NBA betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Monday 12/20


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 Monday, December 20th

It seems like it’s been a long weekend, but that might just be due to the slog of information on COVID absences that makes it feel that way. The NBA is an absolute mess right now, so make sure to stay up to date on this information as it changes regularly. Here you can find the NBA’s official injury report which is updated at the 30-minute mark of every hour and it includes players listed in Health & Safety protocol. Make sure to check it each hour. I also saw that some of you followed my list of NBA writers when I linked it out last time. Let me know if you think it needs any additions and I will happily oblige!

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

**Lines are opening numbers

Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics

As of this morning there is no game line here because we do not know if this game is even going to be played. Philadelphia had its contest with New Orleans postponed yesterday when Andre Drummond and Shake Milton were placed into COVID protocol. Furkan Korkmaz and three others were already unavailable, and multiple 76ers including Joel Embiid were questionable to play. The result was that Philadelphia potentially did not have enough players to field the minimum of eight, so the game was pushed back. Should Embiid, along with Danny Green or Tyrese Maxey, be available tonight it looks like this game is going to be played. However, there is no line and no way I would get involved here with all the noise around it. Boston has its own problems. Seven players, including Al Horford, Josh Richardson and Grant Williams, are in COVID protocol and will miss this game. Dennis Schroder is questionable with a non-COVID illness and Jayson Tatum is questionable with an ankle injury. This is an easy one to scratch off the card for betting purposes.

Oklahoma City Thunder at *Memphis Grizzlies (-9, 211.5)

The last time these two clubs met history was made when Memphis pulverized Oklahoma City by an NBA-record 73 points. However, it is important to remember that the Thunder were short-handed in that matchup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Kenrich Williams and Derrick Favors were among the personnel missing that night, but tonight all four will be available. That personnel difference is represented in the number, as Oklahoma City closed as an 11.5-point underdog in Memphis last time these two met up. It is not surprising to see the market move toward the Grizzlies here given what happened last time, but I would not rush to back the favorite here. Ja Morant is still out, Brandon Clarke is dealing with a knee injury as well and this team is playing its third game in four nights with a trip to Golden State coming up. Oklahoma City has been an undervalued team all season long, as evidenced by their 17-11 ATS record. It’s been a team worth backing when at full strength and that is the case here today.

Play: Thunder (+ 9)

Houston Rockets at *Chicago Bulls (-8.5, 222.5)

The slew of COVID absences seem to be taking its toll on Chicago, as the Bulls are now 0-3 ATS their last three games, a slide that coincides with the COVID breakout on their roster. Last night, they closed at -7 but failed to cover in a 115-110 win over the Lakers in which DeMar DeRozan scored 38 points. Neither Zach LaVine or Ayo Dosunmu will be back until after Christmas, so the same group that took the floor last night will be in action tonight. The Bulls are clearly still respected by the betting market, but it’s clear this team is starting to show its true colors, COVID absences or not. Since Nov. 17 they are 8-6 SU/7-7 ATS with a -0.3 net rating. Their once dominant defense has taken a step back, allowing 111.8 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time minutes over that span. During this current three-game ATS slide their defensive rating is 117.5 despite facing three poor offensive opponents in Los Angeles, Miami and Cleveland. Poor defense is not something to have against a Houston team finding its stride on offense. Over the last 13 games the Rockets have averaged 117.0 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time, the third-best rating in the NBA. Their core lineup of Eric Gordon, Jae’Sean Tate, Garrison Matthews and Christian Wood have a + 4.4 net rating when on the floor and they average 121.3 points per 100 possessions on offense. The best of the number is gone here, but at 7.5 the Rockets are still a playable underdog tonight.

Play: Rockets (+ 7.5)

*Charlotte Hornets at Utah Jazz (-12, 235.5)

If the Hornets are going to stay within this number they have to do something about this defense. Over the last 11 games Charlotte is 30th in non-garbage time defensive efficiency, giving up 126.9 points per 100 possessions! That defensive rating is 9.0 points worse than the 29th-ranked defense over that span. This stretch of abhorrent defensive play has dropped Charlotte to last in defensive efficiency on the season (114.9), and that unit has to find a way to stop the best offense in the league tonight. Utah is averaging an incredible 118.8 points per 100 possessions this season, a rating that is 4.5 points better than the second-best team in the league. On paper this is an extremely lopsided matchup when it comes to the Jazz’s offense against the Hornets’ defense, but do not think Charlotte is dead in the water. That second-place offense behind Utah? That would be the Hornets who average 114.3 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time minutes. That offense is why this team is 6-5 ATS in this 11-game stretch of terrible defense. The betting market has shifted slightly toward Charlotte here, and I understand why given how well this offense can play. However, that defense is a wild card that is keeping me off this contest. It is also why we’ve seen this total jump up to 236.5 in most shops.

*Sacramento Kings at Golden State Warriors (-13.5, 224.5)

Golden State is in a 1-5 ATS slide, and now COVID has hit this roster with both Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins in protocol. December has brought some consistency to Sacramento, as the Kings enter tonight with a 6-5 ATS record this month thanks to an offense that is averaging 113.9 points per 100 possessions. Last night, they torched San Antonio’s porous defense for 1.26 points per possession by hitting 14-of-25 3-point attempts. This matchup with the Warriors will be a much bigger challenge though, even with the absences of Wiggins and Poole. Golden State has a + 16.7 net rating with those two off the floor and their defense gives up just 98.4 points per 100 possessions. Obviously those minutes include Steph Curry, and when he hits the bench this team will be a tough watch. With Curry, Poole and Wiggins off the floor the team has a -29.3 net rating and the offense averages 0.966 points per possession. These are the minutes Sacramento can keep themselves inside this number and its why we’ve seen this number dip down to -12.5 at most shops. It would be underdog or pass for me here tonight.

*San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers (-5, 217)

The defensive slide for San Antonio continued last night against Sacramento. The Spurs got cooked for 1.26 points per possession last night, and over the last seven games opponents have put up a 122.5 offensive rating against them. That poor play could raise the floor of Los Angeles which has dropped its last two and averaged 105.1 points per 100 possessions in the process. The Clippers could be very short-handed tonight though, so monitor those injury reports. Paul George missed the last five games and is questionable to play tonight. Marcus Morris is in COVID protocol and Isaiah Hartenstein is out with an ankle sprain. Those personnel issues are likely why we’ve seen this number dip in favor of the road team, and it will continue to move once an official status of George is announced. I do believe the Clippers can win and cover this number even without George, but there is no reason to get involved right now.

Best Bets Summary

Rockets (+ 7.5)

Thunder (+ 9)

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