NBA Betting Picks: Our Best Bets For Heat vs. Bucks, Rockets vs. Thunder (Monday, Aug. 31)

Credit:

David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks on against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

We already have one Game 7 on the schedule out West and depending on the outcome in tonight’s primetime matchup between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder, we could have another. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks begin their series Miami Heat who have been resting after completing a first-round sweep.

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 of tonight’s matchups:

  • 6:30 p.m. ET: Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks
  • 9 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Monday NBA Betting Picks


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Matt Moore: Rockets vs. Thunder

Rockets odds -5 [BET NOW] 
Thunder odds +5 [BET NOW] 
Moneyline -210/+175 [BET NOW] 
Over/Under 226.5 [BET NOW] 
Time 9 p.m. ET 
TV TNT 

FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR rating lists the Houston Rockets at -8, but they’re only laying five points at DraftKings (-114).

The big problem is that the Rockets stopped defending Lugentz Dort. He won’t shoot as miserably horrible as he did in Game 5, but he won’t shoot much better, either, and the Oklahoma City Thunder will undoubtedly try and devise an offense that doesn’t involve him.

But much like when the Golden State Warriors stopped defending Tony Allen in 2015, once a player is singled out like that, there’s not much you can do when he’s on the floor because the opponent will just be defending your four other guys with five. Thunder head coach Billy Donovan doesn’t have an alternative shooter to use — Darius Bazley just isn’t quite ready.

Dennis Schroder likely plays and shoots better, the same goes for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari who were both melted garbage in Game 5. But ultimately, the Rockets’ defense has backed up its concept.

Steven Adams can’t punish them, and neither Chris Paul, SGA, or Schroder have the legs (Paul) or systemic green light to just punish the isolation the Rockets are throwing at them over and over.

With Russell Westbrook able to provide an offensive boost, there are a number of outcomes where the Rockets simply outpace the Thunder with 3-pointers, or lock down defensively again. Those scenarios are wide enough to allow for laying just up to two possessions. Any higher (-6.5 or more) and I’m out.

The PICK: Rockets -5 (-114)

[Bet Rockets -5 at +117 Odds with a 33% profit boost at DraftKings (now online in Illinois!)]


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Brandon Anderson: Heat vs. Bucks

Heat odds +5.5 [BET NOW] 
Bucks odds -5.5 [BET NOW] 
Moneyline +195/-235 [BET NOW] 
Over/Under 224 [BET NOW] 
Time 6:30 p.m. ET 
TV TNT 

The Eastern Conference is off and running in the semis while the West is still working on the first round. The Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors series was one we’ve waited all year for, but I’ve started to get more and more intrigued by this Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks matchup the past few weeks.

On the one hand, I think we’ve all started taking the Bucks for granted. They were so much better than everyone else that they haven’t played a meaningful game since March — with all due respect to the Orlando Magic, I’m counting those five games as meaningless as well.

The Bucks built an incredible modern defense that stifles everything at the rim and takes away corner 3-pointers, forcing opponents to work hard for every single point. They also feature a near 50/40/90 stud in Khris Middleton and a soon-to-be back-to-back MVP who was significantly better this season.

Still, if you were going to build a team to beat the Bucks, you’d want a team full of shooters to challenge a their defense, which is designed specifically to give up a high volume of 3s. You’d also want a veteran team of street fighters who will slow things down and take away the pace advantage the Bucks have. You definitely want a guy like Bam Adebayo who is built to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo about as well as anyone can. And lastly, you’d want a proven head coach like Erik Spoelstra.

Ready for an ugly stat? Bucks head caoch Mike Budenholzer is 3-8 lifetime against the spread in Game 1 of a series, per our Bet Labs database. Bud is clearly an incredible coach during the regular season, but he has been uninspiring, slow to make adjustments and far too trusting in the back end of his bench in the playoffs, .

Spoelstra is a champion and he will not make those same mistakes. The Heat have been preparing for this series for three weeks. Budenholzer will come out with the same plan that worked all season. Spoelstra will have a plan specifically for these Bucks. I like the Heat’s chances to make a statement in Game 1 and punch Milwaukee in the mouth. I’ll take them as low as +4.5.

The Pick: Heat +5.5 (-113)

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

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