With 4:44 left in the fourth quarter, Donovan Mitchell inbounded the ball from under the Boston Celtics basket to Rudy Gobert. The two ran a quick hand-off play, which gave Mitchell enough space to hit a 3-point shot, extending Utah’s lead to seven points. On the next possession, Mitchell attacked in transition, taking three Boston defenders with him to the elbow, and turned to find Joe Ingles along the wing for another 3-point make to give Utah yet another seven-point lead. It was an incredible stretch for Mitchell, and part of a fourth quarter in which he dominated for Utah.
Mitchell either scored or assisted on the Jazz’s final 17 points on Tuesday night, finishing with 36 points on 12-of-23 shooting with nine assists. According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Mitchell is averaging 37.5 points and 8.7 assists per game in his last four games at point guard. He is arguably the best player on a team with a league-best 20-5 record this season. At what point do we see a push for Mitchell to win the MVP award?
As of this morning, multiple books like BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel, still listed Mitchell as a 100-to-1 choice to win the award. However, we have seen the market shift at other shops. The Westgate SuperBook moved his odds Wednesday morning to 80-to-1 and then 60-to-1 after Utah’s win over Boston. Mitchell has a lot to overcome to win the award, but the tide is starting to change and bettors who are interested should grab those triple-digit tickets when they can.
Here are my daily NBA game notes for Wednesday, Feb. 10:
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.
Indiana Pacers at Brooklyn Nets* (-2, 234.5)
Keep an eye on the injury report here. Brooklyn is on the second leg of a back-to-back tonight, losing to Detroit on Tuesday evening. Kyrie Irving is dealing with a finger injury on his right hand that caused him to miss the game in Philadelphia on Saturday. Steve Nash told the media that Irving should be able to play through it, and the loss to the Pistons could help push him back on to the floor, but monitor this situation today.
In any case, we’re approaching a low point here for Brooklyn’s market power rating -- and rightfully so. The Nets are now 6-14 ATS as a favorite this season, and 7-6 SU/4-9 ATS since acquiring James Harden. They are third in offensive rating (119.2) in those 13 games, but still have been out-scored by 0.2 points every 100 possessions due to the 29th-ranked defense over that stretch (119.4). Last night, the 24th-ranked Pistons offense averaged 1.25 points per possession, destroying the Nets at the rim by shooting 25-of-33. Brooklyn has no defensive presence inside, and frustrations boiled over yesterday when Harden was caught on camera berating DeAndre Jordan for his lackadaisical defense.
Brooklyn has issues, and with no Kevin Durant until Friday, the ability to simply outscore the competition becomes somewhat tougher. However, today they get a Pacers team that is not exactly peaking. Indiana is 4-8 SU/3-9 ATS in its last 12 games with a -4.4 net rating, and its defense, once inside the top 10 of efficiency, is allowing 114.9 points every 100 possessions during this slide. If Kyrie plays tonight, can bettors trust the Pacers to play a brand of defense that has eluded them recently?
Toronto Raptors (-5.5, 230.5) at Washington Wizards
The Raptors are starting to figure things out, and that could be trouble for the Eastern Conference. After handing the Memphis Grizzlies a 128-113 loss on Monday, the Raptors are now 9-5 SU/8-6 ATS in their last 14 games with a + 4.2 net rating. The driving force has been their offense, which is averaging 115.8 points every 100 possessions. They are shooting 39.9 percent on 40.9 3-point attempts per game during this run, but there is still something worrisome about this team’s production. Despite shooting at an insane clip from deep, they are just 20th in overall field goal percentage during this run due to poor shooting inside. During this 14-game run, they have shot over 60 percent at the rim in a game just six times. If the shots are not falling, what will happen to this offense?
It helps to have Washington as an opponent. Since returning from their COVID hiatus, the Wizards are 3-7 SU and ATS with two of their three wins coming when Russell Westbrook was not on the floor. This is not to blame Westbrook, but statistically there is no denying the negative effect he has on this team. When Westbrook is on the floor the Wizards have a -11.3 net rating, but when he is off the floor that jumps to -1.6 over 100 possessions. If Washington gets blown out yet again tonight, this a troubling trend developing in our nation’s capital.
Atlanta Hawks at Dallas Mavericks (-4, 233.5)
When does the betting market concede on its perception of the Mavericks? Dallas fell to 1-9 ATS in its last 10 games after failing to cover a bloated 10-point spread on Monday against Minnesota. The Mavericks the worst defensive rating in the league over those 10 games (121.7), but the betting market still has confidence in this team at the window. Today they host an Atlanta team that has been off for three days, and is looking for revenge after Dallas beat them on their own floor last week. The Hawks snapped a three-game slide with a win over Toronto this weekend, and lately their offense has been somewhat poor. Over that three-game slide they posted a 104.1 offensive rating, but Trae Young missed one of those contests and two of those three games were against top 10 defenses (Jazz and Lakers). Dallas doesn’t have that kind of D, and this could be a solid spot for Atlanta who will only be missing Rajon Rondo.
Los Angeles Clippers (-9, 226.5) at Minnesota Timberwolves
The Clippers are not healthy, and that has shown itself in the team’s recent results. Patrick Beverley has missed the last eight games, and Paul George has been sidelined for the past two, both losses for Los Angeles. In those two games the Clippers’ defense has looked like a shell of itself, allowing 117.2 points every 100 possessions in losses to the Kings and short-handed Celtics. Beverley could make his return tonight, which would help a team that needs some defensive help at the point of attack.
Minnesota has been on a nice run of late, posting a 3-0-1 ATS mark over its past four games, but the adjustment on the team’s power rating might be a little much. Remember, on Monday they closed as a 10-point underdog at Dallas, but tonight they open as a 9-point underdog to the Clippers? The betting market corrected itself here, but it is a lesson for bettors to pay attention to these market power ratings, as there are edges to be found.
New Orleans Pelicans* (-3, 229.5) at Chicago Bulls
The Pelicans are officially hot! New Orleans beat down Houston on Tuesday night 130-101 to improve to 6-2 SU/ATS in its last eight games. Their defense has not improved much over this run (113.5), but their offense has really taken off, specifically their shooting. Over these eight games, the Pelicans are averaging 120.4 points per 100 possessions and shooting 39.8 percent from deep. Now they must maintain this stretch of offense against an uneven Chicago team that is 2-6 SU and ATS in its last eight. The Bulls offense has really disappeared, and they are averaging just 109.1 points every 100 possessions during this slide.
The matchup to watch is on the glass here. New Orleans is one of the best rebounding teams in the league, and over these eight games they have the fourth-best rebounding rate in the NBA; Chicago is 22nd in that category. If Steven Adams and Zion Williamson dominate the glass, it could be a long night for the Bulls.
Charlotte Hornets at Memphis Grizzlies (-4, 226)
What does the betting market do here? I’ve documented Charlotte’s 13-5 ATS run, and the market’s inability to see how much better this team is, so does it come to a head here? Memphis is in the midst of an 0-4 SU and ATS slide, allowing a league-worst 124.7 points every 100 possessions. Opponents are shooting an insane 48.6 percent from deep against Memphis during this losing streak, and Charlotte comes into this meeting shooting a blistering 43.2 percent from 3-point range over its last seven contests. Three-point shooting, especially at these extremes, tends to be random and some regression should be expected for both teams. But does it happen today?
As much I love this Hornets team, they have a real problem attacking the rim, and they rank 28th in that category on the season. If the shots are not falling, what does this offense look like against the fifth-ranked rim defense in the league? Charlotte has been completely undervalued, and if the market moves against them again there is some value in playing them here. However, the reliance on shooting is always a risky proposition for bettors.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Denver Nuggets (-9.5, 224.5)
Cleveland snapped a six-game slide, both SU and ATS, in Phoenix the other night against an overvalued Suns team. Now, they must face a Denver team stuck in its worst stretch of basketball since December.
The Nuggets are 1-4 SU and ATS in their last five games (0-3 SU/ATS in their last three), with a 121.7 defensive rating. Their perimeter defense has regressed once again, and opponents are shooting 40.2 percent from deep during this slide. Cleveland ranks 19th in shooting this season, so there is doubt they could exploit the issues that are plaguing Denver. With all that in mind, it is hard to make a case for laying nearly double digits here with the Nuggets. As we have seen with poor defenses like Dallas, when you’re laying numbers like this it is hard to keep teams from getting in the backdoor.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers (-12, 219.5)
Mid-season blues or cause for concern when it comes to the Lakers? Over the last eight games, Los Angeles is 6-2 SU but 2-6 ATS with an offense that cannot find its stride. Over those eight games, the Lakers are averaging just 111.4 points every 100 possessions, and it has led to double-digit halftime deficits to Denver, a loss to Detroit and failed cover on Monday to Oklahoma City. Anthony Davis was missing on Monday, and he is questionable again today, but the defense for Los Angeles has yet to miss a step. The common theme for the Lakers has been its suddenly limited shooting.
Los Angeles is hitting just 32.9 percent of its attempts from 3, and Frank Vogel called LeBron James the team’s best shooter the other night. It is not good if LeBron is your best knockdown shooter. The Lakers have largely been overvalued at home this season (4-7 ATS), and this could be another instance tonight, laying two more points against a team they failed to cover against two days ago.
Milwaukee Bucks (-4, 225) at Phoenix Suns
Do you really want to get in front of this train? Milwaukee is 5-0 SU and ATS in its last five games with an insane + 20.5 net rating. The Bucks defense, which at one point was 17th in the league, is allowing just 103.9 points every 100 possessions during this winning streak. Meanwhile, Phoenix has won and covered three straight, but against Detroit, short-handed Boston and Cleveland (depending on the number you got). The Suns held those three opponents to just 105.3 points every 100 possessions, but I doubt they will be able to do that to Milwaukee here on Wednesday. If you like the Bucks bet it now, as I would expect this to get to five or higher by the time we reach tip-off.