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Free NBA Betting Picks and Best Bets (4/19/24)

Keegan Murray - NBA DFS Picks, Daily Fantasy Basketball Rankings, Injury News - rotoballer icon

The 2024 NBA playoffs are almost set, but there are two games to take care of tonight. On Tuesday, the Lakers beat the Pelicans in New Orleans and the Kings lit the beam at Golden 1 Center after ending the Warrior's season (and possibly their core). New Orleans hosts Sacramento tonight, with the winner taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the East, the Sixers emerged victorious in a tight game against the Heat. Philadelphia now plays the New York Knicks in round one. The late game saw the Chicago Bulls hang 131 points on the Atlanta Hawks to win 131-to-116. Chicago will go on the road tonight to Miami to determine the final seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

On Wednesday, I ended up missing both of my picks. The under-208.5 in Sixers vs. Heat looked great the entire game, but then tragedy struck. It turned into a foul fest at the end, and Tyler Herro hit a three with 0.3 seconds left to put the total at 209. I had the right read; I'd take the under again, given the chance, and that was just an unfortunate ending. My second pick was the Hawks to cover the first quarter and they got crushed. I know I should've split my picks so I don't feel too bad about it. Let's sweep the two picks tonight.

In this article, I'll be providing my favorite picks against the spread, game totals, parlays, and teasers for the NBA slate that tips off at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 19. Follow me on X, @Jwiesel13.

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NBA Betting Picks: ML & Spreads

Chicago Bulls (+2.5) at Miami Heat (207.5 total)

Not only did the Miami Heat lose a close game on Wednesday, they also lost Jimmy Butler. Butler was seen limping while leaving the arena last night and is reported to be out for several weeks with an MCL injury. The Heat are not in the playoffs and still have to face a Bulls team that looked great on Wednesday night.

I'm going with the road team and taking Chicago in the first half. I do think the Heat could outlast the Bulls over the course of the full game, but it may take them time to get going. Jimmy averaged 10.3 first-half points in 60 games this season. Against the Sixers, he led the team with 10 points at halftime. The offense will shift towards Herro, who looks good when he's on, but when he's off, he's not very impactful. Chicago can hone in on him and try to force the ball out of his hands.

The Bulls put up 73 points in the first half against the Hawks on Wednesday. They gave up 67 points, but it was nice to see them generate some offense. Chicago had pretty decent ATS in the first half on the road this season, finishing with a 22-18-1 record. Miami will be a harder test, but without Jimmy, I think this game is really even.

Chicago has veteran leadership with DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, and Alex Caruso, along with younger players like Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu, who are hungry. DeRozan and White combined for 35 points in the first half vs. the Hawks. White had 25 in the second half to finish with a career-high 42 points. They typically haven't been great on offense but still managed to hit 47.5 percent of their FGAs and nearly 38 percent from three in the opening two quarters in enemy territory this season.

In the last 10 games of the season, the Bulls finished ninth in first-half net rating. Among all the play-in teams, they finished first in offensive rating. The Heat finished first in defense but Butler played nearly 20 minutes and had an excellent 79.5 defensive rating. Not having him quarterback the perimeter is a big deal and should create open shots for the Bulls.

Miami was 22-19 in the first half ATS at home so it's not like they were elite in these situations. I don't think the Bulls will hit 60.4 percent of their FGAs and 53.8 percent from three again, but they could tighten up the defense. It should be a competitive first half and I'll roll with Chicago, who should be coming into Miami with confidence.

The Pick: Bulls First Half +0.5 (-110 ESPN BET)


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NBA Betting Picks: ML & Spreads

Sacramento Kings (-1.5) at New Orleans Pelicans (212.5 total)

Although the Pelicans lost the game to the Lakers on Tuesday, they did give me a win by leading after the opening quarter. New Orleans had a much better start Tuesday than they did on Sunday and led 34-to-26. Los Angeles had a big second quarter and led by 10 at halftime. The Lakers went up a lot in the second half, but New Orleans fought back, and it ended up being a great game. As everyone saw, Zion Williamson unfortunately had to exit the game with 40 points and three minutes left. Williamson is out tonight, which is really disappointing.

Sacramento looked really good in their win over the Warriors. Golden State cut the deficit to four at halftime, but the Kings didn't let that bother them. Mike Brown's team outscored GS 64-44 in the second half to win by a commanding 24 points.

With Zion out, I'm going to go with the Kings to cover the first quarter. Keegan Murray was the star of the opening quarter for the Kings against the Warriors. The second-year forward hit three three-pointers in the first three minutes of the game and finished the quarter with 14 points. I would be surprised if Murray had 14 again in the first but he showed he's capable of it. More defensive pressure on Murray means more open shots for the other four players. Sacramento finished the regular season strong by going 4-1 in their last five and 7-3 in their last 10 ATS on the road in the first quarter.

Against the Warriors, the Kings outscored them 31-to-22 while hitting 46.2 percent of their FGAs and 5-for-12 from three. They out-rebounded the Warriors 16-to-11 and 6-to-0 on the offensive glass. Rebounding will be key against a Pelicans team that finished in the top six in first-quarter boards. New Orleans held an 18-to-11 advantage on the glass after the opening quarter against the Lakers.

In the last 10 games of the season, the Kings were fourth in first-quarter defensive rating and 13th in offense. Their 15.2 net rating was the seventh-best in the league. Among the four Western Conference teams that played on Tuesday night, Sacramento had the best first-quarter net rating.

Williamson only averaged 5.3 first-quarter points against the Kings this season, but he had 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first quarter vs. LA. He was the Pelicans offense. There are still questions about Brandon Ingram's health, and he hasn't looked sharp in his two games since returning. This Kings team is not my favorite and losing Monk and Huerter hurts, but I just think they have a better starting group right now.

Sacramento was in the top 15 in limiting points in the paint this season. That's a spot on the floor the Pelicans like to get to. In that final 10-game sample, the Kings held opponents to the fewest first-quarter points per game and the second-lowest field goal percentage.

The Pick: Kings First Quarter ML (-110 Sports Illustrated Sportsbook)

*Picks and odds are subject to change throughout the day. Monitor your books for the best lines. 

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