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The NBA weekend schedule is loaded with Friday and Saturday games before a two-contest slate to close things out Sunday. Here are all the prime betting nuggets you need to know before the weekend kicks off.
The Hawks got the better of the Spurs in their Nov. 5 meeting, winning as 5.5-point underdogs in a 108-100 victory. San Antonio's been great in the revenge spot under head coach Gregg Popovich, going 25-7 against the spread over the last three seasons versus teams that beat it in the previous meeting. Atlanta heads into Friday 1-5 ATS after a win, 2-8 on the road, and 2-6 as a road underdog. The Spurs, meanwhile, are on a blistering 9-1-1 run ATS following a loss, putting them in an ideal buy-low spot for Friday.
In this spot, I'd look to play Miami on the first-half spread. Over the last three seasons, the Heat are 28-9 ATS in the first half against Western Conference opponents. They've been one of the better first-half teams in the NBA this season, too, averaging 57.9 points compared to the Thunder's 53.9. Overall, the Heat own an average net margin of +4.1 points in the first half this season, while Oklahoma City is a minuscule +0.1.
Despite their overall win-loss record, you shouldn't ignore the Grizzlies' recent success. Memphis is three games under .500 heading into the weekend, but it now boasts a top-10 scoring offense at 113.6 points per game and is on a tremendous 8-1-1 run ATS. Lately, it feels as though everything is coming up Grizzlies, and the over - they're 5-0 ATS as home favorites, 4-0 ATS versus teams with losing records, 9-2 to over the last 11 home games, and 12-5 to the over the last 17 overall.
Nobody is hotter for bettors right now than the Pelicans. New Orleans' overtime win over Utah on Thursday marked its fifth win in seven games while it rides a 10-1-1 ATS streak. The Pelicans' offense has averaged a whopping 118.5 points per game over that span and has had no trouble scoring on the Clippers this season, averaging 120.5 points per contest in two meetings. Saturday will be an intriguing spot for L.A., considering it's playing its first game beyond the West Coast since Dec. 22.
Since lines and totals for Saturday and Sunday aren't widely available, we can take a different approach and start looking at basic, situational angles. In this case, it's important to highlight just how dreadful Atlanta's been on the second half of back-to-backs this season. The Hawks have one win ATS in seven tries, and none of those six losses was particularly close: Atlanta is being outscored by an average of - get this - 25 points per game on no days' rest.
Oklahoma City, on the other hand, hasn't been fazed in the latter games of back-to-backs. The Thunder are a perfect 6-0 ATS on zero days' rest this season with spread wins against clubs like the Rockets, Jazz, Bucks, and Lakers. They'll have the benefit of no travel, too, getting consecutive weekend home games.
It's fair to wonder how Denver will handle its current situation. Not only did the Nuggets play the second leg of a back-to-back on the road at Golden State on Thursday, but that game required an overtime period. The team will also continue to march on without star guard Jamal Murray, who suffered an ankle injury Wednesday against Charlotte. Even though it has multiple days to regroup, Denver probably isn't a team I'm looking to bet - unless the price is too good to pass up.
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.