Saturday NBA Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: How to Bet Spurs vs. Hornets, 76ers vs. Heat
Alex Menendez/Getty Images. Pictured: San Antonio Spurs standout Dejounte Murray.
We’ve got a monster final regular season college basketball Saturday slate, a huge UFC night, and a robust NBA slate — so, naturally we’ll start with a Spurs-Hornets matchup with two teams on the fringe of their respective play-in races.
Let’s dive into our favorite NBA bets for Saturday.
Saturday NBA Picks
Spurs at Hornets
Brandon Anderson: The Hornets are on the right side of the equation for now at the 10-seed, but I’m not sure Charlotte is actually better than San Antonio. The Spurs have badly underperformed their underlying metrics this season. They’re 24-39 but have an Expected Win-Loss record of 31-32, per Basketball Reference. By comparison, the Hornets are an expected 31-33, ever so slightly worse. The Spurs have a better season-long Net Rating too, 16th versus 18th.
San Antonio also has the best player on the court. LaMelo Ball is the sexier breakout name and the far flashier player, but Dejounte Murray is a better player right now, and his length and defensive tenacity could put the clamps on Charlotte’s star.
And while all the attention this year has been on Ball and Miles Bridges, this is still a team that needs Gordon Hayward’s steady hand out there, and the Hornets have struggled without him. They’re 26-22 with Hayward but an ugly 5-11 without him, and they’ve won only three of 13 games since the start of February. This team is not playing well right now.
Legendary Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sits on the precipice of history, his 1,334 career NBA coaching wins just one short of Don Nelson’s all-time record. The Spurs are about to host a seven-game home stand, and he’ll surely break the record there — but wouldn’t it be so Pop for him to tie the all-time record in a random Saturday night game in Charlotte nobody will be watching? Just another virtuoso grind-it-out win.
I’ll play the +150 moneyline here, but it behooves us to put half of our bet on the Spurs +4 to cover, too. San Antonio has covered or pushed a four-point spread without winning nine times already this season, and of course that’s part of why the Spurs have fallen short of their win-loss expectations.
I think they’ll cover and win tonight, and I’ll split my bet and play both.
76ers at Heat
Kenny Ducey: This Sixers offense has been exceptional since adding James Harden. In those four games, it ranks atop the league in efficiency with a robust 126.2 points per 100 possessions, coupled with a splendid 65.6% assist rate.
Philly mustered up a 128.9 rating on that end against a very capable Cleveland defense on Friday night and I don’t fear a Heat defense which has slipped ever so slightly from its perch, ranking eighth in the NBA since the All-Star break. It’s hardly a bad mark, but it’s an opening for the league’s hottest offense.
On the other side of the coin, Philly cracked in a big way against the Cavaliers, letting Cleveland get essentially whatever it wanted for three and a half quarters before getting in front late and pulling away. The 121.4 defensive rating it posted was unsightly, and the worst mark in the short James Harden era.
Both of these teams have had a pace rating over 100 since the All-Star break, both have been exceptional on offense and both defenses have shown signs of wear. Philly’s tired legs should succumb to an efficient Heat offense while Harden continues to help it score a seemingly infinite number of points.
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