The NBA on ESPN is back tonight at 6:30pm CST with a fun doubleheader. To kick things off, a rivalry writes another chapter in Milwaukee, as the Miami Heat take on the Milwaukee Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo is unlikely to play due to a wrist injury, but these teams still figure to beat the hell out of each other for 48 minutes. Following the conclusion of that game, we will head out west as Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns play host to the tough, feisty Oklahoma City Thunder. I’m personally super excited to watch this game, since anytime the Thunder are on television, it’s a game that we should all want to watch, and the buzz around Phoenix is palpable.
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Heat (+1.5, +100 ML) at Bucks (-1.5, -120 ML) | Total: 219
As of writing 78% of bets are on the Bucks to cover the 1.5-point spread, and 71% of the handle (money) is also on Milwaukee, according to VSiN. Basically, the public likes Milwaukee, and the professional bettors who are laying down the serious money like them juuuuust a little bit less. I’m a little surprised to see that, especially with Giannis listed as DOUBTFUL, but I guess people still are high on this Milwaukee team and moderately down on Miami.
As for the total, we have a seemingly rare moment where the public and the sharps agree on an over. Currently, 78% of bets and 73% of the money are both on there to be more than 219 points in this game. Again, a little surprising to me given that these are pretty rough, tough, defensive minded teams to begin with. Without Giannis Antetokounmpo’s offense, Milwaukee figures to struggle to score too, but maybe his absence on the other end of the floor will open things up for Miami.
The Picks: Heat +1.5 | Under 219
I’m fading the sharps on both bets here, what could possibly go wrong? Honestly, I just feel like I’m missing something. Milwaukee is a fantastic team, but so much of that has to do with what Giannis allows them to do on both ends of the floor. With his absence, I’m surprised they’re still favored, even at home. I could see a world where the Bucks’ defense struggles without Giannis, but I think they’re just going to have such a hard time scoring.
Thunder (+7, +235 ML) at Suns (-7, -280 ML) | Total: 230.5
Kevin Durant is still out with his knee injury, but this shows just how much respect the Suns deserve when Devin Booker is healthy. As of writing, 58% of bets have been placed on the Suns to cover at home, as well as 62% of the money. Oklahoma City played last night which may play a part in this, but coming off of the All-Star break you’d think guys are more or less fresh. As for the total, once again public bettors and sharps are aligned on the over, as 70% of the bets and 66% of the money are on over 230.5 points.
The Picks: Suns -7 | Over 230.5
More or less, this is just a bet on how good Phoenix is at (near) full-strength in the starting lineup. Basically, a bet on how good Devin Booker is. I don’t think Book gets quite as much credit and praise as he should, in part because he doesn’t operate as a heliocentric offensive hub. That downplays his impact, as Phoenix is +6.2 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor, and -1.8 with him off. He is so damn good.
My take on the over comes down to belief in the Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton offensive infrastructure as well as the possibility that the Thunder’s legs could go in the second half. Playing a back-to-back is no joke, and Oklahoma City played a tough, tough overtime game last night in Utah. That’s a brutal back-to-back, and part of why I think we could see the Suns fill it up tonight, even against a team as good defensively as OKC.