Friday’s NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Pacers vs. Heat, Timberwolves vs. Suns (March 19)
Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured (L-R): Dario Saric (20), Devin Booker (1), Jae Crowder (99).
This is the only time of year that the NBA flies under the radar on a Friday night, but with 10 games on the schedule for tonight there's plenty of value to be found. The lone game on national TV is a sensational matchup between Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard on NBA TV.
While that game is one of the three that our NBA analysts are eyeing, there are two more games with a lot of value on their radar. You can check out the three bets they are making on Friday's slate below, including in-depth analysis for each game.
NBA Odds & Picks
Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat
Raheem Palmer: Oddsmakers really have a tough time making many of these NBA totals. Unfortunately, these days that means you really have a short window to bet many of them before they’re on the move and much of the value is extracted from the market. That’s typically between 7-10 a.m. ET, so if you’re following me in the Action app you can see many of the bets directly after I place them into my accounts.
Three totals I’ve liked (Spurs/Cavs Under 216, Rockets/Pistons Under 217 and Bulls/Nuggets Under 228.5 are long gone) but that doesn’t mean that’s all the value I’ve found for today.
With the return of Caris LeVert, the Indiana Pacers have one more offensive weapon in the fold for a team that drastically lacks wing scoring without TJ Warren. The Pacers have been the most disappointing team of the season for me. Nate Bjorkgren was supposed to be an upgrade over Nate McMillan and modernize this offense with pace, space and more 3-pointers.
But the Pacers rank just 19th in Offensive Rating, scoring 111.0 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes per Cleaning The Glass. They’re shooting just 35% of their field goal attempts from behind the arc, which ranks 20th among NBA teams.
All things considered, this is just an average offense all the way around the board, however we saw the Pacers score 122 points and put up an Offensive Rating of 120.2 in their game against the Suns who are seventh in Defensive Rating (110.0).
If you remove the Pacers' 15-point fourth quarter meltdown against the Nuggets, it’s clear this offense has been rolling since the return of LeVert and I’m not sure the market is fully pricing that in yet.
The Pacers play the 12th-fastest Pace in the league (100.54) and over the past three games they’re sixth in pace, playing about an average of 102.33 possessions per game. Against a tough Miami defense that ranks fifth in Defensive Rating (109.3) you have to imagine, the Pacers will want to push the pace to generate easy offense in transition where they rank second in points per play (113.7 per 100).
Where the Pacers truly struggle is on the defensive end of the floor allowing a 113.5 points per 100 possessions in the last two weeks. Miami has yet to truly find its offensive footing this season, winning primarily on the defensive end of the floor. But there are opportunities for the Heat to capitalize against a Pacers team that is struggling defensively. The Pacers are 23rd in personal fouls (20.4 per game) and the Heat are shooting 70% at the rim. I imagine this game could have a ton of free throw attempts from Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
Teams are also shooting lights out from behind the arc against this Pacers team, making 38.7% of their 3-point attempts. While that is a product of variance as teams can’t truly control opponent three point shooting, this Pacers defense could be the elixir for a Heat team who’s seen regressions in shooting from Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Kelly Olnyk, Goran Dragic and Butler this season.
The Heat are coming off a 89-85 loss against the Memphis Grizzlies, which was a really bad spot after playing the Cavaliers Monday and the Magic on Sunday. It was the true definition of a schedule loss and it’s no a surprise the tired Heat posted an Offensive Rating of 88.9.
Now the Heat are home, well rested and face a step down in class defensively. Neither of these teams are on a back-to-back and this is the front end of a two game series between these two teams so we should expect heavy minutes from both starters and a hard fought competitive game.
While this isn’t captured by my model, at 215, I think this total is a tad bit too low. In today’s NBA, you can really cough and sneeze and get over a total of 215 and with these two teams working to get into a groove offensively, I’ll play the over here.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Justin Phan: Dorian Finney-Smith will miss his second straight game on Friday due to personal reasons.
Tim Hardaway Jr. moved into the starting lineup in his absence in Wednesday's win and played 36.6 minutes, with Wes Iwundu entering the rotation and playing fewer than a dozen minutes off the bench.
The Mavericks starting lineup with Hardaway Jr. instead of Finney-Smith has posted a stellar +28.8 Net Rating this season. The Mavs are 6-2 against the spread this season with a rest advantage and will play starters heavy minutes with James Johnson and Willie Cauley-Stein out and this game not being a back-to-back.
I bet the Mavs at -3, but I still see value earlier but like the value on this number up to -4.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Phoenix Suns
Games with a teams playing the second game of a series against each other typically have gone under this season, according to our Bet Labs database:
That trend is at play in Friday's matchup between the Timberwolves and Suns. The Suns were upset by the young Wolves and were awful defensively allowing 123 points to a team that ranks 26th in Offensive Rating (107 points per 100).
I don't expect the Suns of all teams to allow two players to score 40 points each again in back-to-back games. The Wolves are only scoring 2.5 more points per 100 with Karl-Anthony Towns back in the lineup over the past 17 games, so I feel confident that what we saw from Towns, Anthony Bennett and that offense is an outlier.
I'm riding with the trend here. I expect one of the better defensive teams in the NBA to lock up when necessary and keep this game under 232.5. I would bet this down to 230.