NBA betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Friday 2/25

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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, February 25th

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

**Lines are opening numbers

Best Bets

Toronto Raptors (-2, 225.5) at Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte entered the All-Star break as one of the coldest teams in the league. They are currently on a 1-9 SU slide and the team is 4-9-1 ATS in their last 15 contests. Over the course of this 10-game slump they are averaging 104.5 points per 100 possessions with -6.1 net rating. It looks bleak for the Hornets, but there are signs a turnaround could be on the horizon. Despite having the second-worst offensive rating in the league over the last 10 games the Hornets are first in Cleaning The Glass’ location effective field goal percentage metric. In other words, if Charlotte had shot league average from each location on the floor during this stretch they would have the league’s best effective field goal percentage (55.6%). To go a step further, they are shooting just 31.8% on wide-open 3-pointers over this stretch. There should be some positive regression coming for Charlotte, but is it here against Toronto? The Raptors dispatched the Hornets with relative ease last time out, winning and covering in Charlotte while limiting them to 1.01 points per possession. Even then, the Hornets went 6-of-23 on wide-open 3-point attempts in that game, according to the NBA tracking data. This extended slump has watered down the Hornets power rating immensely. When these two teams met in Toronto in January the Raptors closed -2.5 and in the game before the break it the Raptors were 1.5-point road favorites. I’m going to simply play the regression here. Charlotte is better than this recent slump indicates, and the All-Star break was an opportunity to break out of it.

Play: Hornets (+ 2.5) 

Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers (-1.5, 224.5)

The Clippers entered the All-Star break playing some great basketball, rediscovering their defensive identity in the process oof going 3-1 SU/4-0 ATS before the hiatus. They did so against some of the Western Conference elite as well, beating both Dallas and Golden State before covering in a competitive game against Phoenix. The one difference we know exists between these two clubs tonight is the consistency of effort the Clippers show on a night-to-night basis, and that could make all the difference in the world here. Anthony Davis and Avery Bradley are both out, and LeBron James is questionable with a sore knee. After spending the break kvetching about the Lakers’ front office and flirting with the Cavaliers it is hard to know what James’ effort level will be going forward, or if he will even play. I will say that when the Lakers roll out James at center with Russell Westbrook playing point guard they outscore opponents by 6.7 points per 100 possessions and there is still potential with this team in the final seven weeks of the season, but I do not believe that is tonight. The Clippers limited their four opponents before the break to just 105.1 points per 100 possessions, and come into this seventh in defensive efficiency on the season (109.3). They are an elite rim defense, allowing just 62.2% within four feet, and can be effective in defensive transition off live rebounds which is an area the Lakers want to exploit. If I know anything about these two teams, its that the Clippers will defend and play for 48 minutes, which is an edge in this matchup against a short-handed Lakers club.

Play: Clippers (+ 1.5)

Best Games

Miami Heat (-5.5, 213.5) at New York Knicks

A few days ago we received the report that Kemba Walker would no longer be part of the Knicks going forward. Hopefully that means the Knickerbockers are buying in to the youth on this roster, and the likes of Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, Cam Reddish and Obi Toppin get bigger roles than they already have. However, Alec Burks is listed as New York’s starting point guard on the depth chart as of now, and should Tom Thibodeau continue to roll out these ineffective, veteran laden lineups then it is hard to make a case for the Knicks to break out of this 1-7 SU and ATS slump they are in. Miami is the healthiest its been all season long, with only Markieff Morris and Victor Oladipo listed on the injury report. With their starting five of Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, PJ Tucker and Bam Adebayo on the floor the Heat outscore opponents by 17.2 points per 100 possessions and limits them to a 91.9 offensive rating. That level of defensive play, paired with the Knicks’ inefficiencies on offense, are likely why we’ve seen this total drop to 210.5 at most shops. 

Philadelphia 76ers (-2, 229.5) at *Minnesota Timberwolves

James Harden makes his debut tonight for Philadelphia and it seems the betting market is in the corner of the new look 76ers tonight. I’m confident that Philadelphia will be a solid force on offense out of the gate with Harden and Joel Embiid on the floor together, but what does this team look like on defense? Minnesota will test those two in pick-and-rolls, and these two have played those situations differently throughout their respective careers. Harden prefers to switch everything, making it easier to play on that end of the floor. Embiid prefers to drop in coverage with the on-ball defender fighting to stay with the ball-handler. Which of these does Doc Rivers implement? Those possessions are the biggest question for Philadelphia, and it gives me pause in laying points on the road here. Minnesota is still a solid, playoff-caliber team that is coming off a win against Memphis. Their offense is reliant on attacking in transition and they will be a challenge for a 76ers team ranks 24th in transition defensive efficiency. When Philadelphia is fully realized they might deserve to be road favorites here, but until then it seems somewhat foolish to be willing to lay the number here. The market has responded as such, dropping this number from -3 to -2.5 at most shops.

Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz (-6, 216.5)

Rudy Gobert returned to the starting lineup for the final two games before the All-Star break, but Utah had found its form well before then. The Jazz lost to the Lakers in their last game before the hiatus, but they finished 6-1 SU/5-1-1 ATS in the final seven games due in large part to a defense that had found its identity before Gobert’s return. They will need Gobert at full strength tonight because Dallas seemingly found something on offense before the break. In the last six games the Mavericks averaged 117.5 points per 100 possessions while going 6-1 SU and ATS. On the season Dallas is 15th in non-garbage time offensive efficiency (112.0) so the reality of this offensive surge should be questioned until its seen over a larger sample size. Having said that, I can totally understand the market moving toward Dallas here. The Mavericks have been brilliant on defense, limiting opponents to 108.5 points per 100 possessions this season while forcing turnovers on 14.2% of opponent possessions. Their perimeter defense is the best in the NBA, allowing 34.0% on 3-point attempts, a strength that will come in handy against the perimeter-oriented Jazz.

The Others

New Orleans Pelicans at *Phoenix Suns (-6.5, 226.5)

Devin Booker ran point yesterday and the Phoenix Suns had a strong second half in blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder. Getting two lesser opponents like Oklahoma City and New Orleans works well for a Suns team trying to form a new identity without their lead point guard. It’s worth noting that Phoenix was a bit quicker last night. The game had 105 possessions in non-garbage time and 17.1% of their possessions started with a transition play which is higher than their season-long mark.

San Antonio Spurs (-2.5, 225.5) at Washington Wizards

Is Washington really five points worse on a neutral than San Antonio? The Wizards are without Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant is questionable, but this offense has enough on offense to compete with a poor Spurs defense. They put up 114.8 points per 100 possessions in the five games before the break, and San Antonio has been a subpar defense that gives up the third-highest frequency of attempts at the rim. It’s a matchup that works for the Wizards, but the market has other ideas.

Best Bets Summary

Hornets (+ 2.5)

Clippers (+ 1.5)

Season Record: 62-55-1

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