First to 15 NBA Odds & Picks: Bet Hornets vs. Timberwolves, Kings vs. Clippers (Feb. 24)

First to 15 NBA Odds & Picks: Bet Hornets vs. Timberwolves, Kings vs. Clippers (Feb. 24) article feature image

Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: DeAaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings.

There are so many ways to bet an NBA game, but for those bettors who can't bear to sweat the full 48 minutes, there are other markets that offer more instant satisfaction. One of those markets is the Race to 15 Points. It's as simple as the name suggests: The first team to hit 15 points cashes the bet.

We're past the All-Star break and rounding the corner on the season with a fun eight-game slate for this Friday. Will the long layoff have an impact on how teams play to start their games tonight? Let's take a look at Friday's first to 15 odds and picks.

Charlotte Hornets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

First to 15 OddsHornets: +120 | Timberwolves: -150
Time | TV8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass

Over their past 10 games, the Wolves have been the first to 15 in seven games and they've nice hit a groove over that stretch. They rank 10th in first quarter point differential (+1.5) and 12th in scoring (29.7) over that span.

The Hornets are also a high-scoring team (30.6) over that time frame, but they've been the first to 15 in just five of their past 10 games. The difference between the two teams has been defense — the Hornets are allowing teams to score 30 points in the first quarter in those 10 games.

The Wolves, especially at home, are one of the better teams in the Race to 15 standings with the fifth-highest cover rate at home (22-11, 66.7%) this season. The Hornets are last on the road (7-26, 21.2%) and their defense in this context makes them unbettable — the Hornets allow opponents score in 5:59 on average, which is fifth-worst in the NBA. This is a huge mismatch for Charlotte and I think -150 is fair price here for the Wolves.

Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Clippers

First to 15 OddsKings: +122 | Clippers: -156
Time | TV10:30 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass

Speaking of mismatches, the Kings and Clippers are two wildly different teams in terms of style. Neither team has been great at cashing Race to 15 bets over their past 10 games — Kings are 4-6 and Clippers are 5-5 — but the Clippers are being priced like they a team that has a much better success rate, which is baffling.

They are 28-33 (45.9%) in the Race to 15 standings and even worse at home (42.9%). Only the Pistons take longer to reach 15 points this season than the Clippers who average 6:58 to hit that mark. They rank 29th in the NBA in first quarter scoring (25.7) and 28th in first quarter Pace (98.89). Their addition of Russell Westbrook could help them play faster, but I doubt it will happen in the first quarter of his first game.

The Kings are an uptempo team — seventh in first quarter Pace (104.1) and sixth in average time to 15 points — and I think their style gives them an advantage over the Clippers to open the game. I have to fade the Clippers here at this number. I think there's value on the Kings at any plus number.

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Nick Sterling
Jul 23, 2024 UTC