NBA Monday betting preview: Back Suns in sizzling spot after loss
Injuries have started to define the final stretch of this NBA season, and they loom large over Monday's slate, as well. Here are our favorite plays against the spread:
Two of the NBA's best teams face off after surprising outright losses for each side on Saturday, which will work in one team's favor more than the other.
The Bucks are a meager 8-11-1 ATS after a loss, the eighth-worst mark by any club this year. That record includes a brutal 3-9 ATS stretch since Feb. 12, during which Milwaukee has been outscored by 2.6 points per game with outright losses to the Thunder, Raptors, Knicks, and Hornets.
The Suns are much better than all of those teams, and they own a better net rating (+6.7) than the Bucks (+6.3) over the course of the season. Phoenix is also much better following a loss, posting an NBA-best 11-3-1 ATS record in that spot.
Pick: Suns +2.5
All year, I've been aggressively fading the Rockets, who have lost 27 of their last 36 matchups against the number. But this might finally be the right spot to buy.
Houston was widely criticized for its deadline trade which sent Victor Oladipo to the Heat for Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, and a pick swap, but the Rockets might have actually gotten the better end of the deal. Oladipo has scored a combined 48 points in four games with Miami, while Olynyk has put up 72 points over his last three contests and has logged double-digit points in each of his 13 games with Houston.
The Rockets are a respectable 6-7 ATS over that stretch, the same record as the Heat, and Miami could be without Jimmy Butler in this one after he missed Sunday's game with a sprained ankle. Even if Butler suits up, this Heat team isn't worth backing at this number.
Pick: Rockets +8.5
When these two teams played on Saturday, the Lakers beat a short-handed Jazz squad in overtime as short home favorites. Now Utah is a big favorite in the rematch, marking the first time in at least 25 years that a road team has been a three-point favorite or more after losing to that same team as a road 'dog in their previous game.
Got all that? If not, here's the context: The Jazz were without Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, or Mike Conley for Saturday's contest, and the team still took L.A. to overtime. Gobert and Conley are expected back for Monday's rematch, which explains the massive shift in odds, and the pair's return should be enough to help Utah blow past a Lakers team still missing Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
Pick: Jazz -7
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.