First to 15 NBA Odds & Picks: Bet Wizards vs. Knicks, Cavaliers vs. Grizzlies Wednesday (January 18)

First to 15 NBA Odds & Picks: Bet Wizards vs. Knicks, Cavaliers vs. Grizzlies Wednesday (January 18) article feature image

Justin Ford/Getty Images. Pictured: Ja Morant #12 and Desmond Bane #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies.

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.

On this NBA Wednesday, we've got nine games to survey and there are two matchups that have caught my attention. Let's dive into tonight's first to 15 odds and picks.

Washington Wizards vs. New York Knicks

First to 15 OddsWizards: +118 | Knicks: -150
Time | TV7:30 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass

These two teams just played Friday and I made the case for betting the Wizards at home at plus-money. The Wizards went up 12-5 with a little more than five minutes left in the first quarter, then missed 12 of their next 15 shots for the rest of the period, sinking that bet in spectacular fashion.

A poorly timed cold streak like that is reason enough to want to fade the Wizards in a rematch, but the sound reason to go with the Knicks here is simple: Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks have been the first to 15 in a staggeringly high 17 of their 23 home games this season. Only the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns have a better cover rate on their Race to 15 bets at home this season. In 10 of the Knicks' home games, they finished the first quarter with a double-digit lead, no other NBA team has done that in more than six home games.

The Knicks have a tendency to start out hot then let go of the rope at the end, but we only care about the hot start. I like the Knicks to stay the course at MSG.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Memphis Grizzlies

First to 15 OddsCavaliers: +115 | Grizzlies: -145
Time | TV8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass

The Grizzlies have reached the point in their development where their current 10-game win streak can fly under the radar because they are so good we just expect it.

They are another dominant home team — fourth in first quarter points (31.3 per game) and point differential (+3.9) at FedExForum — and Ja Morant is tied for sixth (8.2 PPG) in overall first quarter scoring. They sit just below the Nuggets, Knicks, Suns, Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings in terms of home cover rate in the Race to 15 standings.

This game won't be as exciting as it should be with Donovan Mitchell (doubtful) expected to sit out with a groin strain, but that does add value to this bet. Mitchell and Darius Garland make up a significant portion of the Cavaliers offense and without one of them in the lineup, scoring can be a slog.

The Cavs also aren't a particularly fast starting team. They attempt the third-fewest field goals (21.9) in the opening period this season, they rank last in Pace (96.33) and their cover rate on the road in the Race to 15 standings is just .500.

If Mitchell was playing, I would feel less comfortable about this bet because he's such an explosive scorer. Without him, I think there is value on the Grizzlies here.

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Doug Ziefel
Jun 25, 2024 UTC