NBA Play-In Tournament Best Bets: Pelicans vs. Kings & Heat vs. Bulls

Just two play-in games remain before the 2024 NBA Playoffs officially begin this weekend: Heat vs. Bulls and Pelicans vs. Kings on Friday night.

Injuries are a major factor in both matchups. The Pelicans nearly knocked off the Lakers on Tuesday night, but they will not have Zion Williamson on Friday. One of the best nights of Williamson’s career — a 40-point statement against Anthony Davis and the Lakers’ tough interior D — ended with a hamstring injury that will sideline him for the next few weeks.

The Heat are also likely to be without their leader due to a knee injury that Jimmy Butler suffered late in Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia.

Here are our NBA Play-In Tournament best bets for the final games.

Related Pages: Best NBA Betting Apps | Best NBA Betting Promotions & Bonus Offers

Current Odds for NBA Play-In Tournament 8th-Seed Games

  • Miami Heat () vs. Chicago Bulls () | 7:00 p.m. ET | ESPN
  • New Orleans Pelicans () vs. Sacramento Kings () | 9:30 p.m. ET | TNT

Best Bets for NBA Play-In 8th-Seed Games

Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls


With a healthy Butler, the Heat would be the heavy favorites against the 39-43 Bulls. But with Butler out of the mix, oddsmakers see this one as essentially a coin flip. The Heat are just 1.5-point favorites at home as of Thursday morning after The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweeted that Butler will be out multiple weeks. Chicago is missing some key contributors as well (it has been without Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine for months, and Alex Caruso’s status for Friday is uncertain).

The Bulls have a chance to at least keep Friday’s game close if Coby White stays hot after scoring 42 points on 15-for-21 FG shooting in his team’s win over the Hawks. Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, and Co. should be able to survive Chicago, even without Butler, but an upset is a real possibility if Miami comes out flat against White, DeMar DeRozan, and a Chicago team with nothing to lose.

Prediction: Miami advances

Best Bet: Coby White Over 20.5 points

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Sacramento Kings


How Now Orleans responds at home following not only the loss of Williamson to injury, but also the poor performances by CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram against LA, is the most interesting storyline of the final night of play-in action. McCollum and Ingram combined to shoot 8-for-27, including just 2-for-10 from 3, in the loss.

Ingram, who struggled in his return from a two-week absence due to a knee injury, is under a ton of pressure after watching most of the fourth quarter of the loss to the Lakers on the bench. If Ingram, who averaged 20.8 points per game this season, and/or McCollum can bounce back, expect a close game. The Kings were impressive at home on Tuesday night, blowing out Golden State but were dominated by New Orleans this season, going 0-5 head-to-head.

Picking the Pelicans without Williamson feels risky, but I’ll take Ingram, McCollum, and the Pels against a team they beat by at least 10 points four times this season.

Prediction: New Orleans advances

Best Bet: New Orleans moneyline (+105 at time of publishing)


About the Author
Tyler Everett

Tyler Everett

Tyler Everett has been a sports writer since joining the student newspaper at his alma mater, NC State, back in 2008. He has covered sports, sports betting, and the business of sports for several newspapers and websites, including the Denver Broncos, Charlotte Observer, High Press Soccer, and Sports Business Journal.

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