The NBA regular season continues Monday with a smaller four-game slate. There is one nationally televised game, Heat vs. 76ers, and our NBA betting experts have a pair of best bets on this matchup as Chris Baker has a spread pick while Joe Dellera is playing a Joel Embiid player prop.
Jim Turvey also has a play on the other marquee matchup tonight between the Celtics and Knicks with a first-quarter moneyline bet. Find their best bets and analysis below.
Chris Baker: The Heat have been mostly disappointing this season, but I like them to get right against this 76ers team. The Heat have been woeful on offense, as they haven’t had an “average” shooting performance since January 18th (15 games). They’ve been especially poor as of late as they have effectively shot 44.4% and 47.5% from the field in their two games after the All-Star break. This has been a disappointing offense, but I expect some positive regression from them over the next few weeks.
This is a good spot to get-right against a 76ers defense that I believe is a bit overrated. The 76ers rank as the seventh-best defense on the season, but they are bottom-10 in Defensive Rebounding Rate and Free Throw Attempt Rate Allowed. These are areas in which Miami can capitalize on offense as the Heat rank 11th in FT Rate on the year.
On the other end of the court, the Heat have an elite defender in Bam Adebayo to match up with Joel Embiid. Adebayo can survive one-on-one with Embiid, and that will allow the Heat to avoid long defensive rotations to shooters. The Heat rank among the top five in Defensive Rim Rate Allowed, so we know that they will build walls and force Embiid to kick to shooters. If the Heat can turn Embiid into a passer, I like their chances to have a solid defensive performance tonight.
Finally, I expect the Heat to be confident and come out with urgency as they take on a 76ers team that they deposed in the playoffs last year. Facing a playoff rival should wake this team up and ignite the fire they need to play with a bit more urgency on both ends.
Expect the Heat to compete and have a chance to win this one, so I’ll be grabbing the +6 on the spread and some +195 on the moneyline.
Joe Dellera: Joel Embiid has been on a tear this season and is averaging 33.1 points per game, which is tied for the league lead with Luka Doncic. Despite that, this matchup against the Miami Heat has historically been a tough one for Embiid, specifically due to their scheme and the presence of Bam Adebayo.
Adebayo takes pride in his defense as one of the league’s elite interior defenders. While it’s impossible to fully stop Embiid, Adebayo has limited Embiid’s effectiveness. In 17 career games against Adebayo, Embiid has averaged just 21.4 points per game and has exceeded his current points line of 32.5 only twice.
Embiid can make his presence felt in ways besides scoring, and I expect him to have a lower scoring effort tonight in a game between two of the five slowest teams by Pace in the league.
For more information on this pick and my other favorite play of the day, check out this YouTube video above.
Jim Turvey: Fresh off one of the wilder wins of the season, the Boston Celtics head to New York on Monday to take on the semi-red (maroon?) hot Knicks.
The Knickerbockers have won five straight and have a clean bill of health right now as they are playing some of the best basketball the franchise has seen in years. The Celtics have continued their winning ways since the All-Star break, having won both games on this road trip. However, both were tight, with an OT win over the Pacers before they survived Joel Embiid’s amazing three-quarters court heave in their win in Philly on Saturday.
The Celtics are playing after the dreaded day off in the New York Metropolitan Area and are favored to win the first quarter against the Knicks despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.
New York is 35-26-1 in the first quarter overall this season, good for a +9.1 percent ROI, which ranks fourth in the league this year. That number has been even better at home, with a 21-10-1 record in the first 12 minutes ranking first in the Association, and returning +29.3 percent. Teams just seem to get off to slow starts after having time to hang out in New York City–strange, huh?
The Celtics will be without Jaylen Brown on Monday, who will be out for personal reasons.
Add on top of all that the Celtics have been slow starters all season, with a 26-33-2 record in the first quarter (-14.0 percent ROI) which ranks fourth-worst in the NBA, and you have a best bet for Monday.
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