NBA best bets and analysis for Wednesday, March 20th

Jonathan Von Tobel (103-92-3 | Units: +4.55) gives his daily NBA best bets and analysis for Wednesday, March 20th.

Mar 16, 2024; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane (22) reacts after a turnover during the first half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Best Bets for Wednesday, March 20th

Welcome to my daily column of NBA best bets! Here at VSiN we have a ton of NBA content daily, so make sure to keep tabs on Zach Cohen who is doing an excellent job handicapping the league on a daily basis.

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NBA Best Bets

Record: 103-92-3 | Units: +4.55 | ROI: 2.1%

Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors (-10.5, 218.5)

Draymond Green is questionable to play for Golden State with back soreness. That same problem kept Green out of the game against Dallas last week, so there is certainly a real chance he sits tonight. Regardless, this is a big number for a Warriors team which has hit an offensive lull.

Golden State fell to New York on Monday night as a 6.5-point favorite. The loss dropped it to 3-5 SU and ATS in its last eight games. In those contests the Warriors have managed just 113.1 points per 100 possessions. The change in officiating has seemingly hampered Golden State’s offense, as teams are making Stephen Curry work more when he is off the ball. He will receive plenty of that tonight against Memphis.

The Grizzlies are not only 10-6 ATS in their last 16 games, but they are actually healthier. Desmond Bane returned two games ago, and he has scored a combined 46 points. He gives Memphis another above average defender as well. This team is already 11th in defensive efficiency for the season (113.3) and in their last 16 games they are allowing even fewer points per 100 possessions (112.2). 

Best Bet: Grizzlies (+11) – Playable to (+10)

Los Angeles Clippers (-11.5, 215) at Portland Trail Blazers

Los Angeles has fallen off a cliff since a successful road trip at the beginning of February. It is 8-10 SU/5-13 ATS in its last 18 games, and it has a -4.1 net rating in non-garbage time over that stretch. James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have all missed time at some point during this slump, but tonight all three should be on the floor. It would seem to be a perfect time to get right for Los Angeles.

The underrated aspect of this spot is the two days of rest for the Clippers. Their loss to the Hawks over the weekend was their sixth game in nine days. This is the first time in two weeks this team goes into a game with multiple days of rest, along with a rest advantage. They should also have Terance Mann on the floor, as he is expected to suit up.

This is also just a poor Portland team. The Trail Blazers are 7-3-1 ATS this month, but five of those covers came against lesser teams like the Grizzlies and Raptors. They lack the physical pieces to defend Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the wing, and their depth has been tested with injury. It’s risky, but I’ll bank on the bounce-back with rest for Los Angeles.

Best Bet: Clippers (-12) – Playable at (-12) or better

NBA Best Bets

Grizzlies (+11)

Clippers (-12)

Remaining Games

Indiana Pacers (-8.5, 234) at Detroit Pistons

Simone Fontecchio is questionable to play for Detroit. Fontecchio has become an integral part of the Pistons rotation – 15.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 30.3 minutes per game – and his status is paramount to their success. If he cannot play tonight then Detroit becomes much less attractive, especially with Ausar Thompson still sidelined with illness. Indiana is also due for some positive regression when it comes to Tyrese Haliburton. In his last 11 games Haliburton is averaging 14.8 points and 9.5 assists on 39.0% shooting from the floor. He is shooting 19.0% on 7.2 3-point attempts per game. Those percentages could snap back at any moment, and against a lesser team potentially missing two of its better perimeter players could be the spot for it to happen. The Pacers up to -10.5 at multiple shops as of this morning, likely due to the Fontecchio injury and some support.

Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers (-3, 203.5)

Jimmy Butler is questionable once again, and the market seems to believe he will return from a two-game absence. As someone who was burned by trying to predict his return against Philadelphia, I cannot condone trying to get in front of the news before confirmation. Miami will also be without Duncan Robinson tonight, who has been playing well. Robinson has started 14 of 15 appearances and averaged 15.1 points, 3.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds on 47.9% shooting from the floor. His loss is massive for a team struggling for continuity on offense. Still, Cleveland is without four rotational players: Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Dean Wade and Evan Mobley. The Cavaliers have covered six of 10 games since an 0-7 ATS run, but if the Heat get Butler on the floor they should be the side tonight. Miami is an elite defensive team with Butler and Bam Adebayo (111.3 points per 100 possessions allowed). They will be better equipped to handle Caris LeVert – 23 points, 8 rebounds, 11 assists against Indiana – and this thin Cavaliers squad.

Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics (-6.5, 223.5)

Giannis Antetokounmpo was ruled out early today, and as a result this number is now -10.5 consensus in favor of Boston. Milwaukee has pulled off a couple of upsets in the last month without Antetokounmpo on the floor, the most recent being on Sunday when Damian Lillard scored 31 points with 16 assists in a 140-129 win over Phoenix. The Bucks had the benefit of playing at home in that game and in the win over the Clippers. Today, they are in Boston where Antetokounmpo’s absence will be felt. The Celtics are 6-0 SU and ATS since losing consecutive games to the Cavaliers and Nuggets. Given how well Milwaukee has responded in games without Antetokounmpo – 3-1 SU and ATS in four games – this number is on the high side. However, those wanting to get involved might want to wait for the status of Jaylen Brown, Sam Hauser and Jrue Holiday. If all three play this number could get higher.

Sacramento Kings (-8.5, 233.5) at Toronto Raptors

Scottie Barnes, Jakob Poeltl and Chris Boucher are all essentially out for the season with injury. That had led to disastrous results for the Raptors. Toronto is 0-7 SU in its last seven games, and 1-9 SU/2-8 ATS in its last 10 contests. Over that stretch the Raptors have the second-worst net rating (-11.8) in the league. To make matters worse, absences from other key players are starting to pile up. RJ Barrett remains out tonight for personal matters, and Immanuel Quickley is out as well for the same reason. It would seem that this is a prime opportunity for Sacramento, but they have not handled expectations well. The Kings are 7-12 ATS in their last 19 games, and as a favorite this season they are 19-25 ATS. Neither team is worth asking to cover this number today.

Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder (-12.5, 236.5)

Oklahoma City comes into this contest after two days off looking to snap an ATS slide. The Thunder have finally earned the market’s respect, but it has led to a massive spike in their power rating. As a result, they are 2-7 ATS in their last nine games. In those contests they laid an average of 9.2 points per game. Today, Oklahoma City is up to -15.5 over Utah. The market is all over this team right now, and there is no value in laying some of these massive numbers, as evidenced by recent results. Yet, I am not running to back the Jazz here. Jordan Clarkson and Lauri Markkanen are out tonight. John Collins is questionable to play. The team is currently 3-1-3 SU/5-11 ATS since dealing away three rotation players at the deadline. Over that span they have the second-worst net rating in non-garbage time (-8.7) and the worst defensive rating (124.0). 

Philadelphia 76ers at Phoenix Suns (-8.5, 221)

Phoenix might be the most overrated team in the NBA right now. The Suns are 6-7 SU/3-10 ATS in their last 13 games, and they have slipped to 29th in ATS win percentage on the season (40.0%). As a favorite Phoenix is 20-28-3 ATS this season. There is almost no evidence that this team is worth laying prices with, and until we see the market adjust it is worth it to either go against this team, or leave the game off entirely. Those who shape the market seem to agree with that logic, as this number has dropped to 8.5 after initially moving toward the home team. Keep in mind that Tobias Harris is questionable for Philadelphia after missing the last two contests. An appearance from him would be worth about a half-point for the 76ers here.