Welcome to the Monday, April 15 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for today’s first-round playoff matchups 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.
ATS Leans/Picks: 1-0 (.1000)
4/15/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Brooklyn Nets (42-40 reg. season, 1-0 postseason) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (51-31 reg. season, 0-1 postseason)
First-Round Playoff Series Results: Nets 1, 76ers 0
- April 13: Brooklyn 111, 76ers 102 (Wells Fargo Center)
When breaking down Game 1, I speculated about possible postseason jitters on the part of Brooklyn as the only reason for making my Nets +6 selection a “lean” instead of a “pick.” As it turned out, those nerves were nowhere to be found. The swaggering, young Brooklynites matched up as well or better against the 76ers than they had during the regular season: The Nets toppled Philadelphia twice, including once at Wells Fargo Center, during the campaign. And they’d come just three points away from a third victory. Saturday, they set the tone by jumping out to a 31-22 lead through the first 12 minutes. They kept their foot on the gas the rest of the way while holding the shell-shocked Sixers to 40.2 percent shooting, including an absurdly poor 12.0 percent from three-point range.
What’s more, they accomplished the feat with Joel Embiid surprisingly taking the floor for the 76ers after carrying a doubtful designation due to knee soreness. Yet Embiid was slightly less effective than he had been during the regular season against the Nets. He still generated a 22-point, 15-rebound double-double that included five blocks. But he shot just 5-for-15, including 0-for-5 from behind the arc.
Meanwhile, frontcourt mate Tobias Harris suffered through an anomalous performance. The normally prolific forward managed just four points while taking only seven shots. Harris averaged 14.8 shot attempts and 18.2 points in 27 regular-season games with the 76ers. Ben Simmons was far from his usual self as well. Having stuffed the stat sheet with regularity during the regular season, Simmons turned in a nine-point, seven-rebound, three-assist dud in Game 1 that he supplemented with three blocks and a steal. J.J. Redick rounded out the string of disappointing performances with five points on just 2-for-7 shooting.
All this said, the nine-point win by the Nets and the 76ers’ ineptitude provoked a curious reaction from the oddsmakers. Brooklyn’s impressive victory actually cost them two more points in the bookmakers’ eyes heading into Game 2. The Nets are actually eight-point underdogs in multiple sportsbooks, which seemingly begs the public to jump in on them. The thinking may be that there isn’t any way the 76ers don’t come out a refocused squad on their home floor and avenge their opening-game loss. It also implies that several of the outlier performances just described by key 76ers players won’t repeat themselves.
Much of that could well be accurate. Philadelphia seemingly has too talented a starting five to turn in as bad of an effort in Game 2. Yet the thought that the Nets will be happy to just steal a game in Philly and head back to New York with a 1-1 split is laughable. Brooklyn has plenty of confidence in how they match up against the 76ers, as they should. Many of the same key components that gave Philly trouble during the season — D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Joe Harris — generated strong production in Game 1. And Caris LeVert, who missed one of the four regular-season meetings, lit them up for 23 points off the bench.
Finally, it’s worth noting the Nets had a couple of outlier performances of their own in Game 1. DeMarre Carroll shot just 3-for-10. Rodions Kurucs was held scoreless over 13 minutes. And Jarrett Allen played only 10 minutes due to foul trouble. Then, Russell wasn’t exactly efficient. He shot just 40.0 percent after generating a 47.4 percent success rate versus Philly during the regular season.
By The Numbers
The Nets finished the regular season 45-37 (54.9 percent) against the spread overall. That includes a 25-16 mark (61.0 percent) as an away team and a 20-15 tally (57.1 percent) as away underdogs. Brooklyn was also 14-4 (NBA-best 77.8 percent) versus the number in games they played with two or three days of rest and 10-6 (62.5 percent) against the spread in division games.
The Nets are also 1-0 against the spread in the postseason following Saturday’s win.
The 76ers finished the regular season 38-44 (46.3 percent) against the spread. That includes a 20-19 mark (51.3 percent) as home favorites. Philadelphia was also 10-11 (47.6 percent) versus the number in games they played with two or three days of rest and 5-11 (31.2 percent) against the spread in division games.
In turn, the 76ers are 0-1 against the spread in the postseason following Saturday’s loss.
The Final Word
The Nets clocking in as even longer underdogs than in Game 1 is certainly a surprise. That’s particularly true considering the health of Embiid’s knee remains very much in question. While conventional wisdom indicates a much better performance from the 76ers is in order for Game 2, this is a particularly elevated number against a Nets squad brimming with confidence. As such, I see them at least sliding in under the eight-point margin, even if they happen to fall short of an outright win.
The Pick: Nets +8