Sunday is the final day of the NBA regular season. Every team is in action and 11 will be featured on the main slate. Four games get underway at 7 p.m. ET and six games tip off at 9:30 p.m. ET with one game sandwiched in-between at 8:30 p.m. ET. Let’s survey the slate and pick the best bets for Sunday night.
Thunder +10.5 (-110)
At this point, nothing should be surprising. The DraftKings Sportsbook always has the lines posted by midnight the night before, but not for Sunday. It’s the last game of the season and no one has any idea who is playing (check the extensive NBA injury report or follow @DKLive on twitter or on the DK Live app for updates). Last night seemed like a great opportunity for the Clippers to rest players since their play-in game will be the third game in four nights and on the road. Instead, the Clippers played their starters for 30 minutes and crushed the Kings in a meaningless game. That’s why the Sportsbook is hesitant to list lines.
The Injury report for the Clippers came out late last night after their win, and they have benched their entire team for Sunday or at least the players that matter (Clippers SG Paul George, PG Norman Powell and SF/PF Marcus Morris Sr. have been ruled out). The Clippers role players are better than the Thunder’s current lineup. The Clippers are sitting players for rest, but the Thunder have been playing with a fraction of their regular lineup for months. Still, they cover at the second-best rate in basketball (48-29-4) and rank third in ATS as road dogs (27-13). This is too many points for a ragtag team used to covering meaningless games. The Clippers’ lineup is not much different than when they dealt with injuries earlier this season, but that situation and those roles no longer exist. More importantly, those role players have zero motivation and are playing on a back-to-back against a fresh, young Thunder lineup that would like to close the season with a win.
Celtics - 5.5 (-110)
Memphis played their starters last night and throttled the Pelicans. The win was meaningless for Memphis and the loss was meaningless to the Pelicans. However, the Pelicans are fresher today and for the playoffs, and the Grizzlies have one extra day of wear heading into the playoffs. It would be suicidal for the Grizzlies to run full throttle on a back-to-back. Memphis has not released an injury report, but it’s likely that many key pieces sit.
In contrast, Boston is not sitting anyone tonight. This is a tune-up game to get ready for the playoffs. This spread is wrong, but the DraftKings Sportsbook, like the rest of us, does not know who is in or out. The best guess is that Memphis sits players, and the best team in the NBA gives the Grizzlies the throttling tonight.
Magic +9.5 (-110)
It’s only gambling if you do not know what you are doing. This is the gamble of the night and the only way to close out the regular season Best Bets article. Nearly every team in the NBA had the decency to list their players as in or out on Sunday. They did not play games and were straightforward and honest in their approach. The Heat chose to do what they have been doing all season. The entire roster is listed as questionable and everyone will have to wait on the edge of their seat to find out who plays. If the Heat give their players a day of rest before the playoffs — Heat SF/PF Jimmy Butler (toe) and PF PJ Tucker (calf) have been ruled out for Sunday’s game vs. the Magic. C Dewayne Dedmon (ankle), PF/C Markieff Morris (hip) and PG Gabe Vincent (toe) are questionable — then they will not cover. Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo are enough to beat the Magic, but a cover is close on a regular night. This is not a regular night. Although those players are not listed on the injury report, they have been in the past and there is no reason for Erik Spoelstra to run them 30 minutes. Even if the maniac does, there is no reason for the Heat to give 100% and wear themselves out before the playoffs.
The Magic haven’t had anything to play for this season, but there is one motivational narrative on Sunday night. It may seem silly, but the NBA is the league known for its birthday narratives. If the Magic lose and the Rockets win, then the Magic tie the Rockets for the worst record in the NBA. If the Magic beat the Heat, then they can statistically prove that they are not the worst team in the NBA. This might sound silly, but that conversation is happening in the locker room on Sunday and the extra bit of motivation will be there.
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