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Breakdown and SO/UP Bets for Wizards-Heat, 76ers-Nuggets

Washington and Miami meet for a showdown between the East's top two seeds. Which team covers the spread?

Thursday night brings a fight for first place in the Eastern Conference and a game between the surging Nuggets and the struggling 76ers. Ben Pickman rejoins me as this week’s SO/UP guest picker.

Pickman and I were both successful in Tuesday’s picks—let’s keep it up.

Season record: 23-19

Guest pickers: 14-22


Washington Wizards (10-4) vs. Miami Heat (10-5)

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Spread: Wizards +7.5 (-110) | Heat -7.5 (-110)

Moneyline: Wizards (+240) | Heat (-300)

Total: Under 209.5 (-110) | Over 209.5 (-110)

Injuries: Wizards F Davis Bertans—Out; Heat G Kyle Lowry—Out; Heat C Bam Adebayo—Out; Heat F Markieff Morris—Out

Washington lost for the first time in two weeks Wednesday night. Now, they travel South to face Miami on the second night of a back-to-back. Then they get the Heat again Saturday night in Washington. 

It’s a difficult stretch for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but the new-look Wizards are more than capable of challenging the culture. Anchored by Bradley Beal, Spencer Dinwiddie and the haul Washington received in return for Russell Westbrook, the team has the NBA’s 12th-best offense (108.4 PPG) and No. 8 defense (103.5 PPG).

The Heat are gaining on the Wizards for first place in the East and enter Thursday on a three-game winning streak. Miami also played Wednesday night and was victorious at home, defeating the Pelicans by double-digits. 

Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro both average better than 20 PPG and three other Heat players are double-digit scorers. As such, the Heat have the sixth-ranked offense in basketball (110.1). Miami, with defensive stars Butler and Bam Adebayo, is stifling on defense, too, and boasts the No. 6 scoring defense (102.7 PPG).

Spread Pick: Wizards +7.5

Both Miami (11-4) and Washington (9-5) have excellent Against the Spread (ATS) records this season. That’s why I’m surprised this spread is as large as it is and I like the Wizards on the road. The Heat are excellent at home, and I think they win this game, but Washington can certainly keep it close the way they’ve been playing on both sides of the ball this season.

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Over/Under Pick: Over 209.5

Even though the Heat have a stellar defense, they lead the NBA in games that have hit the over (60%). Washington? Not so much. Wizards games have only gone over 28.6% of the time. I like the over in this game because I think each offense is more than capable of eclipsing 100 points, even against good defense. If they both do so, it’s not many steps further to combine for 210 points.

Prop: Heat Over 106.5

Miami has gone over this number in four of their last five games, including on the road against the Jazz. And playing at home, the Heat have scored 110 or more in four of six games. The Wizards have been great on defense but they’re not shutting down Miami on their home court.

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Guest Picker Ben Pickman’s Take:

Spread Pick: Wizards +7.5

Wednesday night’s loss to the Hornets was only the Wizards’ fourth defeat of the season, and their second-biggest of the year. They’ve been, perhaps, the NBA’s biggest surprise thus far, holding the Eastern Conference’s best record. Under first-year head coach Wes Unseld Jr., Washington now holds a top-five defense (102.8 points per 100 possessions), up from No. 20 last year. Its offense, while not as productive, does feature a number of capable new additions in Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell, among others. Thursday’s road game vs. the Heat is only the team’s second back-to-back of the season (they both games in their first back-to-back in late October) and while Miami might hold a supremely talented roster, giving the Wizards seven points seems overly generous.

Over/Under Pick: Under 209.5

Both Washington and Miami have been among the NBA’s top defensive teams this season, with neither team allowing more than 104 points per 100 possessions. But Washington has also broken the 110-point mark just once in its last seven contests. Expect the Wizards to keep Thursday’s contest close, maybe even prevail. If they are able to do so, then it should be a low-scoring game.

Prop: Wizards Over 99.5

Washington scored a season-low 87 points in their loss to the Hornets on Wednesday night, but they have failed to reach 100 points just four times this season. While their offense is certainly not among the league's best this season, they still are around league average and in a competitive game against the Heat, should be able to break the 100-point plateau.

nikola jokic

Philadelphia 76ers (8-7) vs. Denver Nuggets (9-5)

Time: 9:00 p.m. ET, NBA TV

Spread: 76ers +7.5 (-110) | Nuggets -7.5 (-110)

Moneyline: 76ers (+275) | Nuggets (-350)

Total: Under 209.5 (-110) | Over 209.5 (-110)

Injuries: 76ers G Matisse Thybulle—Out; 76ers F Danny Green—Out; Nuggets F Michael Porter Jr.—Out; Nuggets G Will Barton—Day-to-day

Philadelphia has lost five in a row with Joel Embiid still in the league’s health and safety protocols. They were competitive in the first four, keeping every game within single digits, until losing to Utah by 35 on the road Tuesday night. 

Clearly, the 76ers are missing their All-NBA big man. Andre Drummond has filled in for Embiid down low and Philadelphia welcomed back Tobias Harris, but the team can’t stop its slide. The 76ers have a league-average scoring offense (108.2 PPG) and a mid-tier defense (106.7 PPG). That was not the case with Embiid on the floor for their 8-2 start.

Denver had two full days of rest since its last game, a loss Monday night in Dallas. Before that, though, the Nuggets were winners of five straight. Never mind that Jamaal Murray remains sidelined and Michael Porter Jr. has joined him in street clothes, Nikola Jokić is playing like the MVP once again. Denver is not scoring many points (103.6 PPG) and they’re not allowing many either (98.9 PPG). The Nuggets have the best scoring defense in basketball by a wide margin, which makes up for their 24th-ranked offense.

Spread Pick: Nuggets -7.5

Denver is rested, has the best player on the court and is 7-1 at home this season. Philadelphia is beat up and in the midst of a so-far winless road trip. The Nuggets should cover this spread with ease and maybe even keep the 76ers under 100 points. Before Monday’s loss, Denver held its past five opponents below triple digits.

Over/Under Pick: Under 209.5

With stars missing on both sides, neither team has a particularly high-scoring offense. Both squads do hang their hats on defense, though. This is a relatively low point total but it suits this game well. I can see the Nuggets narrowly cracking 100 and the 76ers being held in the 90s.

Prop: Nikola Jokić Under 27.5 Points

Jokić went over that point total in each of his last two games, including a season-high 35 points against Dallas earlier this week. Betting on him going under this total is less an indictment of Jokić or an endorsement of the 76ers’ interior defense and more a belief the Nuggets won’t need Jokić to score 30 points to cruise to victory. He also averages more than a point below this total, so I like this number staying under.

Check Out the Latest NBA Odds at SI Sportsbook

Guest Picker Ben Pickman’s Take:

Spread Pick: Nuggets -7.5

The 76ers come into Thursday night’s game in Denver, having lost five straight games. Of their recent skid, four of the five have come against playoff teams from last season. It won’t get any easier on Thursday against the Nuggets, who have won five of their last six games and are among the NBA’s most stout defensive teams. 

While Philadelphia has a top-three offense on the season, it has been in the bottom half of the league over its last five games (not surprisingly with Joel Embiid out of the lineup). Sure, the Nuggets have dealt with absences of their own — including recent back pain from Michael Porter Jr. — but it’s hard to foresee the 76ers being able to stop Nikola Jokić, last year’s MVP, and keep this contest competitive.

Over/Under Pick: Over 209.5

The 76ers have the No. 29 defense of their last five games and a below average offense in that span. But they still have enough talent to reach the 100-point mark, something they’ve done in all but three games this year. If I think this game will be a blowout, which I think it will, then look for this total to hit the over as Denver cruises to a double-digit win.

Prop: Tobias Harris points + assists over 23.5

Harris will need to play a stellar game if the Sixers want to keep Thursday’s contest competitive. He enters averaging 20.2 points and 4.4 assists per game this season, but he has been relied upon to create more in each of his past three contests, since he too returned to the lineup. Harris would have hit this combined total in two of his last three appearances, and in six of his nine games this season. You get slight plus odds to bet on a solid game from the team’s current best player.

DFS Value Plays:

PG Ricky Rubio, Cavaliers (FD: $6,800 | DK: $6,900)

SG/PG Eric Bledsoe, Clippers (FD: $5,700 | DK: $5,800)

SG/SF Dillon Brooks, Grizzlies (FD: $5,900 | DK: $6,000)

SF/PF Scottie Barnes, Raptors (FD: $6,800 | DK: $6,700)

C/PF Montrezl Harrell, Wizards (FD: $7,600 | DK: $6,200)

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