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All game lines via the VSiN NBA odds page
*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back
**Lines are opening numbers
Record: 31-39 | Units: -9.02 | ROI: -11.95%
Los Angeles is 1-4 SU/0-5 ATS in its last five games, and if it is going to break out of this slump it will have to defend at a higher level. In those contests opponents have averaged 127.7 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time and shot 78.1% within four feet of the basket. Those weaknesses will be tested by Orlando, which comes into this game with a 8-2 SU/10-0 ATS record in its last 10 games. The Magic have improved greatly during this run, but their improved defense might be built on a house of cards. Over this 10 game span Orlando’s opponents have shot 31.6% from beyond the arc while taking 40.6% of their attempts from that area of the floor. The Magic have also allowed the third highest rate of wide-open 3-point shots during this run, but opponents have shot just 31.0% on those attempts. Once that luck runs out this defense is sure to regress, but is the fifth worst shooting team in the league going to make them pay for that? Los Angeles might not be able to shoot efficiently, but it is good enough offensively to take apart a defense which is over performing.
Play: Lakers (+4.5)
Best Bet Recap
Philadelphia improved to 8-0 SU/7-1 ATS in its last eight games when it blasted New York in the fourth quarter of their win on Christmas Day. Meanwhile, Washington seems to have righted its ship with a 3-1 ATS burst over the last four games it has played, all of which came during a surprisingly successful west coast trip. There are many bettors who would view the first game back home from a long road trip as reason to bet against the Wizards, but the on-court match up is stronger evidence. Washington has slipped to 22nd in non-garbage time defensive efficiency (109.9), and has no real defensive option for either Joel Embiid or James Harden. The Wizards’ ability to get out in transition on offense could bother a team which really struggled with transition defense at one point this season and ranks 15th in opponent points added per 100 plays in transition off live rebounds (+1.1).
This is not the most favorable scheduling situation for Los Angeles. The Clippers need a furious, 14-point comeback in the final 3:34 of regulation to force overtime in Detroit on Monday night to beat the Pistons, and now they are in Toronto on no rest to face the Raptors. Kawhi Leonard will be on the floor, but John Wall will likely rest and Paul George is always a candidate to sit in these situations. Until there is clarity on who will play for Los Angeles it is hard to recommend a play this early, but we do know the market is charging its usual point for teams playing with no rest. We also know that the Raptors are finally starting to show some consistency lately, as they enter 2-1 SU/3-0 ATS in their last three games.
The only successful stop on the four-game road trip Memphis is coming back home from was in Phoenix. The Grizzlies crushed the Suns on the glass in that game, grabbing 50.0% of their missed attempts while scoring 22 second chance points in a blowout victory. That loss is part of a three-game losing streak which Phoenix is currently stuck in, and December has not gone much better, as the Suns are 4-9 SU/5-8 ATS this month with an abysmal 119.5 defensive rating. Those issues with rebounding and defense are not likely to fix themselves, and they will be exploited once more against the Grizzlies which are second in offensive rebounding (32.1%) and generate the fifth most putback plays per 100 missed shot attempts.
New York has dropped its last three games both SU and ATS, and the defensive regression from 3-point range has hit, as its last two opponents have shot a combined 30-of-68 (44.1%) from beyond the arc. Dallas will test that perimeter defense as well. The Mavericks take 45.5% of their attempts from that area of the floor, and Luka Doncic will be able to pick on smaller guards like Jalen Brunson - who is questionable to play - or Quentin Grimes.
Denver needed some magic to force overtime and beat Phoenix on Christmas night, but it did so to improve to 7-1 SU/3-4-1 ATS in its last eight games. The Nuggets defense continues to be a big issue, as the Suns - which lost Devin Booker four minutes into the game - still pushed them to an extra period and averaged 1.196 points per possession. That defense is going to be tested tonight against Sacramento, with or without Domantas Sabonis on the floor. Sabonis is questionable with a thumb injury and has indicated he will try to play through the injury.