Sunday’s NBA main slate features five games. The action gets underway at 6 p.m. ET and the final game tips off at 9 p.m. ET. Let’s survey the slate and pick the best bets for Sunday night.
Magic +13 (-110)
The Magic are starting to play better basketball, not good basketball, but better. First of all, if Jalen Suggs and Mo Bamba (questionable) are out, then this is a hard pass. Suggs missed two games with an ankle injury and is working his way back to full strength. His minutes have increased in the last two contests, and the 2021 No. 5 Pick should be back to scoring in the high teens soon. Bamba is averaging 14.7 points and nine rebounds over his last seven games.
The 76ers are not a team to be fooled with, but magic is a different type of trickery. Magic is lighthearted fun and the Magic have been lighthearted fun for bettors since the All-Star break. Although they sit in last place at 18-50, the Magic have covered in six of the eight game since the break. On this run, the Magic have a shocking +0.2 Net Rating. Their offense is still inept (28th offensive rating), but their 105.7 defensive rating is the second best in the NBA. This has been a season long progression. Orlando’s defense ranks 20th on the season, but that number improves to ninth over the last 15 games.
Only once have the 76ers been this large of a favorite this season. Philadelphia was favored by 14 points against the Magic on Nov. 29. Not only did they fail to cover, but they barely won (101-96).
Rockets +5.5 (-110)
The Rockets are fueling up and the Pelicans can’t get off the launch pad. New Orleans is struggling to overcome injuries. Without CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans’ below-average lineup is just as bad if not worse than the Rockets’ lineup. The Pelicans have dropped four in a row and have failed to cover in each contest. Friday’s 142-120 loss to the Hornets was their first game without both McCollum and Ingram, and it was their biggest defeat during this slide. Making that loss stand out even more is the fact that the Pelicans were only 1.5-point dogs in that game. The DraftKings Sportsbook clearly underestimated what the absences did to this lineup, and it looks like they might be making the same mistake on Sunday night.
The Rockets’ schedule has not been kind to them of late. On average, they’ve entered each contest as 11-point dogs. Despite the matchups, they’ve covered two of the last four games and won those two games outright vs. the Grizzlies on Mar. 6 and the Lakers on Mar. 9. The Rockets play up-tempo basketball and little defense. That’s why they have the worst record in the NBA, but they will get away with this flaw on Sunday night. The Pelicans are in the bottom third in pace and will be without their two best offensive players. How will the Pelicans keep pace? It won’t be surprising to see the Rockets cover the money line (+165).
Grizzlies -12.5 (-110)
These are two of the best teams at covering the spread this season, but this isn’t the same Thunder. When healthy, they didn’t win but they covered. Without Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, Derrick Favors, Kenrich Williams, Tre Mann, Mike Muscala, Ty Jerome and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl they do neither. The Thunder have allowed over 130 points in three of the last four games — their 128.5 defensive rating ranks last over this stretch. On the season, defense has been the Thunder’s strong suit (15th). Also, their offense ranks last on this current stretch of games (102.2 offensive rating), so not much is going right for Oklahoma City. The depleted Thunder are more like the Oklahoma City Heat Lightning at the moment.
Oklahoma City has failed to cover the spread in three of the last four and all four were monster spreads. Their one cover came against the Jazz as +14-point home dogs and they covered that spread by one point. Their Net Rating over this recent run is by far the worst in the league (-26.3). The Thunder are going to have a hard time stopping the Grizzlies and the Grizzlies will have no problem limiting the Thunder.
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