NBA Play-In Tournament Final Night Betting Preview

Officially the NBA Playoffs don’t begin until Saturday. But Friday night it’s win-and-you’re-in for the final night of the Play-In Tournament, and it will feel like the seventh game of a playoff series in the two host cities, Miami and New Orleans.

Eastern Conference – No. 9 Chicago Bulls at No. 8 Miami Heat (-1.5)

The Miami Heat host the Chicago Bulls for the right to take on the Boston Celtics in the first round. The Heat will have to play this game without one of their best players, Jimmy Butler. He injured his knee early in Miami’s win on Wednesday, and he is out on Friday, and likely done for the duration of the playoffs.

The Bulls are finding their leader in Coby White, who is coming off a career-best 42 points in the Bulls win over the Atlanta Hawks. He also had nine rebounds, six assists, and looks every bit like the player who is the second-betting favorite to win Most Improved Player. White is paying +700.

Along with his 42 points against the Hawks, he ended the season with at least 20 points in three of his final four regular season games.

Miami is the Play-In Tournament masters, going from the final game of the tournament last year, all the way to the NBA Finals. But the injury to Butler will be hard to overcome, and Chicago is getting healthy at just the right time. Hard not to take the Bulls and the points.

Western Conference – No. 9 Sacramento Kings (-1.5) at No. 8 New Orleans Pelicans

In the Eastern Conference, the home team is missing its best scorer going into Friday’s must-win game, and we have the same scenario playing out in the Western Conference. The New Orleans Pelicans are forced to play without Zion Williamson, who was injured against the Los Angeles Lakers.

New Orleans swept the Kings this season, going 4-0 against them in the regular season, and also beating them during the In-Season Tournament. Williamson played in four of those five games, and he averaged 23 points, five rebounds, and three steals.

He will be sorely missed on Friday, and missed enough to make the Pelicans the underdogs at home. In their loss to the Lakers, Williamson had 40 points, and the rest of the starting lineup scored 34. And if you are a New Orleans fan, or a New Orleans bettor, that is a big cause for concern.

Maybe someone will step up in place of Williamson. And it’s worth noting that the Pelicans beat the Kings in Sacramento just a week ago. But in that game, Williamson scored 31 points to lead the team.

It’s been 30 years since a team finished with a 6-0 record against an opponent in a single-season, and that streak is unlikely to end on Friday in New Orleans.

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