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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: 30-36 | Units: -6.93 | ROI: -10.81%
Inconsistency on both ends of the floor has plagued Cleveland this season, and while that gives me some pause in backing them consistently, I do believe that they should be able to put forth the effort needed tonight to grab a win and cover against Utah.
The Jazz are coming off a loss to the Bucks in which Giannis Antetokunmpo did not play. Utah allowed 1.282 points per possession in non-garbage time to Milwaukee, showcasing its 27th ranked defense and the weaknesses this team has on that end of the floor. Cleveland has not been the most dynamic offense in the league by any stretch, averaging just 113.9 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time for the season, but their floor should be raised tonight when facing Utah. The Jazz have trouble keeping teams out of the paint, allowing opponents to take 34.9% of their attempts at the rim or 24.7% of attempts from 4-to-14 feet out. The Cavaliers take a vast majority of their attempts from those two areas of the floor. Cleveland has also been an above average halfcourt offense this season, averaging 98.1 points per 100 plays while grabbing 28.7% of their missed attempts in those settings. Utah has allowed 97.7 points in the halfcourt this season and has allowed opponents to rebound 30.2% of their missed shots.
Cleveland has also been most consistent on defense this season, allowing just 108.7 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time. It has the fifth best defensive rebounding rate in the league (75.5%) and allows the fewest second chance points per game in the league (10.9). Those strengths will matter tonight against Utah which ranks sixth in both offensive rebounding (31.1%) and second chance points per game (15.6). The Cavaliers have the ability to limit the Jazz in those areas of their game, and if they do this should be a matchup that ends up working in their favor.
Play: Cavaliers (-6)
When San Antonio won three straight one of those was against Houston. At that time the market had reached an all-time low on the Spurs’ power rating, and the Rockets closed as 1.5-point favorites on the road in that contest. Using three points for homecourt that would translate to a 7.5-point spread back in Houston which is obviously much lower than the spread we see tonight. This line is much more in line with where it should be, and the case can be made for the Rockets in this rematch. Over the course of the last 15 games Houston is 7-8 SU/9-6 ATS with a much improved defensive rating of 113.0 in non-garbage time. It is also a higher rated team than San Antonio at this point, the lowest rated team in the league. The consensus number of 3.5 would indicate about a half-point difference between these two teams, a gap which I would consider to be wider and thus, worthy of a play on the favorite.
Play: Rockets (-3.5)
Best Bet Recap
Toronto seemingly hit rock bottom yesterday when it suffered a 126-110 loss to Golden State. The Raptors have dropped five straight, both SU and ATS, and the last three have come at home. Over their last 20 games they are 7-13 SU/6-14 ATS while failing to cover by 6.7 points per game. Their defense, which was supposed to be the reliable strength of this team, is 24th over this 20 game stretch, allowing 115.8 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time, and even worse it seems to be due to a lack of effort. Now, they have to head to Philadelphia, which has won and covered its last four while putting up 122.9 points per 100 possessions.
To make matters worse, OG Anunoby is still out with injury, Precious Achiuwa remains sidelined as well and Gary Trent Jr. is likely out tonight as he has missed the last two games. It is no wonder that the market is already up to 7.5 here in favor of the 76ers. With this line as high as it is I will be looking for a cheap in-game line on Philadelphia, but there is little case to be made for Toronto preflop.
Orlando extended its current run to 6-0 SU in its last six and 7-0 ATS in its last seven after its win in Boston on Sunday. The difference for the Magic have been their defense, which has allowed 107.0 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time and 88.5 points per 100 plays in halfcourt settings during this run. One of those victories came at home against this Hawks team, but Atlanta could look somewhat different tonight as both John Collins and Dejounte Murray have been upgraded to questionable. Should both play it would be a boon for the Hawks which have been wildly inconsistent without those two on the floor.
This number has been bumped up to 7.5 which is the norm for teams playing on no rest, but if Murray can play expect this to get slightly higher. Having said that, it is worth pointing out that this Magic team was catching 9.5 in Boston yesterday. Are the Hawks without Murray and Collins really only two points worse than the Celtics without Tatum?
After looking like the best team in the Western Conference the Pelicans have lost their last three, and their defense is starting to show some cracks. Over the course of the last five games New Orleans has allowed 120.0 points per 100 possessions, but some of that is correctable. For example, the Pelicans have turned it over on 15.8% of their offensive possessions and allowed 1.611 points per play in transition off steals. Opponents have also grabbed 36.2% of their missed attempts over the course of these five games, and as a result New Orleans has allowed 25.9 putback points per 100 missed shot attempts. Both of those issues can be corrected with fewer turnovers and better rebounding, but they face Milwaukee tonight which can do both. This number has not moved much, but the total has been bet up to 228.5 consensus.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Darius Bazely and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl are all out for various reasons tonight, and as a result Portland is laying a relatively large number on the road. The Trail Blazers are in good form coming into this game, as the team is 6-2 SU/6-1-1 ATS in December with the best offensive rating in the NBA over that stretch (123.6). It would not be the biggest surprise in the world if the Trail Blazers come in and run over a shorthanded Thunder team, but these situations are generally overvalued by bettors in the market. Portland also has Jerami Grant on the injury report as questionable, which would be a loss and cause this line to dip. In games like this it is always wiser to wait for an in-game opportunity, especially in what is projected to be a high scoring affair.
Minnesota took advantage of a listless Chicago Bulls team in the midst of a slide on Sunday night, but it is a different animal with Dallas coming to town tonight. That is, if Luka Doncic plays. Doncic missed the loss to the Cavaliers over the weekend with a quad injury, and that same injury has him listed as questionable to play tonight. The Mavericks also have Davis Bertans, Tim Hardaway and Dwight Powell listed as questionable to play, which makes this game easily passable until the injury picture clears up. That goes for both teams. Rudy Gobert has missed the last two games with a calf injury and could play tonight, and Naz Reid left the Timberwolves’ win against Chicago with a back injury. Many of these names have the ability to shift a number, so it’s best to wait to see who is available and attack this in-game as opposed to pre-flop.
Los Angeles comes into this game extremely beat up, and there could be plenty of players sidelined tonight. Anthony Davis is already out for an extended period of time with a foot injury, Patrick Beverley could not play last night because of a calf injury, and Austin Reaves suffered an ankle injury that could keep him out on the second leg of a back-to-back, although he did play through it last night. Meanwhile, Phoenix could be short handed as well with both DeAndre Ayton and Devin Booker listed as questionable, and quite a few bench pieces like Cameron Payne and Jock Landale listed as out. This betting line is up to -10 consensus, but if either Ayton or Booker do not play expect this to head back toward Los Angeles.