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NBA Best Bets for March 21

Bam Adebayo

Bam Adebayo

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

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We’ve arrived at another week in the NBA, and the race for the playoffs is really beginning to heat up. I’ve got my eyes on two matchups between playoff teams and will dole out two picks for you below.

Utah Jazz vs. Brooklyn Nets (+1.5) Total: 229.5

The Nets are a terrible team without Kyrie Irving. They are a league-worst 7-26-1 against the spread at home, and that’s due to the fact that the offense is 8.5 points worse per 100 possessions without Irving on the floor this season. Making matters worse, Brooklyn ranks 25th in defensive efficiency since the All-Star break. It simply does not matter how good Kevin Durant is, this is simply too tall of a task for the scoring legend.

Making matters more difficult for Durant, the Jazz are on an absolute roll defensively. Over their three-game winning streak (and 3-0 ATS streak), Utah has allowed just 31.6% shooting from mid-range and 35.8% from three. Despite the fact that wing depth has been an issue, it has done an excellent job against jump-shooters.

The Jazz have been a tough team to believe in on the second night of back-to-backs this season, going just 4-6-1 against the spread, but Brooklyn has been so dreadful this season without Irving and has struggled on both ends mightily in the past few weeks. It is also 8-11 ATS with a rest advantage.

Edge: Jazz ML (-121)

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Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers (+3)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Once the talk of the NBA in the aftermath of the James Harden trade, the Sixers have slipped into a rut. They’re currently ranked 14th in offensive efficiency since the All-Star break, scoring 115.3 points per 100 possessions, and they are less than 24 hours removed from a brutal five-point loss as an eight-point favorite against Toronto on Sunday.

The Heat will be waiting to gobble Philly up. They sit atop the NBA in defense since the All-Star break and will be able to deploy Bam Adebayo on Joel Embiid for maximum effect. The Sixers are 1-2 against Miami this season, and in the one game which Adebayo was active for the Heat won by 17 with Embiid dropping just 22 points on four made field goals.

If Embiid can’t power up, I have a hard time seeing this team coming anywhere close to Miami. We also know Harden was a poor performer on the second night of back-to-backs in Brooklyn, and the Sixers are 0-2 straight-up and against the spread on the second night of back-to-backs since acquiring him.

Edge: Heat -3

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