blazers to bring that same energy in the first half tonight.
The Pick: Trail Blazers +3.5 1H
Matt Moore: Trail Blazers vs. Lakers
Everyone knows the Blazers’ defense is bad, but we all excused it because they were fun and their narrative is good. It’s baffling to me that a team that gives up 120-plus in defensive rating, is only a 6-point dog vs. the best team in the Western Conference.
The Lakers went 2-1 vs. the Blazers in the regular season, with the only loss coming in the emotional first game after the death of Kobe Bryant when it was clear the Lakers weren’t all there.
I broke down all the problems that the Blazers will have facing Anthony Davis here. I grabbed this at -5.5 at open, but I still think there’s value to 7.5, and maybe beyond. The Blazers are tough offensively and may hang, which is why my best bet is on the Lakers team total over of 118.5.
Final note: I went back and looked at LeBron’s teams’ performance ATS first-half because of his very open admission that he takes Game 1 as a “feel out game.” With Cleveland, the Cavs went 10-6-1 ATS first half in Game 1’s.
In Miami, where the Heat were much bigger favorites, 5-10-1. That mostly washes out but the recent trends suggest there’s no impact of LeBron feeling his way out on the first-half spread. That’s a stay-away for me.
The PICK: Lakers team total over 118.5