The NBA is back, and Saturday brings us a five-game betting card, spaced out throughout the afternoon and evening. Here’s what stands out to me on DraftKings Sportsbook on Saturday.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Clippers
What is the Clippers’ motivation in this game? Kawhi Leonard is resting and when he’s off the court, Los Angeles is not nearly the same team. The Clippers score 8.0 fewer points per 100 possessions and allow 4.0 more points per 100 possessions when he’s off the court. Given that the Clippers appear comfortable with where they are in the standings, I am not sure we can expect full minutes from their other core players. Of course, this includes Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell who are sitting out today. Another theory: What if the Clippers prefer to lose to the Blazers? With Portland getting Jusuf Nurkic back in the bubble, it stands to reason they have a better chance to beat the Lakers than any other potential eight seed. Resting Kawhi feels like a bit of gamesmanship to help push the Blazers into the final playoff spot to challenge the Lakers.
Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz
Utah is playing on the tail end of a back-to-back. After resting most of its core players yesterday, it seemed like the whole Utah gang would play today. Now that the injury report is out, this might not be the case. Donovan Mitchell (leg) is listed as questionable. If he sits, the Jazz’s scoring options are nearly nonexistent. This would force the team to rely heavily on Jordan Clarkson, which isn’t a great spot. The Nuggets on the other hand are getting their band back together. Paul Millsap is expected to play after resting last game and Jamal Murray might be active after sitting out the first few games in the bubble. All things being equal, I consider the Nuggets a better team than the Jazz and they appear to be healthier.
Indiana Pacers vs. Los Angeles Lakers
I get the Pacers are really banged up. Not only is Domantas Sabonis (foot) out, Myles Turner (ankle) and T.J. Warren (foot) are both questionable. While these guys sitting would obviously be a huge hit for the Pacers, the Lakers aren’t playing for much at this point of the season. With the No. 1 seed already locked up, the Lakers sat LeBron James in the team’s last game and the other starters played limited minutes. Anthony Davis played just 29 minutes and I am not sure we should expect much more run going forward. It’s not that I expect the Pacers to win, although the spread is too wide playing the Lakers when winning games isn’t a priority at this point of the season. The Lakers’ main goal is to get ready for the playoffs and ensure everybody is healthy for a championship push.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are in the same spot as the Lakers. With the top seed locked up in the Eastern Conference, we saw the Bucks lose a recent game to the Nets as a 19-point favorite. In that game, the starters only played around 15 minutes apiece. For this reason, it’s hard to think the Bucks should be a considerable favorite against any team with something to play for. The Mavericks are still playing hard to move up in the standings, so I’ll take them and the points. I am confident in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis playing full minutes, which I can’t say for the Bucks’ core players.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is gehrenberg) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.