Friday NBA Betting Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Bucks vs. Heat, Rockets vs. Lakers (Sept. 4)

Friday NBA Betting Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Bucks vs. Heat, Rockets vs. Lakers (Sept. 4) article feature image
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Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden.

  • Looking for some quick-hitting bets for Friday night's NBA slate? Our staff's got you covered.
  • We're riding with a favorite, a dog and an under over the two games.

Welcome to Round 2, Houston Rockets, we’ve been waiting for you — and so have the Los Angeles Lakers. Two of the West’s most talked about teams will face of in Game 1 of their series, while the Milwaukee Bucks are looking to get back into their series with the red-hot Miami Heat on Friday night.

So, where’s the value today? Our staff is here to break down their favorite NBA bets for today’s slate and has found angles in both matchups:

  • 6:30 p.m. ET: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat 
  • 9 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets vs. LA Lakers 

Friday NBA Betting Picks


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Brandon Anderson: Bucks vs. Heat

Bucks odds -5 [BET NOW]
Heat odds +5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -200/+170 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 223.5 [BET NOW]
Time 6:30 p.m. ET
TV TNT

Suddenly, the Bucks’ season is on the brink.

The Bucks started the season 52-8 and were on a 71-win pace. They had a historically great modern offense, dominated the Eastern conference and were significant favorites to win the NBA title. The Bucks have won just eight of their past 20 games — and that includes those four walkover wins against what was left of the Orlando Magic.

The Bucks don’t appear to be the team they were six months ago, and Heat don’t appear to be either. The Heat are shooting and hitting the 3s confidently, and their defense is something else entirely since getting to the bubble.

The Bucks must win four of the next five games now to save their season, without the benefit of home court. I’m not sure they have it in them. Even if the Bucks are a 60-40 favorite every game, they’re still 2-1 dogs to win this series.

We saw the Bucks respond late in Game 2 against the Heat. We saw them respond in Game 2 against Orlando. The greatness of Bucks is still in there, and though I’m no longer confident they can win this series, I have to believe they find a different gear to win this one.

Hopefully the 0-2 hole forces Mike Budenholzer to finally make a few adjustments (though our own Matt Moore explains why Bud likely won’t in this piece). I can’t fade the Bucks in this one, and if I’m picking them to make a statement then they may as well cover and win well. I think the Bucks save their season … for now.

The Pick: Bucks -5

[Bet $20+ on the Bucks at PointsBet and Win $125 if they have at least one dunk]


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Malik Smith: Rockets vs. Lakers

Rockets odds +6 [BET NOW]
Lakers odds -6 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +225/-278 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 213 [BET NOW]
Time 9 p.m. ET
TV ESPN

Coming off a Game 7 with just one full day of rest between the first and second round can be challenging as we saw in last night’s 23-point blowout between the Denver Nuggets and LA Clippers. It would be easy to expect a similar result between the Rockets and Lakers on Friday — the Lakers have played just one game over the past 10 days and the Rockets are on short rest.

I think this game goes the other way though, with the Rockets showing a lot more motivation in Game 1. They’ve actually played up to their competition in spots like this one under head coach Mike D’Antoni as underdogs on short rest in the postseason.

The Rockets are 7-4 against the spread (second-most profitable team in the NBA over that span) compared to 7-11 ATS as favorites in the same spot, according to our Bet Labs database.

We’ve seen the Rockets’ small-ball lineup give the Lakers some issues and while I think the Lakers eventually dominate this series with size and strength in the post, Game 1 could be a close one possession affair. I’ll back the Rockets showing some urgency tonight.

The Pick: Rockets +6

[Bet $20+ on the Rockets at PointsBet and Win $125 if they have at least one dunk]

Matt Moore: Rockets vs. Lakers

The Rockets are coming off a grueling seven-game series, and we saw how that manifested in Game 1 for the Nuggets as their offense fell off a cliff. The Lakers don’t take many 3s. The Rockets take a ton, so the variance is in their favor, but that’s a double-edged sword.

The Lakers hit their team total over twice in their first round series, despite the Portland Trail Blazers being a uniformly horrible defensive team. The Rockets’ big strength so far has been their defense, holding the OKC Thunder below their team total in five of seven games.

The range of outcomes here allows for the two teams to have a slugfest, or for the Lakers to absolutely demolish an exhausted Rockets team, holding them to under 110.

The line is a little close for me to buy in on Houston, but I do like the under, especially with the Lakers trading Rockets 3-point attempts for two-point attempts from their bigs.

The Pick: Under 225.5

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

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