Midway through the third quarter in Sacramento, the Nets were in a back-and-forth affair with the Kings, leading 82-80 after giving up a Buddy Hield 3-point shot. On the ensuing possession, Brooklyn ran a dribble-handoff pick-and-roll with Green and Harden that led to an uncontested dunk for Green, and the Nets never looked back. That dunk sparked a 20-0 run for Brooklyn and the Nets would go on to win, and cover, their third consecutive game.
Three games ago the betting market downgraded this team, making the Nets a 1.5-point underdog on their own court to the Pacers. On Saturday, even with Kevin Durant back on the floor, Brooklyn was just a 3.5-point favorite and won in a blowout. Last night, the Nets opened as a 4-point favorite against a Sacramento team that was catching 4.5 the night prior against Memphis. Yes, the betting market thought a team with James Harden and Kyrie Irving was power rated the same as the Memphis Grizzlies.
When I write about “market adjustments”, these are the adjustments I am talking about. The Nets are not going to be a pick-em on a neutral floor against the Grizzlies, nor is Brooklyn 1.5 points worse than the Indiana Pacers. Yet, the market has deemed that to be the case. I have bet on Brooklyn in each of the past three games because I believe the market has over-adjusted its power rating of the Nets, and that sets up a fascinating game against the Suns in Phoenix tonight.
Note: *indicates that team is on the second leg of a back-to-back
Updated injury reports can be found here.
Updated odds for every game can be found here.
The Main Event
Brooklyn Nets at Phoenix Suns (-3, 230)
There is no denying how hot Phoenix is right now. Their winning streak of 6-0 SU and ATS with a 10.5 net rating burns with the white-hot intensity of 1,000 suns. Overall, they are in the midst of a 9-1 SU and ATS run that began with a win over Golden State. The problem I have with this run for Phoenix is the competition: six of their 10 opponents rank 21st or lower in net rating this season, and they lost to one of those opponents in blowout fashion (New Orleans). They trailed by 13 in the third quarter to Milwaukee, and beat Boston without Jalen Brown. You can only play who is on your schedule, but it is not the most thrilling competition Phoenix has rolled through.
Brooklyn has been pretty dynamic since the cathartic experience of screaming at DeAndre Jordan in Detroit. Since the loss to the Pistons, the Nets are 3-0 SU and ATS with a 12.7 net rating. Their offense is averaging 124.7 points every 100 possessions, and those Harden/Irving lineups have been dynamic on offense. When Harden and Irving play together Brooklyn is outscoring opponents by 9.8 points every 100 possessions, due to an offense that is averaging 1.257 points per possession. Take Kevin Durant out of the picture and their defense suffers, causing the net rating to dip to 5.4, still good enough to place those lineups in the 79th percentile of qualified lineups in the NBA. How the Suns defend this backcourt is going to be fascinating to watch.
This game is all about market perception to me. Phoenix has been great, but just three games ago they were catching 3.5 points at home against Milwaukee. Now, the market says they are 5.5 points better than Brooklyn? That is a clear adjustment by the market on Phoenix, and it is a market that clearly does not believe in the Nets. It seems pretty clear there is some value on Brooklyn should both Irving and Harden not suddenly appear on the injury report.
The Co-Main Event
Los Angeles Lakers (-7.5, 222.5) at Minnesota Timberwolves
Anthony Davis has been put on the shelf for the foreseeable future and all is lost for the Lakers! Los Angeles is stuck in a 3-8 ATS slide and has the 22nd-ranked offense over that stretch (110.2). This is largely due to their shooting, which has been abysmal (30.1 percent) during this 11-game stretch. However, there’s a chance the market is overreacting to the Davis injury and the Lakers' recent awfulness.
Six nights ago the Timberwolves were 8.5-point underdogs to the Clippers without Paul George. Are the Lakers without Davis two points worse than that version of the Clippers? I would say no, but there’s more here than that. Despite the struggles, Los Angeles has posted the second-best defensive rating in the league over these 11 games (107.6). They still have the personnel to deal with Karl-Anthony Towns as well. Moving this number to where it is seems to be an overreaction to an avalanche of bad news for the Lakers.
Denver Nuggets at Boston Celtics (-3, 221.5)
Denver is going to be short-handed today, as Paul Millsap, Will Barton and Gary Harris have already been ruled out and Monte Morris is considered questionable. Yet, the market has moved in favor of the Nuggets. There seems to be a bad taste in the mouth of bettors who pounced on Boston in a losing effort Sunday morning at Washington. The Celtics won’t have Daniel Theis today, but they are 6-3 SU/7-2 ATS at home this season with the league’s third-best defensive rating. Could the Celtics be in a buy-low spot here?
New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies (-1, 229.5)
New Orleans continues to put forward pathetic defensive efforts. They have allowed 1.367 points per possession during this current 0-3 SU and ATS slide. At no point this season has New Orleans shown improvement on defense, and that has led me to play against them more often than not. However, Memphis has its own problems: The Grizzlies are 2-5 SU and ATS in their last seven games with a 119.7 defensive rating. This is why total has moved from 229.5 to 231.5 in most markets.
Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks (-5.5, 233.5)
Home sweet home for Milwaukee? The Bucks ended their west coast trip with a dud, losing three straight while allowing 120.3 points every 100 possessions. Their defensive philosophy continues to burn them, as their three opponents during this losing streak shot a combined 41.9 percent from beyond the arc. Now, they play host to Toronto which ranks fifth in 3-point frequency (41.2 percent) and seventh in 3-point shooting (38.6 percent). The Raptors have lost and failed to cover their last two, but they might be a matchup nightmare for Milwaukee tonight.
Portland Trail Blazers (-7.5, 226.5) at Oklahoma City Thunder
This one is pretty simple: Portland has posted a 7-2 ATS mark in its last nine games, and the market has moved against them more often than not. Just three days ago they were laying 3.5 at home against Cleveland, but now they open as a 7.5-point favorite at Oklahoma City? The Thunder have been phenomenal as an underdog, going 15-9-1 ATS this season and they have covered four straight. Has the market made too much of an adjustment on the team it failed to respect in Portland?