After we examined the Ben Simmons vs. Lonzo Ball race for Rookie of the Year, the Aussie came out and dominated the matchup on Wednesday. As a result, William Hill responded by blowing Ball’s Rookie of the Year odds out even further, shifting from +450 to +550 overnight.
With Simmons so far out in front, there’s little value in the ROY market right now, but there are a few lines in tonight’s games worth a look.
Heat (6-8) @ Wizards (8-5)
The two teams played in Miami on Wednesday with Washington winning the up-and-down affair 102-93. With a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter, it looked as though the Heat would steal the win, but the Wizards went small and blew them away.
Given the success of going small once Markieff Morris was ejected, I’d expect them to play with that lineup a lot more tonight.
Without Hassan Whiteside manning the paint, the Heat can’t contain a slashing John Wall. But even if he’s out there, the Wizards are hitting plenty of jump shots, especially from beyond the arc (36.9 percent).
I like the Wizards to cover the -5 here. They trump the Heat in every offensive efficiency metric while also holding their own defensively in the last four games to keep their opponents to under 95 points.
With the intel they gathered in the fourth quarter on Wednesday, this should be a comfortable cover at home.
Pick: Wizards -4.5
Pelicans (8-7) @ Nuggets (8-6)
The Nuggets have been spending a lot of time in Denver recently, and it’s starting to pay off.
Tonight they host the Pelicans who, while having won four of their last six, are being a little overvalued. They’ve picked up wins against the awful Mavericks and Hawks, needed overtime to beat the Bulls, and crept past an injury-plagued Clippers. The only decent win came against the Pacers, and Indiana isn’t even an above .500 team right now.
The Nuggets, on the other hand, have won five of their last six, including wins against the Magic, Thunder and a big 18-point victory over the Raptors – the team that gave the Pelicans their two most recent L’s.
As expected, #Nuggets G Gary Harris (shoulder) will play tonight vs New Orleans, coach Michael Malone said.
— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) November 17, 2017
The Nuggets are deep, and with Gary Harris returning, now have six players in the rotation averaging double figures.
Being so heavily reliant on DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis puts a lot of pressure on the Pelicans wing players, who don’t often have enough in them to make up for either of their superstar forwards having an off night.
Rajon Rondo has returned for the Pelicans and is slowly being incorporated into their rotation. Depending on how you look at it, his increasing role can either be seen as a positive or a negative. I personally think he’s an awful fit, but others, like Pelicans writer Jim Eichenhofer, are excited to see he’s healthy:
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) November 17, 2017
With the rotation up in the air and perhaps too much excitement surrounding their rather pedestrian schedule of late, I think the Pelicans will struggle against an improving Nuggets team.
Pick: Nuggets -4.5
Hornets (5-8) @ Bulls (2-10)
Similar to the Pelicans, the recent form of the Hornets can be somewhat attributed to scheduling. They are on a five-game losing streak, which never looks good, but four of those losses came on the road to good teams in the Spurs, Timberwolves, Knicks and Celtics. The loss at home was at the hands of the improving Cavaliers.
There have been a lot of five-game losing streaks much worse than what the Hornets have produced. Most importantly, though, Nic Batum is back in the starting lineup after returning from injury.
In the last 8 games the Hornets bench has been outscored by 65 points.
In the last 8 games the Hornets starters have outscored their opponents starters by 41 points.
Not exactly hard to figure out who is falling flat here.
— Hornets Sports Spot (@HornetSportSpot) November 17, 2017
The subsequent shift of Jeremy Lamb to the bench gives the second unit the bonafide scorer they desperately need.
It’s not a night on which the Hornets need everybody to fire. The Bulls already give up 102.9 points per game (23nd) while only scoring 92.4 themselves (30th).
They are, quite simply, awful.
Chicago got blown out by 39 points in San Antonio on Saturday and followed it up with a seven-point first quarter in their 92-79 loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
More than anything, I think the Hornets are being undervalued at the moment. As they move closer to full strength, they’ll move up the standings. They are a good team, and one that should deal with the Bulls tonight in Chicago.
Pick: Hornets -6.5
Leans and remaining games:
Pistons (10-4) @ Pacers (7-8)
The Pistons look legit and are 5-1 against the spread on the road.
Lean: Pistons +1
Clippers (5-8) @ Cavaliers(8-7)
Still plagued by injury, the Clippers have failed to fire without Danilo Gallinari. Blake Griffin can’t do it all on his own.
Lean: Cavaliers -6.5
Suns (5-11) @ Lakers (6-9)
Lakers are playing at home against a Suns team that gave up 142 points to the Rockets last night. I’m leaning toward a big purple and gold win.
Lean: Lakers -7.5
Knicks (8-6) @ Raptors (9-5)
Jazz (6-9) @ Nets (5-9)
Thunder (7-7) @ Spurs (9-6)
Timberwolves (9-5) @ Mavericks (2-13)
Trail Blazers (8-6) @ Kings (3-11)