NBA Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Friday, December 16th

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

December 16, 2022 09:29 AM

Welcome to the daily NBA best bets page, your source for analysis on the betting lines for the day in professional hoops. For updates throughout the day follow me on Twitter, and make sure to subscribe to the Hardwood Handicappers podcast!

All game lines via the VSiN NBA odds page

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

**Lines are opening numbers

Best Bets

Record: 30-35 | Units: -5.93 | ROI: -9.39%

Nothing preflop in Best Bets today, but I will be looking to jump on Philadelphia in-game if they get off to a slow start and I get a line at or under the opening number.

The Rest

Atlanta Hawks (-2, 228.5) at Charlotte Hornets

It is hard to expect anything other than a high-scoring affair between these two teams. On one hand we have Atlanta which is down its two best defenders in Clint Capela and Dejounte Murray. Since losing Murray to injury the Hawks are 1-3 SU and ATS with a perfect 4-0 record to the Over, due in large part to a defense which has allowed 121.8 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time over that span. On the other hand we have Charlotte, which was openly lambasted by its head coach after its overtime loss to Detroit on Wednesday for not caring about defense. The Hornets are now 26th in defensive efficiency on the season, allowing 115.5 points per 100 possessions, and it would be foolish to think anything changes tonight. It’s why this total has been bet up to as high as 235 at some shops. We’ve also seen this line swing to Charlotte which is now -2 consensus. 

Sacramento Kings (-4.5, 237.5) at Detroit Pistons

For the last month Detroit has been playing competent basketball, and the market has been sleeping on the improvements it has made despite losing Cade Cunningham for the season. In their last 16 games the Pistons are 5-11 SU but 10-4-2 ATS with an improved offense which has put up 113.5 points per 100 possessions. That is not an offense that is going to win any titles, but it's a perfectly average rating and for a team power rated like one of the worst in the NBA it is going to lead to some covers. Meanwhile, Sacramento has been somewhat inconsistent lately, coming into this game 5-6 SU and ATS in its last 11 contests. That slump has, shockingly, been due to its offense which is only averaging 111.4 points per 100 possessions during this slump. That likely changes tonight against Detroit which is 29th in defensive efficiency on the season (117.8) and has a ton of trouble keeping teams outside of the restricted area, something the Kings thrive on.

Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers (-7, 224)

Indiana has quietly turned into the team most expected them to be before the season began. The Pacers are 3-6 SU and ATS in their last nine games with a -6.5 net rating, and they have not won or covered consecutive games since Nov. 21 when the team swept a two-game set from Orlando. Over the course of that larger sample size their net rating is similar (-6.4), but their offense is the worst in the league at 109.2 points per 100 possessions. Knowing this, it is not surprising that the market is in on Cleveland here. The Cavaliers are an incredible defensive team with Jarrett Allen back in the mix. They have allowed 108.8 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time since his return from injury, and this matchup plays into their strengths on that end of the floor. 

Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics (-12.5, 228)

Robert Williams is expected to make his season debut tonight, but this game is more about Boston getting right. The Celtics are back home after a challenging six-game road trip in which they went 4-2 SU/3-2-1 ATS, but had some challenging stops along the west coast. There are many handicappers who believe the first game back home from a road trip is a bet against spot for a team. It could be, but it could also be a tough spot against an Orlando team playing good basketball. The Magic have won four straight and are 5-0 ATS in their last five games, and the driving force has been a defense which has limited those five opponents to 110.5 points per 100 possessions. It is worth pointing out that four of those five opponents rank 18th or lower in offensive efficiency on the season, and it will be a different task when defending the league’s best offense in Boston.

Golden State Warriors at Philadelphia 76ers (-7, 225)

Golden State will face Philadelphia in the first game since losing Stephen Curry to injury, and it seems that nearly everything is working against them. The Warriors are a league-worst 2-13 SU/3-12 ATS on the road this season with a -7.6 net rating in non-garbage time. The team is also helpless without Curry on the floor. In the possessions without their franchise cornerstone Golden State has been outscored by 9.8 points every 100 possessions, and their offensive rating of 103.0 ranks in the third percentile of lineups this season. Those are obviously atrocious numbers, and they have to deal with all of that and a 76ers team which is finding its stride. Philadelphia is 3-1 SU and ATS in the four games since James Harden returned from injury with he offense putting up 121.7 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time. This is why we’ve seen this number jump to 8.5 consensus, and one could make the argument it should be higher as New Orleans was laying 10.5 to this Warriors team that did not have Curry on the floor a few weeks back.

Brooklyn Nets (-2, 226.5) at Toronto Raptors

This number initially stood out to me on the overnight lines, but the injury report for Toronto has me off the side I was looking to back. OG Anunoby will not be on the floor, as he was lost to a hip injury for at least a week, and that means the Raptors will be without their best on-ball defender for an extended period of time and this game. Brooklyn has been playing some really great basketball, coming into this game 11-3 SU in its last 14 games with the seventh best offensive rating in the league (116.3) over that stretch. However, this stretch has not equated to covers, as the team is 7-6-1 ATS in those 14 games with just a +0.1 spread differential, meaning the market still has a slightly inflated rating on this team. It would track that they are potentially being overvalued here in Toronto where the Raptors are 10-4 SU/9-5 ATS this season. We should also mention Toronto's recent struggles which are a 6-12 ATS record in which they have failed to cover by a league worst 6.1 points per game.

Denver Nuggets (-1, 237) at Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are expected to play for Los Angeles, and that is all that usually matters for the Lakers. This is a pretty interesting matchup, because Los Angeles does quite a few things on offense that can take advantage of Denver’s weaknesses on that end of the floor. The Lakers take the most shots at the rim in the NBA (40.6% of shot attempts) and they shoot 68.8% on those attempts while the Nuggets allow opponents to shot 71.4% within four feet. Denver also struggles to defend in transition, allowing a league worst 138.0 points per 100 transition plays, and Los Angeles not only turns 33.3% of its live rebounds into transition possessions but they also average 121.0 points per 100 plays in those possessions. The betting market has not moved much either side or total, but it seems that this would be a strong matchup for the home team.

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