NBA Best Bets Today
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
Record: 21-28 | Units: -7.66 | ROI: -16.26%
Boston’s win over Miami on Wednesday night pushed their current run to 14-1 SU/11-4 ATS with a +13.4 net rating in non-garbage time. At home this season the Celtics are now 11-1 SU/9-3 ATS with a 128.7 offensive rating, and they outscore opponents by 14.5 points per 100 possessions. On the surface it would seem foolish to try and step in front of this train, but I tried with the Heat on Wednesday and cannot help but feel burned by the result, as Miami fell apart despite being down just three points with about five minutes left to go and failed to cover. After the loss I should probably just tuck my tail between my legs and walk away, but I am somewhat stubborn and this write up is in the ‘Best Bets’ section, so we know what comes next.
First, I should point out that the number is much lower than the one I took on Wednesday, but the key difference is that it seems Jimmy Butler is on his way back. Butler has not played since Nov. 16 in Toronto, missing the last seven games with injury. However, he has been upgraded to questionable and it seems very likely he is going to be on the floor tonight. That is obviously a massive addition for Miami on both ends of the floor, but especially on defense where the Heat were roasted for 1.351 points per possession by the Celtics.
Speaking of defense, that is what bothers me about Boston. Lost in the win for the Celtics is the fact that they allowed 1.235 points per possession themselves, and 17th in non-garbage time defensive efficiency (113.2). They allow the seventh most wide-open 3-point attempts per game (18.1) and that plays into the hands of a Miami team which takes 38.2% of its attempts from beyond the arc. That played into the offensive performance for the Heat on Wednesday, and it will again in the rematch tonight.
Play: Heat (+8)
San Antonio is 0-9 SU/1-8 ATS in its last nine games, and in the month of November the team is 1-14 SU/4-11 ATS with a league worst -15.0 net rating. Over the course of those 15 games the Spurs are failing to cover by 9.3 points per game, and now the injuries are piling up. Jakob Poeltl and Jeremy Sochan are out, and both Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson are doubtful. The tank is on in a big way for San Antonio, and I do not mind jumping in and trying to benefit from it. New Orleans has a massive size advantage with Poeltl out, and they get CJ McCollum back from injury tonight as well. San Antonio has no real matchup for Zion Williamson on defense either. There is no need for an elaborate write up here, just give me New Orleans. It is somewhat odd that this line has not budged from the open, but I’ll take a chance against the worst team in the league.
Play: Pelicans (-7)
Golden State at home has delivered consistently. The Warriors are 9-1 SU/7-3 ATS in San Francisco this season, and they lead the league in net rating at home (+14.6) while covering by 3.7 points per game. Stephen Curry is showing zero signs of slowing down, and should be able to continue his success tonight against Chicago, playing the fifth of a six-game road trip and coming off a blowout loss to Phoenix. The Bulls have been their usual inconsistent selves on offense during this road trip, and their opponent tonight defends well the areas of the floor in which Chicago has success. The Bulls take 35.0% of their attempts at the rim, the Warriors allow the fewest rim shots in the league. Chicago ranks 10th in offensive efficiency in transition (128.4), but Golden State is third in transition defensive efficiency (115.4). Simply put, the matchup works well for the Warriors, and they are a team I am looking to back as they round into form.
Play: Warriors (-7)
Best Bet Recap
Charlotte is still down four key cogs - LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Cody Martin and Dennis Smith Jr. - but it has found some success recently in covering three of four. However, the offense has been even worse than usual lately, averaging 104.3 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time over the last four games, an offensive rating worse than the team’s season-long figure (106.4). Here against Washington it will be about rebounding. The Wizards are a great defensive rebounding team, and the only form of consistent offensive success the Hornets have is when it can grab offensive rebounds. Charlotte is sixth in offensive rebounding rate (29.5%) and eighth in points scored per 100 missed shots (23.3), according to Cleaning The Glass. Washington is eighth in defensive rebounding rate (74.5%) and 11th in points allowed per 100 missed shots (19.6). Whoever wins that battle likely wins and covers this game, and as of this morning the market is saying it will be the Wizards with the line up to 3.5 consensus.
In its last four games Denver is 4-0 SU and ATS, and while a four-game sample size is nothing to write home about it is notable because it coincides with this team becoming whole. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray had missed time, but with both back on the floor this team is quietly running wild on opponents. Tonight, they get to face the inconsistent Hawks which stumble into this game 5-7 SU/4-8 ATS in their last 12 games. If you’ve read this column regularly you know it is because their offense has struggled, managing just 109.2 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time over those 12 games, the fifth worst offensive rating in the league over that stretch. The market is buying in on Denver here, driving this number up to 2.5 and while I do not disagree with that I did not play this game because I believe this to be a real test for Denver’s defense. The Nuggets still rank 24th in non-garbage time defensive efficiency (115.1), and their recent starting lineup has a defensive rating of 118.5 when on the floor. Can they contain a player like Trae Young?
Toronto is a well-respected team by the betting market, and now that it is getting healthy the market is buying in. This number is down to 1.5 in favor of Brooklyn, and that would make sense given homecourt’s value being worth about three points this season. This opening line of -3 would tell us that these two teams are equals, something I do not believe to be the case, nor do many respected NBA handicappers. On top of that, Ben Simmons is out due to injury, which only weakens Brooklyn’s power rating.
Orlando is 0-6 SU/2-4 ATS in its last six games and its injury report is longer than a Walgreens receipt. Mo Bamba is questionable to play tonight, and four other essential players - Wendell Carter Jr., Chuma Okeke, Jalen Suggs and Gary Harris - are out with injury. It’s not a shock to see this number balloon to 10.5 in favor of Cleveland, but I would not be rushing to lay it with the home team. Jarrett Allen and Kevin Love are still injured and this offense has been wildly inconsistent lately. The Cavaliers are 8-1 SU and ATS at home this season, but those things are factored into what is a massive line already.
The injury report is lengthy, but with everyone but Lonnie Walker carrying a probable designation Los Angeles is going to be at full strength in Milwaukee tonight. The Lakers are 6-2 SU/5-2-1 ATS in their last eight games, but this run has included three games against the Spurs, one against the Pistons and contests against the Pacers - Which they lost - and Trail Blazers. It is hardly a stretch in which they have faced the best competition, and now they get the Bucks which will have Khris Middleton back on the floor tonight. The betting market has seen through the soft winning streak for Los Angeles and bet this number up to 8.5 and this total is now 230 consensus.
Memphis is back home where it is 7-2 SU/6-3 ATS on the season, but the betting market does not seem to be running to support it like it usually does. The market has been unusually high on the Grizzlies this season overall, and even with the positive home record I would be looking to play against Memphis or stay away. Joel Embiid had a poor game against Cleveland last time out, but he put up 30 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in his first game back from injury and could do it again here against Steven Adams and whatever other center the Grizzlies want to try to throw at him. The line has not budged from the open, but the total has been bet down to 217.5 consensus.
Tyrese Haliburton is questionable to play for Indiana, and that is ultimately what has me on the sidelines for this game right now. Should Haliburton play then the Pacers become an option for me tonight. With Haliburton on the floor is Utah still the higher rated team between the two? I believe these two teams to be equal at best, but the number of Jazz -5 would indicate Utah is the better team. However, we’ve seen this team start to slip with a 3-8 SU/4-7 ATS record in its last 11 games while failing to cover by 4.2 points per game.