Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Apr. 6: 24-26-1 ATS, 0-4 ML (minus-9.35 units), 33-19 Totals
Miami (38-41 SU, 42-36-1 ATS) at Toronto (56-24 SU, 36-44 ATS)
Sunday, 12:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV
Free NBA Pick: Under
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
This has been a difficult season for the Miami Heat. It’s a miracle they’re still in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt, given all the injuries they’ve been through – tremendous work by head coach Erik Spoelstra, as always. Now, after three straight losses at 1-2 ATS, the Heat are in dire straits, badly needing a win this Sunday over the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors want for nothing. They’re locked in as the No. 2 seed in the East, which makes their final two regular-season games little more than dress rehearsals for the playoffs. The Heat could be worth putting in your NBA picks, but we’re going with the ‘under’ instead, partly because this isn’t even an afternoon game: It’s a noon game. That’s just wrong on so many levels.
Trying to make an educated pick against the spread is wrong, too. The Raptors opened as 7.5-point home faves on the NBA odds board, but the projections at FiveThirtyEight have Toronto pegged at –13.5. That seems… excessively high. But it does speak to the inherent variance in this matchup. How many key Raptors are going to take this game off for load management, something the computers won’t have taken into account?
Sure, Toronto could go all-out and try to finish with a better record than the Golden State Warriors, which would give them home-court advantage should they meet in the NBA Finals. It wouldn’t be worth the extra stress they’d be putting on Kawhi Leonard (plus-4.4 OBPM, plus-0.7 DBPM) and Kyle Lowry (plus-2.7 OBPM, plus-0.7 DBPM) in particular, at the end of a very long regular season. They might sit out both their remaining games, although head coach Nick Nurse said earlier this week that the plan was for Leonard to play out the string.
The Heat got some injury relief on Wednesday when Justise Winslow (minus-1.1 OBPM, plus-0.8 DBPM) made his return against the Boston Celtics, although Winslow was rusty and Miami ended up losing 112-102 as 1-point home faves, dang it. Rodney McGruder (minus-1.7 OBPM, minus-0.2 DBPM) also played, which didn’t help our cause.
But they should help the ‘under’ get to the pay window on Sunday. And whatever happens with Leonard and Lowry, we expect OG Anunoby (minus-1.2 OBPM, plus-0.1 DBPM) to get extra minutes after he missed four games with concussion-like symptoms. We’re definitely recommending a small wager in this hazy situation, even more so with the total opening at 215 points, but with the noon start north of the border and all these personnel issues, we’ll buy that for a Newfoundland dollar.