Handicapping the NBA: First Two Days of Restart Overview

Handicapping the NBA: First Two Days of Restart Overview

This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.

The NBA season officially resumes July 30. With every team now in the Orlando bubble, we can now comfortably speculate on the upcoming matchups.

FanDuel has posted odds for the upcoming games and, below, I'll be running through the first two days' games and providing a quick overview of the contests. 

Jazz vs. Pelicans

Spread: NOP -2

Moneyline: UTA +114, NOP -132

Total: 220.5

The Jazz (30-32-2 ATS, 33-31 O/U) go into the bubble without key contributor Bojan Bogdanovic, who opted to get season-ending wrist surgery in mid-May. He's only missed one prior game this season, but the overall numbers with him off the court aren't encouraging. The Jazz are -3.5 points per 100 possessions with Bogdanovic on the sidelines – a comparable mark to the Bulls (-3.4).

With that in mind, it makes sense that Utah is underdogs in this matchup against New Orleans (33-29-2 ATS, 36-28 O/U). The Pelicans are +4.6 points per 100 possessions (sixth-best in the NBA) since Zion Williamson made his debut. New Orleans should be the more motivated team as well, as they need every win possible to have a chance at the eighth seed.

Clippers vs. Lakers

Spread: LAL -1.5

Moneyline: LAC +106, LAL -124

Total: 219.5

The Clippers (35-29 ATS, 29-34 O/U) are a significant beneficiary of the hiatus. Paul George was coming off a hamstring injury that seemed to be hampering his play, and we all know about Kawhi Leonard's leg. The time off should have helped both players heal up. With the duo on the court, the Clippers have a +9.9 point differential.

The Lakers (35-27-1 ATS, 30-33 O/U) go into the bubble with everyone available except Avery Bradley. While that could hurt them in the long-term throughout the playoffs, it shouldn't matter too much against the Clippers considering Bradley is a great backcourt defender and the Clippers are wing-heavy. He wasn't going to shut down George or Leonard.

Magic vs. Nets

Spread: ORL -5

Moneyline: ORL -205, BKN +172

Total: 211.5

Since losing Jonathan Isaac (knee) after Jan. 1, the Magic (31-32-2 ATS, 33-29-3 O/U) have managed to be an average team, ranking 15th in point differential (+0.4). They've done the little things, limiting turnovers, crashing the defensive boards and not fouling. That said, there aren't many teams Orlando would be five-point favorites over.

But this Nets (31-33 ATS, 31-32-1 O/U) team is far from the real thing. Brooklyn will be missing Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Nicolas Claxton and, of course, Kevin Durant. Understandably, there isn't much of a sample size with those guys off the court – 30 possessions to be exact. Caris LeVert is now the clear-cut best player on the team, followed by Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris. Adding Jamal Crawford and Michael Beasley could help, but how effective is either player at this point? Beasley won't be playing in this matchup, as he has to serve a five-game suspension.

Grizzlies vs. Trail Blazers

Spread: POR -1.5

Moneyline: MEM +102, POR -120

Total: 222.5

The Grizzlies (34-30-1 ATS, 30-35 O/U) are the incumbent eighth seed in the West, and things start off hot with Memphis facing off against one of the teams challenging them for that spot. The Grizzlies were able to best the Blazers in their only prior matchup this season, winning in Memphis 111-104. Ja Morant, Jonas Valanciunas and Brandon Clarke controlled the game, totaling 59 points, 29 rebounds, 12 assists, four blocks and three steals.

Portland (27-37-2 ATS, 37-29 O/U) is being injected with some life after a disappointing season up to this point. Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are both healthy and ready to contribute, and that will help make up for the loss of Trevor Ariza, who is opting out of the restart. Between Nurkic and Hassan Whiteside, the Blazers have arguably the best center rotation in the league. That should help them face off against Memphis, who has a solid center rotation themselves between Jonas Valanciunas, Jaren Jackson and Brandon Clarke.

Suns vs. Wizards

Spread: PHO -6.5

Moneyline: PHO -270, WAS +220

Total: 225

Phoenix (29-35-1 ATS, 33-32 O/U) was held back by the 25-game suspension to Deandre Ayton early in the year. That's resulted in a record (26-39) that's not reflective of their overall talent. For example, when the Suns' five best players – Ricky Rubio, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Kelly Oubre and Ayton – are on the court together, the team has an impressive +17.6 point differential. That said, it's unclear if Oubre will be available due to rehab from a torn meniscus.

The Wizards (32-30-2 ATS, 37-26 O/U) will be a shell of themselves in the bubble. Bradley Beal (shoulder) and Davis Bertans (opt-out) will not be playing in the resumed season. Who is Washington's best player now? Thomas Bryant? Somehow, Washington has managed a +5.6 point differential without Beal and Bertans (and Isaiah Thomas – no longer with the team) on the court for 488 possessions. Maybe they'll be able to surprise the Suns here, but I also assume there's a lot of unexplained noise in those numbers.

Celtics vs. Bucks

Spread: MIL -5

Moneyline: BOS +174, MIL -210

Total: 216

Milwaukee (36-29 ATS, 30-34-1 O/U) is healthy and locked into the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks have nothing to prove during the eight-game regular season and can even treat the first round of the playoffs as a warm-up. They'll likely still want to defeat Boston here considering it's a possible Eastern Conference Finals battle, but it wouldn't be surprising if Milwaukee gave less than 100 percent effort.

Boston (38-23-3 ATS, 30-34 O/U) benefited from the hiatus in that Kemba Walker was dealing with a knee injury and Jaylen Brown was dealing with a hamstring injury. The time off should allow the Celtics to play at full strength. The Celtics have the third-best point differential in the NBA (+6.7) and also have the best point differential (+5.6) against top-10 teams. While Boston is likely locked into the third seed, it's possible for them to jump the Raptors, who have a tough schedule. If that's their goal, securing every win possible will be crucial, and that starts against Milwaukee.

Kings vs. Spurs

Spread: SAC -3

Moneyline: SAC -146, SAS +124

Total: 217

Sacramento (33-29-2 ATS, 34-30 O/U) has been one of the more disappointing teams this season after nearly capturing the eighth seed in 2018-19. The Kings are underwhelming on both offense (20th) and defense (19th), and it certainly didn't help that De'Aaron Fox played just 45 games and Marvin Bagley played 13 games. What good will come of Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield and Nemanja Bjelica leading your team in total minutes played? That said, Fox and Bagley are healthy, so the Kings will try to pull off a miracle run to the eighth seed. Don't cross your fingers.

The Spurs (25-37-1 ATS, 38-24-1 O/U) have also been disappointing, having the league's 11th-best offense but the seventh-worst defense. Most notably, the Spurs will be missing LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder) for the resumption of the season. However, San Antonio has played fine without him. When Aldridge is on the court, the Spurs have a -5.2 point differential, and lineups without him are +1.6. It's tough to know what to make of that, but we shouldn't be surprised if the Spurs are able to pull off an upset here.

Rockets vs. Mavericks

Spread: DAL -1.5

Moneyline: HOU +102, DAL -120

Total: 227.5

We didn't get to see much of the post-trade-deadline, full-small-ball Rockets (29-35 ATS, 28-36 O/U) before the season went on hiatus. However, the core group played excellent together. With Russell Westbrook, James Harden, PJ Tucker and Robert Covington all on the court together, the Rockets had a +10.4 point differential. They're a horrible rebounding team now but have conceded that in favor of hyper-efficient offense and swarming defense.

The Mavericks (35-29-3 ATS, 40-27 O/U) quietly have the league's best offense (116.7 points per 100 possessions) and the sixth-best point differential (+5.8), equal to that of a 55-win team across a regular 82-game schedule. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis have unsurprisingly made a great duo, and Tim Hardaway Jr. has been a better third option than expected (15.8 PPG on 12.6 shots, 40.7 3P%).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Barutha
Alex is RotoWire's NBA Assistant Editor. He writes articles about daily fantasy, year-long fantasy and sports betting. You can hear him on the RotoWire NBA Podcast, Sirius XM, DraftKings Live and other platforms. Vince Carter and Alex both first dunked during their respective sophomore years of high school.
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