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Saturday NBA Hard Court Betting Predictions
Best Value NBA Bets
By Liam Davis
On the surface, the Oklahoma City Thunder aren't a good matchup for the Utah Jazz. They struggle against faster, more athletic teams who force them out of their comfort zone—out of their plodding half-court sets.
But being unable to dictate the pace and style is more of a concern against the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, the latter of whom the Jazz just recently beat.
Oklahoma City's offense pales in comparison to either Houston's or Golden State's, and with Utah being relatively healthy, it's tough to see this one going in the Thunder's favor.
The Pick: Utah Jazz (+2.5)
It's tempting to roll with the Orlando Magic just because of how maddeningly inconsistent the Cleveland Cavaliers are on the road and when facing inferior opponents. They don't announce rest or flex nights until just before tip, and they always seem to let bad squads hang around much longer than they should.
The Magic, however, were destroyed on Friday night, in front of their home crowd, by the struggling Charlotte Hornets. Their reward is to face the best team in the Eastern Conference, led by LeBron James, who as of now is expected to play. In all likelihood, this isn't going to end well for Orlando.
The Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers (-9)
The Toronto Raptors are working off a tightly contested loss to the Atlanta Hawks, and playing the second end of a back-to-back on the road is always the worst.
More annoying still, they're facing a Miami Heat squad that has been scalding-hot since Jan. 17, during which time they are an NBA-best 20-4.
You read that right: NBA-best 20-4.
Throughout this streak-turned-new-normal, the Heat also have the league's second-best net rating and plus-minus at home, trailing only the Warriors, according to NBA.com. The temptation to roll with the Raptors, even though they're without Kyle Lowry is there. But it's time we started respecting the Heat.
The Pick: Miami Heat (-5.5)
Both the Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves played on Friday. Both of them also won.
It's the Timberwolves, though, who expended more energy trying to hold off a late run by the Warriors. Head coach Tom Thibodeau isn't one for resting his players, particularly the young ones, but the second night of a back-to-back is rough on everyone when it's played on the road.
The Bucks were given an early game scare against the Indiana Pacers, and nothing more. They have won each of their last five games, over which time they rank seventh in points scored per 100 possessions and a whopping third in points allowed per 100 possessions. Even with Minnesota playing better defense, we have to give this to Milwaukee.
The Pick: Milwaukee Bucks (-2.5)
The running theme of these picks has been "Beware of the teams playing the second night of a back-to-back on the road." The Hawks fall into this category. Knowing how much of a betting roller coaster they've been all season, it makes sense to bet against them.
At the same time, the Memphis Grizzlies have lost four straight and haven't been that dominant at home this season. They have a winning record, at 19-13, but their home-court net rating isn't that good. The Hawks, by comparison, are a solid road team, at 17-14, and play a similar defensive style that should, at the very least, make for a super-close affair.
The Pick: Atlanta Hawks (+5)
This is a weird situation.
On the one hand, the Portland Trail Blazers have won four straight, and the Washington Wizards are working off an almost-loss to the Sacramento Kings that went into overtime. On top of that, the Wizards are also 3-4 on the second night of back-to-backs that are played on the road.
Here's the thing: The Blazers still aren't very good, and the Wizards are 3-0 in the latter ends of their last three road back-to-backs. The grind of traveling overnight is real, and the Blazers, unlike the Wizards are fighting for their playoff lives. But the Wizards are now scrapping for the East's No. 2 seed. If they lose, it shouldn't be by much.
The Pick: Washington Wizards (+5)
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