How do we follow that up? Sunday had everything a NBA bettor could ever need, from 24-point comebacks to officiating controversies and a coach being hired and replaced within a day!
We can start in New Orleans, where the Pelicans overcame a 24-point deficit to beat Boston 120-115 in overtime, just two days after blowing an 11-point fourth quarter lead to Phoenix. Zion Williamson woke up after scoring just four points in the first half, dropping 24 in the second half and overtime along with 10 rebounds and four assists. The win snaps a 1-5 SU and ATS slide for New Orleans, but more importantly the run of overs continued yesterday, making it 21-2-1 to the over in the last 24 Pelicans games. Bettors needed overtime to make it happen, and even then it was a sweat, as the two teams combined for just seven points four minutes into the extra period. The loss drops Boston to 7-10 SU/6-11 ATS on the road this season, a troubling trend in year where home-court advantage means almost nothing.
About seven hours later, bettors were in for another wild ride. Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers found themselves in a 15-point hole with less than nine minutes left in the fourth quarter against the Nets. However, Los Angeles ripped off a 27-12 run in the closing minutes, tying the game at 108 on a pair of Leonard free throws. After DeAndre Jordan put back a missed Kyrie Irving step-back with 11.0 seconds left on the clock, the Clippers had one chance to tie, or win, the game. But, on a drive to the hoop Leonard was called for an offensive foul, and the Nets wrapped up their sixth straight win and cover on free throws.
Updated injury reports can be found here.
Updated odds for every game can be found here.
The Main Event
Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns (-6.5, 229)
The dominant run for Phoenix continued over the weekend after taking back-to-back game in New Orleans and Memphis. The Suns are now 11-2 SU and ATS in their last 13 games with the second-best net rating in the league over that stretch (+ 9.2). Their offense has been spectacular, averaging 119.1 points every 100 possessions and shooting 40.6 percent from deep during this run. It is very unlikely that output on offense ends tonight, as Portland brings in a defense that is allowing 115.6 points every 100 possessions since they lost CJ McCollum.
The thing that has not been hampered by the cluster injuries that the Blazers have suffered is their offense. In the 13 games since losing McCollum, Portland’s offensive efficiency rating of 117.7 is the seventh-best in the league. That could be a problem for Phoenix, as its defense has fallen off of late, allowing 113.8 per 100 on defense over its previous seven games. Elite offenses like Milwaukee and Brooklyn averaged 1.258 and 1.337 points per possession respectively, and even Cleveland got them for 1.242 points per possession in their loss two weeks ago.
Given the recent struggles of Phoenix on defense, the overall issues for Portland on that end and the quality of the two offenses, it is not surprising to see the market open as a high 227.5 on this total tonight. Personally, I’m more interested in the side. The Suns have been a team I’ve been looking to play against, and I have taken my shots. I was on the Pelicans when they blew an 11-point fourth quarter lead, and the Bucks when they blew a 13-point third quarter lead last week. Hopefully the third time is the charm, and the team I back is a little stronger in the closing quarter of play.
The Co-Main Event
Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks (-4.5, 229.5)
The last time bettors saw Dallas, the Mavs were taking a loss at home on Valentine’s Day to Portland. Due to severe weather in the Texas area the Mavericks had their last two games postponed, but the hiatus also gave them time to put together what coach Rick Carlisle labeled as “full-bore” in order to fix some issues. We’ve seen a hiatus benefit a team this season. Remember when the Kings had a two-game series with Memphis postponed? Sacramento was vocal in stating how the extra practice time was incredibly helpful, and they proceeded to rip off a 7-1 SU/8-0 ATS run over their next eight games. I do not know if a similar run is coming for Dallas, but the extra time to prepare should help a team that is 2-11 ATS in its previous 13 games.
The issues for Dallas have been on defense, and the same goes for Memphis. Since the beginning of February, the Grizzlies are 25th in defensive efficiency, allowing 117.9 points every 100 possessions and 42.2 percent on 36.9 3-point attempts per game. Those are not the numbers you want to put up when you have to face a red-hot offense that has had extra practice time.
Despite the ATS struggles for Dallas, its efficiency on offense has really picked up, averaging 124.7 points every 100 possessions over the last seven contests due to their shooting number taking a massive leap. Over this stretch of games, the Mavericks are shooting 40.8 percent from deep on 41.7 attempts per game; a far cry from the 32.8 percent they were shooting in the previous 21 games.
Dillon Brooks will miss the game for Memphis as well, a massive blow for this defense as he was likely to get Luka Doncic as his primary defensive assignment. If Dallas fixed some of what ails them on defense during this down time it seems like this could be a good spot for the Mavericks, and that is why the market has moved this line to Dallas -5 at most shops.
Chicago Bulls at Houston Rockets (-1, 227.5)
This is a game that has me torn. On one side we have Houston, a team that is 0-7 SU/1-6 ATS in the seven games leading up to this one. On the other, we have a Chicago team that should not be favored over many teams, and that shows in their 3-5 SU/2-5-1 ATS mark when laying points this season. The market has flipped the favorite here, making the Bulls the small favorite on the road, and I do not know if I agree.
Chicago has been a mediocre team for quite a while now, going 6-7 SU/5-8-1 ATS in its last 13 games with a 0.7 net rating. The danger for the Bulls tonight is going to be their offense matching up with Houston’s defense. The Rockets have started to show their prowess on defense once again, limiting the 76ers to 1.093 points per possession a few nights ago, and holding down the Heat for 1.020 per possession three games prior. Chicago has posted the 17th-best offensive rating during this 13-game lull, and that is ultimately what has me leaning toward the Houston camp here.
Miami Heat (-5, 213.5) at Oklahoma City Thunder*
About a week ago I surmised that the time to bet on Miami was here, and I followed up on that with a bet on them against Houston. The Heat covered that night, but then went on to drop their next three games, both SU and ATS, so I retreated with my tail between my legs. Well, I was somewhat early, but Miami has righted the ship, winning and covering its last two games all while continuing to thrive on defense.
Over its last 12 games, the Heat are giving up just 107.8 points every 100 possessions, the third-best defensive rating in the league over that stretch. The problem for Miami has been an offense that has yet to really find its footing, averaging just 108.8 points per 100 during this stretch. Against an opponent like Oklahoma City, though, Miami might be able to get away with its rugged approach. The Thunder, despite a great ATS record on the season (16-12-2) have yet to show any consistency on offense. They rank 29th in offensive efficiency on the season (104.8), and have posted an individual game offensive rating higher than 116.5 just five times this season.
Charlotte Hornets at Utah Jazz (-12, 228)
After a week off, the Hornets stole a dramatic victory from the Warriors over the weekend, and now they must make the trek to Utah. In that win Charlotte mustered just 1.01 points per possession, and my worry here is that their offense continues to struggle against the league’s second-best defense. When these two teams met at the beginning of February, the Hornets had no answer for the Jazz’s 3-point onslaught. Utah dropped 1.366 points per possession, shot 53.1 percent from deep and 75.0 percent at the rim. Charlotte is a plucky, young team, but I do worry about them in matchups against the elite of the league.
Washington Wizards at Los Angeles Lakers (-6.5, 226)
This seems like a buy-low spot for Los Angeles, but I have attempted to buy low on the Lakers recently and I keep getting burned. The betting market agrees with the sentiment though, and Los Angeles is laying seven in almost every shop out there as of my writing this. The Lakers are now 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games, but recently the actual losses have started to come and they are 1-3 SU and ATS in their previous four games. However, those losses have come to quality teams such as Denver, Brooklyn and Miami. Could they really drop one to the Washington Wizards?