The NBA treated Thursday’s reboot just like the opening day. There were only two games, both broadcast nationally without overlapping, in a move aimed at highlighting four of their marquee teams. That decision was rewarded by the fact that both games were close and fun to watch, but left bettors with limited earning opportunities. A complete list of games is much more appealing from a game perspective.
Fortunately, Friday offers something much closer to normal. Six games will be played, representing more than half of the population of the bubble, and with this comes a varied menu of possible bets. Among these six games, these are the most attractive lines on the scoreboard while the return of the NBA takes its maximum.
Lines via William Hill Sportsbook
Washington Wizards Vs. Phoenix Suns: over 223.5
The Wizards have hit more than 58.7 percent of the time this season. The books struggle to establish reasonable totals for them. They are the second worst defense of this century, allowing for a horrendous 115 points per 100 possessions. While losing Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans does not harm their defense, it weakens their crime, which creates more transition opportunities. Throw in the lack of stakes here and the fact that games without stakes usually favor crime while players focus on getting their numbers and this feels safe.
Portland Trail Blazer vs. Memphis Grizzlies: Blazer -3
Three factors favor Portland here. First of all, health. The Blazers are finally back at full speed with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. The Grizzlies are not, given that Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow are both out. Winslow hasn’t played for the Grizzlies yet, but Jones was pretty basic. The Memphis bench had actually done most of the heavy lifting before the season’s shutdown, as the Grizzlies have outperformed their opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions with Jones on the floor since February 1st. In the same time frame, they had been surpassed by 0.9 points per 100 possessions with Ja Morant playing.
Second, matchup. Grizzlies don’t have the kind of wings that can take advantage of Portland’s lack of attackers. Meanwhile, as long as Jonas Valanciunas is on the floor, the Grizzlies cannot use mobility to throw Nurkic off the floor (although any concern about his post-foot injury seems repressed; he looks good in the scrimmages). And then there is experience. This is practically a playoff game for the Blazers. Damian Lillard played in his fair share of those. Morant and Jaren Jackson no. A team is much more likely to appreciate the gravity of the moment.
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Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic: Nets +7
The nets were humiliated in their first scrimmage, but it was kept on behalf of the next two. While their list is sold out, the remains make at least one sense. In Caris LeVert there is a great ball handler along with reasonable quantities of shot, defense and rebound. This is not the case for the Nuggets who start Nikola Jokic on guard. It’s a bad team that makes sense to play against a mediocre team that makes a bit too much fuss. Jonathan Isaac looks good in his scrimmage look, but he will probably have a limit of minutes, and this is still a Magic team led by Markelle Fultz and DJ Augustin. They will probably win, but seven points are a bit ambitious for offense no. 24 in the NBA in a game at neutral sites.