Pinch, punch, first of the month. Get your February off to a bang with a piece of the NBA’s 12-game schedule on Friday night. With 24 teams in action, there’s plenty of storylines to take in, not to mention betting options. Casino Review has filtered through the slate and come up with three games we think could be very fruitful.
Miami Heat @ Indiana Pacers
7:00 PM ET
Back on Jan. 8, Miami (29-13, 11-10 road) scored its lowest point total of the season. The South Beach side came unstuck against a relentless Pacer defense that night, scoring just 77. The Heat will look to avoid a similar fate on Friday night.
Indiana (27-19, 17-3 home) has won 12 straight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and will be looking to notch another win against the Heat. The last time the Pacers lost at home was on Dec. 7 against the Denver Nuggets.
Indiana’s stifling defense ranks No. 1 in opponent’s field goal percentage (.419) and No. 2 in opponent’s scoring (89.9 PPG). Only Memphis has given up fewer points. The Heat meanwhile are the league’s best shooting team (.489) and second best three-point shooting side (.386). Those numbers have led to 102.7 points per game, good enough for fifth in the league.
Miami has struggled on the road this season, but things have looked a little more positive of late. Wednesday’s thrashing of Brooklyn moved the side above .500 on the road, and marked a third road win in four games. However, Bankers Life Fieldhouse is a fortress, and only three sides (Toronto, San Antonio, Denver) have gotten out with a win.
Favorite: Miami Spread: 2½ Total: 185½
Take: INDIANA – That stifling defense has already worked once against the Heat, and while LeBron James and Co. will be looking to approach this game very differently, Miami has yet to prove it’s worth backing on the road. Both sides have seen the total go under more times than over this season – Indiana has gone 28-18-0 in favor of the under – so take the under in this one.
Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets
7:30 PM ET
Having been embarrassed by Miami on Wednesday, Brooklyn (27-19, 17-8 home) will look to get back to winning ways on Friday as the Bulls travel to the Boroughs. Reggie Evans is sure to keep his mouth quiet before this one.
The Nets have lost three of the last four, having gone 10-2 following Avery Johnson being replaced by P.J. Carlesimo.
Chicago (28-17, 13-6 road) meanwhile is in fine form, having won two straight, five of six, and eight of 10. The Bulls hold a slender lead over Indiana in the Central, a lead they will look to maintain on Friday.
The Bulls scored an 83-82 victory over the Nets at the United Center on Dec. 15. That low-scoring affair was typical of a Chicago side that is limiting opponents to 90.9 points per game (3rd) and .425 shooting (2nd). The Nets have been fairly solid defensively too, holding opponents to 94.7 points per game (5th), but teams have shot well against the team (.463). Neither team is dynamite at the offensive end of the floor, so don’t expect this to be anything but a defensive struggle.
Chicago is one of the NBA’s best road teams, and has won six of the last seven away from the United Center. In a bizarre turn of events, the Bulls are actually better on the road than at home. Brooklyn has been tough at home. In fact, Wednesday’s loss to Miami broke a streak of eight straight home wins.
Favorite: Brooklyn Spread: 3 Total: 182
Take: CHICAGO – Brooklyn is good at home; Chicago is better on the road. The Nets’ recent form is something to get worried about, while the Bulls continue to not only play consistently, but better than expected. Take the underdog Bulls with the total going under, as is generally the case when either of these sides takes the court.
Washington Wizards @ Memphis Grizzlies
8:00 PM ET
Forget Thursday night’s 106-89 loss in Oklahoma City. The first real test for a Rudy Gay-less Memphis (29-16, 17-7 home) side will be the visit of the Wizards.
The Grizzlies are not as good as the Thunder. We all know that, so grading the side’s midweek trade on that result alone is fruitless. While the Wizards might not have been a good yardstick for any team at the start of the year, a side that has gone 7-5 over its last 12 games does make a good place to measure.
Washington (11-33, 3-19 road) may not be a contender this year, but the team is becoming respectable. Prior to the side’s last two losses, it had struck four wins from six. This is no longer the whipping boy of the Eastern Conference (Charlotte, Orlando; over to you).
Memphis will need to refocus and beware of the Wizards. They may only have won three road games, but all came against Western Conference opposition (New Orleans, Denver, Portland).
Favorite: Memphis Spread: 7½ Total: 179
Take: WASHINGTON – Firstly, Washington (27-16-1 ATS) is the best team in the league at covering the spread. Memphis (26-18-1 ATS) is no slouch, but the Wizards have a knack for frustrating bookmakers. Now, Memphis is unsettled and looking to mold itself into a very different team. That takes time, and Friday won’t be soon enough. Both teams have favored the under considerably this season, so take the total to go under.
Remaining NBA Schedule (Wednesday)
LA Clippers @ Toronto (7:00 PM ET)
Orlando @ Boston (7:30 PM ET)
Milwaukee @ New York (7:30 PM ET)
Sacramento @ Philadelphia (7:30 PM ET)
Cleveland @ Detroit (7:30 PM ET)
New Orleans @ Denver (9:00 PM ET)
Portland @ Utah (9:00 PM ET)
Dallas @ Phoenix (9:00 PM ET)
LA Lakers @ Minnesota (9:30 PM ET)