Mears: How I’m Betting Monday’s NBA Summer League Slate

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Photo credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Miles Bridges

  • NBA Summer League action in Las Vegas continues Monday at 3 p.m. ET.
  • Below I walk through intriguing games to bet on, as well as player news I'll be keeping an eye on.

These pieces have gone 8-5 so far, although there were a couple bad beats, notably with Frank Jackson not playing for the Pelicans on Saturday night. That shows the importance of staying on Twitter up to game time to get valuable information.

It’s a tough balance to strike: Lines continue to move so much after opening, so you can either grab openers or wait until there’s definitive news on important players. I think I would take the latter approach, especially for the most impactful guys in Vegas.

Let’s also recap some betting trends before we get into tonight’s slate of games. I went through a bunch of historically profitable Summer League trends here, and they mostly focused on betting underdogs and overs.

So far this year, underdogs have gone 12-14 against the spread (ATS), and even unpopular dogs — historically very profitable — haven’t made bettors money so far in 2019:

  • Underdogs with less than 50% of bets: 10-13 ATS
  • Underdogs with less than 40% of bets: 6-8 ATS
  • Underdogs with less than 30% of bets: 2-3 ATS

Instead, it’s been better to grab those dogs on the moneylines: While they’ve gone just 9-9 straight-up so far in 2019, because of their plus odds they’ve netted bettors $493.

Overs have historically crushed in Summer League. They’ve returned a profit this season, too, at 14-12 so far, but they’ve done better if they’ve seen line movement. When an over has moved up, it’s gone 14-9. That’s against the closing number, mind you, so if you can grab openers lower, you likely have an even better record than that.

Alright, let’s go through some games today…

OKC Thunder vs. Philadelphia 76ers (-3.5), 174.5 — 3 p.m. ET

This Thunder team really struggled in its first game on Saturday, putting up just 66 points en route to a 12-point loss to the Jazz. That Utah team was solid, led by Tony Bradley, who went for 19 points and remains an intriguing defender, but the talent wasn’t exactly overwhelming. The Thunder just aren’t stocked with talent: Hamidou Diallo went for 20 points, but it was on 8-of-22 shooting, and the rest of the team was just as inefficient.

I assume Diallo will continue to play as they try to get him more reps on offense, but I’ll be looking to get some news on this 76ers team that beat the Bucks on Friday but lost to the Celtics on Saturday. If their young guys like Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton and Zhaire Smith go again, I think they’re the much more talented squad. They should regress a little offensively, particularly Milton, who went an atrocious 2-of-15 from the field in Saturday’s loss.

If they don’t play, however, I’ll pass on this game.

Betting lean: Sixers -3.5

Sacramento Kings vs. Dallas Mavericks (-2.5), 175 — 3:30 p.m. ET

The Kings haven’t looked particularly impressive so far this summer, and they’re coming off a 94-77 win over China that might seem noteworthy until you realize they were nearly 30-point favorites. The Heat beat that China team by over 40 points on Day 1, so not covering the spread on Saturday isn’t great. The team features some names you might recognize like Hollis Thompson and Semaj Christon, but those are guys who have flamed out of the league.

The Mavericks, meanwhile, have looked awesome so far and continue to play 24-year-old Cam Payne, a former lottery pick for the Thunder in 2015. He’s had a disappointing pro career so far, but he’s at least proving he can be effective against rookies and non-NBA talent. If the rosters hold and Payne plays, I’ll be looking to fade this Kings team.

Betting lean: Mavs -2.5

Washington Wizards vs. Brooklyn Nets (-4), 177 — 5:30 p.m. ET

Update: Jarrett Allen is out today. I’ll pass on this game now.

It does make me uncomfortable taking all favorites so far, but I think there’s an edge on the Nets in this one, too. I was not high on this Wiz team coming into Summer League, but they did win their first game against the Pels on Saturday. That said, the Pels’ main NBA guys — Frank Jackson, Kenrich Williams, Zion Williamson and Christian Wood — all sat out. Given the talent disparity, the Wiz honestly should’ve won by more than five points.

The Nets, meanwhile, lost on Friday to the Mavericks, despite starting a loaded lineup with Jarrett Allen, Rodions Kurucs, Dzanan Musa and Theo Pinson. Allen was a -7 in that game, and I’m not expecting that continue, especially against a Wizards team I’m still willing to sell. Make sure those Nets guys are all going, though.

Betting lean: Nets -4

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics (-3.5), 169.5 — 7:30 p.m. ET

Well, here we are with another intriguing favorite. It’s a weird day. The Celtics have an interesting roster; last game they started Aaron Harrison, Guerschon Yabusele, Robert Williams, Tremont Waters and Carsen Edwards. That’s a solid starting five, and Edwards in particular looked impressive in the victory, hitting five 3-pointers and grabbing three steals in 28 minutes.

The Cavs didn’t play most of their main guys last game, including Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr. and Dylan Windler. Maybe those guys suit up today. But if not, this Celtics team with their main guys playing should be more than -3.5.

Betting lean: Celtics -3.5

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Chicago Bulls (pick), 172.5 — 9:30 p.m. ET

The Pelicans were able to hang with the Wizards last game despite not playing Frank Jackson, Kenrich Williams, Zion Williamson or Christian Wood, as mentioned above. Zion is out for the remainder of Summer League, but I’ll be looking for news on the rest of the guys. If they don’t go, this team isn’t exactly stocked with NBA talent, and I think they’re overvalued here after playing close an uninspiring Wiz roster.

The Bulls are now 1-1 in Vegas, beating the Lakers by 20 on Friday and losing by seven against the Cavs on Sunday. It was a rough loss, as the Cavs didn’t play a whole lot of their main guys, but the Bulls’ talent is still better here. Coby White had seven turnovers and missed all four of this 3-pointers. I’ll bet on regression here and take the better team at a pick’em if the rosters hold as they did last game.

Betting lean: Bulls pick’em if the Pelicans guys don’t play, Over 172.5

China vs. Charlotte Hornets (-22), 171.5 — 11 p.m. ET

If you’re feeling adventurous, there might be some value on the Hornets here. The China national team managed to cover the huge spread — it got up to 30 at one point — albeit against an underwhelming Kings team. This Hornets squad, which started tons of guys with NBA talent last game — Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, Isaiah Hicks, Devonte’ Graham and Cody Martin — is much better than that Kings one.

Thus, I think this line being down at 22 is a bit of an overreaction to China covering and the Hornets losing last game. If Charlotte plays all its guys again, the talent disparity should be overwhelming.

Betting lean: Hornets -22

Golden State Warriors vs. LA Lakers, 172.5 — 11:30 p.m. ET

This Lakers team remains terrible and has allowed 96 points to the Bulls and 93 points to the Clippers. I don’t think the defense will get any better, and when these teams played last week in the California Classic, they combined for 190 points in a shootout. At a number of 172.5 and with movement on the over already, I’ll grab it here again.

Betting lean: Over 172.5

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