NBA Betting: 3 Teams Set to Struggle in the Return
The final opponents of the NBA 2019-20 restart are here, and the path to the playoffs became clearer for a couple of teams. While 22 teams will participate in the league's bubble, three teams will fight for two spots in the East, with six squads in the West fighting for one spot.
The Memphis Grizzlies and Orlando Magic currently hold the No. 8 seeds and will have eight games to fight off the competition starting July 30th. FanDuel Sportsbook sets odds for the NBA's win totals, and there are some great value and sleeper options to choose from. Let's take a look at three teams that are worth locking up their unders right now.
San Antonio Spurs Under 2.5 Wins (+115)
The San Antonio Spurs have an NBA-record and sports record, 22-consecutive postseason appearances dating back to 1998. That's a ridiculous amount of success -- in the Western Conference nonetheless -- but all good things have to come to an end. The Spurs are uncomfortable sitting four games out of the eighth seed and have four teams they have to jump to keep that streak alive.
LaMarcus Aldridge announced he would forego the play-in tournament because of shoulder surgery. DeMar DeRozan decided to play, despite voicing his frustration with the bubble and being a free agent after the season. The bubble can be a good learning experience for the Spurs' young talent to play for a postseason spot, and veteran Rudy Gay acknowledged that over a video conference with reporters. The Spurs will lean on the likes of Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker, Derrick White, Jakob Poeltl, and Trey Lyles during this eight-game stretch -- and it's unlikely that core leads to many victories.
San Antonio's eight opponents will be SAC, MEM, PHI, DEN, UTAH, NO, HOU, and UTAH. The Kings, Grizzlies, and Pelicans would be the winnable games on the schedule, but even those seem unlikely as they're better equipped to win than the Spurs. San Antonio allowed 115.3 points per game (23rd) in their final 20 games of the season going 7-13 in that span. San Antonio has won 47 or more games every season since 1999-2000, and even without the three-month hiatus, the Spurs couldn't have reached that at 27-36.
2019-20 will be the Spurs' lowest win total since they posted 37 victories in 1998-1999's 50-game shortened season. The only advantage the Spurs have in this bubble is Gregg Popovich, and he'll bring intensity and focus to the group, but for the two weeks they'll be in Orlando, don't expect many wins.
Washington Wizards Under 1.5 Wins (-145)
I could keep this simple in stating the Washington Wizards are without their star Bradley Beal, along with sharp-shooter and three-point contestant Davis Bertans, so the Wizards are toast. Beal chose to sit out due to a shoulder injury, while Bertans is prioritizing his health and pockets as he's dealt with two prior ACL injuries and is due for a new contract entering free agency. Bertans is currently ranked seventh in made three-pointers with 200, 10th in attempted triples (472), and seventh in 3-point percentage (.424) in 2019-20.
The Wizards were one of the league's best scoring offenses thanks to Bertans' improved play, and Beal's career-high 30.5 points per game, trailing only James Harden's 34.4. Beal and Bertans are the only set of teammates in the top-10 for three-point attempts, which helped the Wizards' offense to average the sixth-best (115.6) points per game. Washington is 5.5 games back of the eighth seed and -- without their best two players -- they have no shot at contending for a postseason position.
The Wizards remaining schedule will be versus PHX, BKN, IND, PHI, NO, OKC, MIL, and BOS. Their best chance at a victory is in the opener versus the Suns, or versus the Nets next, and frankly, if they don't win either of those, they should go winless. The Bucks could rest their starters in the second-to-last game versus the Wizards, but they also have to consider gaining that chemistry back going into the postseason. Without Beal and Bertans, rookie Rui Hachimura is the team's leading scorer at 13.7 points per game, so there's no much hope here -- lock the Wizards in at under 1.5 wins at -145 odds.
Philadelphia 76ers Under 5.5 Wins (-200)
The Philadelphia 76ers were NBA's most dominant team at home this season going 29-2 at the Wells Fargo Center. On the road was a different story, as they were an abysmal 10-24. The only team with fewer wins on the road in the 22-team bubble is the Wizards, who were 8-24. The 76ers were 5-5 in their last 10 games before the league paused and they're tied with the Indiana Pacers for the No. 5 seed.
The 76ers will get Ben Simmons (back) and Al Horford (knee) back completely healthy, no doubt a boost to their line. Joel Embiid is a game-changer in the post, but will that be enough? Philly's offense currently ranks 18th in offensive net rating (109.7), 19th in three-pointers made per game (11.4), and 23rd in free-throw percentage (75.2%). Those are subpar numbers for a squad with four All-Star caliber players all chasing their first championship, and the 76ers' eight-game schedule isn't doing them any favors for a better postseason seed.
The Sixers' eight opponents are IND, SA, WSH, ORL, POR, PHX, TOR, and HOU. The Spurs, Suns, and Wizards should be victories for the 76ers, but the rest are versus quality teams playing for playoff position. The 76ers are 2-4 versus the Pacers and Raptors this season, winning one game apiece and winless versus the Magic, Rockets, and Suns going 0-4. On paper, their eight games look like a breeze, but they've struggled versus the group overall, going 5-10 in 2019-20. Chances the 76ers go 6-2 are slim, and at -200 odds, it's not the sexy pick, but it's the very logical one.