It’s down to the wire in Orlando as playoff bound teams are resting up for their first-round matchups. Even at the bottom of the East we have the 7 and 8 seeds set. A couple of big lines out there with an undermanned Sixers team in action, and the Wizards trying to beat the Bucks bench. The Rockets are back looking to close out a desperate Spurs team.
Brooklyn Nets @ Orlando Magic
Bet: Nets +6 @ -110
Both of these teams are set in the bottom two seeds in the Eastern conference, and as a result will sit a bunch of guys. A lot of starters will be out on both sides, expecting impossible matchups starting next week. This game is about which bench plays harder, some guys playing for jobs next season. The Nets might have the more desperate situation and won’t be playing like a team that’s resting. The Magic will be without Terrance Ross, who did play Sunday against the Celtics, on top of three other key players. The absence of Ross will be enough for Brooklyn’s bench-to-starters to take early advantage. Expect these two teams to put up points and neither to truly run away with anything. Close game, take the dog in Brooklyn and the six points.
Phoenix Suns @ Philadelphia 76ers
Bet: OVER 229.5 @ +135
This game should be over early, as the Suns are playing against the back end of the Sixers bench. Already without Ben Simmons, you can add Joel Embiid and Josh Richardson to the out list. Both Al Horford and Tobias Harris are questionable, and most likely shouldn’t be playing. The Suns should do the majority of the work hitting the over, at least early on. The Sixers haven’t been a great defensive team with everyone healthy, so a basic assumption to think they won’t be able to stop Devin Booker and his Suns. Phoenix is 6-0 in the bubble and did play yesterday against the Thunder. The one thing I love about the Suns, and taking the over here against the Sixers, is they don’t quit. They can be up by 10 in the 4th and they still are firing away, with starters still in the game. There’s no rest mode for the Suns, and their offensive barrage will continue today. The problem lies in how many the Sixers can get. If either – or both – Horford and Harris are on the floor, their chances dramatically increase. Get to 100 and the Sixers have done more than enough to help this hit over.
Houston Rockets @ San Antonio Spurs
Bet: Rockets +2.5 @ +110
The Rockets will rest James Harden today against a Spurs team that needs to win or see their post-season chances die. On top of that, Derrick White is questionable after injuring himself in Sunday’s game. The last time these two squared off San Antonio saw an insane night out of Austin Rivers, as he’ll have a ton of pressure on him again to repeat with Harden now on the bench. Houston isn’t just resting Harden; they are replacing him at that slot with Russell Westbrook. The small ball is still in effect, as is the launching from anywhere on the floor strategy. The line is tight because of the desperation on the Spurs’ shoulders combined with one of the game’s most prolific scorers sitting out for rest. But that’s actually a nice little gift for us to take advantage of with Houston. The Rockets will rely on both Westbrook and Rivers to pace the offense, and still have some legit defenders in Robert Covington and Ben McLemore. The Spurs will get their chances but will have to settle on trading 2’s for 3’s far too often. I’ll ride with the Rockets and take a 3 or 4 point victory.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Sacramento Kings
Bet: Pelicans ML @ +120
Like most games this late in the restart, expect a bunch of starters on both sides to rest. Most notably for the Kings. De’Aaron Fox and Richaun Holmes are out for Sacramento, something that will definitely slow down their offense and hurt their defense, respectively. Yes, New Orleans is down Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, and Zion Williamson, but they’ve played without Zion in the bubble. Lonzo Ball now takes over the reins, and hasn’t played poorly especially against the Kings. Ball is actually the key here to the Pelicans taking this game averaging a double-double against SacTown this season. The Kings have struggled mightly on defense and I’m not convinced that bench players and Ball are going to succumb to anything the Kings throw at them.