The NBA treated Thursday's restart very much like opening day. There were only two games, both nationally televised with no overlap, in a move meant to spotlight four of their marquee teams. That decision paid off in that both games were close and fun to watch, but it left bettors with limited opportunity for profit. A full slate of games is far more enticing from a gambling perspective.
Fortunately, Friday offers something far closer to normalcy. Six games will be played, representing over half of the bubble's population, and with that comes a varied menu of possible bets. Among those six games, these are the most tempting lines on the board as the NBA's return kicks into high gear.
Lines via William Hill Sportsbook
Washington Wizards vs. Phoenix Suns: Over 223.5
The Wizards have hit the over 58.7 percent of the time this season. Books have a hard time setting reasonable totals for them. They're the second-worst defense this century, allowing a horrendous 115 points per 100 possessions. While losing Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans doesn't hurt their defense, it weakens their offense, which creates more transition opportunities. Throw in the lack of stakes here and the fact that games without stakes usually favor offenses as players focus on getting their numbers and this one feels safe.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies: Blazers -3
Three factors favor Portland here. First, health. The Blazers are finally back to full strength with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back. The Grizzlies are not, as Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow are both out. Winslow has not yet played for the Grizzlies, but Jones was quietly essential. The Memphis bench had actually been doing the bulk of the heavy lifting before the season shut down, as the Grizzlies outscored opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions with Jones on the floor since Feb. 1. In that same span, they were actually outscored by 0.9 points per 100 possessions with Ja Morant playing.
Second, matchup. The Grizzlies don't have the sort of wings that can exploit Portland's lack of forwards. Meanwhile, so long as Jonas Valanciunas is on the floor, the Grizzlies can't use mobility to knock Nurkic out of the floor (though any concerns about his footspeed post-injury seem quelled; he looked great in scrimmages). And then there's experience. This is practically a playoff game for the Blazers. Damian Lillard has played in his fair share of those. Morant and Jaren Jackson haven't. One team is far likelier to appreciate the gravity of the moment.
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Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic: Nets +7
The Nets were humiliated in their first scrimmage, but held their own in the next two. While their roster is depleted, the remains at least make sense. There's a lead ball-handler in Caris LeVert along with reasonable amounts of shooting, defense and rebounding. This isn't a case of the Nuggets starting Nikola Jokic at point guard. It's a bad team that makes sense playing against a mediocre team drawing a bit too much hype. Jonathan Isaac looked great in his scrimmage appearance, but will likely be on a minutes limit, and this is still a Magic team being led by Markelle Fultz and D.J. Augustin. They'll probably win, but seven points is a bit ambitious for the No. 24 offense in the NBA in a neutral site game.