NBA weekend betting preview: Bet on Lakers' defense
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Each week of the NBA season, we'll highlight some of the top betting angles and plays on the schedule. Here are some tips heading into this week's slate.

Note: Lines for Saturday and beyond are released later over the weekend.


Washington Wizards at Miami Heat (-10, 234)

The Heat have been the NBA's most reliable team as double-digit favorites. Miami is 3-0 against the spread this year in that spot, and the Heat are giving 10 to a Wizards club with a league-worst 1-3 ATS mark as a double-digit underdog.

Miami has cooled off ATS lately, but the team is still a perfect 8-0 ATS at home, winning those games by an average of 18.2 points. It's also a flawless 5-0 ATS after a road loss.

Don't let Washington's upset win over Philly - a dreadful club this year as road chalk - make you miss the gap between these two squads.

Los Angeles Lakers (-4.5, 223.5) at Portland Trail Blazers

The Lakers are on a defensive tear right now, holding their last seven opponents to an average of 104.4 points during a 6-1 under run. Anthony Davis has been the catalyst while sending back 2.4 shots per game during that stretch, just shy of his league-leading 2.7 blocks per contest.

The Blazers have improved offensively in recent weeks, but they're still riding a 4-2 under run with so-so shooting numbers and stagnant ball movement overall this season. Los Angeles has been unreliable as a road favorite ATS, but the under looks solid here at a manageable number.


New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks

This line might be gargantuan when it comes out Saturday. Play it anyway because the Mavericks are 9-1 ATS over their last 10 games, including a 118-97 win in New Orleans on Tuesday. That loss was one of six ATS defeats in the last seven games for the Pelicans, a team that's now 3-7 ATS on the road.

Maybe it'd be different if anyone on the Pelicans could stop Luka Doncic, who tallied 33 points and 18 rebounds in Tuesday's win. But New Orleans is tied for 27th in defensive rating and will likely be helpless once again on Saturday.

Phoenix Suns at Houston Rockets

What happened to the Suns' new and improved defense? During Phoenix's 9-2 ATS start to the year, it boasted the NBA's 12th-best defensive rating (105). Since then, the Suns rank 23rd in defensive rating (113.8) with a 3-7 ATS run, allowing 124.8 points over their last five games.

Both teams here rank in the top five in offensive rating this campaign, and the Rockets are particularly prolific at home. The over looks like a strong play as long as the number avoids the mid-240s.


Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers will almost certainly be favored in this game because their roster is too attractive to get points at home, but the Raptors are a worthy road buy here. Philly is 1-5 ATS in its last six contests, which includes four games without sharpshooter Josh Richardson spacing the floor for the big-heavy Sixers.

The Raptors are coming off a two-game ATS skid, but they went 10-2 ATS in their previous 12, and they've been markedly better than Philadelphia on a per-possession basis this year. Play Toronto if the number favors Philly.

C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.

NBA weekend betting preview: Bet on Lakers' defense
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