NBA betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Friday 1/21

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Welcome to the daily NBA betting market report, your source for analysis on the betting lines for the day in professional hoops. For updates throughout the day follow me on Twitter, or check out The Edge daily at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT.

All game lines via VSiN NBA Odds page.

Market Report for Friday, January 21st

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

**Lines are opening numbers

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Charlotte Hornets (-9.5, 221)

Defense is the focus of this matchup for both teams. For Charlotte, it’s about maintaining what has been an incredible run of defensive play. Since Dec. 20 the Hornets have the third-best defensive rating in non-garbage time minutes, allowing 106.6 points per 100 possessions to opponents. It’s been a great turnaround for Charlotte which ranked 30th in defensive efficiency in the 32 games prior to this run. Is it a turnaround though? According to Cleaning The Glass, if you factor in the quality of shot the Hornets have allowed during this defensive surge they would rank 29th in effective field goal percentage had their opponents shot the league average from each location. In other words, there is luck to this defensive run from the Hornets, but are the Thunder the team to press that luck? Oklahoma City is 29th in offensive efficiency this season (103.0) on the season, but their offensive philosophy of dribble-penetration and attacking the basket could be troublesome for Charlotte which has allowed opponents to take 32.6% of their attempts at the rim. On the other end, can the Thunder adequately defend the Hornets? Defense has been the on thing Oklahoma City has done well this season. They rank 19th in efficiency (111.1) and eighth in both frequency of rim attempts allowed (29.4%) and opponent rim shooting (63.4%). Oklahoma City is also seventh in transition defense (117.3) which is an area of the floor Charlotte thrives in on offense. The Hornets have done extremely well against lesser opponents like Houston and Detroit, but they lost outright to Orlando last week in an admittedly tough scheduling spot. The overnight line is identical the number Charlotte laid against Detroit, and I would expect this number dips given the stronger power rating on Oklahoma City.

Play: Thunder ( 9.5)

Los Angeles Lakers (-6, 220) @ Orlando Magic

The amount of noise around Los Angeles after its meltdown at home against Indiana on Wednesday makes it extremely difficult to handicap this spot against Orlando. Russell Westbrook was benched by Frank Vogel in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers were still outscored by 11 points and lost outright as 4.5-point favorites. Now, amid reports that Vogel’s job is in peril, Los Angeles embarks on a six-game road trip which begins here. It’s hard to buy into this team as a road favorite at this point, and the market agrees with that sentiment. The overnight line opened -6 but initially moved to -5.5 at almost every shop with this game on the board. Should the Lakers cover a number like this they have to improve this defense somehow. Since losing Anthony Davis to injury Los Angeles is allowing 116.4 points per 100 possessions, and that was on full display last night when the allowed 1.45 points per possession to Indiana in the fourth quarter. Poor defense, drama and volatility when it comes to the lineups bettors will see on the floor make it nearly impossible to support the road team here. Orlando has its issues, but as a perimeter-oriented team it has the potential to show up on a given night. Against the 76ers on Wednesday the Magic went 15-of-31 from deep in non-garbage time and put up 1.333 points per play in transition. What bettors get from the Lakers tonight is an absolute mystery, and it would not surprise me to see this number dip a bit further before tip because of that.

Los Angeles Clippers @ Philadelphia 76ers (-9.5, 212)

Is this current offensive surge from Los Angeles legitimate, or have they stumbled into some hot shooting that is likely to cool against a better defensive opponent like Philadelphia? The Clippers have put up 129.0 points per 100 possessions and shot a combined 44.0% from deep in the last two games, both of which they covered. Those numbers are most likely an aberration for a team ranked 26th in non-garbage time offensive efficiency (107.4). Los Angeles continues to deal with personnel issues too, as Nic Batum entered COVID protocol for the second time this season just the other day and Marcus Morris is in danger of missing his second consecutive game due to personal reasons. Those two missing this game will not help a defense that has been cooked for 1.284 points per possession the last two games. Philadelphia’s offense has been on an incredible run of late, averaging 117.3 points per 100 possessions the last 12 games. This level of efficiency is, of course, due to the play of Joel Embiid. The MVP contender continues to deliver and is coming off a majestic performance against Orlando in which he scored 50 points. Los Angeles really has no true matchup for Embiid outside of Ivica Zubac, and defensive stopper Zubac is not. The overnight line opened high at -9.5 with other shops opening lower at -7.5 but we are now approaching -8.5 or -9 at most shops on the screen. There is little Los Angeles can do with Embiid in this contest, so I would expect another big performance from the 76ers center tonight.

Miami Heat @ Atlanta Hawks (PK, 217.5)

Even after losing Jimmy Butler to an ejection in the second quarter the Miami Heat took care of business on Wednesday to improve to 6-2 SU/7-1 ATS in its last eight games. Miami is slowly approaching full health, but they lost Tyler Herro to COVID protocol two days ago, so the team will be without him and Kyle Lowry who continues to be sidelined due to personal reasons. On the other side of this matchup is Atlanta, and its personnel issues might finally be coming to an end. Clint Capela has been upgraded to questionable and might play for the first time in two weeks tonight. Danilo Gallinari is questionable with an ankle injury and Bogdan Bogdanovic is still listed as out, but if Capela and Gallinari can go tonight this would be the healthiest Atlanta has been in a long time. That lack of personnel continuity has not limited this team offensively though. Over the last four games the Hawks have been electric, averaging 123.0 points per 100 possessions which has led to wins and covers in the last two contests. This will be the third meeting in a week between Miami and Atlanta, but its hard to take much from either meeting as the participants in both meetings are very different from the ones available today. Kyle Lowry started both games but is not available tonight, Jimmy Butler played in just one of those meetings and Bam Adebayo was not yet back from injury. Atlanta does remain largely intact with the lone exception being Bogdanovic who started both games against the Heat. This one comes down to the Hawks’ defense. Despite having an incredible offensive output lately they have only outscored the opposition by 1.0 point per 100 possessions due to a defense with a 122.0 rating. 

Portland Trail Blazers @ Boston Celtics (-7.5, 214)

Portland is finally getting healthy, but it has not helped improve the quality of play on the court. After taking advantage of a soft part of the schedule the Trail Blazers ran into a brick wall in Miami, losing and failing to cover in a game that saw Jimmy Butler get ejected early. Portland’s offense was stymied for just 0.957 points per possession, marking the third time in four games the Blazers have been held to a point per possession or fewer. It stands to reason that they could struggle to score against Boston. Of all the issues that have plagued the Celtics this season, defense is not one of them. The Celtics rank fifth in both non-garbage time defensive efficiency (107.9) and halfcourt defense (90.9) this season. Boston has been great along the perimeter, limiting opponents to a shot frequency of 37.0% and shooting percentage of 34.8%. Portland generates everything from the perimeter on offense. They take over 40% of their attempts from beyond the arc as a team, but the problem lately has been the 29.6% shooting mark on 39.8 3-point attempts per game in the last four contests. This matchup comes down to shooting for the Trail Blazers because this defense is nothing special. They give up 114.7 points per 100 possessions and rank 25th in rim defense (66.0%) and 30th in opponent 3-point shooting (37.4%). One would think Boston is the side to back here, and the market agrees pushing this up to -8 at most shops, but the Celtics’ own offensive issues give me pause. They only rank 23rd in offensive efficiency (109.6) and they are one of the worst shooting teams in the league (33.9%). As a favorite Boston is 12-16 ATS this season, and this seems like one of those spots where the market is overvaluing them

Toronto Raptors @ Washington Wizards (-1.5, 216.5)

The slide for Washington continued with its most recent failure at home against Brooklyn. With the loss on Wednesday the Wizards fell to 1-7 ATS in their last eight games despite a 4-4 SU record. It’s very clear the betting market will not let go of the perception that Washington is still the team that started the year 10-3 SU/9-3-1 ATS but it seems the worm is about to turn. This number opened in favor of the home team but is now sitting at PK across the board with the Raptors on the verge of becoming the road favorite here. It might seem like that is necessary, but Toronto is not exactly in great form. They come into this contest on a 2-4 SU/1-4-1 ATS slide and their injury report is full of key role players. Gary Trent Jr. has his usual questionable designation and Khem Birch remains sidelined with a broken nose. The Raptors have had nothing on the offensive end of the floor lately, and that coincides with the absence of Trent. Over the course of these last five games Toronto is averaging just 104.6 points every 100 possessions in non-garbage time minutes. The Raptors just don’t play a style on offense that would bother the Wizards either. Washington’s biggest issue on defense all season has been defending the rim (29th, 68.7% allowed) but Toronto is 24th in frequency of attempts at the rim and 27th in rim shooting (61.5%). The Wizards give up the lowest frequency of 3-point attempts of any team in the league (34.7%) and they are second in defensive efficiency in transition, an area of offense that the Raptors rely on. Washington is also healthy, with the lone names on the injury report being G-League players Joel Ayayi and Cassius Winston. The Wizards have clearly been overvalued by the betting market, but there’s a strong case to be made that this is the buy-low spot for Washington.

Play: Wizards (PK)

Chicago Bulls @ Milwaukee Bucks (-8.5, 226)

Milwaukee is finally healthy, but it has not resulted in consistency for the Bucks. They are 3-6 SU and ATS in the last nine games and the offense has been an inefficient mess averaging 109.2 points per 100 possessions. If there was a spot to get right it would be against the short-handed Chicago Bulls which are 28th in defensive efficiency over the last 18 games (115.9). The backcourt rotation for Chicago is a mess with both Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine out with injury, and it stands to reason it will be hard for DeMar DeRozan to put on a one-man show like he did against Cleveland the other night. Due to all of these factors the market has pushed this up to Bucks -10.5 or -11 depending on where you shop, but that price seems high given what we have seen from Milwaukee recently. The matchups are there, but they were there against Atlanta too and the Bucks blew that one in the fourth quarter.

Brooklyn Nets (-2, 224.5) @ San Antonio Spurs

Brooklyn burned the betting market on Wednesday by winning outright in Washington against the Wizards, and tonight the team finds itself as a slight road favorite in San Antonio. The good news for the Nets heading into this contest with the Spurs is that the James Harden and Kyrie Irving backcourt pairing is starting to show some results. In their time on the floor together Brooklyn now has a 119.2 offensive rating, and when Patty Mills is with them the Nets have a + 14.2 net rating. Against the Wizards they dropped 1.221 points per possession, and they seemed primed tonight to take advantage of an inconsistent Spurs defense. San Antonio held the Thunder and Clippers to under a point per possession recently, but against better offenses like Phoenix, Cleveland and New York they posted a defensive rating of 112.1 or worse. Certainly the Spurs can take advantage of Brooklyn on defense, but their offense has been stuck in neutral for three weeks now, averaging 107.3 points every 100 possessions over the last 13 games. The betting market seems to be willing to play against this version Brooklyn consistently, and tonight is no different with this number down to 1.5 at every shop.

Memphis Grizzlies @ Denver Nuggets (-4, 220)

Don’t look now, but the league’s best defense over the last two months has started to show signs of slippage in its last three games. Dallas and Milwaukee bested Memphis recently and posted identical offensive ratings of 117.8 in those contests. The consistent theme was the Grizzlies’ lack of rim defense, as the two teams combined to go 43-of-61 (70.5%) inside four feet, and the Nuggets have the ability to exacerbate that issues. Denver ranks 15th in frequency of rim attempts on the season and the team owns thee fourth-best rim shooting percentage on the season (69.0%). Two games of poor defense is hardly something to freak out about though, but a personnel shortage is. This lapse in defensive play coincides with a small COVID outbreak for Memphis which does not have Kyle Anderson, Desmond Bane or Dillon Brooks tonight, although Brooks’ absence is due to injury. All three of those are solid defensive pieces for the Grizzlies so it does not come as a surprise that this defense has slipped lately, but it matters not to the market which has pushed this line down to -3 at most books.

Best Bets Summary

Thunder (+ 9.5)

Wizards (PK)

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