Welcome to the Thursday, 10/18/18 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one game per night I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel good enough about to recommend. A “lean” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Season to Date:
ATS: 1-1 (.500)
Thursday Night’s NBA Betting Pick:
Miami Heat at Washington Wizards
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Wizards -5.5
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Wizards -5.5
888 Sportsbook Odds: Wizards -5.5
Over/Under Total: 214.0
The Heat and Wizards split their season series 2-2 last season. Miami notched one of its two victories on Washington’s home floor: a 91-88 squeaker in November. They also gave the Wizards all they can handle in a March encounter at Capital One Arena before falling by a 117-113 score in overtime.
The rosters for either squad went largely unchanged during the offseason, with one notable exception—the Wizards swapped out Marcin Gortat for Dwight Howard down low. However, the big man remains questionable for Thursday’s game due to back stiffness. Meanwhile, the Heat comes in with a slew of injuries to significant players. Wayne Ellington (ankle), Justise Winslow (hamstring), and Dion Waiters (ankle) are unlikely to play Thursday. Then, James Johnson (illness) is headed for a questionable designation.
A short-handed Miami squad fell by a 104-101 score to the Orlando Magic in Wednesday’s regular-season opener. Complementary pieces such as Derrick Jones, Jr. and Rodney McGruder were forced into the starting five and turned in mediocre performances. However, 20-point-plus efforts from Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson along with the Heat’s strong bench helped keep the score close until the final buzzer.
A return by Johnson on Thursday would represent a significant boost to the Heat’s frontcourt. Even if he can’t suit up, Miami won’t encounter anywhere near the level of mismatch they did Wednesday when Aaron Gordon tore them up for a 26-point, 16-rebound double-double. Head coach Erik Spoelstra may also opt to move Jones back to the second unit and promote Kelly Olynyk, who averaged a career-high 11.5 points last season while often thriving in 22 starting opportunities. The likes of Dwyane Wade, Tyler Johnson, and Bam Adebayo are available off the second unit to help keep Miami’s offense running at a solid clip when the starters need a breather.
Although Washington brings plenty of firepower on offense, they gave up almost as much as they scored last season. The Wizards allowed opponents a healthy 46.2 percent success rate from the field on their way to yielding 106.0 points per contest. Miami touched them up for 113 and 129 points, respectively, in their last two meetings of last season. Hassan Whiteside (14.7 points, 14.3 rebounds) was especially effective against Washington. The big man looked to already be in midseason form Wednesday with a 12-point, 18-rebound double-double.
Meanwhile, the Heat were stingy on defense last season, allowing the fourth-lowest points per game (102.9). That included the sixth-fewest on the road (103.9). They held the Wizards to 88 and 102 points (twice) in three of their four meetings.
By The Numbers: The Heat were 24-17-2 (58.5 percent) against the spread on the road last season, including 20-12-2 (62.5 percent) as a road underdog. Miami were also 8-5-3 (61.5 percent) against the number in division games in 2017-18. Then, the Wizards were 18-25-1 (41.9 percent) versus the number at home last season, including 11-22-1 (33.3 percent) as a favorite. Washington was also just 6-9-1 (40.0 percent) against the spread in division games in 2017-18.
The Final Word: Miami is getting an elevated 5.5 points presumably due to their assortment of likely absences. However, they boast a deep, experienced roster and a feisty defense capable of keeping games close, especially against a division rival they know well. I’m looking for the Heat to keep this game close enough to likely cover despite their multiple injuries.
The Lean: Heat +5.5