Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Zhaire Smith
- The NBA Summer League continues Saturday with six games.
- This is the fourth day of the playoffs, and all 12 teams are in the second round of the winner's bracket.
- Watching for player news will be critical today, as many teams could elect to send home their future studs.
As mentioned in our inaugural Summer League piece last Friday, it’s been highly profitable the past two seasons to bet underdogs and overs.
- Favorites: 66-117-5 ATS, -30.0% ROI, -$5,636 lost for a $100/unit bettor
- Dogs: 117-66-5 ATS, +22.5% ROI, +$4,227 won for a $100/unit bettor
- Over: 107-77-4, +12.0% ROI, +$2,252 won for a $100/unit bettor
- Under: 77-107-4, -19.4% ROI, -$3,638 lost for a $100/unit bettor
Yesterday was a good day for this column despite it being a tough slate to handicap due to all games being in the consolation bracket. Watching for news and banking on lines not accounting for shifting rosters paid off: We went 6-1.
Today’s games feature all teams in the winner’s brackets, although it’s still possible teams will elect to rest some of their featured young players. Shai Gilgeous Alexander, future stud point guard for the Clips, sat out the first round of the playoffs, which was a big reason LA lost that game.
Detroit Pistons vs. Chicago Bulls (-1) | O/U: 164.5
4 p.m. ET
- The Pistons are 2-2 in Vegas with a subpar -4.5 point differential. The Bulls are 2-2 with an average 0.0 point differential.
- The Pistons have really struggled to score this summer (outside of an explosion against the defensively inept Pelicans), notably putting up just 64 points on Wednesday in their first-round win over the Timberwolves. They’ve averaged just 75.5 points per game, the third-lowest mark of the summer. Thankfully they’ve also posted a top-10 defense, allowing 79.8 points per game, although that affair against Minnesota was a big part of that.
- The jury remains out on some of Detroit’s young talent. Wing Luke Kennard hasn’t played this summer, and big man Henry Ellenson has had an up-and-down campaign. In Wednesday’s first-round matchup, he managed to go just 3-of-17 from the field for seven points in 25 minutes. Perhaps it was unlucky shooting from the outside, but if he’s going to struggle that much against the likes of Amile Jefferson, he could struggle to remain in the rotation this season against even better NBA players. It’s possible the Pistons will want him to fill the void left by Anthony Tolliver, and we’ll have to see if he can handle that role.
- The Bulls beat the Mavericks in the first round Wednesday, although Dennis Smith Jr. didn’t suit up. Still, they looked solid, especially top-10 draft pick Wendell Carter Jr., who looks like a superior prospect to first overall pick Deandre Ayton so far. Carter went 9-of-11 from the field for 19 points and nine rebounds, and he continues to impress with his awareness on defense — something he wasn’t able to show in the awful zone defensive scheme at Duke.
Lean: Bulls -1
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Houston Rockets (-3.5) | O/U: 178.5
4:30 p.m. ET
- The Cavs are 3-1 in Vegas with a nice +6.2 point differential. The Rockets have been even better this summer, going a perfect 4-0 and boasting a point differential of +7.5.
- The Cavs beat a frustrating Kings team in the first round Wednesday by 12 despite two main guys in Ante Zizic and Cedi Osman sitting out. It was the Collin Sexton show, and he responded with 25 points on 15 shots and seven assists in 25 minutes of action. He will need to continue to develop a shot — he went just 0-for-2 from the 3-point land (and as I’ll continue to mention with prospects, sometimes the number of attempts is more important than whether they actually go in) — but the offensive flashes are there.
- The Rockets have intriguing players up and down their roster, and it was nice to see a solid performance on Wednesday from Zhou Qi, who went for 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes of action. Some of the smartest draft people I know were shocked De’Anthony Melton fell as low as he did in the draft, and he’s already looking like a surefire steal. His shot will have to become consistent, but everything else is there to be an awesome role player in the league.
Lean: Monitor news for Cleveland’s young players; if out again, Rockets -3.5
Toronto Raptors vs. Charlotte Hornets (-5.5) | O/U: 174.5
6 p.m. ET
- The Raptors have been quite poor this summer, going 1-3 with a -6.5 point differential. The Hornets, meanwhile, are 3-1 with a +0.8 point differential.
- I’m still not very high on this Raptors Summer League team. OG Anunoby will be a very nice wing rotation player in the league, but they’ve struggled in Vegas without high-level shot creators. While they got the win over the Nuggets Wednesday to advance, they probably got a little lucky shooting (both their own shots and the Nuggets missing some). I’m going to bank on some regression here.
- All that said, it’s possible the Hornets could rest a lot of their best young players. They started Summer League with perhaps the best starting five outside of Portland with Devonte Graham, Malik Monk, Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, and Willy Hernangomez. Literally all those players should be in the rotation come October. However, Graham and Monk didn’t suit up, and the Hornets have announced Hernangomez is done for the summer. Again, monitor the news, because if all of these guys are going to sit out, the +5.5 on the Raptors becomes more intriguing, even if I’m low on them overall.
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics (-4.5) | O/U: 181
6:30 p.m. ET
- The Heat are 2-2 in Vegas with a -4.5 point differential. The Celtics are 3-1 with a nice +5.0 point differential.
- The Heat got a win against the Pelicans Thursday in the first round, putting up 110 against a poor Pels defense without Bam Adebayo in the lineup. It’s unclear if he’ll suit up today in this second round matchup, but I would be surprised if he did.
- The Celtics continue to impress with guys like Semi Ojeleye, Jabari Bird, and Guerschon Yabusele, and I haven’t seen any news suggesting they won’t continue to play. Those guys probably won’t get a ton of run this year because of Boston’s ridiculous high-level depth (maybe Ojeleye will increase his role a bit), but these would be potential rotation players for another organization.
- The Heat are dead last in Vegas defensively this summer, allowing a ridiculous 100.0 points per game. If the main Celtics guys play, I’m fine with taking the over even with the high total of 181.
Lean: Watch for news, lean over 181 if Celtics guys play
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks (-1.5) | O/U: 167.5
8:30 p.m. ET
- The 76ers are 1-3 with a very poor point differential of -8.2. The Bucks are 2-2 with a much better point differential of +6.2.
- I’m going to continue to ride the 76ers wagon. I thought they were much better than their record or point differential indicated, and thus I was high on them as dogs on Thursday. They didn’t just cover the seven points — they beat a good Suns team outright to advance to the winner’s bracket. They have nice talent, with first-round pick Zhaire Smith and guys like Jonah Bolden, Furkan Korkmaz, and Demetrius Jackson. Assuming they play again, I think they should be the favorites here, and I’ll gladly take the points.
- The Bucks were my other favorite dog play Thursday, and they beat the Spurs outright to advance. But that was more a fade of the Spurs than truly buying the Bucks. There’s intriguing talent here with guys like Sterling Brown, D.J. Wilson, Donte DiVincenzo, and Christian Wood, but I still like the 76ers players a little more. Plus, it’s no sure thing those youngins will all play; DiVincenzo, for example, sat out two games ago and got just 10 minutes of action on Thursday.
Lean: 76ers +1.5
Utah Jazz vs. Memphis Grizzlies (-1.5) | O/U: 171.5
10:30 p.m. ET
- The Jazz are 2-2 in Vegas with a -3.2 point differential. The Grizzlies have been one of the worst teams this summer, going 2-2 but posting a putrid -8.5 point differential. They have some bad losses.
- These are two bad teams with unconvincing first-round wins. The Jazz rested Grayson Allen and Tony Bradley, but they played an Orlando squad without Mo Bamba and Jonathan Isaac. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies pulled out a win over an unexciting Thunder roster.
- The Grizzlies rank 29th in Summer League with just 75.3 points per game, and that includes putting up 92 Thursday against a poor Thunder squad. It may not be super tough sledding today if Bradley is out for the Jazz, but there still isn’t a whole lot of high-end shot creation on either team. Please don’t watch this game, and if you must take a side, I guess grab the points considering both squads are pretty poor.
Lean: Jazz +1.5