NBA best bets and analysis for Thursday, November 9th
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Record: 14-6 | Units: +7.45u | ROI: 34.38%
Listed lines are opening numbers | * - Indicates team is on a back-to-back
*Milwaukee Bucks (-3.5, 242.5) at *Indiana Pacers
There is no indication that rest is in the equation for either team tonight, but both do come in on the second leg of a back-to-back. For Milwaukee, it seems unlikely Giannis Antetokounmpo will sit due to him playing only 22 minutes against Detroit before being ejected after a second technical foul. Khris Middleton will also be back after a night off, so the Bucks should be a full strength tonight in Indiana. Tyrese Haliburton and some key role players for the Pacers got a short workload yesterday as well, but that was due to a slaughter of the Utah Jazz. It would seem that all signs point to full availability tonight for both teams.
So, if we assume a full deck of cards, what are we looking for in this contest? More than likely, scoring.
The Pacers run like no other. Indiana leads the league in transition frequency off live rebounds (38.4%), and that has led to the best offensive rating in non-garbage time (121.6). This is a problem for Milwaukee, as the Bucks allow the fourth-most points per 100 plays in transition offense off live rebounds (130.4) and opponents add the most points per 100 plays in transition off live rebounds (+3.3). This poor defense in transition is a big reason why Milwaukee is now 5-2 to the Over this season. Indiana is 7-1 to the Over and their last five games have gone Over despite an average closing total of 237.1 points.
It seems obvious to play this game Over, but the market is pushing it down this morning. Multiple shops are down to 241 points, and there is a smattering lower than that. Perhaps there will be some buyback, but the total is not where I want to go here.
The Pacers’ schedule has been very light to start this season. Of their eight opponents only one is currently higher than 17th in non-garbage time net rating. That opponent would be Boston, which beat Indiana by 41 points a week ago. Milwaukee only ranks 18th in non-garbage time net rating (-4.1), but the team is greater than what it has shown.
Indiana is still a subpar defensive team which has allowed 117.0 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time. Assuming both Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard play – a big risk in today’s NBA – Milwaukee will be able to find success on offense. The Bucks are also starting to show some life on defense, as two of their last three opponents were held to 1.075 points per possession or fewer.
This is my attempt to buy low on the Bucks. Cleveland went into Indiana and closed as a two-point favorite just five days ago, and now Milwaukee is laying only three points. The Bucks can win by four points or more tonight.
Play: Bucks (-3) - Playable to (-4.5)
Atlanta Hawks (-2.5, 233) vs Orlando Magic
*NBA Mexico City Game*
The first international game of the season will take place in Mexico City, and it's a big one in the Southeast Division. In all honesty, the opening number seemed light for Atlanta, and the market agreed and pushed this up to 3.5 consensus. Orlando is somewhat short-handed tonight. Wendell Carter Jr. is out with a finger injury, and Markelle Fultz is questionable with a knee injury. The overnight number suggesting that only 2.5 points separate these two on a neutral court despite two potential starters out for the Magic was too short. If Fultz plays this could get back to the overnight line, and that still might be worth looking at for the Hawks.
It is worth pointing out that the Mexico City games in past seasons have come much later in the schedule. This is only the eighth game for both teams, and playing in altitude this early could sap the energy of these teams as the game goes along. Fatigue leads to short shots and a slower pace, so perhaps a second half Under could be in play if bettors see signs of the altitude wearing down both teams. However, that is purely speculation and no data points to that being an actual angle worth using to play a pre-flop Under or anything of that nature.