NBA Expert Picks and Best Bets | April 17

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Bryan Zarpentine
NBA Picks and Best Bets
NBA Best Bets 2023-2024

On Tuesday, it was the Western Conference kicking off its play-in tournament. But on Wednesday, it’s the Eastern Conference’s turn, kicking off the NBA Playoffs on that side of the bracket. With the playoffs here, plenty of our favorite betting sites have special promos and bonus opportunities available. Since it’s a great time to bet on the NBA, even if you haven’t done it before, the USA Legal Betting team has come up with three picks for Wednesday’s games that we’d like to share.

Miami Heat vs Philadelphia 76ers Best Bet:

76ers -5 | -112 at FanDuel

Momentum means a lot in the playoffs, and the 76ers are bursting at the seams when it comes to momentum. Philly has won eight in a row heading into the play-in tournament. Granted, a relatively weak schedule contributed to that. But the Sixers are also 14-2 against the spread since the middle of March. The role of Joel Embiid has been a huge part of Philly's success coming down the stretch. His health and availability throughout the playoffs are questionable because the 76ers will be careful with his workload. But he’ll be active in the play-in tournament, so those using Pennsylvania sportsbooks can feel safe backing the Sixers.

To be fair, the Heat was the second-best team against the spread as a road underdog this season. Plus, Miami proved that season that it can rise to the occasion during the playoffs. The presence of Bam Adebayo can certainly help to neutralize Embiid to some extent. But the Heat will be without point guard Terry Rozier on Wednesday. That's too big of a loss considering that Tyrese Maxey is nearly as important to the Sixers as Embiid. Without their starting point guard, the odds are stacked against Miami, allowing the 76ers to win and cover at home.

FanDuel Sportsbook
76ers -5 | -112 at FanDuel

Atlanta Hawks vs Chicago Bulls Best Bet:

Bulls -3.5 | -105 at BetMGM

On the one hand, the Hawks should feel grateful that Trae Young returned from injury right before the playoffs. But he's not exactly solved Atlanta’s problems. The Hawks lost all three games after his return, meaning they’ve lost six in a row heading into the play-in tournament while going 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games. Even with a road win in Chicago in early April, that doesn’t inspire much confidence.

As for the Bulls, they looked ready for the playoffs in an overtime loss to the Knicks on Sunday. Despite finishing with a losing record, the Bulls were in decent form down the stretch, going 5-3 against the spread in their last eight games. Comparatively, the Hawks finished the regular season with the worst record against the spread in the NBA. That alone is a good reason to fade Atlanta in the play-in tournament.

BetMGM Sportsbook
Bulls -3.5 | -105 at BetMGM

Atlanta Hawks vs Chicago Bulls Best Bet:

Under 221.5 | -110 at BetRivers

In addition to backing the Bulls, those participating in Illinois sports betting should consider taking the under as well. Granted, the Hawks and Bulls were both among the top four teams in the NBA this season when it came to hitting the over. Plus, both teams ended the season with a string of games in which they hit the over.

But that’s led to a slightly inflated over/under from BetRivers and other sportsbooks. In a must-win game, both teams will look to emphasize defense more than usual. It’s also not hard to envision shooters getting a little tight, causing both teams to struggle offensively. That’s why it might be best to go against the trends and lead toward the under.

Under 221.5 | -110 at BetRivers

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