NBA Expert Tips and Best Bets | April 20

By: James Salmon
18/04/2024
NBA Tips, Predictions & News
NBA Tips & Best Bets
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The NBA playoffs are almost set, but there are still two more play-in games to go before the final couple of spots are decided. That will happen on Saturday Australia time, when the Heat host the Bulls for the unenviable right take on the Celtics, before the Pelicans host the Kings for the eighth seed in the Western Conference and a First Round matchup with the Thunder. Take a look at our three best bets for those two games below. 

Chicago Bulls @ Miami Heat

Heat -2.5 | $1.90 with BlueBet

The Heat have become renowned for their ability to take their game to the next level during the postseason, and Jimmy Butler has played no small part in developing that reputation. Unfortunately, he suffered an MCL injury in the Heat’s first Play-In game loss to the 76ers, so they’ll have to beat the Bulls without him. As a result of his injury, however, betting sites have unsurprisingly pushed out the odds for the Heat to win this one to the point where they now look pretty juicy. Even without Butler the Heat are a better overall side than the Bulls, and have Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro capable of producing big games. Without Butler this season they have actually been pretty good, going 13-9 in the 22 games he has missed. Butler hasn’t been super productive of late anyway and in the first Play-In game struggled a lot, going 5-18 from the floor en route to 19 points. That’s certainly not to say that they won’t miss him in this game; he is the player most capable of taking the game away from the opposition, as he has done so many times before in big games. But the Heat have more good players at their disposal than just Jimmy Butler. If they do win this game and advance through to the playoffs as the eight seed, his absence will make it virtually impossible to beat the Celtics if it wasn’t already, but for this game, the Heat should be able to cover the blow, and with it the line.   

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Heat -2.5 vs Bulls @ $1.90
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Sacramento Kings @ New Orleans Pelicans

Kings to win | $1.82 with GetSetBet 

The Pelicans were agonisingly close to earning the seventh seed in their opening Play-In Game against the Lakers, but despite 40 points from Zion Williamson they fell just short and now face elimination if they can’t beat the Kings on Saturday. Unfortunately, in the final minutes of that loss, Williamson suffered a hamstring injury which will see him out for this game and beyond, if the Pelicans advance. That is a massive blow for this team, and is compounded further by the fact that Brandon Ingram is clearly hampered by a knee injury of his own. Ingram missed the final three weeks of the regular season and only returned two games ago, and in those two games he has played just 23 and 25 minutes. Given that the 25 minutes came in a significant game and he sat the last quarter, it’s safe to say that there are still some lingering issues with that injury. Williamson’s absence and Ingram’s injury leaves the Pelicans vulnerable, particularly against a Kings’ team coming off a terrific performance against the Warriors in their own first Play-In game. They were dominant in that game against an experienced opposition, winning 118-94 on the back of a well-rounded performance punctuated by 32 points from Keegan Murray and 24 points from De’Aaron Fox. Despite that performance they wouldn’t typically be favoured on a trip to New Orleans, particularly with the Pels’ form over the past few weeks, but those absentees may well be too much to overcome for this team. They’ve not been particularly good at home this season anyway, boasting a better record outside of New Orleans than in it, and with their best player injured and second best clearly hampered, they will be up against it to advance to the playoffs. 

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Kings to win @ Pelicans @ $1.82
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Sacramento Kings @ New Orleans Pelicans

CJ McCollum to score 25+ points | $2.05 with PlayUp 

CJ McCollum has been in sparkling form of late, and with Zion Williamson set to miss this game he will have even more to do against the Kings. Granted a lot of his good form of late has been with Brandon Ingram absent, but Ingram probably won’t play full minutes in this one and if he does will be hampered anyway, so a lot of responsibility is going to fall on the shoulders of McCollum. And given his recent form, there is good reason to suspect that he will put up some big numbers in this game and cruise past his points line set by NBA betting sites, even if the Kings do end up winning. In his past eight games, McCollum has scored 25 points or more seven times, with a poor performance in the Play-In game against the Lakers the only time he has missed out. He’s been taking over 20 shots most games, has four times scored over 30 points in that time and averaged 30.14 in his final seven games of the regular season. That’s a different CJ McCollum to the one who has been playing third fiddle – albeit a close third – to Ingram and Williamson for large portions for the year, but it’s no surprise to see him rise to the challenge. McCollum has been a more-than-20-ppg scorer for nearly a decade, and with limited support around him due to injuries to his fellow co-stars, he has gone above and beyond that. It may not be enough to get them the win, but with the Pelicans’ season on the line, McCollum can once again surpass 25 points in this game.   

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CJ McCollum to score 25+ points vs Pelicans @ $2.05
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James is a sports writer from Melbourne, and has contributed to a variety of publications covering a range of sports including basketball, cricket, Australian Rules, golf and surfing to name a few. An avid fan of all of the above and more, James’ downtime is spent falling ungracefully off his surfboard, turning over footies and playing an out of tune guitar.