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: 20-27 | Units: -7.57 | ROI: -16.78%
Everything is going south for Minnesota right now. Karl-Anthony Towns is down for the next four-to-six weeks with a calf strain, and the team is 0-3 SU and ATS in its last three games with a -11.9 net rating. It would seem that there is no reason to expect anything good from this team right now, but the market is being somewhat overzealous here.
Homecourt is worth about three points this season, so this opening line tells us that Memphis is seven points better than Minnesota on a neutral court. That is a really big gap between these two teams, and keep in mind, Desmond Bane is still out and Dillon Brooks is questionable to play tonight. Is there really a seven point difference between these two teams, or is the betting market reacting to the last three games and injury news for the Timberwolves? When the Grizzlies hosted this team on Nov. 11 they were 4-point favorites, and Bane played in that game. Did Minnesota really get six points worse over the course of the last 19 days?
There is also a small chance that Towns’ absence could be a positive in the short term. One fewer big on the floor means a more open offense which could help players like Anthony Edwards. In fact, when Edwards is on the floor without Towns the Timberwolves are +3.4 per 100 possessions. When Towns is on the floor they turn the ball over at a lower rate (14.7%) than when he is on the floor (16.6%). Fewer turnovers lead to fewer transition opportunities off steal for Minnesota’s opponents, an area of the floor in which they rank 25th defensively.
It might seem wild to come in and back Minnesota here, but this really about the number. The betting market and oddsmakers have overvalued Memphis quite a bit all season, and this seems to be another example of that. This line is down to 2.5 at some shops, so it seems there are a few folks who agree with my assessment of this number.
Play: Timberwolves (+3.5)
Miami’s injury reports are becoming very New England Patriots like. As many as five or six key role players are being listed as questionable every night, but eventually find their way onto the court. The same thing is happening once again in this game against Boston, with Dewayne Dedmon, Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, Gabe Vincent and Nikola Jovic all carrying questionable designations on the report. Assuming they all play, the question here will be about Miami’s defense matching up with Boston’s offense.
After a rough stretch of about five games the Heat have found their defensive roots once more, allowing just 103.8 points per 100 possessions to their last four opponents, and they enter this game seventh in non-garbage time defensive efficiency (110.9). Their defensive philosophy of allowing 3-point attempts - Opponents are taking 40.4% of their attempts from deep against them - might work against them here tonight against a Boston team which takes 44.3% of their attempts from that area of the floor, but they should be able to defend well in other areas of the floor.
Boston is on fire right now, carrying a 13-1 SU/10-4 ATS streak into this game against Miami. However, as the Celtics continue to deliver their rating continues to balloon, and that could lead to an opportunity to play against them. For example, Boston closed as 11-point favorites against Charlotte the other day, and this morning this number is up to 9.5 at quite a few shops. Are the Heat only 1.5 points better than the Hornets? We know that is not the case, and if Jaylen Brown cannot go tonight it only helps Miami’s chances.
Play: Heat (+9.5)
Best Bet Recap
Cleveland’s offense has fallen off the face of the earth recently, managing just 103.9 points per 100 possessions over the last three games. One could make the argument that it is due to their opponents, as two of them - Toronto and Milwaukee - are both top eight defensive teams. Well, they get another one tonight in the Philadelphia 76ers who got Joel Embiid back from injury on Monday. The timing could not be worse for the Cavaliers, as Jarrett Allen is still out with a back injury, meaning Robin Lopez and Evan Mobley will have to handle Embiid on defense. The market has taken this number down to 3.5 at most shops, a move I can get behind given the absence of Allen and Kevin Love for Cleveland tonight.
Depending on the number you got on Monday night the Hawks are either 1-6 ATS or 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven games. Either way, it isn’t great for Atlanta. Their offense continues to put forth clunky and inefficient efforts, and they now have a 107.0 offensive rating in their last 10 games, the second worst efficiency rate over that stretch. Given how poor those numbers look it is understandable that anyone would want to shy away from backing Atlanta, but the betting market is coming in on the road favorite tonight. It is somewhat understandable when you look at Orlando’s injury report. Wendell Carter Jr., Chuma Okeke and Jalen Suggs are all out, and Mo Bamba is questionable to play. This line is up to -6 at quite a few shops, but the real move is on a total which is as high as 229 on the board.
Ben Simmons will not play tonight for Brooklyn as he deals with a knee injury, and while he has no impact from a point spread perspective it is a loss. Simmons had averaged 13.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists in the seven games prior to being injured, and he had started to look more and more comfortable. Without him, an already inconsistent Brooklyn team could be up against it. Washington has shown its own inconsistencies - The team is 3-4 SU/2-5 ATS in the seven games since a 6-1 ATS run to start November - but it can score. The Wizards have averaged 116.8 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time over the last seven games and they have a solid rebounding advantage which is even greater without Simmons on the floor. The betting market has not moved this side at all, but the total is up to 229.5 which makes sense given the poor defense these two teams are capable of. However, remember that Washington and Brooklyn rank 21st and 24th respectively in pace, so it will not be an up-and-down affair.
Milwaukee has not looked anywhere near as dominant lately, posting a 5-5 SU/4-6 ATS record over the last 10 games with a -1.0 net rating. However, there had been some health and availability concerns that reared their ugly heads. Since Jrue Holiday returned from injury the Bucks’ defense has looked more like its true form, and Milwaukee has outscored opponents by 5.7 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time. It would seem it’s a good time to start backing the Bucks as they round back into form, and the market has done that somewhat here. Milwaukee is now a consensus -6 on the board with the total up to 227.5 at most shops.
Toronto is starting to get healthy, and with that is going to come improved and more consistent play. The Raptors handled the Cavaliers last time out, limiting them to 0.977 points per possession in a 100-88 win to improve to 4-1 ATS in their last five. It might surprise some to see this number up to 2.5 in favor of Toronto, but this team is highly rated by the market, and New Orleans could be without CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr. depending on how injuries shake out later tonight. Even if McCollum does return his effectiveness might be limited by the Raptors who come into this game eighth in defensive efficiency (111.1) and first in defensive turnover rate (17.9%).
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander might miss this game due to injury, and if that happens will drop further than it already has. Oklahoma City is outscored by 10.4 points per 100 possessions when he is off the floor, and their offensive rating of 101.5 in those possessions ranks in the eighth percentile of qualified lineups. Even if he does play, the Thunder have some questions to answer about their defense, which has allowed 116.1 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time over the course of the last 13 games.
Now that Denver has both Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic back on the floor together the team is starting to find its footing. The Nuggets are 3-0 SU and ATS in their last three games with a +10.4 net rating, but the market has moved against them here. This line is down to 11.5 and it makes some sense given the more consistent play from Houston lately. The Rockets are 6-4 ATS in their last 10 games, and much of that is due to an offense which has started to get it together. Houston has averaged 113.3 points per 100 possessions in those 10 games, a far cry from the season long rating of 109.3 it carries into this game.
As the sample size grows for Phoenix without Chris Paul it is pretty clear this team misses him on defense. In the 10 games Paul has missed the Suns are 18th in non-garbage time defensive efficiency (114.2), and the average closing total in their games has gone from 221.5 in the first five games to 229 in the last five. The betting market has been all over this trend as well, and we’re seeing this number as high as 227 consensus. That poor defense would give me pause when it comes to backing the Suns from a side perspective until a better in-game opportunity presents itself.
Los Angeles needed 22 points from Norm Powell in the fourth quarter last night to beat Portland, but this team is still 8-5 ATS in the month of November. The betting market severely downgraded the Clippers when they were blown out by Golden State last week, but since then they have won outright as an underdog to the Pacers and Trail Blazers and they find themselves as big underdogs tonight against the Jazz. Utah is 2-8 SU/3-7 ATS in its last 10 games and struggling on defense mightily. The team is also 2-5 SU/1-5-1 ATS as a favorite this season, showing bettors how much the market has overvalued this team.