NBA play-in thus far a friend of underdogs. Will it continue? Best Bets for April 14

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Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels (3) shoots between Oklahoma City Thunder forward Aleksej Pokusevski (17) and guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 16, 2022, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Friday, April 14:

TOP PLAY

The play: NBA play-in game, Timberwolves -5.5 over Thunder

The odds: -108

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Our take: You see it all the time. The betting public is all over one side, that side loses repeatedly, and like Pavlov’s dog, they switch sides faster than Benedict Arnold. But you know what the Home Field Sports crew does? We like to put salve on our losing woes by betting against the losers.

Perfect time. Perfect places. We start with the one we like best, and that’s with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

I mean, what’s not to love? Oklahoma City went on the road, hit 3 after 3, and even when falling behind late at a really tough to play in New Orleans, they found a way to win. Meanwhile, Minnesota blew a golden chance to avoid a second play-in game, couldn’t score in the final quarter and a half and overtime, and seems to not yet overcome their infighting problem, as it remains unclear whether Rudy Gobert will play Friday night.

“Wait, you said we were betting against the public and going with the favorite?”

Well, we are. We’re just letting you know the reasoning of the common bettor. Sounds logical, right?

Sure, but take in the fact the Thunder are now on the road again two nights later and previously hadn’t won against a good team in a meaningful game (for the other team) since they defeated the Clippers by a single point on March 21, and we’re not that impressed.

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves are clearly a better team than the one we saw late in the game against the Lakers on Tuesday, and they have had plenty of time to gather themselves and get ready for Friday. Oh, and they have defeated Oklahoma City three out of four this season, including covering in all three of those victories.

It won’t be a popular play, but that’s why we like it. And again, there’s no better way to stop a betting skid than to bet against Joe Q. Public.

A PLAY-IN DOGFIGHT

The play: NBA play-in total, under 209 in Bulls-Heat

The odds: -110

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 7 p.m. (TNT)

Our take: OK, an NBA game with a total less than 210? That’s an automatic over, right? Heck no! That’s what THEY want us to think.

This game sets up as a defensive battle throughout, and as long as the game officials don’t get too tight and send these teams to the free-throw line like 40 times, it is easy to fathom both teams scoring fewer than 100 points.

In the past two games between them, one team has scored 103 points or fewer in each, and the total continues to drop each time they play. This time, the books have dropped the total from 216 in their past meeting in March by nearly eight points.

What do they know? We’ll follow their lead and find out.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Thursday’s best bets

MLB money-line parlay: Blue Jays over Tigers and Cardinals over Pirates (LOST)

MLB total: Twins at Yankees over 8.5 runs (WON)

Thursday’s record: 1-1

Total for the week: 2-5, 1 pending

Total for April: 9-16, 1 pending

Total for 2023: 74-86, 1 pending

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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