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NBA Best Bets

Record: 115-114-3 | Units: -7.8

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Indiana Pacers at Milwaukee Bucks (-3.5, 239.5)

Giannis Antetokounmpo is out with injury. Indiana is 4-1 SU and ATS against Milwaukee this season. The Bucks finished the season 3-8 SU and ATS with a -3.8 net rating in non-garbage time. All of these factors have brought us to this point, where Milwaukee is an underdog in both the series and the first game, despite having homecourt.

Bettors who got in early were right to do so. But, at this point it would seem we have gone too far in one direction. The Bucks have plenty of flaws, but to make them underdogs at home in a playoff game when their opponent has exploitable flaws as well is too much by my measure.

Indiana did acquire Pascal Siakam in the time since last facing Milwaukee, but they still finished 22nd in non-garbage time defensive efficiency (116.8) in the 41 games after the trade. The Pacers’ halfcourt defense was fourth-worst over that span (101.3). 

There should also be questions as to how effective Tyrese Haliburton can be. Since suffering a serious hamstring injury, Haliburton has averaged 16.6 points and 9.3 assists on 45.7% shooting from the floor and 32.5% shooting from deep. He was averaging 23.6 points and 12.4 assists on 50.3% shooting and 41.0% on 3-point attempts in the previous 33 games.

Homecourt is extremely valuable in the postseason. One could make the argument – and they would have a very strong argument – that its value is worth four points or more. Yet, here we have a team as an underdog on its home floor against a team which is an equal to it at best.

Best Bet: Bucks ML (-105)

Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Clippers (-2, 227)

Similarly, it is very easy to understand how we have come to this point with the betting market for Dallas. Kawhi Leonard is unlikely to play this afternoon, and his status for the series is in doubt. The Mavericks come into the postseason on a 16-4 SU and ATS run. The Clippers were 17-16 SU/10-23 ATS in their final 33 games.

But, much like the contest between Indiana and Milwaukee, it would seem we have gone too far in one direction.

Dallas has been on a dominant run, but context matters. In their last 20 games the Mavericks faced just three teams that rank 10th or higher in non-garbage time net rating. They went 1-2 SU with a -20.7 net rating. The team deserves credit for taking care of the opponents in front of them, but it hardly ran through a gauntlet of contenders.

Los Angeles also has matchups it can exploit as well. Paul George and James Harden can target both Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving on defense. George specifically averaged 24.8 points and 5.2 rebounds on 51.8% shooting from the floor and 47.9% from distance. The Clippers quietly turned their defense around over the last three weeks of the regular season as well, and limited their last 11 opponents to 110.3 points per 100 possessions.

Once again, I just feel like we have gone too far in one direction. In a setting in which homecourt means so much, catching three points is valuable. Los Angeles is not dead in the water without Kawhi Leonard. They have talent and depth to push Dallas. It is easy to see why we are here, but we should see some market buyback before tip-off.

Best Bet: Clippers (+3)

NBA Best Bets

Bucks ML (-105)

Clippers (+3)