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*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back
**Lines are opening numbers
Record: 51-55 | Units: -6.29 | ROI: -6.10%
Los Angeles is coming off of an extremely disappointing weekend. The Clippers lost consecutive overtime contests to Sacramento and Denver despite scoring 299 points and averaging 124.6 points per 100 possessions. In those two games Los Angeles allowed 1.342 points per possession in clutch time, and that is what ultimately led to their downfall. Ty Lue has thrown together some quizzical closing lineups on the floor as well, and it has led to many being down on this Clippers team, which is understandable. However, it seems pretty clear the market has downgraded Los Angeles after this weekend, and it might be a time to buy low.
Let’s go back to Friday, when the Clippers hosted the Sacramento Kings. They closed 6.5-point favorites in that game against Sacramento, the number they are laying here against Minnesota. Are the Timberwolves power rated identically to the Kings on a neutral court? Everyone reading this column knows the answer to that question, and for those who need evidence of that see the two-game set those two teams played at the end of January where the Kings closed as favorites on the road in Minnesota. That line comparison tells us immediately that we are getting some line value here.
Los Angeles has the seventh best offensive rating in non-garbage time since the beginning of the new year, and their transition offense off live rebounds has quietly risen to sixth in efficiency (124.7). That is an area of defense Minnesota has had some real trouble with this season. It would seem that everything points to a buy-low spot for the Clippers tonight, so I will take the risk.
Bet: Clippers (-6.5)
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Kristaps Porzingis is expected to miss yet another game for Washington and Monte Morris is questionable with back soreness. That is why this number has reached 6.5 consensus this morning, and it looks like it could go higher. However, even with the injuries I would not run to bet Atlanta preflop here. This defense gave up 1.212 points per possession to a below average Brooklyn offense over the weekend, and the Hawks continue to put forth inconsistent efforts on that end of the floor. When it comes to a game with such a high total and two poor defenses it would behoove bettors to look for an in-game opportunity as opposed to laying an inflated number.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed as probable for this game, but make sure to monitor this situation throughout the day. Milwaukee has played these games with Antetokounmpo all season, listing him as doubtful in games he would eventually play, or listing him as probable in games he would go on to miss. The market has been steadily moving in the Bucks’ direction since the overnight opener, so there is a belief he is going to be available tonight. With that in mind, Brooklyn’s defense is going to have its hands full tonight. In the five games since the deadline the Nets have allowed 124.2 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time, and their halfcourt defense has been shredded for 111.6 points per 100 plays. Milwaukee will be able to have similar success if at full strength.
The ankle injury LeBron James suffered in the win over Dallas on Sunday was apparently more serious than originally thought, and he is not available for this game against Memphis. This explains the line move toward the Grizzlies, which are now 8.5-point favorites at nearly every shop. We only have two games worth of data for this version of Los Angeles without James on the floor, and the constant is that the offense suffered. The Lakers averaged just 1.037 points per possession when they faced the Warriors and Trail Blazers in two games that James missed. It’s likely the offense scuffles once more, especially against this Memphis defense which leads the league in non-garbage time defensive efficiency at home (105.9) and just limited Denver to 0.959 per possession on Saturday.
Injuries are threatening to ruin what looks like a fun matchup on paper. De’Aaron Fox is questionable with wrist soreness, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is going to miss his third straight game with a hip issue. This line is 1.5 points shorter than the closing line on Saturday when these two teams met and this likely closes closer to -1 should Fox miss the game, but the real change here is the total. As of this morning this number is 236 consensus and Fox’s presence has a much bigger impact here. Without him on the floor the Kings’ frequency of transition possessions drops from 17.8% to 16.6%, and more importantly, their efficiency drops by 8.1 points per 100 plays. If he is unavailable this total should close at about 234.5 consensus.
On the surface it would seem that the Mavericks’ defense did an admirable job in the loss to the Lakers on Sunday when it allowed just 1.121 points per possession. However, that overall defensive rating masks an abhorrent effort in the second half when Los Angeles averaged 1.333 per possession and outscored Dallas by 17 points. That defense is going to be tested once more here against Indiana, but the market is coming in to support the Mavericks much like it did against the Lakers. As of this morning this number is 8.5 consensus, and should it continue to climb it will be hard to turn down a play on the Pacers. Indiana is a lethal transition team which has a favorable matchup against a Dallas defense which allows opponents to add the seventh most points per 100 possessions through transition offense off live rebounds (4.0).