NBA betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Thursday 12/23

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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 Thursday, December 23rd

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

**Lines are opening numbers

*Atlanta Hawks at Philadelphia 76ers (-7.5, 214.5)

Atlanta suffered a 104-98 loss to Orlando last night due to an extremely short-handed roster that did not have Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Clint Capela, Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams. Who among that group could be available tonight is an unknown, which makes betting this game pre-flop a fool’s endeavor. Andre Drummond, Danny Green and Shake Milton are still in COVID protocol, but as long as Joel Embiid is on the floor the 76ers are respected team by the market. However, offense has been a massive problem for this team since Embiid’s return. In those 12 games the 76ers are averaging 106.9 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time, the sixth-worst offensive rating in the league over that span. The other night they needed 41 points from Embiid to get by Boston for just their fourth cover this month. In the time since Embiid’s return the team is 6-6 SU/4-8 ATS, that spread record being an indicator of this team’s overvalued nature. The Hawks might be dealing with a COVID outbreak, but don’t rush to lay the points with a team that has had trouble covering numbers the last three weeks.

*Houston Rockets at Indiana Pacers (-8.5, 219)

The hot streak for Houston is a thing of the past as the team fell to 1-4 SU and ATS in its last five games after getting blasted by Milwaukee last night. The team is relatively healthy as well, with only Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green dealing with injury, and Green could be back tonight for the first time since Nov. 24. It seems like this could be an opportunity for the Rockets to cover at the very least given the opponent. Indiana has become oddly overvalued by the market lately, closing as a favorite in eight of the nine games this month and laying an average of 4.3 points in those contests. However, the team is just 4-5 SU/3-5-1 ATS in December and on the season they are 8-11 SU/6-12-1 ATS when laying points. It’s clear this team has garnered too much support by the betting market, and the line is moving in their direction yet again tonight despite having Malcolm Brogdon on the injury report. Houston burned me in its loss to Chicago on Monday night, but it is the side I would rather be on tonight.

New Orleans Pelicans (-5, 210.5) at *Orlando Magic

Speaking of teams suddenly garnering respect from the market, the Pelicans find themselves as road favorites for the second time in four games and the third time this season. They are 1-1 SU/0-2 ATS in that role so far, and it is frankly odd to see the betting market believe there is this big of a gap between them and the other bottom dwellers of the league. Orlando only had 10 players available in its win over Atlanta last night, and G-League signee Hassani Gravett started for them, but Cole Anthony could return any day, as could Wendell Carter. New Orleans is also going to be without Jonas Valanciunas tonight, which is a massive blow. The Pelicans’ net rating with Valanciunas on the floor is -1.7, but when he is on the bench they get outscored by an incredible 16.5 points per 100 possessions. Homecourt is worth two points this season, so this line that is up to 6.5 is telling us that the Pelicans are 8.5 points better than the Magic on a neutral court without Valanciunas! I’ve played against the overvalued nature of New Orleans a few times lately and this is going to be another one of them.

Play: Magic (+ 6.5)

Detroit Pistons at Miami Heat (-10, 206)

Cade Cunningham will not play today as he entered COVID protocol late yesterday. Detroit will be without him and Jerami Grant tonight against Miami, and Frank Jackson is questionable to play as well. In the possessions without Cunningham and Grant on the floor the Pistons are outscored by 8.4 points per 100 possessions, so we can expect the usual disjointed effort from them tonight against Miami. The Heat proved to be undervalued in their 29-point win over Indiana on Tuesday, but now the market has swung wildly in the other direction here making the team a 10-point favorite. They still do not have Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and P.J. Tucker tonight, but Tyler Herro is not on the report giving them at least one consistent creator on offense. Personally, I am not a fan of wild swings in market power ratings of a team. Remember, this team closed -6.5 in Detroit on Sunday, and while that translates nicely with a two-point homecourt advantage, that was with PJ Tucker on the floor. In short, the number seems large, but there is COVID noise here and I do not want to back Detroit without its best player.

Washington Wizards at New York Knicks (-1.5 210.5)

At this point will the Knicks have a healthy roster by the time this game tips-off tonight? Derrick Rose was lost for an extended period due to a surgical procedure on his ankle, and New York now has seven players on the injury report. Six of those players are in COVID protocol, so they could rejoin the team at any point after two negative tests, but when that happens is unknown which is why it is not surprising to see the market make Washington the favorite here. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the lone Wizard of impact on the injury report at this point, and the team is coming off a strong road win in Utah. However, that victory is a rare occurance for Washington at this point of the season. The win and cover snapped a 0-7-1 ATS slide, and the team is 6-12 SU/4-13-1 ATS over its last 18 contests. New York should be favored here if any of the currently absent Knicks return tonight, and even if they do not I have a hard time making a team in Washington’s form a road favorite.

*Milwaukee Bucks (-4.5, 215.5) at Dallas Mavericks

The list of missing players continues to grow for Dallas, but the team delivered in a home win over Minnesota on Tuesday night. They are now 4-3 SU and ATS in the last seven games despite Luka Doncic missing the last five. Doncic is one of six Mavericks in COVID protocol and Kristaps Porzingis found his way onto the injury report with a toe injury. Given the status of this roster it is not surprising to see the market supporting Milwaukee and pushing this number up to -5 at most shops. The Bucks dismantled the Rockets last night, putting up 1.283 points per possession thanks to a combined 47 points from Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton. That duo is expected back on the floor tonight, and as it is with any of these players in COVID protocol, Giannis Antetokounmpo could be back at any moment with a couple negative tests. I would agree with the move here against the Mavericks. Jalen Brunson has been incredible in starting for Doncic, but this team is extremely limited on offense without Doncic. If Porzingis is unavailable yet again it seems like it could be an ugly result for the home team.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz (-10.5, 225.5)

Anthony Edwards, Patrick Beverley and Josh Okogie, among others, might have been in COVID protocol last time out against Dallas, but it was still a nearly inexcusable loss for Minnesota against Dallas. The result snapped a 4-0 SU and ATS run for the team, and they must get back on the horse against Utah tonight. The Timberwolves’ style on offense could potentially bother the Jazz here, even with the absences they are currently dealing with. Minnesota is seventh in transition frequency on offense, and they average 121.9 points per 100 plays in transition. Utah comes into tonight 27th in defensive efficiency in transition and 28th in opponent points added per 100 possessions through transition. However, the Jazz’s defense in the halfcourt has a massive edge over the Timberwolves which are 26th in halfcourt offensive efficiency. Utah has a very clean injury report right now, and their perimeter oriented offense could really bother a defense allowing wide-open looks on 21.7% of opponent attempts from deep. The market has pushed this as high as Jazz -12 which is somewhat surprising. That is the number Utah laid against Charlotte the other day, a team I rate lower than Minnesota. It's worth taking a flyer on the road team here.

Play: Timberwolves (+ 12)

Charlotte Hornets at *Denver Nuggets (-3, 230)

This is coming from someone who bet Oklahoma City last night and has more respect for that team than most, but that was a poor loss for Denver on Wednesday. When Nikola Jokic left the court for the final time in the third quarter the Nuggets were down 17 points, and Michael Malone gave the fourth quarter to the reserves. This team is wildly inconsistent in the minutes without Jokic, and that makes them almost impossible to lay points with, even if the opponent is the worst defensive team in the league. Charlotte has been abysmal, giving up 114.6 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time minutes for the season and 124.0 points over the last 12 games! The Hornets’ injury report is clean, but these two teams are untouchable for me at this point. It is worth noting that this is the fourth consecutive game in which the total for a Charlotte game opened with at least 230 points, signifying a real adjustment by oddsmakers on the best Over team in the league.

*Oklahoma City Thunder at Phoenix Suns (-15, 215)

Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors (-6.5, 217.5)

San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers (-1.5, 223.5)

Best Bets Summary

Magic (+ 6.5)

Timberwolves (+ 12)

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