It was loaded a slate of basketball on Monday, but the highlight had to be LeBron James getting into an altercation with a fan courtside in Atlanta, right?
In all seriousness, the Los Angeles Lakers overcame a poor scheduling spot to get the win and cap a seven-game road trip with a victory. Los Angeles was just 3-4 ATS on the trip, but the win over Atlanta sets up a massive playoff revenge spot for the Denver Nuggets against the Lakers this coming Thursday.
However, I wanted to focus on information here. Yesterday, the Lakers were as low as a 5-point favorite because of the questionable status of Anthony Davis and LeBron James on the injury report. The duo was confirmed active, and the line eventually closed Los Angeles -7, a number they covered in the waning seconds.
LeBron has been on every single injury report since the first game of the season with that ankle issue, and Davis has been on a majority as well. Bettors need to keep track of these trends, because it gave me the opportunity to lay five on a game that closed seven because I knew the Lakers’ tendency to label LeBron as questionable despite being healthy.
On to the notes!
Note: * indicates that team is on second leg of a back-to-back.
Updated injury reports can be found here.
Updated odds for every game can be found here.
Memphis Grizzlies* at Indiana Pacers (-6, 221)
The Grizzlies are red-hot, heading into Tuesday on a seven-game winning streak, in which they are 6-0-1 ATS. Over this stretch, they have the second-best net rating in the league (+ 11.5) buoyed by an efficient offense (115.1) and smothering defense (103.5). The latter has been the real story for Memphis. On the season, they rank second in defensive efficiency, according to Cleaning The Glass, allowing just 106.8 points every 100 possessions. Over this run, only one opponent, San Antonio, has managed to average more than 1.079 points per possession, and that creates a fascinating matchup here against Indiana.
Memphis’ defensive philosophy is similar to Milwaukee’s: Cut off the rim, allow perimeter shots. They rank 13th in frequency of opponent attempts at the rim (32.7 percent), and they allow just 56.8 percent shooting within four feet of the basket. Only one of their last eight opponents has shot over 60 percent at the rim! This matters because Indiana consistently attacks this area of the floor. The Pacers rank first in frequency of attempts at the rim (44.2 percent), but shoot only 61.0 percent within four feet, a surprisingly poor mark for a team that works that area so hard. The Pacers also do not shoot the ball particularly well in general, and we can look at their loss against the 76ers on Sunday for proof. Philadelphia slapped on a zone defense in the fourth quarter, and outscored Indiana 31-6 over the final eight minutes to pull out the win. If Indiana can’t get to the rim, what is going to happen tonight?
Keep an eye on the status of Ja Morant as we approach tip-off as well. He seemingly tweaked that ankle that caused him to miss so much time earlier this year, but finished the game despite that. With Memphis playing on the second leg of a back-to-back, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them display some caution with its star point guard.
Toronto Raptors (-5, 219) at Orlando Magic
How much worse are things going to get for Orlando? Aaron Gordon will now miss 4-6 weeks with a severe left ankle sprain, and the Magic seem to be circling the drain when it comes to a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Orlando is 2-11 SU/3-10 ATS in its last 13 games with a -13.1 net rating. Their offense is managing a meager 102.6 points every 100 possessions, as almost every single one of their offensive playmakers, outside of Nikola Vucevic, is hampered by an injury of some sort. There really seems to be no case to make for Orlando on a night-to-night basis.
Meanwhile, Toronto snapped a three-game losing streak with the win over the Magic back in Tampa on Sunday, but still have issues of their own. They are a middling team, ranking 15th in both offensive and defensive efficiency, according to Cleaning The Glass. Those issues disappeared on Sunday against this Magic team though, and maybe they do not matter against a team this thin and hampered by injury.
This is where the issue comes in for any bettor looking in the direction of Toronto. The Raptors will be at the peak of the market when it comes to the side, due solely to the fact that Orlando is near the bottom of the league in terms of market power ratings. Toronto closed laying five points on Sunday, and it would not be surprising to see this number open in the range of seven, or higher, given the status of Orlando’s roster.
L.A. Clippers at Brooklyn Nets (-1.5, 243.5)
Since trading for James Harden, the Nets are 6-3 SU/3-6 ATS with a + 2.5 net rating. They are barely outscoring opponents by 2.5 points every 100 possessions, despite leading the league in offensive rating during that time (120.5). Seven of their opponents over this stretch rank 22nd or lower in net rating this season, and they could only manage three covers! Now, they get a Clippers team that is riding a 10-1 SU/7-4 ATS wave with a league-leading + 14.0 net rating.
Quietly, the Clippers have seemingly found their stride. The real correction has come on defense for Los Angeles. At one point this season the Clippers ranked lower than 20th in defensive efficiency. Ty Lue was experimenting with bench rotations, figuring out what to do with the trio of Lou Williams, Luke Kennard and Reggie Jackson. However, over this 11-game run they rank sixth in defense (106.0), and are up to 14th in overall defensive efficiency. This defense now complements and offense that has been spectacular all year, and right now is second behind Milwaukee with a blistering 119.3 offensive rating for the season! Keep in mind, Dallas set the record for best offensive rating for a team over a regular season last year at 115.9 points per 100 possessions. The Clippers are averaging 3.4 more points per 100 possessions! Now, one of the statistically worst defenses we have seen in the league’s history is going to face them?
The market got this number wrong on the open. DraftKings was first to market with Brooklyn as the one-point favorite, but the rest of the market followed hours later by hanging Brooklyn -1.5! Personally, I made this just over 1.5 in favor of Los Angeles and in less than an hour that is where market went.
Detroit Pistons at Utah Jazz
This was supposed to be the second leg of a back-to-back for Detroit, but contact tracing protocols forced the league to postpone the matchup with Denver. Now, the Pistons come into Utah on two days of rest after a poor showing against Golden State on Saturday. For what it’s worth, the Pistons are 3-1 ATS when playing with two days of rest, but that is more of a coincidence in my mind.
Utah is coming off its first loss since Jan. 6, losing 128-117 to the hot Denver Nuggets on Sunday morning. The Jazz were still spectacular on offense, averaging 1.196 points per possession, and in the second half they really turned it on. Denver managed just 0.98 points per possession after halftime while giving up 1.286 per possession to Utah. The Jazz even managed to cut their 25-point deficit to just eight points with a minute left in the third quarter. This team is still operating at a high level, so do not let Sunday alter your opinion of them.
Detroit has been a solid team ATS, covering 10 of 18 games as an underdog this season, and the market has made a slight correction on this number today. Utah opened laying 12.5 but this has since been knocked down a half-point. I would say to keep in mind that this Jazz team’s power rating is at an all-time high, and you’re buying into that rating by laying this number.
Portland Trail Blazers* at Washington Wizards (-2, 240.5)
After averaging just 97.3 points every 100 possessions in their first four games back from a COVID hiatus, the Wizards jumped onto the scene with a 149-146 win over the Nets. The Wizards averaged a mind-boggling 1.319 points per possession, and destroyed the Nets inside the arc with a combined 43-of-68 (63.2 percent) shooting performance. Russell Westbrook, outside of the back-breaking 3-pointer, showed real life in his legs with consistent off-the-bounce rim attacks. It is completely possible that Washington just benefitted from a soft defensive opponent. It is also possible that this team is finally becoming whole and healthy. Heck, maybe it’s both.
Remember, even since coming back from that COVID hiatus, Washington’s roster was not whole. Davis Bertans, Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija and Moe Wagner all came back at different times throughout these last four games. Now, they are all back together, and Bradley Beal finally has the help he needs on offense. It comes at the perfect time as well, because Portland comes into Tuesday on the second leg of a back-to-back with a defense that is struggling.
Since losing CJ McCollum to injury, the Trail Blazers have played adamantly on offense. However, the wheels fell off last night against the Bucks, as Portland managed just 0.987 points per possession in non-garbage time minutes and was blown out 134-106 in Milwaukee. Considering how bad Washington is on defense this could be another shootout, but I will be watching to see if the Wizards’ offense is starting to take the shape of the unit I expected coming into the season.
Boston Celtics (-2.5, 224.5) at Golden State Warriors
The last week for the Celtics has been somewhat subpar, to say the least. On Wednesday they dropped a road game in San Antonio as 4.5-point favorites, and on Saturday they missed two potential game-winners at the buzzer and lost their second consecutive game -- this one to the Lakers. That wasn’t the only loss for Boston either, as they lost Marcus Smart to a calf strain for at least a week.
Tonight, they face a Warriors team that is playing its best basketball right now, albeit against lesser competition. Golden State is 5-3 SU and ATS over its last eight games, but the three losses have been somewhat ugly, leading me to think that the success has been due to the schedule as opposed to the level of play. These three losses over this stretch have been by an average of 18.3 points.
It seems like the market might be moving in Golden State’s direction here, so if you like Boston hold out until you get a solid number on the Celtics who could get under that 2-point mark today.