Vegas NBA Betting Lines On Saturday
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Hard Court Picks On Saturday
By Dan Favale
Philadelphia 76ers (+6.5) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (-6.5)
Games like this one, so late in the season, are very tough to project. The Philadelphia 76ers are woefully short on talent, but they play hard every night, regardless of the stakes. That’s a problem for teams who have already clinched playoff spots.
But the Milwaukee Bucks haven’t assured themselves of a postseason slot just yet. They’re more likely than not going to get one, win or lose, but a victory this late in the schedule takes a lot of guesswork out of the equation.
Plus, after a hot month of March, they now trail the Atlanta Hawks in the standings. This is their chance to gain some ground on the No. 5 seed. If Malcolm Brogdon returns tonight, as many expect, that makes the Bucks exponentially more dangerous.
The Picks: Milwaukee Bucks (-6.5)
Brooklyn Nets (+3) vs. Chicago Bulls (-3)
The Chicago Bulls have fielded one of the NBA’s four best defenses, in terms of points allowed per 100 possessions, since Dwyane Wade went down with his elbow injury. But Wade is set to return tonight, and that could be a problem. The Bulls improve on both ends of the floor per 100 possessions when he’s watching from the sidelines.
Worse, it’s not like the Brooklyn Nets are the best matchup for these Bulls. They play exceptionally hard every night and, more problematically, shoot a ton of threes. The Bulls don’t have the spacing to counter that firepower, even with Nikola Mirotic shooting the lights out of late.
Still, Chicago has the best player in this game, by far, in Jimmy Butler. They can basically lock up a postseason spot with a win, and again, their defense has been stymying some very impressive offenses over the last couple weeks.
The Pick: Chicago Bulls (-3)
Orlando Magic (+4.5) vs. Indiana Pacers (-4.5)
Yes, the Indiana Pacers are working on a two-game winning streak and seem to be playing with a renewed sense of purpose since Lance Stephenson returned. But let’s not get carried away. They are still a really bad road team.
Consider, for a minute, their performance through their past 12 games away from home: They are 1-9, with the NBA’s second-worst offense per 100 possessions. That’s, um, absolutely horrific.
Indeed, the Orlando Magic are tanking. Head coach Frank Vogel is playing his kiddies over everyone else. But the Magic can be resilient at home, and Vogel, as the Pacers’ former coach, knows how to make life difficult on Paul George.
The Pick: Orlando Magic (+4.5)
Charlotte Hornets (+2) vs. Boston Celtics (-2)
It has not been enjoyable to watch the Boston Celtics over their last two outings. They laid an egg against the Cleveland Cavaliers, in their biggest game of the regular season, and then came out flat against the Atlanta Hawks the following night.
Though it’s possible the Celtics have checked out, it’s not likely. They don’t yet have the No. 2 seed locked and loaded. The Toronto Raptors only now trail them by 1.5 games—a more than manageable gap if Boston loses tonight.
Ergo, the Celtics cannot lose tonight. And they probably won’t. The Charlotte Hornets have a hyper-efficient offense over the last two months or so, but their defense has basically imploded. Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford should carve the Hornets up from the jump, so dont’ be surprised if the Celtics exit with a double-digit victory.
The Pick: Boston Celtics (-2)
Golden State Warriors (-14) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (+14)
On the one hand, the Golden State Warriors have won 13 straight games. They seem due for a letdown, and Kevin Durant’s return from injury seems like the perfect night for one. The Warriors will have to re-integrate him into the offense, and that means adjustments for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, both of whom are playing out of this world right now.
On the other hand, the New Orleans Pelicans are 2-9 this season when playing the second night of a back-to-back on the road. (And they were just pummeled by the Denver Nuggets last night.) Their margin of loss during these games creeps well into double digits.
You know what to do: Roll with the Warriors.
The Pick: Golden State Warriors (-14)