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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: 32-39 | Units: -8.11 | ROI: -11.73%
The betting market swooped in to back Atlanta on Tuesday night, closing the Hawks as 1.5-point favorites in Indiana, and they responded by losing the game outright. Atlanta’s defense was abysmal yet again, allowing 1.231 points per possession in non-garbage time to Indiana and 1.762 points per play in transition. Clint Capela and De’Andre Hunter are unlikely to return in this contest as well, meaning this inconsistent defense is likely to remain just that for Atlanta.
The Nets are going for their 10th consecutive win in this game and the team is 6-3 ATS in those previous nine games. I expect that streak to continue here tonight. Brooklyn is at a near market high at this point, but Atlanta has been overvalued by this market for some time now. The Hawks are 6-14 ATS in their last 20 games, failing to cover by a league worst 4.7 points per game over that stretch. Add into this the fact that Trae Young could rest after he tweaked his ankle in the loss to Indiana, and we’ve got a play on Brooklyn.
Play: Nets (-5)
Best Bet Recap
Orlando had its 10-0 ATS run snapped by LeBron James and the Lakers on Tuesday night, and now it has to go to Detroit on no rest to face the Pistons. The Magic’s wildly improved defense was burned for 1.267 points per possession in the loss, specifically at the rim where the Lakers went 25-of-29 with six drawn shooting fouls. The Pistons are not a dominant team in the restricted area by any stretch, so the Magic will not have to deal with that in this matchup. In fact, Orlando seems to have many advantages over Detroit. The Pistons’ biggest strength on offense is their ability to offensive rebound (28.3%, 11th), but the Magic are 12th in defensive rebounding (74.0%) and 10th in putback points allowed per 100 missed attempts (19.5). It’s a tough spot for Orlando, so always be sure to get the official injury report before firing, but I would expect the usual bump to the team with rest and not much else barring major injury absences for the road team.
Phoenix was obviously looking forward to exacting some revenge on Memphis yesterday, and now it has to refocus on no rest to face Washington which is on a letdown spot of its own after beating Philadelphia. Chris Paul told reporters after the win over the Grizzlies that he would play here, but always confirm that before acting. This is already a Suns team playing without Devin Booker, Cam Payne and Landry Shamet, so not having Paul on the floor would greatly hinder its ball-handling ability.
Khris Middleton will remain on the sidelines for this game against Chicago, which is unfortunate for a team which is on an 0-3 SU and ATS slide. Milwaukee has been going through the motions defensively during this slide, allowing 123.6 points per 100 possessions to opponents. Those three teams have shot 39.3% from deep, so some regression in that area of the floor will benefit the Bucks, and they could get that against the Bulls, an average shooting team which takes the fewest 3-point attempts in the league. Chicago is coming off a home loss to Houston on Monday, a result which ruined a 3-0 SU and ATS run. Recent success aside, this seems like a matchup beneficial for Milwaukee. The Bulls have no real option for Giannis Antetokounmpo on defense, rank 19th in rim shooting (65.0%) and cannot score in transition efficiently. As homecourt continues to diminish, it would not be shocking to see this number close -5 or higher, even with the absence of Middleton.
Despite being short-handed New Orleans has taken advantage of a soft schedule and comes into this contest with Minnesota 3-0 SU and ATS in its last three games. Reinforcements are on the way though, as Zion Williamson, Trey Murphy and Dyson Daniels are listed as probable, and Herb Jones has been upgraded to questionable. Brandon Ingram remains out, but this news is likely going to push this number up to 7.5 or higher for New Orleans. Minnesota has not been playing its best basketball lately, coming into this game 0-3 SU and ATS in its last three contests. The Timberwolves’ offense has been abysmal, putting up 111.9 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage over the last eight games, and 109.8 in the last eight games. One thing Minnesota could exploit here is the turnover battle. The Pelicans are 20th in offensive turnover rate (15.0%) and the Timberwolves are 10th in defensive turnover rate (15.4%). New Orleans has struggled to hold onto the ball, and contain opponents in transition going the other way off those turnovers. Look for Minnesota to try and do just that here.
LeBron James told the media after Los Angeles’ win in Orlando that his availability for this game would depend on how his body felt in the morning. With his status murky at best, the market has driven this number up to -8 at a few shops as of this morning. When neither Anthony Davis or James is on the floor the Lakers are outscored by 15.4 points per 100 possessions, so it's safe to say James’ status is extremely important for those who are looking to get involved here. Having said that, Miami is not a team I am rushing to back, especially in a situation where the line has been inflated due to injury and scheduling. The Heat are 4-8 ATS in December, and still hold the title of worst cover team in the league at 11-22-1 ATS (33.3%). Miami also has a long injury report tonight, with Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Gabe Vincent all listed as questionable. Good luck to those looking to jump in this morning.
These two teams run it back immediately after meeting on Tuesday night. Denver trailed by 12 points after the first quarter, but they took advantage of Sacramento’s defense, putting up 1.155 points per possession in the win. The Kings put forth an inefficient effort themselves, averaging only 1.093 points per possession, but that should be better in the rematch considering the Nuggets’ 24th ranked defense (115.3). Denver could also rest Jamal Murray on the second leg of a back-to-back, something they have done all season long. If that is the case this number will make its way toward Sacramento. It will also be interesting to see which team can force the tempo in the rematch. Last night’s game had 97 possessions which is a tempo much more suited for the Nuggets who average 99.3 possessions per game compared to the 102.3 per game for the Kings.