Welcome to the Sunday, Jan. 27 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: 20-16 (.555)
ATS Leans: 15-11-1 (.577)
Moneyline: 18-8 (.692)
Over/Under: 12-6 (.667)
1/27/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Miami Heat (23-24) vs. New York Knicks (10-37)
Over/Under Total: 211.0
The Knicks seem to be compounding an already dismal win/loss record with internal drama. Coach David Fizdale has recently opted to leave Enes Kanter out of the rotation despite the absence of Luke Kornet (ankle). There have been plenty of rumors of a possible trade, which could at least partly explain the strategy. Fizdale has also criticized Kanter’s defense in the process of trying to clumsily explain his decision. All of those developments have led to Kanter airing his grievances out in public and the Knicks coming up short of 100 points for the first time in six games Friday night versus the Nets. In all, New York has dropped eight straight, and 16 of their last 17 contests overall.
Their futility includes a 4-16 record on their home floor of Madison Square Garden. To their credit, the Knicks do often play teams close at MSG. They’ve proven especially capable of rising to the occasion against some of the better squads in the league there. However, as is to be expected from a 10-37 team, they’ve lost by sizable margins on plenty of occasions. Of those 16 home losses, 10 have been by more than Sunday’s five-point spread. And even though it unfolded on the road, it’s worth noting the Knicks suffered a 110-87 loss to the Heat in these teams’ one prior meeting on Oct. 24.
Then, in addition to their voluntary exiling of Kanter, the Knicks are also missing another key piece in Emmanuel Mudiay (shoulder). The fourth-year guard was enjoying his best pro season by far before his injury. His average of 14.7 points per game ranks second on the team while his 3.9 assists still lead New York. His replacement, Frank Ntilikina, falls well short of adequately replacing Mudiay. Ntilikina averages just 5.9 points and is shooting an unsightly 33.8 percent, including 29.4 percent from three-point range. Meanwhile, young big Mitchell Robinson is slated to once again gobble up the starting center minutes Sunday in Kanter’s presumed third straight DNP. As is the case with the Mudiay-Ntilikina scenario, the disparity between the two players’ production is significant. While Kanter averages 14.4 PPG and 10.8 RPG, Robinson checks in with figures of 5.0 and 3.8 in those categories.
Then, the Heat haven’t exactly been a picture of consistency themselves. Even so, Miami has often managed to notch victories over teams with inferior talent. In recent road tilts, they’ve borne that out by toppling the Cavaliers by six, the Bulls by 14, the Cavaliers again by 25, the Magic by 24, the Pelicans by six, the Grizzlies by three, and the Suns by 17. There have been a handful of slip-ups against teams with losing records on the road as well, but those are far outnumbered by the successes.
Miami also sports a solid defense, always an integral component in remaining competitive when traveling. The Heat are impressively tied with the Jazz for the second-fewest points per road game allowed (105.6). They’re also yielding the fourth-lowest shooting percentage (44.8) on the road. On the offensive end, even though Miami only scores a modest 105.7 points per road game, the opposing Knicks allow the second-most points per home squad (114.8). Therefore, a Heat squad that’s only definitely missing Goran Dragic (knee) — Tyler Johnson (calf) is questionable Sunday with a sore calf but could well play — has the depth to exploit that vulnerability. That’s particularly true now that Dion Waiters is back as a regular member of the rotation.
It’s also worth noting the Heat’s own mercurial big man, Hassan Whiteside, has started to look invested again after a slump earlier in January. Whiteside has rattled off a pair of consecutive double-doubles versus the Clippers and Jazz coming into Sunday’s game. He also generated a 22-point, 14-rebound double-double that included three blocks versus New York in the aforementioned game back in October.
By The Numbers
The Heat are 25-22 (53.2 percent) against the spread this season. That includes a 14-9 mark (60.9 percent) versus the number as a road team and a 5-4 record (55.6 percent) as a road favorite. Miami is also 13-9 (59.1 percent) against the spread in games after a win.
The Knicks are 21-24-2 (46.7 percent) against the spread this season. That includes an 8-11-1 (42.1 percent) versus the number as a home team and a 6-7-1 tally (46.2 percent) as a home underdog. The Knicks are also 14-21-1 (40.0 percent) against the spread in game after a loss and 12-18-2 (40.0 percent) versus the number in conference games.
The Final Word
This game could be a bit of a grind, with the visiting Miami having the requisite talent to prevail. New York’s self-inflicted wound in the form of Kanter’s banishment isn’t helping their already pedestrian offense, especially during Mudiay’s injury absence. That leaves the Knicks without two of their top three scorers. Therefore, I’m leaning toward a Heat cover in this spot, with the caveat that a surprise reinsertion of Kanter into the starting five changes the outlook.
The Lean (if Kanter is announced pre-game as out): Heat -5, Heat moneyline
The Lean (if Kanter is announced pre-game as being in the starting lineup): Knicks +5