NBA Saturday best bets: Play the Heat-Nuggets total
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The NBA has been appointment viewing through the early stages of its return.

Each matchup Thursday was decided by two points, and the full slate on Friday felt more like March Madness than a handful of seeding games.

We move forward with our best bets for Saturday. Here's what to monitor this weekend.

Miami Heat at Denver Nuggets (-1.5, 210.5)

One of the biggest unknowns of the return is the pace of play. The Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans looked primed for a shootout before settling down and going under the total. The Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers followed that up with an under of their own.

The results were very different Friday. The first three games of the afternoon flew over the total, and that trend will continue when the Heat and Nuggets meet.

Miami's offense isn't getting enough credit in this spot. The Heat are No. 7 in the league in offensive rating, third in efficient field-goal percentage, and No. 1 in true shooting percentage. The team will have to navigate around the league's eighth-best scoring defense, but Miami has gone over the total in 10 of its last 13 against teams with winning percentages of .600 or better.

Defensively, the Heat really floundered as the season progressed. They're currently outside the top 10 in both points allowed per game and defensive rating.

There should be a flurry of scoring in this non-conference clash.

Pick: Over 211.5

Toronto Raptors at Los Angeles Lakers (-4, 215)

The Raptors are a team to really focus on.

Toronto has been one of the best bets in the entire NBA this year. It's 35-28-1 against the spread and owns a league-leading +3.3 ATS margin. The Raptors are ranked third in the league in winning percentage despite losing star forward Kawhi Leonard in the offseason.

This is a perfect spot to back Toronto in its first game. The Raptors ranked first in the NBA in games lost to injury but have had an extended period of time to regroup. Also, they don't mind catching points; they're 4-1 ATS the last five as underdogs.

Play: Raptors +4

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Clippers (-5, 225.5)

The Pelicans' defense couldn't handle the Jazz down low on Thursday. Utah registered 54 of its 106 points in the paint and 24 more from the charity stripe. The Clippers' team total for this tilt is 115.5, and that could be the look.

Though there's been some sloppy offense during the initial stages of the restart, L.A. has put up point totals of 127, 134, and 133 against New Orleans this season. The Clippers will do whatever they want against a deflated club.

Play: Clippers team total over 115.5

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.

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NBA Saturday best bets: Play the Heat-Nuggets total
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