NBA Tuesday betting preview: Don't buy injured Kings as road chalk

Douglas P. DeFelice / Getty Images Sport / Getty

We pulled out another 2-1 record against the spread with our NBA picks Monday, led by the red-hot Wizards and a full-strength 76ers squad. Not every team is operating at full strength, though, as evidenced by the first of our favorite plays Tuesday.

Hornets (-3, 217) @ Pistons

The good news for the Hornets is LaMelo Ball is back after missing 21 contests with a broken wrist. So is Malik Monk, who returned from his own 15-game absence. The bad news? Seemingly everybody else is out.

Charlotte will play Tuesday without Gordon Hayward, Devonte Graham, P.J. Washington, or Miles Bridges, leaving Ball to lead a group that ranked 26th in offensive rating (108.6) in April during his absence. The Pistons ranked even worse at 27th, and they'll be without a handful of their leading scorers, too.

Detroit's defense has been solid as of late, contributing to a 9-5 run to the under, while the Hornets are riding a remarkable 21-7-1 run to the under dating back to March. There aren't enough scorers available in this game to lay off the under at a reasonable number.

Pick: Under 217

Mavericks @ Heat (-3, 215.5)

It's hard to know when you'll get the version of the Heat that we expected to see entering the season. When they're right, though, it's hard to bet against them.

Case in point: Miami has covered seven of its last nine games - the third-best mark by any team since April 18 - and outscored opponents by 6.4 points per game in that stretch, fifth-best among all clubs. The Heat have also won five of their last six games against teams with a worse record.

That doesn't apply to the Mavericks on paper, but it does speak to Miami's ability to beat up on lesser foes - which is certainly the case if Kristaps Porzingis (knee) misses Tuesday's contest, as expected. Dallas is 4-7 ATS in its last 11 games without the team's star big; bet on another loss here.

Pick: Heat -3

Kings (-5, 227) @ Thunder

I've been an advocate for fading the Thunder at every turn - particularly when facing a vastly superior team. That won't be the case against the snake-bitten Kings, who are without their two best players for Tuesday's contest.

It felt like Sacramento had already punted on the season at certain points, like when the team lost nine straight ATS in February and dropped nine straight games (2-7 ATS) once again from late March to early April. Then the Kings went on a bit of a run, sparked by Tyrese Haliburton's resurgent play.

His injury complicates this team's immediate outlook, especially with De'Aaron Fox still sidelined due to health and safety protocols. The Thunder have caught more than five points in all but 18 games this year - in those contests, they're 12-6 ATS with a near-equal scoring margin. Perhaps the fade train can hold off for at least this game.

Pick: Thunder +5

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 Tuesday betting preview: Don't buy injured Kings as road chalk
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