NBA betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Monday 3/21

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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 Monday, March 21st

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

**Lines are opening numbers

Best Bets

*New Orleans Pelicans at Charlotte Hornets (-6, 234)

The initial move here on the overnight line was toward Charlotte and that was somewhat surprising given how high this number was to begin with. Yes, the Hornets have been fantastic in March, posting a 6-2 SU and ATS record with a 4-0 SU and ATS streak intact coming into tonight. They also lead the league in offensive efficiency this month, averaging 124.7 points per 100 possessions, which has led to the team outscoring opponents by 8.9 points per 100 possessions over the course of these eight games. All of these figures make Charlotte a tempting proposition tonight, especially once you factor in New Orleans coming in on the second leg of a back-to-back and still not having Brandon Ingram – and potentially Devonté Graham – on the floor. However, the Pelicans are the side I’m looking to back at this number. From just a power rating perspective this number is too strong. A line of -6 tells us Charlotte would be favored by two in New Orleans, a line that does not jive with my ratings that have these two teams very similar to one another. The Pelicans also have quite the advantage up front with Jaxson Hayes and Jonas Valanciunas. New Orleans is one of the best rebounding teams in the league with this frontcourt duo, and even during this run Charlotte is grabbing only 49.3% of available rebounds and 70.7% on the defensive glass. The Hornets are going to have trouble limiting this team’s production on the offensive glass, one of their strengths, and they will have difficulty in transition against the league’s best transition defense. Give me the points here with the road team.

Play: Pelicans (+ 6)

Best Games

Miami Heat (-1, 217.5) at *Philadelphia 76ers

Who is playing for Philadelphia tonight? Joel Embiid played last night but has been questionable each of the last three games, and James Harden sat out the last game against Miami but has participated in back-to-backs since then. For Miami it is Jimmy Butler who is questionable to play with an ankle injury that caused him to miss their win over Oklahoma City. Either way, the 76ers enter this contest on a 2-6-1 ATS slide that was extended last night with a loss to Toronto which did not have OG Anunoby or Fred VanVleet. Doc Rivers is having trouble figuring out which personnel to use to close out games, and their backup center position is a mess. It makes sense to shade this line to Miami because if Embiid does not play the 76ers are in trouble. When Harden is on the floor without Embiid opponents have outscored them by 6.9 points per 100 possessions because of a defense that has a 125.4 rating. Some might be shocked at the 76erss being underdogs on their homecourt, but the unknown status of Embiid and the poor play of their lineups without him mean this number is warranted.

*Utah Jazz at Brooklyn Nets (-1, 229.5)

Mike Conley should be back on the floor tonight for Utah after taking a rest day in New York on Sunday. The Jazz win over the Knicks extended their winning streak to 3-0 SU and ATS and they get to face a Nets team that is 3-8 SU/2-9 ATS in their last 11 games at home. In those games the Nets have been outscored by 9.8 points per 100 possessions, but Kevin Durant’s return to the lineup has made them much more competitive. In the four home games since he came back from injury they are 2-2 SU/1-3 ATS with a 0.0 net rating and an offense that has averaged 120.0 points every 100 possessions. It’s not a surprise to see Utah flip to the favorite here considering Brooklyn’s limitations outside of Durant, but I would not be so quick to jump on the road team here. The Jazz struggle against elite mid-range scorers, which Durant is. Their defensive scheme focuses on running shooters off the line and keeping drives from getting to the rim. That works just fine for KD who almost single-handedly took down the Mavericks a few nights ago. 

*Toronto Raptors at Chicago Bulls (-4.5, 225.5)

Patrick Williams returns to action tonight after missing Chicago’s last 66 games recovering from wrist surgery. His workload is unknown at this point, but his return could not come at a better time. The Bulls are mired in a 2-8 SU/1-9 ATS slump in which they have been outscored by 8.8 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time minutes. Williams’ return helps them in bigger picture, but his impact tonight is difficult to project. Chicago does have the benefit of hosting Toronto after they took a tough, physical game from Philadelphia on Sunday night, and it is likely that OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet remain unavailable due to injury. This game carries a lot of weight in the Eastern Conference play-in race, as the Raptors can drag the Bulls down to sixth with a victory tonight. The betting market has moved toward Toronto here and it is warranted given the recent level of play we have seen from Chicago.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Dallas Mavericks (-2.5, 229.5)

Is anybody going to stop the Minnesota Timberwolves? Minnesota marches into this meeting with Dallas on a 10-1 SU and ATS run, and since Jan. 28 they are the best bet in the league with an 18-5 ATS record. In those 23 games the Timberwolves rank fourth in net rating (+ 9.4), third in offensive efficiency (120.9) and seventh in defensive efficiency (111.5). One would think a defensive oriented team like Dallas would be able to slow down this moving train, but that defense has shown its true colors recently. The Mavericks are 1-2 SU/0-3 ATS in their last three games because of a defense that 125.8 points per 100 possessions. Even teams like the Knicks, Kings and Warriors in recent contests have gouged this defense for high offensive efficiency marks and since Feb. 17 they are just 19th in defensive efficiency (115.5). It is why this number is up to 3.5 in most shops. The betting market has pushed this toward Dallas, as this line is 3.5 at most shops, but I would not expect much more movement unless Karl-Anthony Towns, who is officially questionable, does not play. 

Los Angeles Lakers at Cleveland Cavaliers (-6, 223.5)

For a fleeting 24 hours Russell Westbrook was the hero after a steal and game-tying 3-pointer sent the Lakers to an eventual overtime win, but those vibes were ruined the next day when Los Angeles lost and failed to cover against Washington on Saturday. Since the All-Star break the Lakers are 3-10 SU/4-9 ATS with a -8.3 net rating and the betting market has finally started to turn on them. Los Angeles has closed as the underdog in each of the last five games, and tonight is no different with them opening + 6 at Cleveland. The injury report is lengthy for the Lakers tonight, with LeBron James carrying his usual questionable designation, as is Wayne Ellington. However, the early support is once again on Los Angeles today, pushing this down to 5.5 at almost every shop. Cleveland has been treading water to keep themselves out of the Eastern Conference play-in, but it has not resulted in many covers. The Cavaliers are 2-3-1 ATS in their last six games and 4-9-1 ATS in their last 14 overall. Frankly, it’s a matchup of two teams not worth betting at this point and that is how I am going to handle it.

The Others

*Portland Trail Blazers at Detroit Pistons (-7, 223)

There is no hotter team than Detroit, which comes into this contest with Portland on a 13-0-1 ATS run over the last 14 games. However, tonight marks a massive role reversal for the Pistons, which went off as the underdog in every one of those games while catching an average of 7.8 points per game. They are laying that number tonight against the Trail Blazers which have been the worst team in the league since the All-Star break. Portland had a 3-1 ATS run ruined last night by getting blown out in Indiana, and in their last 11 games they have been outscored by 23.1 points every 100 possessions. It’s completely understandable to make Detroit the favorite here, but there is a point where it becomes too much and 7.5 is it for me. Jerami Grant, Hamidou Diallo and Frank Jackson are out, and both Kelly Olynyk and Cory Joseph are questionable as well. Outside of Patrick Meagher I am the biggest Pistons fan on the network, but laying this number is too tough of a pill to swallow.

Best Bets Summary

Pelicans (+ 6)

Season Record: 73-60-2

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