NBA Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Wednesday, March 1st

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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!

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All game lines via the VSiN NBA odds page

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*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back
**Lines are opening numbers

Best Bets

Record: 51-56 | Units: -7.29 | ROI: -7.00%

*Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks (-7, 221.5)

Brooklyn put forth a hot first quarter against Milwaukee last night, dropping 34 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the floor and averaging 1.172 points per possession. However, that inconsistent offense reared its ugly head and managed just 70 points the rest of the game, and only 19 in the final quarter. The Nets have averaged just 109.2 points per 100 possessions on offense while giving up 122.3 over the last six games. That sample size is relevant because it is the games in which they have played with this newly constructed roster, which has shown to be incapable of efficiently scoring or defending. Now, they must face New York, which is 8-1 SU and ATS in its last nine games and has one of its most impactful defenders back on the floor in Mitchell Robinson.

This being a back-to-back it is already a poor spot for Brooklyn, and its opponent is one of the best first half teams in the NBA. New York has outscored opponents by 6.1 points per 100 possessions in the first half of games this season, which is the seventh best first half net rating in the league, and their 117.3 offensive rating is fourth. With the rest advantage, the poor play defensively from Brooklyn and the addition of Robinson to this matchup I feel comfortable expecting a good first half of play from the Knickerbockers.

Bet: Knicks 1H (-4.5)

*Chicago Bulls (-5.5, 226.5) at Detroit Pistons

Shoutout to Jeff Schwarze on Twitter with a great observation about the Chicago Bulls. Chicago is now 3-0 to the Under in the three games in which both Patrick Beverley and Alex Caruso start after last night. With that backcourt on the floor the Bulls have allowed just 0.898 points per 100 possessions, but their offense has managed just 1.14 per possession. In those possessions they have rarely run as well, starting just 9.8% of their offensive possessions with a transition play. Shockingly, the market has caught as it usually has and dropped this total down to 224 this morning, but that might not be enough given how poorly Detroit has played on offense recently.

Bet: UNDER (224)

Best Bet Recap

Knicks 1H (-4.5)
Bulls/Pistons UN (224)

NBA Games & Odds

Phoenix Suns (-10, 232.5) at Charlotte Hornets

Kevin Durant will make his Phoenix Suns debut in this game tonight, but he will be on a minutes restriction, according to reports. Since Jan. 19, when Phoenix started getting its personnel back from injury, the Suns’ offense has been average, putting up 113.2 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time. The offensive production should be more efficient for Phoenix with Durant on the floor, and it changes things for the others around him. 

For those looking to just jump in and bet Phoenix because Durant is on the floor can find other ways to maximize his presence. Because there is another scorer next to him, perhaps look at playing Over on Devin Booker assists which is 5.5 at +120 at DraftKings. Deandre Ayton is also going to be the recipient of some great looks, as teams can never afford to double him again with so much scoring talent on the floor. His points and rebounds prop is 31.5 as of this morning. Durant’s presence has already been baked into this side and total, but his effect on the players around him is hard to quantify early, and that is where some edges can be found.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics (-6.5, 225.5)

Boston might have the third best offense in the NBA as of today, but in two games against Cleveland this season it has been stymied. The Celtics managed just 1.078 points per possession in two early season losses, both of which took place before the first week of November ended. This game is also in Boston, and the Cavaliers have struggled away from home this season, coming into this game 13-18 SU/12-17-2 ATS on the road. The early games in this series did play out differently, but there were some constants, the biggest one being Cleveland going a combined 31-of-40 at the rim with 14 drawn shooting fouls. The gap between these two, due to the on-court matchup, is very small, and it’s not surprising that the market is pushing this number to 5.5 on the board. The overnight total of 225.5 is long gone as well, with 221 being the predominant number. Both games this season went Over their respective totals, but both went to overtime with the second contest needing the extra period to get over the number.

Philadelphia 76ers (-1, 215.5) at Miami Heat

These two teams met in Philadelphia on Monday, and in the rematch in South Beach the market opened the total 1.5 points lower and the spread a point higher in favor of the 76ers. The adjustment on the total is not surprising. That game on Monday went Under the total by 18 points and there were a total of 91 possessions between these two teams, so an adjustment is warranted. However, the spread that day would translate to PK here in Miami, but not only did this open -1 in favor of the 76ers, but the market has pushed this line up to -2 consensus. Philadelphia did a great job of suffocating Miami’s subpar offense on Monday, but it undermined its own efforts by turning the ball over on 22.0% of its offensive possessions, a figure which is absolutely brutal in such a slow contest. Revenge for the 76ers is certainly possible tonight, but it’s clear that the betting market has factored that angle into this number already.

*Memphis Grizzlies (-9.5, 233.5) at *Houston Rockets

Houston was blown out by Denver last night to fall to 0-10 SU/3-7 ATS in its last 10 games. There are quite a few people getting into betting the league now that the All-Star break is over that want to jump in and start ‘fading’ these bad teams, but as the San Antonio Spurs taught those folks last night, it is a lot of risk for potentially no gain. That is not to say that I believe the Rockets are a team worth betting on, but that bettors are getting little value in betting against these teams, as their intentions to lose are already baked into these lines. Memphis is certainly capable of covering this number, but the Grizzlies are also 11-18 SU/9-18-2 ATS away from home this season.

Orlando Magic at *Milwaukee Bucks (-9.5, 226.5)

Giannis Antetokounmpo has dealt with wrist and quad injuries in the last two weeks, so it is very likely he does not play tonight against Orlando and the market is moving like that will be the case. The Magic grabbed a win over the Pelicans last time out, but the team has been treading water recently with a 3-3 SU/2-4 ATS record in its previous six games. Bettors will obviously want to confirm Antetokounmpo’s status later in the day, or they can gamble and take 8.5 with a number that likely closes 7.5 or lower should he miss the game as we expect.

*Los Angeles Lakers at *Oklahoma City Thunder (-1)

Los Angeles was limited to just 1.009 points per possession by Memphis last night. While there is little shame in being stymied by the best defensive home team in the NBA, there should be growing concern about the Lakers’ offense without LeBron James. As noted yesterday, they managed just 1.037 points per possession in the two games prior without James and they were just as inefficient without him last night. Oklahoma City might be working its way down the standings as it usually does this time of year, so perhaps we see a breakout performance tonight against the Thunder, but as currently constructed Los Angeles might not be a team worth backing.

New Orleans Pelicans at *Portland Trail Blazers (-2, 232.5)

Portland continues to be one of the worst defensive teams in the league, and that is not going to change. Last night they allowed 1.258 points per possession to the Golden State Warriors in a 123-105 loss that was only that close because of a 41-point first quarter by the Trail Blazers. Having said that, it is amazing how low the market is on Portland. New Orleans is as thin as it can be heading into this game. Jose Alvarado and Larry Nance Jr. have joined Zion Williamson on the sideline due to injury, and both Josh Richardson and Jonas Valanciunas are questionable to play. Still, the market is not even giving Portland its full home court advantage with this line. Given the issues with the Pelicans’ roster, if there is going to be no surprises on the Trail Blazers’ injury report tonight this seems like a buy-low spot on Portland.