Welcome to the Saturday, 10/20/18 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 Picks: 1-2 (.333)
ATS Leans: 1-0 (1.000)
Saturday Night’s NBA Betting Pick:
Charlotte Hornets at Miami Heat
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Heat -4
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Heat -5
888 Sportsbook Odds: Heat -4
Over/Under Total: 216.5
Both clubs walk into the Saturday night divisional battle with matching 1-1 records. Each team’s defeat was a heart-breaker in which they were highly competitive, but their respective wins were a study in contrast. Miami was derailed, 104-101, by the Orlando Magic in their regular-season opener on Wednesday. They bounced back to sneak past the Washington Wizards 113-112 the following night on a Kelly Olynyk put-back off a Dwyane Wade miss with 0.2 seconds left.
Meanwhile, the Hornets fell by a 113-112 margin to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Wednesday night tip-off to their season. Then, they bounced back decisively to wallop the Magic by a 120-88 tally on Friday night.
Each team will be playing their third game in four nights to start the season, and Charlotte will be on the second game of a back-to-back. However, the comfortable win they notched Friday allowed their starting five to log notably fewer minutes than usual. Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Marvin Williams, and Cody Zeller all played under 30 minutes, with Nicolas Batum the only one to hit that mark. Their reduced playing time coupled with the fact that it’s early in the season should lessen the impact of consecutive games by a significant margin.
Charlotte came up short in all four encounters with Miami last season, but key players enjoyed individual success. Walker (25.7 points, 5.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals) and Batum (13.3 points, 6.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals) were both especially productive. The Hornets also boast a deeper bench than last season. Malik Monk now has one season under his belt. Tony Parker is available to provide veteran leadership at point guard. And first-round pick Miles Bridges already looks like the real deal.
Miami continues to deal with an assortment of injuries at the wing spots. Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, and Wayne Ellington are all questionable or doubtful for Saturday’s game. James Johnson is also still recovering from an illness although he may play. That said, the Heat do have a deep enough roster to make up for those absences.
It’s also worth noting Walker was kryptonite for one of Miami’s most dependable sources of offense last season. Goran Dragic only averaged 6.7 points (on 23.3 percent shooting) across 25.7 minutes in three games against the Hornets during the 2017-18 campaign.
By the Numbers: The Heat were 16-23-4 (41.0 percent) against the number at home last season, including 13-15-3 (46.4 percent) as favorites at American Airlines Arena.
The Hornets were 10-5-1 (66.7 percent) versus the number in division games last season, besting the spread by an average of 5.0 points. While they dropped all four games to the Heat last season, Charlotte lost by fewer than five points in three of those contests and by five in the other.
The Final Word: Charlotte looks like an improved squad in the early going after generating a disappointing 36-46 record last season. They flexed their muscles a bit in Friday’s blowout win over Orlando. While the competition is stiffer Saturday, the Hornets should give their division rival a tough enough time to keep a margin of defeat under five points if they’re unable to secure an outright victory.
The Pick: Hornets +5