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Remember yesterday when I said we were going to discontinue all college basketball coverage and focus on just NBA? I don’t think even our hard-core NBA guys were in favor of that.

 

Many of you may succumb to the temptations of betting on toothpaste schools (such as Colgate) or schools that could moonlight as pasta dishes (such as La Salle). Well, go right ahead! Meanwhile, we’ll break down teams that everyone has heard of and players who are known in more than five households across the nation. — 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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UTA-IND | TOR-DET | HOU-MIL | CLE-DEN | Quick Hits on the Rest of the Slate


The Main Events

UTAH JAZZ (-1.5) AT INDIANA PACERS | O/U: 201

7 p.m. ET

What I’m watching for: The Pacers rank third overall in the league at fast-break points produced per 100 possessions. The Jazz rank third overall at preventing them. Something’s got to give. Much of this game will be determined by how those run-outs off misses go, and who wins the battle of Victor Oladipo vs. Donovan Mitchell. — Matt Moore

 

What the metrics say: The Jazz’s offense has been rough of late: They’ve scored 103.2 points per 100 possessions or worse in five of their past six games. Fortunately, their defense with a healthy Rudy Gobert can make up for that: They’re 4-2 in that stretch, and over their past 10 games, they rank fourth in the league with a +6.7 net rating. These teams played earlier in the year, but I wouldn’t put any stock in that one. Gobert was out and the Pacers put up 120.7 points/100. One area I will be monitoring is the transition game. The Pacers rank first in the league in transition offense this season, and they added 6.2 points in transition in that first game against the Jazz. With Gobert back, things in the half court will tighten up, so they’ll need to get running with Oladipo to generate high-efficiency looks. — Bryan Mears

DFS nugget: This game has been omitted from the FanDuel main slate, but it likely wouldn’t have garnered much attention anyway: The over/under of 201 points is the lowest mark on the slate by a considerable margin. One player who deserves some consideration on DraftKings, however, is Rudy Gobert. He’s scored at least 47 DraftKings points in three straight games and has an Opponent Plus/Minus of +4.69. He remains affordable at $8,400, giving him a Bargain Rating of 97 percent. — Matt LaMarca

Victor Oladipo via Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Trend No. 1 to know: Despite having won 15 of their past 17 straight-up, the Jazz have dropped six of their past eight against the spread. During the Jazz’s 15-2 streak, they’re only 10-7 ATS, but their calling card has been defense. Since the streak started Jan. 24, Utah has the best Defensive Rating in the NBA by over four full points (96.8). — Evan Abrams

Trend No. 2 to know: The Pacers have won three consecutive games SU and ATS. With the Blazers and Pacers, coach Nate McMillan has excelled on winning streaks, going 35-23 ATS (60.3%) playing on a three-plus-game SU and ATS winning streak. — Evan Abrams


TORONTO RAPTORS (-5.5) AT DETROIT PISTONS | O/U: 214.5

8 p.m. ET | ESPN

What I’m watching for: Toronto clinches a playoff spot with a win, which is nothing but a formality, but still gives this game real stakes. Detroit is quickly watching the water of their season run down the drain, so this one could actually be a close, tense game. Toronto playing on a back-to-back with some motivation vs. Detroit is a fairly even matchup.

Keep an eye on Toronto’s bench unit, which should absolutely feast on the Pistons’ defensive problems with their reserves. — Matt Moore

What the metrics say: These teams played just a couple of weeks ago — so it included Blake Griffin — and the Raptors demolished the Pistons 114-90. Toronto scored 127.0 points/100 (94th percentile of games this year) and posted a 63.0% effective field-goal mark (93rd percentile). The Raptors did get hot from 3, hitting 47.1% of their shots from behind the arc, but where they did most of their damage was in transition, where they added a ridiculous 11.2 points (96th percentile). To put things simply: The Raptors are just an absolutely atrocious matchup for the Pistons. Detroit is terrible in the half court offensively but solid in transition; Toronto ranks first in half-court defense and fourth in transition. Over the past 10 games, the Raptors have put up a stupid-high +14.4 net rating. — Bryan Mears

 

DFS nugget: OG Anunoby will miss today’s game for Toronto, which could open up some value with the rest of the team. CJ Miles played 27 minutes yesterday in relief of Anunoby and has averaged 0.86 fantasy points per minute over the past month. He’s currently priced at the dead minimum on FanDuel, giving him a Bargain Rating of 90 percent. Jonas Valanciunas could also have some appeal: He’s seen at least 26 minutes in back-to-back games and has historically exceeded salary-based expectations by 4.88 points against the Pistons. — Matt LaMarca

Trend No. 1 to know: The Raptors played at home last night against the Hawks and are on a back-to-back on the road in Detroit. The back-to-back scenario from Canada to the U.S. has not been an issue ATS for Toronto. The Raptors are 14-6 ATS (70%) over the past four seasons and cover the spread 56.2% of the time since 2005. — Evan Abrams

Trend No. 2 to know: The Pistons have excelled at home ATS against the best teams in the NBA under Stan Van Gundy. When at home, they are 12-8 ATS vs. teams with a win rate of 70% or higher and 24-18-1 ATS vs. teams with a win rate of 60% or higher. — Evan Abrams

Trend No. 3 to know: Detroit lost Monday to Cleveland 112-90. Over the past three years, since we began tracking spread dollar percentages, teams off a blowout (loss of 15 or more points) getting less than 50% of spread dollars have gone 242-167-6 (59%) ATS in their next game. Track the Pistons’ spread dollar percentage using our NBA odds page. — John Ewing

HOUSTON ROCKETS (-6) AT MILWAUKEE BUCKS | O/U: 214

8 p.m. ET

What I’m watching for: Milwaukee is likely to push up-tempo on a tired Rockets team that’s coming off a physical showcase game against the Thunder. The Rockets have largely been immune to… well, everything that’s tried to slow them down or stop them this season, but with the line at six, I’d get awful nervous betting the Rockets. This seems like a trap. — Matt Moore

 

What the metrics say: The Rockets and Bucks met once this season in mid-December, and the Bucks held their own in Houston, losing by just four points. Giannis Antetokounmpo played 42 minutes, and on the other side, Trevor Ariza and James Harden went for 42 and 39, respectively. This game is full of star power, and we saw a ton of it in the first meeting. They were aggressive, too: The Bucks posted a free-throw rate of 33.3%, which is in the 94th percentile of games this year. The Rockets? They were at 45.3% — the 99th percentile. These teams were not afraid to attack the rim, and that’s the place I’m monitoring in this one. On the season, the Bucks rank dead last in frequency of shots allowed at the rim. That said, they’ve had a top-seven defense since Jason Kidd was fired. The Rockets are the ultimate test for where they really are. — Bryan Mears

DFS nugget: The Bucks’ defense may have improved after dumping Kidd, but it’s been a dumpster fire over the last 10 games. They’ve allowed 113.1 points per 100 possessions, which could spell trouble against the Rockets. James Harden has been his usual dominant self recently, averaging 1.53 fantasy points per minute and posting a perfect 100 percent Consistency Rating over the past month. There’s a chance he gets overlooked for some of the other superstars on today’s slate — Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Giannis Antetkounmpo, etc. — which increases his appeal in tournaments. — Matt LaMarca

Betting market: Nearly 80% of bettors are on the over, which is not all that uncommon for a Houston Rockets game. However, a sharp money indicator was triggered at Heritage on the under, which has pushed the total down a point since opening. — Mark Gallant

Trend No. 1 to know: Late in the regular season (March-April), elite NBA teams (win rate of 70% or higher) have gone 79-93-1 (46%) ATS when playing a back-to-back on the road since 2005. — John Ewing

Trend No. 2 to know: The Rockets are on a 16-game winning streak. Since January 2004, teams on a double-digit winning streak, playing on a back-to-back, are 23-36-1 ATS (39%). — Evan Abrams

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS AT DENVER NUGGETS (-3.5) | O/U: 229

10:30 p.m. ET | ESPN

What I’m watching for: This will mark the second time this season Denver will play Cleveland on a back to back. Having to face LeBron at rest disadvantage twice should be against the law. Beating a team twice in a week is hard enough, and the Nuggets are coming off a three-game road trip and a monstrously horrible loss in which coach Michael Malone benched their best player, Nikola Jokic. Oh, and they’re facing a rested Cavs team! Have we finally reached a point where the Cavs are underappreciated by bookmakers? — Matt Moore

Betting Market: In a relatively shocking development, the public is not all over the Cavs as a small underdog. They are getting 63% of bets, but that’s child’s play for Cleveland. They’ve received more than 63% in 42 of their 63 games so far this season, so this is actually a below-average public backing. With all of that being said, the Cavs have gone from +2 to +3, as two bet signals have been triggered on Denver. — Mark Gallant

What the metrics say: These teams met just this past weekend, and there was quite a bit of offense:

 

That said, it will be interesting to see how Larry Nance Jr. starting and playing the majority of the center minutes affects things. He was absolutely dominant in the Cavs’ most recent game, putting up 22 and 15 against the big Detroit frontcourt. The lineup of George Hill-Rodney Hood-J.R. Smith-LeBron James-Nance has played just 54 minutes together, but early returns are promising: +14.8 net rating, allowing just 101.8 points/100. It’s unclear whether the Cavaliers’ improved defense against the Pistons is real or says more about Detroit’s offense, but it’s certainly notable. After allowing 130.2 points/100 to Denver, Cleveland gave up just 94.3/100 to Detroit. That’s quite a difference, and if you believe it’ll continue, you should be pounding the under on the highest total of the day. — Bryan Mears

 

DFS nugget: Paul Millsap has been an outstanding fantasy option since returning from injury, exceeding value in all four of his games. He has one of the best matchups of the day against the Cavs, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +6.03. He’s especially appealing on DraftKings, where he has a Bargain Rating of 95 percent. His presence has also tanked the fantasy value of Nikola Jokic, who has averaged just 30.19 DraftKings points per game over his last four games. — Matt LaMarca

Trend No. 1 to know: The Cavs have been the least profitable team in the NBA this season against nonconference teams, going 6-16 ATS. This continues a trend from last season when Cleveland went 11-18-1 ATS vs. the West. — John Ewing

Trend No. 2 to know: Over the past two seasons, teams on a back-to-back are 23-11-1 ATS (67.6%) against the Cavaliers — the most profitable opponent in the league over that span. — Evan Abrams

Trend No. 3 to know: The Cavaliers have been historically bad ATS this season (32.3%), but with James, they’ve still had team success. Since 2005, teams that won 50 or more games the previous season and have an ATS win rate below 40% are covering the spread 56.3% of the time when listed as an underdog. Over the past two seasons, those teams are 15-6 ATS. — Evan Abrams


Quick Hits on the Rest of the Slate

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES AT CHICAGO BULLS (-3.5) | O/U: 211.5

8 p.m. ET

Betting Market: The over in this game has seen perhaps the sharpest action on the entire slate. Since the total opened at 206.5, there have been two steam moves that have pushed it all the way up to 211. — Mark Gallant

Trend No. 1 to know: Memphis lost Monday to San Antonio 100-98, extending the team’s losing streak to 14 games (ouch!). The good news: Teams on long losing streaks (14 or more games) have gone 48-35-1 (58%) ATS in their next game since 2005. — John Ewing

Trend No. 2 to know: The Grizzlies have struggled mightily with the Eastern Conference this season…

  • 8-15 ATS (-4.9 differential)
  • Lost eight in a row SU (3-20 overall)
  • 0-11 SU on the road — Evan Abrams

What I’m watching for: Let us never speak of this game ever again. — Matt Moore

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (-5.5) AT SACRAMENTO KINGS | O/U: 223.5

10 p.m. ET

DFS nugget: Anthony Davis has put together as impressive a stretch as we’ve ever seen in fantasy basketball over his past nine games. The big question on today’s slate is if he’s worth $13,000 on FanDuel. Historically, the answer would be no: Players priced at $13,000 or higher have historically underperformed salary-based expectations by an average of 2.45 points. That said, good luck if you actually do decide to fade him tonight against a Kings’ team that has been shredded by opposing big men all season. — Matt LaMarca

What I’m watching for: At some point, we’re going to have to start to consider Jrue Holiday for All-Something. All-Defense, All-Underrated, All-Whatever. He’s been phenomenal. — Matt Moore

Referee Data: Mark Gallant breaks down tonight’s officiating crew, which has historically favored the under. 

Trend No. 1 to know: The Kings (20-44) defeated the Knicks 102-99 on Sunday, which means it’s to fade Sactown. Bad teams like Sacramento (win rate of 33% or less) that win late in the season (March-April) have gone 176-223-6 (44%) ATS in their next game. The Kings have won back-to-back games only three times this season. — John Ewing

Trend No. 2 to know: During the Pelicans current 9-game winning streak, they’ve also clipped together a 5-game against the spread streak. Over the last decade, teams on an ATS winning streak of 5 or more games, facing an opponent with a win pct below 33%, are 39-69-1 ATS (36.1%), failing to cover by two PPG (including 2-7 ATS this season).  — Evan Abrams

Did you know? Anthony Davis when playing on a back-to-back this season (eight games): 31.0 PPG, 50.6% FG, 12.1 RPG and 3.1 BPG. — Evan Abrams

ORLANDO MAGIC AT LA LAKERS (-6.5) | O/U: 225

10:30 p.m. ET

DFS nugget: This is a potential smash spot for the Lakers. They’re playing a Magic team that has been a sieve defensively all season, and their resulting implied team total of 115.5 ranks second on the slate. LA will also be shorthanded, with Brandon Ingram ruled out with a groin injury. Lonzo Ball, Isaiah Thomas, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are all very appealing options on DraftKings, where each has a Bargain Rating of at least 90 percent. — Matt LaMarca

Trend No. 1 to know: This is just the seventh time in the past four years (fewest in the league) the Lakers have been favored by seven or more points. In the previous six games, the Lakers went 3-3 SU and 2-3-1 ATS. — John Ewing

Trend No. 2 to know: There is just something about the Magic and the under in LA …

  • Since 2009, the Lakers and Magic have played 16 games. The under is 13-3, going under the total by 5.4 PPG.
  • Since 2008, the Magic have played 16 games at the Staples Center. The under is 13-3 in those games, going under the total by 5.9 PPG. — Evan Abrams

What I’m watching for: LA nightlife is undefeated— Matt Moore

Top photo via Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports