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 Wednesday, December 29th
*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back
**Lines are opening numbers
*New York Knicks (-5.5, 206.5) at Detroit Pistons
New York has found some consistency lately with a 4-2 SU and ATS record, but most of that is due to a slate of opponents riddled by COVID. That run of luck continues tonight when it faces Detroit which has 12 players listed as ‘Out’ for this contest, eight of which are in COVID protocol. Among the key players for the Pistons who will miss this game are Cade Cunningham, Cory Joseph and Jerami Grant. Killian Hayes and Isaiah Stewart are considered day-to-day and could return at any moment, but Cunningham needs to be on the floor for me to get involved with the Pistons in any form. Detroit looked lifeless in their blowout loss to San Antonio on Sunday, allowing the Spurs to score 1.27 points per possession while putting up less than a point per possession on offense. The Knicks are a flawed team, something that showed last night when they managed just 1.043 points per possession against a short-handed Timberwolves team, but they should have enough to take advantage of the personnel issues of the Pistons. I understand the market moving toward New York, but it won’t be my money joining the party.
Charlotte Hornets at Indiana Pacers (-2.5, 227.5)
Despite having the worst defense in the league Charlotte continues to deliver, entering tonight 2-1 SU/3-0 ATS in its last three games. The Hornets are 9-3 ATS in December despite allowing 118.4 points per 100 possessions this month, and that is because their offense is averaging 115.9 points per 100 possessions. It’s why this total is up to 228.5 at most shops and it is still the lowest total we’ve seen on a Charlotte game in two weeks. Indiana has been inconsistent on offense this season but have shown the ability to take advantage of a poor defense. For example, the Pacers are 2-4 SU and ATS in their last six games, but against the Rockets and Pistons they put up 1.311 and 1.232 points per possession respectively. Indiana has a matchup advantage as well. It takes 34.4% of its shots within four feet and shoots 66.4% on those attempts, both marks inside the top eight of the league. Charlotte ranks 23rd in frequency of attempts allowed at the rim and 16th in opponent shooting within four feet (64.6%). The Pacers might have some trouble along the perimeter on defense, but their transition defense is one of the better ones in the league and should be able to matchup with the Hornets. Give me the home team here.
Play: Pacers (-2.5)
Los Angeles Clippers at Boston Celtics (-5, 211.5)
This is a fascinating game between two teams that seem desperate for a win. Last time we saw Boston the team was outscored 34-24 in the fourth quarter against a Minnesota team missing all five starters and playing Greg Monroe for 25 minutes. The loss interrupted a 5-1 ATS run for the Celtics, but they are just 4-8 SU in the last 12 games and the poor fourth quarter showing is a regular occurrence for a team that is 29th in fourth quarter net rating this season. Los Angeles just lost Paul George for the foreseeable future and three other key role players are out for this game including Reggie Jackson, Nicolas Batum and Isaiah Hartenstein. To make matters worse, rookie guard Brandon Boston Jr. who had averaged 19.6 minutes per game since the beginning of December was added to the COVID list today. It might seem that, of the two sides, Boston is in the better situation, but I am not so sure of that. The projected lineup of Eric Bledsoe, Terance Mann, Luke Kennard Marcus Morris and Ivica Zubac might have some issues on defense, but in their time on the floor together they are averaging 1.161 points per possession. Quality role players still populate this roster as well like Serge Ibaka and Justise Winslow, both of whom improve the Clippers’ defensive rating when on the floor. Keep in mind, Boston is also dealing with personnel issues. Jayson Tatum and Dennis Schroder are two of six player in COVID protocol for the Celtics and Marcus Smart is questionable to play. It’s not surprising to see the market move this way, but I will buy back on the ugly underdog here.
Play: Clippers (+ 6)
*Los Angeles Lakers at Memphis Grizzlies (-4.5, 225.5)
LeBron James dropped 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in Los Angeles’ 132-123 win over Houston last night, and the Lakers snapped an 0-5 SU/1-4 ATS slide. However, for the third consecutive game Los Angeles allowed at least 122 points, bringing their defensive rating to 124.4 during those three affairs. It is not a coincidence that this dip in production coincides with the loss of Anthony Davis to injury, and it is likely those issues continue tonight against Memphis. The Grizzlies have maintained solid offensive play recently despite multiple COVID absences that include Dillon Brooks, De’Anthony Melton and John Konchar. Ja Morant finally looked like himself in their win over Phoenix on Monday with 33 points on 14-of-25 shooting from the floor as well. Should James play I would expect another high-scoring affair which is why this total is up a point to 226.5 at most shops. There is no indication James would miss the game, but since returning from injury he’s averaged 37.2 minutes per game and he played over 39 minutes each of the last two games for Los Angeles. On the second leg of a back-to-back it’s not inconceivable to think he rests.
Atlanta Hawks at Chicago Bulls (-8.5, 220.5)
Good luck to those who want to handicap this one. Fourteen players for Atlanta are listed as ‘Out’ on the injury report, and Chicago is going to be without Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso. These two met on Monday when Trae Young returned, and while the Hawks put up 1.206 points per possession they also allowed 1.316 per possession and lost 130-118 while failing to cover. Young certainly raised the floor of the Hawks offense, but there is no reason to believe this team can improve on its defensive shortcomings with the missing personnel it is dealing with at this point. For those reason bettors have seen this total bet up four points at some shops to 224.5 and that is move that I would agree with. The number does seem high for Chicago given that they were -3 in Atlanta on Monday, but I would not want to be sweating out a wager on a team in the Hawks’ situation.
*Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs (-3.5, 215.5)
Like most of the teams out there, Miami has been throttled by COVID and injuries. The Heat have six players in COVID protocol and five others, including Jimmy Butler yet again, dealing with injury that will keep them from playing in this game. Four of Erik Spoelstra’s original starting five will not be on the floor tonight, and key reserves like Max Strus will not be available either. These issues, paired with a 10-4 ATS run from San Antonio, are why the Spurs are up to a 6.5-point favorite at home over Miami. It’s quite the role reversal for a Miami team that has won four straight and six of seven. San Antonio has been tremendous on offense this month, averaging 116.3 points per 100 possessions while shooting 38.1% from deep. They deserve to be favored, but there comes a point where there might be value in the shorthanded squad and we might be there with Miami.
*Oklahoma City Thunder at Phoenix Suns (-15, 217)
Just a week ago the Thunder were in Phoenix catching this exact same number and they covered in a 113-101 loss. The loss to Sacramento last night dropped Oklahoma City to 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games, but there is real reason to believe that the Thunder slip further tonight. Josh Giddey was placed in COVID protocol the other day, now one of five Thunder players dealing with the virus. Giddey, along with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Aleksej Pokusevski are key pieces of this plucky team, and when a team this bad deals with cluster absences the production falls off dramatically. Phoenix has its own COVID issues though, as Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder are going to miss this game due to COVID protocol, as is head coach Monty Williams. If Chris Paul and Devin Booker are on the floor the Suns have a massive edge, but with the team on an 0-3 ATS slide coming into tonight it is clear Phoenix is feeling the effects of absences both on the floor and on the bench.
Utah Jazz (-6, 230) at Portland Trail Blazers
This might come as a shock, but the Portland Trail Blazers are dealing with a COVID outbreak. Seven players, including Robert Covington and Jusuf Nurkic, are currently in protocol and set to miss this contest with Utah. CJ McCollum is out as well, but his absence is due to an actual injury which is almost fully healed. Portland has already been in poor form and these personnel losses are not helping. The Trail Blazers are 2-9 SU/3-8 ATS in December with a -10.8 net rating which is the worst in the league over that stretch. Now, they face Utah which is 100% vaccinated and all but avoided the COVID plague ravaging other teams. Donovan Mitchell is the lone absence of impact, and that is due to injury not illness. However, being whole has led to the Jazz being wildly overvalued. They are on a four-game winning streak, but they have not covered one of those contests and they are 0-6 ATS in their last six games.
Best Bets Summary
Clippers (+ 6)