NBA best bets and analysis for Friday, December 15th
Record: 35-25-1 | Units: +8.20u | ROI: 12.66%
The Atlanta Hawks cannot be this bad, can they? Atlanta comes into this game 0-5 SU and ATS in its last five games, and 1-7 SU/0-8 ATS in its last eight games. Over the course of those eight contests the Hawks have failed to cover by 5.7 points per game, and their -8.7 net rating in that time is 26th in the league. It seems this would be rock bottom for Atlanta, but there are some signs of life that might make them worth backing tonight.
In the first game of this series on Wednesday the Hawks did put forth a valiant effort on offense. They averaged 1.267 points per possession in the loss, and torched the Raptors in both halfcourt settings (109.4 offensive rating) and in transition (155.6 offensive rating). Toronto has been sliding down the defensive rating standings and is now 17th in non-garbage time defensive efficiency, so it should be safe to assume that Atlanta can replicate a similar level of offensive production tonight.
The question for the Hawks becomes whether they can defend at a good enough level to win tonight. The Raptors put 1.337 points per possession in non-garbage time on Wednesday against them. That would be the 21st ranked offense in the league putting up an offensive rating that is in the 91st percentile of game ratings this season. However, we can assume some regression, especially from beyond the arc where Toronto – which ranks 28th in 3-point percentage – hit 18-of-34 attempts.
Play: Hawks ML (+110) – Playable to (-110)
The Boston Celtics have proven to be one of the best teams in the NBA, but the market’s perception of them is clearly too high. Boston is 3-8-1 ATS in its last 12 games and they have failed to cover by 4.8 points per game which is the third worst spread differential over that span. For the season they are just 9-10-4 ATS, which is evidence to the theory that this team has been overvalued. Tonight, they face a team which is 4-1 SU/5-0 ATS against them in the last five games.
Orlando has also been one of the more undervalued teams in the NBA. They have the third-best cover rate this season (15-6-2 ATS, 71.4%) and they have allowed the third-fewest points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time (109.1). The Magic also just matchup well with the Celtics. Their ability to switch almost every matchup eliminates Boston’s gameplan of hunting for mismatches, and their size puts them in decent position when opposing bigs are switched onto smaller players.
This is also the second leg of a back-to-back for the Celtics after a hard-fought two-game series with the Cavaliers. Meanwhile, the Magic have played just once since last Friday. Keep it simple, stupid. That’s what I’m telling myself tonight in Boston.
Play: Magic (+6) – Playable to (+5)
Houston has been one of the best cover teams in the NBA this season, but a vast majority of their success has come at home. On the road the Rockets are 1-8 SU/4-5 ATS with a -8.7 net rating. Only nine games worth of a sample size is not much, but there is still an argument to made that Memphis is live at home tonight.
First and foremost, Desmond Bane could be back on the floor. Bane missed the Grizzlies loss in Houston due to an illness, but with a day off it is worth taking 3.5 should he be available. His presence will open the floor for Jaren Jackson Jr. who has been dominant in averaging 33.4 points on 56.1% shooting in the last five games. That number will also move off 3.5 should Bane play, so those who get in early will have some sort of closing line value.
Play: Grizzlies (+3.5) – Playable to (+3)
Hawks ML (+110)