The NBA should be back on July 30, and I say “should” because nothing’s certain these days. Basketball fans hope that everything will go well in the NBA bubble at Disney’s World so they can finally enjoy some action after almost a five-month-long break.
The same story is with sports bettors. Most of them have been very frustrated over the last four and a half months, so the NBA season resumption would be a huge relief. However, the upcoming action will be very difficult to predict, and I’m pretty sure that bettors will be cautious.
Anyway, the schedule is full of exciting matchups with huge stakes. The top NBA betting sites have released their odds, and there will be some games with great value. I want to show you a few contests that already stand out, so let’s take a closer look.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers
- July 30, 9:00 PM ET
The Lakers shouldn’t have any problems clinching the top seed in the west. They are five games ahead of the second-seeded Clippers, but the fact that they meet the city rivals on opening day makes this clash a special one.
At the moment, the Lakers are slight 1.5-point favorites to beat the Clippers, while the line on the totals is set at 217.5 points.
The Lakers have dropped two of their three encounters with the Clippers this season. Interestingly, all three contests produced fewer than 218 points.
From this point of view, it’s really hard to predict the winner. The players have just returned to practice and will need some time to get things going.
The Clippers should have a bigger motive than the Lakers because they are only 1.5 games ahead of the third-seeded Denver Nuggets. That’s the main reason why I expect the Clippers to win this clash. However, it’s hard to find good reasons to take any side here, knowing how long the teams haven’t been on the court.
- My Pick: Los Angeles Clippers at +105
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail Blazers
- July 31, 4:00 PM ET
The second day of Disney World action brings six interesting games, including the Western Conference showdown between the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers. It’s a huge game for both sides, especially for the Trail Blazers, who are 3.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Grizzlies.
The Trail Blazers opened as 1.5-point favorites with the total at 222.5 points. I’m not surprised to see them as favorites here even though the Trail Blazers lost to the Grizzlies 111-104 in their lone head-to-head duel this regular season.
The Grizzlies are a young team and will be under huge pressure for the rest of the season. Three teams, including Portland, are only 3.5 games behind them, so the Grizzlies will have a lot on the table in their first game in the bubble.
On the other side, it’s a must-win contest for the Trail Blazers. They feel the pressure, too, but Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony are all very experienced players. They should know how to channel pressure, so I’m backing the Trail Blazers to win this one and stay in the race for the play-in series.
- My Pick: Portland Trail Blazers -1.5 at -110
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Indiana Pacers
- August 1, 7:00 PM ET
The Sixers and Pacers enter the bubble tied for the fifth-best record in the east. In their first game back, the Pacers and Sixers will take on each other, and Indiana leads the series 2-1. With another victory, the Pacers will earn a tiebreaker over the 76ers.
Indiana will be without Victor Oladipo, but the two-time All-Star has played just 13 games this season, returning from a long-term knee injury. Oladipo has been averaging 13.8 points on poor 39.1% shooting from the field, and the Pacers certainly know how to cope without him.
Still, the 76ers are listed as 5.5-point favorites in this one. They are coming in full strength, and the Sixers have been struggling with injuries all season long. That is one of the reasons why they went only 39-26.
The Sixers have been terrible on the road, suffering 24 losses in 34 outings. That’s something I cannot ignore. This is a very tricky matchup, and I think the Pacers will keep it close. Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis will be all over Joel Embiid, and the Sixers will be in big trouble if they fail to find their shooting rhythm.
While the Sixers shoot 36.2% from deep (14th in the NBA), the Pacers allow their rivals to make 34.5% of their 3-pointers (7th). Both teams play solid defense, as Phila’s defensive rating of 108.2 points is sixth-best in the league, while Indiana is right behind, surrendering 108.3 points per 100 possessions.
I don’t see the Sixers winning comfortably, so I would buy a few points and take the Pacers to cover. Indiana is 3-0 ATS against Philadelphia this season and is 13-6 ATS over its previous 19 meetings with the 76ers.
- My Pick: Indiana Pacers +7.5 at -138
Memphis Grizzlies vs. New Orleans Pelicans
- August 3, 6:30 PM ET
The Grizzlies enter the bubble three and a half games ahead of the Pelicans. Both teams will take the floor twice before they face off against each other, but their results won’t affect a massive stake in their head-to-head matchup.
These two Southwest Division foes have already met three times this season, and the Pelicans lead the series 2-1. After a 99-90 defeat as 1-point dogs in Memphis, the Pelicans have easily outlasted the Grizzlies 126-116 as 3-point road dogs and 139-111 as 7.5-point home favorites.
The Pelicans thrashed off the Grizzlies on the last day of January, shooting 53.7% from the field and 44.1% from beyond the arc. Zion Williamson tortured the Grizzlies with 24 points in 29 minutes on the floor, while eight Pelicans players scored in double figures.
As I’ve already mentioned, the Grizzlies are a young and inexperienced team. The Pelicans are inexperienced, too, with the exception of few players, but they possess great depth when healthy, so I would bet on New Orleans to beat Memphis.
The odds and lines won’t be available soon, but I expect the bookies to favor New Orleans around four points. The Pelicans are 4-1 straight up and ATS in their previous five encounters with the Grizzlies.
- My Pick: New Orleans ATS
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat
- August 4, 6:30 PM ET
There are a lot of games to be played before the Celtics take on the Heat, but this Eastern Conference showdown is already marked in my calendar. Miami holds the No. 4 seed, two games ahead of Indiana and Phila, and 2.5 games behind the Celtics, who trail three games behind the No. 2 seed.
There’s a lot on the table in this one, and the Heat will try to snap a five-game skid against the Celtics. Also, the Heat are only 3-13 straight up and 7-9 ATS in their previous 16 meetings with Boston.
The Celtics are 2-0 SU and ATS against the Heat this season, beating them 112-93 as 5.5-point home favorites and 109-101 as 1.5-point road underdogs. Obviously, the Celtics know what they need to do against the Heat, but I still expect to see a very close game in the bubble.
Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors
- August 7, 9:00 PM ET
The Milwaukee Bucks should have no trouble securing the top seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Raptors hope to preserve a three-game lead ahead of the Boston Celtics. Earning the No. 2 seed in the east will be a big deal, considering the strength of the seventh-seeded team (Brooklyn or Orlando).
On the other side, No. 3 will have to play Indiana or Philadelphia, and that’s a huge difference. Even if the Raptors increase their lead until August 7, the Celtics will be in a must-win situation, trying to stay in the third spot.
I won’t make any predictions at the moment. Just make sure to check this game in your schedule. The Celtics are 2-1 SU and ATS against the Raptors this season, while five of their previous seven encounters went over.
Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets
- August 8, 3:30 PM ET
The Nuggets are topping the Northwest Division at the moment while holding the No. 3 seed in the West. They are only 1.5 games ahead of the fourth-seeded Utah Jazz and 2.5 games ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets.
The battle in the west will be a mess. There are plenty of interesting conference showdowns, but this one could decide the Northwest Division champ and No. 3 seed.
Both teams have certain problems ahead of the restart. The Jazz will miss Bojan Bogdanovic (wrist injury), while the Nuggets still wait for Nikola Jokic to join them at Disney. At least, both sides will have enough time to prepare for their H2H duel.
The Nuggets are 2-0 straight up and ATS against the Jazz this term, but both games were quite close (106-100 in Denver and 98-95 in Salt Lake City). I expect to see more of the same when they meet on August 8.
- My Pick: Any team by five or fewer points
Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic
- August 11, 1:00 PM ET
Both the Nets and Magic desperately want to clinch the No. 7 seed and avoid the mighty Bucks in the playoffs. The Nets will have a tall task to defend a half-a-game lead ahead of the Magic because they will miss several players at Disney. The Magic, on the other side, are healthy but still wait for Markelle Fultz to join them.
Orlando is 2-0 SU and ATS against Brooklyn this season and is 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS over its last four encounters with the Nets. From this point of view, I see the Magic as strong favorites to beat the Nets, but we have to wait and see what will happen in the meantime.
- My Pick: Orlando Magic ATS