By Jonathan Von Tobel (Senior NBA Analyst) Follow @meJVT
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
Record: 17-26 | Units: -9.49 | ROI: -23.08%
Minnesota is 5-0 SU/3-2 ATS in its last five games with a +11.4 net rating in non-garbage time. It has been a relatively soft schedule, but the Timberwolves have taken advantage of it and are showing there is a gap between them and the lesser teams in the league. Tonight, they get Charlotte which is coming off a win over Philadelphia and has covered its last two games. LaMelo Ball remains sidelined and Gordon Hayward is questionable with a shoulder contusion suffered in the win over the 76ers.
The play here is going to be on Minnesota once more. Defensively, the Timberwolves have finally started to get it into gear. Opponents during this winning streak have managed just 105.6 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time, and their rim defense will go a long way here against the Hornets. Charlotte is the worst offense in the league at 106.6 points per 100 possessions, but when they do have success its with dribble penetration and drive-and-kick opportunities. They take 38.4% of their shots at the rim and shoot a somewhat decent 64.1% on those attempts while generating 22.6 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts per game. Minnesota ranks 10th in opponent rim frequency (33.0%) and third in opponent rim shooting (61.7%). The Timberwolves also bring with them the 10th best transition defense in the league off live rebounds which will come in handy against a team that will try to run when it can.
What will kill the Timberwolves, should they fail to cover, will be their turnovers. They turn the ball over on 16.5% of their offensive possessions, the eighth-highest rate in the league, and the Hornets have the 10th highest offensive rating in transition off steals (142.2). Having said that, the pros outweigh the cons here and I believe the market is still somewhat low on this number and there is some agreement with me, as this number is up to -5 at quite a few shops.
Play: Timberwolves (-4.5)
As the sample size grows it is very clear that Golden State is a different team at home. The Warriors absolutely smoked the Clippers on Wednesday night to improve to 8-1 SU/6-3 ATS at home with an average cover margin of 3.7 points per game and a +15.0 net rating in non-garbage time. However, that is only part of the handicap here. The other part is a Utah Jazz team which has started to show its true colors recently.
Utah is 2-5 SU and ATS in its last seven games with a -4.2 net rating in non-garbage time, and the culprit behind this slide is its defense. Opponents have averaged 120.1 points per 100 possessions against the Jazz over the course of these seven games. They are allowing 100.8 points per 100 plays in halfcourt settings, and their transition defense has allowed 133.3 points per 100 plays as well. Those are not areas in which you want to struggle defensively against Golden State team which ranks seventh in both halfcourt offensive efficiency (99.7) and transition offense off live rebounds (127.0).
The betting market adjusted its rating on Utah after its fantastic start to the season, and rightfully so considering the rate at which the team was covering. However, it was clear the rate at which they were running was unsustainable, and not only are they losing games but they are failing to cover by a staggering 6.4 points per game during this slide. Homecourt this season has shown its value once more this season with the median result at 3.0 points and the average net rating at +3.6 per Cleaning The Glass. Would you say that the Warriors are only 4 or 3.5 points better than Utah? I would not, but this number says that is the difference between these two teams. I’ll bet against that.
Play: Warriors (-7)
Best Bet Recap
Philadelphia is still without three members of its starting lineup tonight against Orlando, so it should not come as a surprise that the Magic are favored here. Paolo Banchero returned to practice on Wednesday as well and did not receive an injury designation for this game, so he is expected to play his first game since Nov. 7 which is a big boost for Orlando. Having said that, the 76ers showed some competence in the win over Brooklyn, and while they dropped the game to Charlotte the next day it was a poor spot on the second leg a back-to-back after an emotional game. The real betting angle to track here is Banchero though. Once player point totals are widely available it will be interesting to see how high his number his, and should it be high enough it will be worth investing in the Under.
Portland is another one of the early season surprises that has started to lose its footing in the standings recently. The Trail Blazers have lost four straight and are 1-5 SU/2-4 ATS in their last six games with -5.7 net rating in non-garbage time. Meanwhile, New York is coming back home after a successful road trip in which it went 3-2 SU and ATS, and the team could get Mitchell Robinson back tonight. The market has not budged on the side yet, but the total here is down to 218 consensus.
The betting market is moving against Brooklyn this morning, and I do not necessarily agree with it. The Nets are 7-5 SU/8-4 ATS in the month of November with +5.5 net rating in non-garbage time which is the fourth best rating in the league over that stretch. The team is showing improvement on both ends of the floor, and so are players like Ben Simmons who is averaging 14.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.4 assists over his last five games to go with 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks. Indiana has been a great bet recently, but they have failed to cover two of their last three and their injury report is lengthy with both Andrew Nembhard and Isaiah Jackson are both questionable to play. If neither play and this continues to drop Brooklyn should be in consideration for bettors tonight.
Memphis continues to be one of the more overvalued teams by the betting market this season. The team is 1-4 SU and ATS in its last five games, has covered consecutive games just once this season and is 6-10-2 ATS through 18 games while failing to cover by 2.5 points per game. Desmond Bane is still out due to injury, and Santi Aldama is doubtful while John Konchar is questionable. Yet, here we are with this line now -2.5 in favor of the Grizzlies at most shops. Sure, CJ McCollum is out for New Orleans, but the team is +3.9 per 100 possessions with a 119.5 offensive rating without him on the floor. Are the Grizzlies, without a starter and potentially two primary reserves, really equal to the Pelicans without McCollum?
Los Angeles had taken advantage of a soft portion of the schedule with three straight wins before running into a brick wall in Phoenix on Tuesday night. Still, Anthony Davis was incredible with 37 points and 21 rebounds in the loss, and that run could continue tonight against a sliding Spurs team which is 0-6 SU/1-5 ATS in its last six games. San Antonio’s bench is extremely banged up as well. Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott are questionable to play tonight, and Zach Collins remains out with injury. LeBron James is questionable once again but he is reportedly going to return tonight. If he does that would mean a dip in production for Davis, but his prop numbers are astronomical, as both FanDuel and Pointsbet have him at 37.5 points and rebounds tonight.
The betting market has bet this side up to -4.5 as of this morning, a move which I wanted to be a part of but missed out on. Cleveland comes in on a 4-0 SU and ATS run, but it has come against the likes of Charlotte, Miami, Atlanta and Portland. There is some truth to that run, but the opponent tonight is much different in Milwaukee and the betting market was selling the Bucks short with this opening number. First, when these two teams met in Milwaukee nine days ago the line closed at -3.5 but today it opened under that at -2.5 this morning. Again, if the market is using three points for homecourt that opener would say Cleveland rates as the better team which is not something that is accurate by my ratings and bettors seem to agree with me considering where this line has gone.
Sacramento has been the best bet in the league this season. The Kings are an NBA best 12-5 ATS through 17 games and covering by an average of 3.9 points per game. It would make sense that a big number like this would move in the Kings’ favor, but this is a solid test for Sacramento. Their defense is allowing 114.7 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time and it must face the league’s best offense tonight. Having said that, its a test for the Celtics as well. Boston’s defense has not been productive this season in allowing 112.9 points per 100 possessions itself. This is why the total has been bet up to a wild 238.5 consensus.
Once again the injury report is all that matters here for Miami. Bam Adebayo is considered probable despite popping up on the report, but Jimmy Butler is still out and five other players – Dewayne Dedmon, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent – all carry questionable or doubtful injury designations. It is why this number is down to -3 consensus and why I would never dream of getting involved in a game before getting clarity on the injury report for Miami.
Over its last eight games Atlanta is 4-4 SU/3-5 ATS with a -3.0 net rating. The problem has been its inconsistent offense which has managed just 107.9 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time during this stretch. Specifically, the team’s inability to score efficiently when Trae Young hits the bench is the reason behind its offensive struggles. In the possessions with Young on the floor the Hawks are averaging 115.3 points per 100 possessions, but that drops to 101.9 without him and 99.8 in the possessions in which Dejounte Murray is on the floor without Young. It will be an interesting theory to test in-game tonight against Houston. The Rockets are clearly struggling themselves and come into this game 1-5 SU, but 3-3 ATS and could stay within an inflated in-game number available once Young takes his first break. The move to report here is on a total which has dropped 4.5 points to 233 consensus which makes sense given the Hawks’ offensive issues.
Chicago is up to -2.5 consensus this morning and that does make some sense given its wins and covers over both Boston and Milwaukee in the last two games. However, I do have some questions about the Bulls’ defense. Yes, they rank 11th right now in defensive efficiency (111.5), but they foul at a high rate, allow opponents to take 36.0% of their attempts at the rim and rank 21st in halfcourt defense (96.7) and 25th in defensive efficiency in transition off live rebounds (125.3). Those are areas in which Oklahoma City can hurt this team, especially in the possessions with Shai-Gilgeous Alexander on the floor.
This line is down to Phoenix -12 in some spots which makes some sense given Detroit’s 4-0-1 ATS run it comes in on, but the injury report is too noisy for the Pistons for me to get involved here. Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Cade Cunningham are obviously still out, and three key players – Jaden Ivey, Killian Hayes and Hamidou Diallo – are all questionable. It’s also the last of a six-game road trip for the Pistons, which is never a favorable situation for those teams.
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