NBA Betting, DFS Angles for Every Wednesday Game
Could we have an Eastern Conference Finals preview tonight? It’s certainly a possibility the way things are trending.
The last March Madness-less slate before the weekend features eight games, highlighted by Toronto at Cleveland. Build your bankroll tonight before losing it on a last-second backdoor buzzer-beater by an unpaid college kid Thursday. — Mark Gallant
All info as of Wednesday morning. Check back during the day and keep an eye on our Twitter handle for any updates.
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The Main Events
TORONTO RAPTORS AT CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (-2) | O/U: 226.5
7 p.m. ET | ESPN
What I’m watching for: Winning this game won’t make Toronto feel like it’s going to beat Cleveland in the playoffs. The only way the Raptors will really feel confident is when the clock hits zero on a fourth win in a series. But losing tonight will of course inspire doubt.
Kevin Love’s return is so big for the Cavs. He opens the floor up so much for what they want to do offensively, and he should find more comfort with the Cavs’ new additions, particularly Jordan Clarkson, who should benefit from Love’s passing.
The Cavs match up on paper much better with their new additions, particularly against the Raptors’ outrageously good bench. But Toronto has tenacity. This game means very little for playoff positioning, but it means a great deal for Toronto maintaining confidence that this is finally its year. — Matt Moore
Betting market: This game is almost split in terms of bets and dollars, but a sharp bet signal on the Cavs has the line moving in their favor. After opening at a PK this morning, a steam move on Cleveland has their line up to -2. — Mark Gallant
What the metrics say: Somehow these teams have met just once this season, at the beginning of January. It was a 133-99 evisceration in favor of the Raptors; the entire fourth quarter was labeled as garbage time by Cleaning the Glass. The Cavs scored just 96.0 points per 100 possessions, and their 36.8% effective field-goal mark was one of the worst marks all season by any team. I mean, look at this carnage:
It will be interesting to see whether the new version of the Cavs can hang better. On one hand, Isaiah Thomas won’t jack up 15 shots and make just two of them. On the other hand, even if the Cavs do score, they may get blown out on the other end of the floor: They’ve allowed over 114.0 points/100 in each of their past three games. They do catch the Raps coming off a back-to-back, and DeMar DeRozan isn’t suiting up. Perhaps all of that levels the field. — Bryan Mears
Trend No. 1 to know: DeRozan is set to miss his first game of the season for the Raptors with a thigh injury. Over the past three seasons, the Raptors are 7-5 straight-up and 9-3 against the spread without DeRozan on the floor, including 4-4 SU in road games. — Evan Abrams
L.A. CLIPPERS AT MILWAUKEE BUCKS (-5) | O/U: 222.5
8 p.m. ET
What I’m watching for: The Clippers match up really well here. Their offense is predicated on catching the defense unaware or in disadvantages, and Milwaukee does a really poor job of compensating for its weaknesses.
That said, Tobias Harris has shot just 17-of-38 against the Bucks this year, averaging just 15 points per game. That’s a big chunk of the Clippers’ offense. It’s likely their wing cutters and bigs on putbacks will pick up a lot of the scoring. — Matt Moore
What the metrics say: These teams have somewhat similar offensive profiles. Both of their biggest offensive strengths are getting to the foul line and the rim, ranking in the top five in both regards. And both foul a ton, which means this game could be very stop-and-go. The biggest difference is that the Bucks allow the most shots at the rim this season, and the Clips are slightly above average in that category. Both squads should generate efficient looks, but at least L.A. has something resembling a rim protector in DeAndre Jordan. One area the Bucks could win is in transition: They rank sixth in offensive transition, mostly thanks to alien Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the Clips rank 24th in transition defense. — Bryan Mears
Betting market: Bets and dollars on the Bucks have pushed their line to -5, but the movement on the total is a bit more interesting. A steam move on the under at Pinnacle, perhaps the sharpest offshore book, has dropped the line from 224.5 to 222.5 since opening. — Mark Gallant
Trend No. 1 to know: Since Feb. 1, the Bucks are 1-9 ATS at home, failing to cover the spread by 4.3 PPG. Only the Cavaliers have been less profitable at home than the Bucks this season (10-23-3 ATS). — Evan Abrams
Trend No. 2 to know: The Clippers are battling for the No. 8 seed in the West. L.A. needs victories, but is in a difficult spot Wednesday. Road underdogs on a back-to-back, like the Clippers, late in the season (March-April) have gone 312-814 (28%) SU since 2005. — John Ewing
INDIANA PACERS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (-1) | O/U: 219
8 p.m. ET
What I’m watching for: Jrue Holiday vs. Victor Oladipo. It’s rare that guards match up one-on-one in today’s NBA, but with how Oladipo attacks in mid-transition, there will be plenty of times when he tries to challenge the All-Defensive-Team-worthy Holiday. One of the big keys will be if Holiday can locate Oladipo before he gets to half court. You have to get a body in front of Oladipo or he is getting to the rim.
The other key will be if E’Twaun Moore can keep up with Bojan Bogdanovic coming off screens. Bogdanovic has almost as many points off screens as he does in spot-up situations this season, thanks to how quick, strong and smart he is at coming off them. Moore and Rajon Rondo have to stay attached to him constantly to keep him from getting those looks. — Matt Moore
What the metrics say: Over the first month of the season, new Pacer Oladipo averaged 22.8 points per game on 47.0% shooting, including 43.8% from the 3-point line. In December, he was at 28.5 points per game on 50.8% shooting and 40.6% from behind the arc. The dude was clearly playing way over his head, and he’s seen a ton of regression. In February he shot 23.4% from the 3-point line, and so far in March he’s barely hitting a 3 per game. And, to be frank, with Dipo not hitting ridiculous shots, the Pacers are a very average team: They rank 16th with a +0.4 net rating over their past 10 games. I’m not sure how they stop Anthony Davis, who went for 37 points and 14 rebounds in their first contest this season. — Bryan Mears
Betting market: This game has seen sharp action on both sides. After opening as a two point dog, sharp action on the Pacers pushed their line all the way to -1.5. They remained a favorite for about two hours this morning before buyback on the Pelicans moved the line back in their favor. — Mark Gallant
WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT SAN ANTONIO SPURS (-6) | O/U: 202
9:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
What I’m watching for: Washington plays San Antonio tough at full strength, in typical ‘Zards fashion. Bradley Beal should give the Spurs’ wings fits, and Kyle Anderson won’t be able to exploit a lack of attention with Otto Porter on the floor. Much of this may come down to how the Spurs’ crazy coin-flip bench performs. Patty Mills has a negative net rating on the season but was a plus-21 Monday against the Warriors.
This game will be slow and ugly, like a sloth fight. — Matt Moore
What the metrics say: These teams have two of the worst offensive shot profiles in the league:
- Wizards: 28th in frequency of shots from the rim, 23rd in 3-point rate
- Spurs: 27th in frequency of shots from the rim, 26th in 3-point rate
The big difference is coaching: The Spurs aren’t particularly good at those shots, even though they’re some of the most efficient in basketball, and thus they build around LaMarcus Aldridge in the midrange. Washington is great at the efficient areas, ranking sixth in field-goal percentage at the rim and seventh in 3-point percentage. The Wizards should clearly be optimizing their offense more around those areas. The Wiz have more talent, but Pop has a big coaching edge. We’ll see which one wins out. — Bryan Mears
Trend to know: The Wizards are well-rested, having last played on Saturday. In the second half of the season, teams with four or more days between games (like the Wiz) on the road facing an opponent on normal rest (two days between games) have gone 76-55 (58%) ATS since 2005. — John Ewing
Quick Hits on the Rest of the Slate
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES AT PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (-12.5) | O/U: 211
7 p.m. ET
What I’m watching for: What fun ailment will Tyreke Evans mysteriously have before this game? — Matt Moore
Referee data: Mark Gallant breaks down tonight’s officiating crew, which has historically favored the road team, in this article.
Trend No. 1 to know: Memphis has been the least profitable Western Conference team against Eastern Conference opponents this season, going 9-18 ATS, costing a $100 bettor $933. — John Ewing
Trend No. 2 to know: Since 2004, teams with a winning percentage below 30% that covered at least two straight games in March or later are 91-127-7 ATS (41.7%) in the following game, failing to cover the spread by 1.4 PPG. Since 2012, teams in this spot are 24-45-1 ATS (34.8%) and are under .500 ATS each individual season. The Grizzlies fit this trend tonight. — Evan Abrams
CHARLOTTE HORNETS AT BROOKLYN NETS (-1) | O/U: 221.5
7:30 p.m. ET
What I’m watching for: Enjoy these last few days of this Hornets team, because everything from the top down is likely to be different in a few weeks. Or don’t: They are 1-14 in games decided by three points or less in the past two seasons, which is enough to make anyone watching cry. — Matt Moore
NEW YORK KNICKS AT MIAMI HEAT (-10) | O/U: 214
7:30 p.m. ET
What I’m watching for: Remember that time Jeff Van Gundy tackled Alonzo Mourning’s leg? — Matt Moore
Trend to know: Never underestimate how bad the Knicks are at tanking. Since 2005, the Knicks are 23-15 ATS (60.5%) when their winning percentage for the season is below 40% and they’ve won at least two games in a row. — Evan Abrams
DENVER NUGGETS (-9) AT CHICAGO BULLS | O/U: 220
8 p.m. ET
What I’m watching for: The Nuggets are 7-8 this season SU on the road vs. teams under .500. They cannot win the games they should. — Matt Moore
Trend to know: After the All-Star break, fading bad teams (won less than 40% of games) as home underdogs facing a .500-or-better opponent has gone 397-313-12 (56%) ATS since 2005. — John Ewing
Did you know? Over the past decade, the Bulls are 63-41-1 ATS (60.6%) as home underdogs, by far the most profitable team in the NBA. Even recently, the Bulls have been good in this spot, going 30-19-1 ATS over the past three seasons. — Evan Abrams
Top photo: Wizards guard Bradley Beal
Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports