Friday NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Suns, Magic & Heat Among Our Top Wagers (March 26)
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Bam Adebayo
- There is plenty of action on Friday's NBA card, with 11 games going on across the league.
- Check out our analysts top picks below, including an angle on one of the night's huge underdogs.
Our staff breaks down its favorite picks below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Suns at Raptors
Under 224 (PointsBet)
Raheem Palmer: In Wednesday’s 135-111 win over the Nuggets, the Raptors shot 45-of-89 from the field, 24-of-58 (50%) from behind the arc and scored 16 fast break points.
That’s not likely to repeat itself against the Suns, who are fifth in Defensive Rating, holding opposing teams to 109.2 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes according to Cleaning The Glass. By comparison, the Nuggets are 20th in Defensive Rating (113.3) this season.
Although Toronto makes a living from behind the arc — the Raptors shoot the third-highest frequency of 3-point field goal attempts (42.4%) while making the ninth highest (38.3%) — this Suns team is stout at defending the perimeter. Opposing teams are shooting the third-lowest percentage from behind the arc (34.9%), so I’m not expecting a huge scoring outburst from a Raptors team that just traded Norman Powell for Gary Trent Jr and Rodney Hood, both of whom are unlikely to play as this trade clears.
If you shut down the Raptors’ 3-point attack, they don’t have much else as they rank 24th and 27th in field goal percentage at the rim (60.6%) and from midrange (37.6%), respectively.
The Suns have plenty of advantages to capitalize on offense. They’re shooting 66% at the rim against a Raptors team that ranks 20th in field goal percentage at the rim (64.4%). They also should have no problems scoring from behind the arc as the Raptors are allowing teams to shoot 38.1% from behind the arc, 22nd among NBA teams.
Although the Suns are likely to score efficiently, they still rank 24th in pace this season, playing just 98.22 possessions a game. I played the under at 225, but we’re seeing this total get steamed down for a reason — my projections make this game 222 and I still see some value at 224.
I also like the Suns in this matchup, and while there’s some steam on the Raptors at +4.5, I see a ton of value on a Suns team at -3.5 — Phoenix should be able to shut down this Toronto offense and do whatever it wants. Look for this Suns to bounce back from Wednesday’s loss to the Magic with a win in a game that is lower scoring than the market anticipates.
Blazers at Magic
Brandon Anderson: Let’s get crazy.
It was a wild NBA trade deadline, and the Magic made as much noise as anyone, completely blowing up the roster. Nikola Vucevic is gone. Aaron Gordon was finally traded. Evan Fournier is gone, too. And it’s not like the Magic were particularly deep before these moves, with Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac already out for the season.
Goodbye entire starting lineup. Oh and rookie Cole Anthony is still out, too.
So what’s left in Orlando? Not a ton. It looks like the starting lineup will be something like Michael Carter-Williams, Dwayne Bacon, James Ennis, Chuma Okeke and Khem Birch. It’s basically a walking five-man lineup of Who He Play For on TNT, but it’s also a lineup of competent players.
All but Bacon are plus defenders who should make life difficult for Portland. The Blazers also have one of the worst defenses in the league and allow a lot of open shots. Ennis and Okeke can knock them down, and Bacon is always a possibility to get hot. Terrence Ross is a question mark off the bench, but he would provide a lot of offense, too.
It’s not the prettiest picture in the world, but Orlando has been fighting hard — not rolling over and playing dead.
The Magic just shocked the Suns in their last game, and they were within five points of the Nuggets in the final seven minutes the game before despite being blown out early. The Magic beat the Nets — with James Harden and Kyrie Irving — a couple games before that and lost by one and five to the Knicks and Heat. And yes, of course that was an entirely different team with Vooch and others around, but this version has shown it will fight hard and give itself a shot late in games.
What do we know about the Blazers? We know that they’re 26-18 but have metrics much closer to a 21-win team, per Basketball Reference — a stark overachievement.
We also know the Blazers play a glut of close games. Nine of Portland’s last 10 have been within five points in the final two minutes, and that’s why Damian Lillard is suddenly an MVP favorite, because Dame Time keeps closing these games out. But we also know clutch performance is not sustainable, and we know Lillard is fighting off a knee injury and just tweaked it again in a game just last night.
What if Dame ends up scratched on a back to back, or what if he has an off night playing tired and through an injury? What if Dwayne Bacon or someone on the Magic gets hot? What if the game is close late and Portland, for once, doesn’t catch a bounce?
I’m not saying the Magic will win or even should win. I’m saying they can win and that a +550 moneyline leaves value on Orlando. At -833, the Blazers’ moneyline price implies they have a 89.3% implied probability to win, and I just can’t get there. Portland has one comfortable win since Feb. 16. This team doesn’t blow many teams out, in part because the defense always gives opponents a shot.
I won’t go crazy here, but I’m giving Orlando a shot. The shorthanded Magic have been a live dog all season, and Blazers games tend to be close and give us a chance.
Heat at Hornets
Kenny Ducey: I have been buying low on the Hornets ever since the injury to LaMelo Ball, believing in their depth on the wings and ability to score the basketball, but I’m very interested in selling high here.
The Miami Heat are 4-2 against the spread (ATS) this season on the second night of back-to-backs, and are in one of my favorite spots, which is less than 24 hours removed from a close, soul-crushing defeat.
Defensively, the Heat should have a decided edge even without Goran Dragic and newly-acquired Victor Oladipo. Kendrick Nunn had 22 points in place of Dragic on Thursday, and Trevor Ariza stuffed the stat sheet without Jimmy Butler and Kelly Olynyk. Miami has proven time and time again that it is as deep as anyone in the NBA, and Erik Spoelstra may be the best coach in the league.
Butler is questionable heading into this one with an illness, but even without him, this Heat defense should rise to the occasion. Miami sits sixth in defensive efficiency over the past 10 games with a rating of 109.6, and even in the minutes it’s played without Butler this season, its 111.3 rating is very good.
On the other hand, Charlotte has lost 2.4 points per 100 possessions without Ball on the floor, and its numbers over the past two games have been inflated due to the fact that it got to face the Rockets and blow the doors off their poor excuse for a defense.
The Hornets will run into a buzzsaw here, and it doesn’t hurt that Miami is 6-5 ATS as an away favorite — one of their most profitable spots.