This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.
There are three games on Tuesday's slate, and there's less consensus than in Thursday's roundtable, where most people liked the Clippers to beat the Warriors. This time around, we have action on every game, including two player prop bets.
Alex Rikleen: Jimmy Butler to score over 20.5 points (-110) – DraftKings
This is Jimmy Butler's debut in Miami. After averaging more than 20 points per game for four and a quarter seasons, Butler finally let his average fall below 20 during his six-month stint with the 76ers. How did that go? Well, in a summer where every major star was pairing up, Butler fled Philadelphia so that he could headline his own team. Butler's usage rate was over 24% from 2015-18, and it stayed above 21% with the 76ers. Through their first three games, the only Heat with a usage rate above 21% are Kendrick Nunn, Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic – three players whose minutes will probably drop with Butler playing.
Alex Barutha: Hawks at Heat under 225.5 (-113) – DraftKings, Tuesday 10:08 AM CT
This line has been moving a lot. It opened a 224.5, sank to 223.0 at its lowest point, and it's now at its highest point. While the Heat are first in pace, I believe they've been playing that way due to the absence of Jimmy Butler. Miami has been relying on its young, athletic talent thus far. Butler should provide them with a better halfcourt playmaking presence, and it's possible the team works the ball around more during the offense. Also, both of these teams are top-10 in defensive rating, which always carries potential for a low-scoring game. The Hawks are on the second half of a back-to-back as well, which might slow things down on their end. Atlanta is 23rd in pace.
Nick Whalen: Grizzlies at Lakers over 218.0 (-109) – DraftKings, Tuesday 11:30 AM CT
This mostly comes down to me not trusting the Grizzlies' defense, which ranks 10th in the league through three games with a DRTG of 108.5. The Grizzlies just allowed 120 points in regulation to the Nets, while the Heat (120) and Bulls (110) also put up high totals. Meanwhile, the Lakers' offense is yet to fully click, but they've logged back-to-back wins over Utah and Charlotte, putting up 120 points in the latter contest, despite playing at the league's third-slowest pace. Memphis is a team that wants to get out and run (fourth-highest pace). so this game will probably settle somewhere in the middle. I think the Lakers win the game rather comfortably, with both teams topping the century mark. Something like 115-104 seems very realistic and would, of course, be enough to hit the over.
James Anderson: Mavericks +6.0 (-110) at Nuggets – FanDuel, Tuesday 11:27 AM CT
I think this is a nice sweet spot, where you're getting the most likely outcome for close to even money. This will be the second game of a back-to-back for Denver while the Mavs are coming off an off day. In two games against Denver last season, Doncic averaged 23.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 10.5 assists, and the Nuggets don't have anyone who has a chance of checking Porzingis. I picked the Mavericks to make the playoffs as the eighth seed this year — they have one of the league's best coaches, a very clear roster hierarchy and unlike past seasons, they are actually trying to make the playoffs this year. Essentially this is a bet on it being a close game, and I think the edge the Mavericks have with the schedule and their coaching advantage should allow for that to happen.
Ken Crites: Nikola Jokic over 20.5 points (-112) – FanDuel, Tuesday 11:44 AM CT
The Mavs gave up 16 points to a hobbled Derrick Favors and 14 points to third year man Thomas Bryant. Sure, Jokic is averaging only 17.3 points per contest through only three games. But I'm expecting the Nuggets to exploit the favorable matchup down low of Jokic versus either Dwight Powell or Maxi Kleber. Give me the Over.