Welcome to the Thursday, Jan. 10 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for tonight 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 confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager 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: 20-14 (.588)
ATS Leans: 12-7-1 (.632)
Moneyline: 14-5 (.737)
Over/Under: 9-3 (.750)
1/10/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Boston Celtics (25-15) vs. Miami Heat (19-20)
Over/Under Total: 212.0
The Celtics have spent a good portion of their season thus far as one of the league’s most-underachieving teams. While their win-loss record hasn’t been unacceptable in general terms, it’s failed to meet the lofty expectations both Boston and its fans had placed on the team prior to the start of the season. However, the current No. 5 seed in the East has turned things around lately. The Celtics come into Thursday’s game with four straight victories. And they’ve won seven of their last nine overall.
One persistent issue the Celtics finally seem to be getting past is injuries. Boston was plagued by key absences for a substantial portion of the campaign until recently. They’ll come into their South Florida showdown Thursday with a near-clean bill of health. Only reserve big man Aron Baynes is out due to his continued recovery from a hand injury. Having a full arsenal of weapons is leading to more dominant performances on either side of the floor for the Celts, the kind that was expected of them in bunches coming into the season. Boston has scored between 112 and 135 points in all seven of their aforementioned recent victories. Then, they’ve yielded 103 points or fewer in five of those contests as well.
Then, the Heat haven’t been anywhere near as consistent as the Celtics lately. Miami’s issues are such that they’ve mustered more than a two-game winning streak only once this season. Their 19-20 record speaks to the up-and-down nature of their performances. And they’ve encountered plenty of issues on their home floor as well. The Heat are just 9-12 at American Airlines Arena. That includes a 4-6 mark over their last 10 home tilts. All but one of their 12 home losses has been by at least Thursday’s two-point spread.
One of Miami’s biggest issues this season has been offense, or a lack thereof. The Heat are averaging over two points a game fewer at home than on the road (105.3, compared to 107.5). They’re also averaging the third-fewest points in the NBA (98.7) over their last three games. The Heat even see a slight tick upward in their points allowed at AA Arena (105.8, compared to 105.7 on the road). It’s also worth noting Miami has found points especially hard to come by when facing quality opponents on their home court. They’ve scored 104 points or fewer against their last four home opponents with winning records (Nuggets, Raptors, Bucks, and Rockets).
Finally, it’s worth highlighting how poor of a matchup the Celtics present for the Heat in terms of three-point shooting. Boston has been one of the better shooting teams from distance this season. They’ve drained their shots from behind the arc at the sixth-best clip in the NBA overall (36.8 percent). That includes a 43.1 percent success rate over their last three games and the sixth-highest road three-point mark (37.3 percent) in the league as well. In turn, the Heat ranks in the bottom half of the NBA in overall three-point percentage allowed (35.7).
By the Numbers
The Celtics are 22-18 (55.0 percent) against the spread overall this season. They’re also 15-9 (62.5 percent) versus the number in conference games and 14-10 (58.3 percent) against the spread following a win.
The Heat are 9-12 (42.9 percent) against the spread as a home team this season. They’re also 11-13 (45.8 percent) versus the number in conference games. Miami is 10-14 (41.7 percent) against the spread when playing on one day’s rest as well.
The Final Word
The Heat have actually been a solid team against the spread as home underdogs this season (5-2). However, this projected margin is an especially narrow one, particularly for a team playing as well as the Celtics at present. Boston has collected double-digit wins with regularity lately. And even the fact that they’re on the second game of a back-to-back packs less of an adverse effect than usual. The starters were able to get plenty of time off Wednesday night due to a blowout victory over the Pacers. While I expect Miami to put up the good fight, this is a contest in which I see Boston pulling away late for at least a three-point victory.
The Pick: Celtics -2, Celtics moneyline