You won’t find heavily favored super teams or stone-cold locks at this point of the postseason, yet there are still values to be had in the betting markets. Here are a few that should get you back to the betting window with a winning ticket.
No. 7 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 8 Cleveland Cavaliers
This total opened at 230½ and continues to tumble, but there is some room for a value play on the under. Cleveland, despite struggles with injuries and consistency, is the fifth-best defensive team this season, allowing 108.9 points per 100 possessions. The Cavaliers also hold opponents to 55 percent shooting around the rim, the second-best rate of 2021-22.
NBA play-in tournament is playoff detour for teams such as Nets, Hawks
Brooklyn, meanwhile, has faced challenges scoring at home, scoring 110.3 points compared to a league-high 116.2 on the road. And because that’s a year-long stat, it illustrates not all of the struggles stem from the vaccination status and availability of Kyrie Irving.
No. 9 Atlanta Hawks vs. No. 10 Charlotte Hornets
Both these teams can score — Atlanta finished the regular season second in offensive efficiency (115.4 points per 100 possessions) and Charlotte finished No. 8 (113.6) — but the Hornets will be without forward Gordon Hayward, who is out indefinitely with a lingering foot injury.
The loss of Hayward isn’t devastating, yet there is no doubt his absence will be felt. The 6-foot-7 veteran was averaging 15.9 points plus 4.6 rebounds in 49 games this season.
No. 7 Minnesota Timberwolves vs. No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers
Best bet: Timberwolves -150
This matchup is a mismatch based on a variety of metrics, leading me to advocate a straight money line play on Minnesota. The Timberwolves are 2.7 net points per 100 possessions better than the Clippers which widens to 4.5 net points per 100 possessions after accounting for luck. The simple rating system also sees Minnesota as a 2½-point favorite over Los Angeles on a neutral court. That equates to the Timberwolves being nearly a five-point favorite at home which, in turn, implies a money line of -200.
No. 9 New Orleans Pelicans vs. No. 10 San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs finished the regular season with the second-worst win percentage since Coach Gregg Popovich took over in 1996, yet their scoring differential suggests they should have been a .500 team, not one that went 34-48. Plus, all-star guard Dejounte Murray returns to a team that’s been peaking as of late, outscoring opponents by 7.8 net points per 100 possessions over the past 10 games. The Pelicans, meanwhile, have outscored opponents by only 1.2 net points per 100 possessions over that same span.
Sign up for our weekly NBA newsletter to get the best basketball coverage in your inbox