There are eight NBA games on Sunday, but only five will be a part of the main slate that gets underway at 6 p.m. ET with the final game tipping off at 9 p.m. ET. Let’s survey the slate and pick the best bets for Sunday night.
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Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers
Cavs -6 (-110)
The Pacers do not have a frontcourt at the moment and the Cavs’ lineup is a frontcourt. This is a very tough matchup on a normal night. The Cavs are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference (32-21) and they’re the third-best team in the NBA when it comes to covering spreads (33-20 ATS). This is not a normal night because the Pacers could again be without Domantas Sabonis (questionable), Myles Turner (out), Isaiah Jackson (out) and Goga Bitadze (questionable) in the front court (Malcolm Brogdan is questionable, too). On the other side, the Cavs has Evan Mobley, Kevin Love and Jarrett Allen — who is playing like a man possessed after being snubbed from the All-Star team.
Without a frontcourt, the Pacers have dropped their last two games and failed to cover in both, and both of those games were against weak opponents at home. The Pacers lost to the Magic and the struggling Bulls. If everyone suits up for the Pacers, then this is clearly a spot to avoid. While the Cavs have won 10 of their last 13 games, they have only covered in six of those contests. This has been the result of lackadaisical play in the second half and allowing teams to stick around and come back. The Cavs blew a 17-point lead to the Hornets at Charlotte on Friday night and needed clutch free throws at the end by Kevin Love to win.
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Milwaukee Bucks at Los Angeles Clippers
Bucks -4.5 (-110)
This is a dreaded road back-to-back for the Bucks, but it’s not so bad. The Bucks have the benefit of facing the Clippers, and the Bucks won a blowout on Saturday night (137-108 at Portland). This means their stars are rested. No one on the team played more than 25 minutes and the rotation was an unheard of 10 men deep. The starting lineup hit the bench halfway through the third and never had to get up once.
The Clippers are a team full of role players and they added two more in a trade with the Trail Blazers. This is quite an experiment. A team full of pieces is proving it can win on any given night during the regular season. During their playoff run with Paul George back, this might be a special team or they might be short a star or two. For now, it’s just a bunch of good players and if they all do their job, then they can win games. If one is slightly below average, then they lose, especially against top-tier teams like the Bucks. In the last eight games, the Bucks have won six and four of those wins were by 12 points or more.
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Atlanta Hawks at Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic Over 30.5 points (-110)
Over the last four games, Doncic has scored 30 or more points in each contest (averaging 34.25 PPG over that span). Kristaps Porzingis has missed the last three games and played 11 minutes in the first game before injuring his knee. Tim Hardaway Jr. has missed the last five games, and Maxi Kleber missed the last game (knee) and is questionable for Sunday night’s game. It’s hard for Doncic’s usage rate to go any higher than 35%, but over the last four games it has increased to 37%. On the season, Doncic’s offensive efficiency rating is 109.0, but on this run where he is running the show, it has ballooned to 117.9. His effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage are up a tick as well.
The Mavericks are a slow team and the Hawks are in the middle in pace, so this won’t be an up-tempo game. However, the Hawks rank 27th in defensive efficiency (113.1). The return of De’Andre Hunter has improved the Hawks’ defense and he will be on Doncic for most of the game. Still, the Mavs are -2.5-point favorites at home. Where is the scoring going to come from with most of the Mavs’ stars out?
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