Betting preview for Wednesday's NBA games

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As the Brooklyn Nets were set to battle the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night, the basketball world got some pretty big news: James Harden had aggravated his hamstring injury and would be out indefinitely. Even more worrisome was what Steve Nash had to say about the injury to the media.

“We’ll rehabilitate him and get him back whenever we can. Who knows when that will be,” said Nash. “But we’ll support James and support our performance team in getting him back in best condition as possible. Hopefully that comes sooner rather than later, but there’s no guarantee.”

Brooklyn’s Big 3 of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have played a grand total of seven games together this season. This team is immensely talented, but should we really just expect them to be able to put it together when they finally come together, if they ever do? We saw what injuries and lack of continuity did to the Los Angeles Clippers a season ago, and that does not bode well for the Nets.

Updated odds for every game can be found here.

Updated injury reports for every game can be found here.

*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back.

The Main Event

Atlanta Hawks* at New York Knicks* (-2, 218)

This is a massive game for both teams. New York has won seven straight and is 9-0 ATS in its last nine games. The Knicks have cleaned up the month of April, leading the league in net rating (+ 8.9), but two teams have better records this month and one of them is coming to visit. Atlanta is 9-2 SU in its 11 games this month with a + 6.6 net rating and one of the best offenses in the league (116.3). These two teams meet in a game that could decide who gets home-court advantage in their potential postseason series.

The Hawks will have to keep up the pressure on the Knicks defense, and get to the free-throw line in this one. Atlanta has the second-best free-throw rate in the league this season, making 22.7 free throws per 100 field goal attempts, and the Knicks happen to rank 20th in that category on defense. It is the weakest point of a defense that has been very sound all season long, but they also thrive in defending the mid-range, an area that Atlanta relies on offensively: The Hawks take 31.3% of their attempts from mid-range and shoot 42.5% from there. If the Knicks can keep those shots from falling, they have a path to their 10th consecutive cover.

The Co-Main Event

Phoenix Suns (-1, 221.5) at Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons is listed as questionable to play tonight, but even if he’s out it doesn’t make much sense to make Phoenix the road favorite here. Philadelphia has failed to cover its last three games, but without Simmons on the floor this season they still outscore opponents by 1.5 points every 100 possessions. With Joel Embiid on and Simmons off they have a + 2.4 net rating, so this team is not toast if Simmons cannot play. It has been pretty clear that the power rating on the Suns has peaked, as they are 7-8 ATS in their last 15 games and have not covered consecutive games since March 23 in Miami. Is this just another example of the market giving Phoenix too much respect?

The Suns have hit a small lull on defense lately, giving up 115.4 points per 100 possessions over the last three game to their opponents. They are also a middle-of-the-pack interior defense. What is going to be their answer for Embiid who has averaged 30.7 points on 46.8% shooting over the last seven contests?

The Prelims

Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers* (-5, 228.5)

Los Angeles improved to 17-5 SU/15-7 ATS since the All-Star break with its late win over Portland on Tuesday night. Kawhi Leonard is going to be out again with that foot soreness, and bettors always want to monitor the morning injury reports on second legs of back-to-backs. Regardless, this is a great game on paper. These two teams rank first and second in offensive efficiency in the month of April and both have been winning (and covering) at a high rate. Memphis comes into tonight on a 5-0 ATS run that was extended in a double-overtime loss to Denver on Monday. The Grizzlies have gotten away from their defensive play and have allowed 113.1 points per 100 possessions this month, and overall they are on a 13-4 run to the over as a result of their newfound offensive prowess.

Golden State Warriors (-2, 240.5) at Washington Wizards

What is going to slow down the Wizards? Washington has suddenly found itself on defense, and it has allowed just 106.7 points per 100 possessions over the course of a 7-2 SU/8-1 ATS run. That defense is going to be needed against Steph Curry and the Warriors, who have averaged 117.4 points per 100 possessions on offense during their 6-2 SU/ATS run they are currently on. Curry has been fantastic but what Golden State has done seems to have an expiration date on it, and that is just whenever Curry cannot drop 30 or more points. Is that tonight?

Denver Nuggets (-5, 226) at Portland Trail Blazers*

Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic are expected to be available tonight, which is massive for a Trail Blazers team that suddenly find itself only 1.5 games ahead of Dallas for the first play-in seed. Portland is just 3-7 SU and ATS with a -0.7 net rating in April due to a defense that is one of the worst in the league, allowing 113.5 points per 100 possessions. Lillard being back helps this offense, but they still won’t be able to defend one of the best offenses in the league in Denver. The Nuggets are 3-0 SU/2-1 ATS since losing Jamal Murray, but they were burned by Memphis for 1.132 points per possession on Monday. Will they be able to defend a full-strength Portland offense? Monte Morris is still out too, so it will be short-handed night for the Denver backcourt.

Brooklyn Nets* at Toronto Raptors (-2, 228.5)

The betting market overreacted to the loss Kevin Durant yesterday by making the Pelicans the favorite over the Nets in an eventual loss. Are we really saying Toronto is better than Brooklyn now, too? There is no indication that Kyrie Irving will miss this game today, so this seems like a strange opening number. Yes, the Raptors are 3-0 SU and ATS in their last three games but they beat the Spurs, Magic and Thunder. Congratulations? Brooklyn still ripped off 1.276 points per possession last night with Kyrie flying solo and are perfectly capable on offense with just him leading the way.

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