NBA betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Thursday 2/24

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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, February 24th

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

**Lines are opening numbers

Cleveland Cavaliers (-7.5, 213.5) at Detroit Pistons

It seems that participating in the All-Star festivities did not do any good for Darius Garland and his troublesome back injury. Garland, along with Caris LeVert, will not be playing today in Detroit. With those two sidelined the Cavaliers’ offense is going to be hard to come by. In the games in which Garland was unavailable – before LeVert joined the team – J.B. Bickerstaff would roll out a backcourt of Brandon Goodwin and Isaac Okoro with Dean Wade at small forward. Those three in those positions with the usual frontcourt pairing of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen would produce a -13.5 net rating and an offense that generated just 1.054 points per possession. Lauri Markkanen is expected to return from an 11-game absence today, so his presence should help boost the overall offensive production, but he is not a ball-handler which this team desperately lacks without Garland or LeVert. Those two being listed as out has a had a great effect on this total which is now down to 209 at most shops. Meanwhile, the Pistons come in as healthy as possible. Frank Jackson, who missed 15 of the last 25 games before the All-Star break, is expected to play and is the Pistons’ lone name of significance on the injury report. Detroit caught Boston in a brutal letdown spot in the game prior to the break, but they showed their ability to take advantage of opponents in poor situations. This might be another one of those tonight against Cleveland.

Play: Pistons (+ 7)

Boston Celtics (-2, 213.5) at Brooklyn Nets

Boston was tripped up by Detroit just before the break in a brutal back-to-back situation, but that does not change the fact that the Celtics went into the hiatus on an 11-2 SU/8-4-1 ATS run. During that run they throttled Brooklyn 126-91 in a game which closed -9 at the Barclays Center. The market pounced on this number the moment it was hung, and we are now up to -7.5 at shops like Westgate and Circa. The Nets will still be without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, and Ben Simmons is not available to play yet, but there are obviously some changes to this roster. Seth Curry and Andre Drummond will now be on the floor, giving Brooklyn some size and shooting they did not have in that meeting almost three weeks ago. Curry has been a fantastic addition for the Nets, who are + 19.9 with a 117.9 offensive rating with him on the floor so far. With Patty Mills running the point and Curry alongside Brooklyn is + 18.3 in those possessions, so a much more competitive version of the Nets are likely to show up this time around. It is why this line is two points shorter than the last contest despite a lopsided result in favor of the Celtics. Curry’s three games with Brooklyn were against Sacramento, New York and Washington which are nowhere near the level of Boston right now. The Celtics have been incredible on defense during this run, limiting opponents to 97.7 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time minutes and posting a + 17.9 net rating as a result. I would not fault anyone who got in early here, but this line is too far gone to play the favorite. It would be Brooklyn or pass, and the home underdog is tempting at an inflated number like this.

Atlanta Hawks at Chicago Bulls (-4, 234.5)

Zach LaVine will be back on the floor for Chicago tonight after missing 10 of the Bulls’ last 19 games with injury. With him and DeMar DeRozan on the floor Chicago is an elite offensive team, putting up 117.5 points every 100 possessions, and that could be trouble for a wildly inconsistent Atlanta defense. The Hawks come into this contest 28th in defensive efficiency, and while there is a lot of noise in that season-long number due to a multitude of injuries and absences, those issues have shown up recently. In the nine games prior to the break Atlanta went 4-5 ATS and allowed 116.5 points per 100 possessions. They’ve met the Bulls twice this season and had little answer for the Bulls’ offense, allowing 1.299 points per possessions while going 0-2 SU and ATS in the series up to this point. Chicago has had its own defensive issues since losing both Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball to injury, allowing 118.0 points per 100 possessions without them on the floor. For that reason we’ve seen some action on the Hawks here, pushing this line down to -3 and the total up to 237.5 at most shops. The difference here might be the absence of John Collins who had missed the last three games for Atlanta before the break.

Phoenix Suns (-7.5, 213) at Oklahoma City Thunder

Although he was expected back after the break, Cameron Payne will not be available tonight for Phoenix as he continues to recover from a wrist injury. As we know, Chris Paul is out with hi fractured thumb, which means the point guard rotation for Phoenix will be Elfrid Payton and Aaron Holiday, but that has not deterred the market from jumping on the Suns here. Phoenix is up to -10 at almost every shop and the total is up to 218.5 as well. It seems somewhat surprising given how much Paul means to this Suns offense. Phoenix’s offensive rating this season drops from 117.4 to 110.7 when Paul leaves the floor. Their offense is better when Booker is on the floor without Paul (112.1), but many of those possessions have Cameron Payne running the offense. Phoenix has not played many possessions without the trio of Paul, Booker and Payne off the floor, but in that short sample size the Suns are -10.2 with a 109.3 offensive rating. In other words, those minutes with Booker off the floor tonight are going to be an adventure for Phoenix. On the other end, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will return from injury today, but Luguentz Dort, Kenrich Williams and Jermiah Robinson-Earl will not be available. Personally, I believe the Suns to be a team that will skew toward the Under in the games without Paul available, but the market has different ideas clearly with this total jumping as high as it has. For what it’s worth, when Booker is on the floor without Paul or Payne the Suns’ frequency of transition plays drops to 14.1% which is good for the 36th percentile of qualified lineups. However, the edict from Monty Williams could be more pace without Paul to run the show. For now, I’ll sit back and observe the Suns today.

Memphis Grizzlies (-1, 239) at Minnesota Timberwolves

It’s not surprising to see one of the best ATS teams in the league get support at the window, and that is happening with Memphis today as the Grizzlies are up to -3 at a few shops today. This is quite the jump in power rating for Memphis when you consider the first three matchups in this series. In two November contests the Grizzlies closed -4.5 at home and + 2.5 on the road, getting blown out in the latter matchup by 43 points. When these two met on Jan. 13 the Grizzlies closed -4 which would indicate Memphis was the better team on a neutral by two points. However, here we are today with the Grizzlies laying three on the road despite no injuries of note on the Timberwolves’ roster. Did Memphis suddenly become three points than Minnesota in the six weeks since these two last met? It’s possible, but that’s hard to buy considering the Timberwolves are eighth in net rating (+ 4.5) and third in offensive efficiency (118.5) since their last meeting. When this number reached -3 there was some buyback from the market and I would agree with that. 

Play: Timberwolves (+ 2.5)

Golden State Warriors (-5, 223) at Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers were a pleasant surprise prior to the All-Star break, winning and covering their last four games. However, one has to consider that the upstart Blazers were catching teams like Memphis and Milwaukee at the right time before the break, and that some of their blemishes could begin to show now that play has resumed. Jusuf Nurkic was lost for four weeks with plantar fasciitis, and that is a massive blow for Portland. Now, the Trail Blazers’ rotation at center is Trendon Watford and Drew Eubanks, both of whom have been immense negatives when on the floor for Portland. Without Nurkic, who averaged 21.5 points and 14.0 rebounds in the four-game winning streak, the Blazers will be hurting for offense against one of the best defensive teams in the league. Golden State might have entered the break on an 0-7 ATS slide, but you won’t find me rushing to back this version of Portland tonight.

Denver Nuggets (-5, 229) at Sacramento Kings

Since the trade deadline acquisitions of Domantas Sabonis and others the Sacramento Kings have been perfectly average. They’ve been outscored by 0.8 points per 100 possessions, with their offense showing flashes of brilliance against Minnesota and Washington where they put up 1.25 and 1.263 points per possession respectively. It is certainly plausible that Denver’s defense will have its hands full tonight, but so too could Sacramento’s. Nikola Jokic ended the first half on a tear, averaging 27 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists per game in the 17 games prior to the break. Over that span the Nuggets are averaging 118.2 points per 100 possessions, but only have a + 3.5 net rating due to a defense that has allowed 114.7 per 100 possessions. It’s ultimately why this number has dropped a half-point and why the total is up to 232.5 at most shops. Denver is the better team because they have the best player, but those bench minutes for Jokic, like with every Nuggets game, is where this game is going to be won or lost.

Best Bets Summary

Pistons (+ 7)

Timberwolves (+ 2.5)

Season Record: 60-55-1
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