NBA Best Bets & Odds: Our Staff’s Friday Picks for Heat vs. Hawks and Suns vs. Pelicans
Tyler Ross/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: CJ McCollum #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans.
- We are closing out the workweek with three phenomenal NBA Playoff games on Friday night.
- Our NBA experts are betting spreads, player props, totals and more for two of tonight's games: Heat vs. Hawks and Suns vs. Pelicans.
- Check out how our experts are betting tonight's playoff action.
If you haven’t been enjoying the opening week of the NBA Playoffs, you may need to check your pulse.
So far this postseason has given us a few big upsets, some absolutely wild comebacks and a pair of buzzer-beaters and we haven’t even hit the weekend.
Friday night brings us three more awesome games. The Atlanta Hawks, down 0-2 in the series, host the Miami Heat in a must-win.
The Milwaukee Bucks, down an All-Star look to regain home court advantage against their division rival Chicago Bulls at United Center.
And the Phoenix Suns look to take back control of their series against the Pelicans without arguably their best player.
There is no shortage of storylines heading into tonight’s Game 3s and no shortage of bets from our NBA experts. They break down tonight’a action, plus their favorite bets for Friday’s triple-header below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Miami Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks
Raheem Palmer: I’ve spoke about this at length, but one of the most profitable angles to bet in the NBA Playoffs has been backing teams down 0-2 in both the first quarter and first half of games.
The logic is simple: No team has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game playoff series in NBA history. The sense of urgency teams feel when down 0-2 means they’re playing harder than the opposing team.
This is a spot the Hawks find themselves in after losing Games 1 and 2. Although the Hawks looked completely overmatched in Game 1, they were solid in Game 2, which was a one possession game with about three minutes remaining.
The Hawks have many things they can improve on here. Most notably, Trae Young is just 2-of-17 (11.8%) from behind the arc with 16 turnovers through the first two games of this series. As team, the Hawks are shooting 28.9% from 3-point range, well under expectations, even against a stout Heat defense, considering the Hawks ranked third in 3-point percentage (37.8%) during the regular season.
The venue change to State Farm Arena in Atlanta should provide a boost — the Hawks were just 16-25 straight up and 14-27 against the spread on the road compared to 27-14 SU and 23-18 ATS at home. I’m expecting the Hawks to shoot much better in Game 3 and as long as they can keep Jimmy Butler from scoring 45 points, they have a real shot to get the win.
I don’t want to play the full game, but I’ll back the Hawks to feed off the energy of the home crowd and get off to a hot start in the first quarter and first half and hopefully cash what has been one of the best postseason betting trends.
Miami Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks
Brandon Anderson: Young has really struggled against Miami all season. He had 25 points, six rebounds, and seven assists in Game 2, and that would be a pretty good line for many players, but it’s not quite enough for the guy who led the NBA in both points and assists in the regular season.
But the real problem was the turnovers. Young racked up 10 turnovers and continues to struggle against Miami’s switching defense. He had six turnovers in Game 1 too, and he’s had at least four turnovers in all six games against the Heat this season. Young had games with seven and eight turnovers against Miami in the regular season too, two of his three highest turnover games.
On the season, Young is averaging 6.5 turnovers per game against the Heat, a full two turnovers above this line. And don’t forget, he’s handling and playing more than ever in the playoffs and will likely do so again tonight in a game with the season on the line.
If you want to fade Young overall, the numbers are in your favor there too. He’s under 40.5 points + rebounds + assists in five of six Heat games on the season and is averaging only 22.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 6.7 assists.
But even if you’re worried Young will have a big offensive game, he can still go over the turnovers line pretty easily. Avoid the PRA fade if you like, but play the over on this turnovers line as high as -175.
Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans
Anderson: The Pelicans had the shocker of the playoffs so far with their Game 2 upset of the Suns in a series I thought was headed toward a sweep.
I’m not ready to panic, though. That Pelicans win was a massive outlier.
The Pels hit 17-of-30 3s in Game 2 — 57% is a crazy shooting night for any team, but especially for one that doesn’t even hit many 3s most nights. They were also on fire in the mid-range, finishing 54% on 2s despite plenty of difficult shots. And when they did miss, they grabbed a hefty percentage of offensive rebounds again too.
CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram are difficult shot makers, so those shots can fall at any time, but they can also go cold. The Suns’ defense was not locked in for Game 2 and never really got there, but it should be ready after this wakeup call. And while Booker has improved defensively, his absence could mean even better defense from an already outstanding unit.
Before the final week of the season while the Suns were obviously resting, Phoenix went 8-3 without Booker this season. This is a team that saw significant missed time from every one of its key players other than Mikal Bridges, but they just kept right on winning anyway.
This is a team, not just one player, and I expect the Suns to acquit themselves just fine against a sub-.500 team, Booker or not. Landry Shamet is a like-for-like movement shooter replacement, and all the regulars should be able to hit a few more shots. I’m especially looking for Cam Johnson to have a big scoring game as he often did with Booker sidelined this year. Hit those Johnson points and 3s over if you can find them.
As for the game, I’ll confidently play the Suns. This is still a 64-win team — and remember, they got those wins despite having the second most man games lost — against the worst team in the playoffs. The Pelicans will have to win more than one game to scare me away from the Suns.
I’ll back them in the series and expect them to win again here and retake control.
Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans
Austin Wang: Out of all the series that you expected to be tied 1-1, this was likely not one of them.
The New Orleans Pelicans pulled off an amazing upset on the road. Now, the Smoothie King Area in New Orleans will be full of energy as the Pelicans have an excellent opportunity to take the series lead against the number one seed, Phoenix Suns.
With Devin Booker out with a hamstring injury, I think the Suns will need to rely more on their defense, which is ranked third in the league.
How does Booker’s absence impact the Suns? The On/Off numbers show exactly what you would expect – the Suns’ Offensive Rating worsens by 9.3 points and their team Defensive Rating improves by 4.5 points, per Basketball Reference.
In addition, the Suns’ pace slows down by an average of nearly two possessions per 48 minutes when he is off the court. I expect the tempo to slow down considerably as Chris Paul will be running the show without Booker pushing the ball.
The Suns are 9-5 to the under with Booker not in the lineup this season, per the SDQL at Gimme The Dog. In addition, they are 13-4-1 to the under after a loss.
Landry Shamet and Cameron Johnson look to get an increase in playing time with Booker out. However, Shamet is shooting less than 40% from the field and more Cam Johnson minutes will likely mean a bigger and slower lineup.
Brandon Ingram exploded for 37 points in Game 2 in a fantastic performance. I don’t expect him to have a repeat performance as the stout Suns’ defense will make the necessary adjustments. I expect the Pelicans will feature a lot of Jonas Valanciunas in the half court.
I foresee a low-scoring game, similar to what we saw in Game 1. I anticipate this game ends up in the low 210s and will be play the under at the total of 216.5 (down to 215).
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