NBA betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Thursday 12/30

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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 30th

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

**Lines are opening numbers

Philadelphia 76ers at Brooklyn Nets (-3, 217)

For now, it seems that bettors will get as normal a game as possible between these two Eastern Conference contenders. Brooklyn has most of its players back from COVID protocol, including Kevin Durant who is expected to make his return to action tonight after missing three games. Philadelphia will not have Danny Green and Shake Milton has cleared protocol, but he is questionable as it is unknown if he’s ready from a conditioning standpoint. As far as results go, these two teams come into this contest in entirely different form. The 76ers have covered consecutive games just once since Nov. 8 and they are 8-7 SU/5-10 ATS since Joel Embiid returned from his nine-game COVID absence. The problem for Philadelphia over this stretch has been an offense averaging just 107.8 points per 100 possessions which is the sixth-worst offensive rating in the league over that stretch. As a team that has closed as a favorite in 10 of these 15 games, it is a problem when you cannot score. However, when catching points it’s a different story, as the 76ers are 4-1 ATS as an underdog in those five other games. Part of that is due to their defense, which has consistently delivered. Despite having such a poor offense Philadelphia has only been outscored by 1.2 points per 100 possessions over these 15 games because they are ninth in defensive efficiency (109.0). Philadelphia is good enough defensively to stay within a number like this, even with Durant back. When he is on the floor with James Harden the Nets have only posted a + 3.0 net rating, and the offense averages only 111.0 points per 100 possessions. Brooklyn is good with those two together, but not great. It seems the market is overvaluing that pairing in moving this number up two points from the open. Philadelphia is a team I have only wanted to back when it is catching points, and this situation seem like a solid one to get involved with.

Play: 76ers (+ 5)

Cleveland Cavaliers at Washington Wizards (-1.5, 213.5)

Cleveland just stayed within the opening number against New Orleans on Tuesday, but that was with Ricky Rubio playing 37 minutes. Rubio is now done for the season with a torn ACL and the Cavaliers still have three guys, including Darius Garland, stuck in COVID protocol. Jarrett Allen has been cleared, but he is likely not going to be conditioned to play so he is doubtful to play. Cleveland has not played many possessions without either Garland or Rubio on the floor, but the returns are still dreadful. The Cavaliers have a -13.2 net rating in those possessions, and their defense allows 1.236 points per possession. Now that Rubio is out of the picture it is hard to see Cleveland have enough on offense to put forth an efficient effort without Garland on the floor, but it’s not like this opponent is a world-beater. Washington is 4-10 SU/4-9-1 ATS in its last 14 games with a -8.6 net rating, and they have some personnel issues as well. Bradley Beal and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are questionable to play, and the trio of Montrezl Harrell, Raul Neto and Aaron Holiday are in COVID protocol. This number moving to 3.5 is due to the personnel issues for the Cavalier, but if there was an opponent they could cover against it would a Wizards team that has a worse net rating than Orlando and Houston over the last month.

Milwaukee Bucks (-12.5, 216) at Orlando Magic

For the first time in a long time the Milwaukee Bucks are healthy, as only Brook Lopez is on the team’s injury report as he continues to recover from back surgery. Milwaukee was back to its old ways of dominating bad teams on Tuesday when it won and covered as 15-point favorites over this Orlando team, and there is no reason to believe that the result will be much different this time around. Robin Lopez, Terrence Ross and Mo Bamba will miss this game due to COVID protocol and Cole Anthony continues to deal with an ankle injury that has him listed as out today. Orlando had no answer for Milwaukee’s offense on Tuesday, allowing the Bucks to go 18-of-22 at the rim while averaging 1.263 points per possession in non-garbage time minutes. The Magic were able to put up 1.11 points per possession, but much of that came from a surprising performance within four feet where they went 12-of-16 and drew eight shooting fouls. It was somewhat surprising to see the market open much lower than the closing number from the other day, but we’ve seen the correction and this number is up to 14 at most spots which is right where it should be.

Golden State Warriors (-4.5, 213) at Denver Nuggets

Denver pulled off the upset on Tuesday night in Golden State, but a second half in which they managed just 0.617 points per possession and posted a -44.7 net rating allowed the Warriors to have a chance at the comeback. That effort fell short, but its clear that second half was much closer to what the real difference is between these two teams. The Warriors managed just 0.915 points per possession and Steph had 23 points on an inefficient 6-of-16 shooting night from the floor. If the Nuggets can contain Curry once again then they have a shot to cover this number, but that is easier said than done. Golden State has its own matchup issues here though, and that would be the reigning MVP. Nikola Jokic killed the Warriors inside and on the glass on Tuesday night, grabbing 18 rebounds while going 8-of-14 inside the arc. With the lack of a true center and Draymond Green sidelined due to COVID there is no real threat for Jokic to be stymied by. Jordan Poole is also likely to be back from COVID protocol, so the Warriors’ offense should be better when Curry hits the floor too. These factors have likely led to this total getting bet up to 214 at most shops. The first meeting might lead many to believe this will be another low-scoring affair, but there are certainly matchups that will lead to this being higher scoring than before. 

Best Bets Summary

76ers (+ 5)

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