Today’s Top Picks: Three NBA best bets plus an XFL tip before this weekend’s kickoff

Before I get to my picks for Friday night — all of which involve NBA games — I thought I’d give you some free advice for the weekend. You see, the XFL begins its second iteration on Saturday with two games, and then another two games on Sunday. I have no idea if this version of the XFL will be the spring football league that makes it or not, but I have a theory on how you can make money off it while it’s here.

Bet the under for all four games this weekend. Remember the AAF last year? Remember how utterly incompetent the offenses were for the first couple of weeks? Well, I would imagine the first weekend of the XFL won’t look all that different. Expect the defenses to have the advantage early as they’ll likely bring a lot of pressure against offensive lines that have not worked together before.

Thank me later. And now, tonight’s action, with all odds via William Hill.

1. Mavericks at Wizards: Wizards +2

The Mavs are a very popular play with the public as I write this, garnering over three-quarters of the action. Well, I’m all too happy to fade the public in this spot. We know Luka Doncic isn’t going to be playing, and there’s a chance the Mavs will be without Kristaps Porzingis as well. That plays a role in my choice, but there are other factors. One is that this is the first of a back-to-back for Dallas with a trip to Charlotte on Saturday. Second, while the Wizards have been able to rest at home this week, the Mavs are playing their third game of the week and have done a lot of traveling. I know it’s scary backing a team like the Wizards, but I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that this line has shrunk even though there’s far more action on Dallas than Washington.

2. Pistons at Thunder: Under 214.5

I am both surprised that the Pistons got so little for Andre Drummond and that it was Cleveland who paid so little to get him. He’s gone, however, and while I think the initial response is that it will affect Detroit’s defense and rebounding, I think the bigger effect will be on the Pistons’ offense. It’s not just the points Drummond scored, but how much of Detroit’s offense went through him, and the Pistons will likely have some trouble adjusting without him on Friday night. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m ready to lay 12.5 points with the Thunder, so instead, I’ll attack the total.

3. Heat at Kings: Heat +105

I’ll gladly take the Heat as underdogs on the road against a 19-31 Sacramento team. The Kings are only 9-15 at home this season, and they’re 5-13 against the Eastern Conference. Of course, the reason the Heat are the underdogs here is that Jimmy Butler won’t be playing, and that’s a big deal. But you know what? Even without Jimmy Butler, this Heat team is better than Sacramento and should win this game half the time, so there’s some value to be had on this moneyline.

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