Moore’s Monday NBA Betting Picks & Angles: Welcome to M(D)Arch
Photo credit: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike D’Antoni
- Matt Moore has his best angles for Monday's six-game slate, including picks on Rockets-Knicks and Pacers-Spurs.
- With the Rockets' offense humming since going small, can they keep the scoring rolling on the road at Madison Square Garden?
- See Moore's full betting breakdown for Thursday below.
Angles for Monday based on matchups and trends…
BLAZERS AT MAGIC (-7), 221.5
THE ANGLE: When it’s easy for the Magic
Damian Lillard is still out. The Blazers are now 1-6 straight-up and 2-5 ATS without Lillard this season. Their lone cover in this recent stretch since the All-Star break came against the Pacers as nine-point dogs; their lone straight-up win came against the Post-Apocalypse Pistons (as I’ve taken to calling them since losing their three best players to trade, buy-out and injury).
So the 36-24 Pacers were nine-point favorites at home and couldn’t cover vs. Portland, but the 27-33 Magic are seven-point favorites at home?
The line opened at six and despite a small number of bets coming in, the majority of both the ticket counts and money are coming in on the Blazers. Yet the line moved from six to seven toward the Magic.
The public is reacting to Orlando, a sub-.500 team, being seven-point favorites, and jumping in. But big money is apparently moving it the other way. As of this writing, there are still some -6.5 (-115) numbers out there, but there are also starting to be some -7.5s.
Here’s the key matchup: Orlando is a terrible offensive team with a great defense, a rarity in today’s NBA. The Blazers are the opposite: a great offense with a completely inept defense.
Orlando vs. bad teams (sub.-.500) that give up 110 points per 100 possessions or more is 12-6 (66.7%) ATS this season:
At home, the Magic are just 3-4 in that spot, but as a favorite overall they are 9-6.
Orlando’s offense struggles against teams that don’t give up the easy stuff. But the Blazers give up a ton of easy stuff. They give up the third-most transition points per 100 possessions in the league.
Additionally, on the season, the Blazers give up the second-fewest points off turnovers in the league. But since Lillard has been out, they are giving up the fifth-most in the league. That’s where Lillard’s absence can be felt on the defensive side.
The Magic are the fourth-best team defending the basket on non-post-ups, have long defenders like Wes Iwundu to put on the Blazers’ supporting wings (Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza) and are giving up just 3.3 points off post-ups per game.
Hassan Whiteside has intermittently done well in this matchup, and he might have a big night. But Whiteside’s points so often feel meaningless to the outcome of the game.
This is mostly a possession-by-possession play. The Magic will make it harder for the Blazers to produce points without their best player (along with all their other injuries), while Portland’s defense will make it easier for a bad Magic offense to score. I like the under on Portland’s total of 107, and I like Orlando at -7. I wouldn’t take this higher than -8.
THE PLAY: Orlando -7, Blazers team total under 107
ROCKETS AT KNICKS (-10), 230.5
THE ANGLE: This is M(D)Arch
Mike D’Antoni is 35-10 with the Rockets in March straight-up and 25-18-2 (58%) ATS. The Rockets just absolutely kill teams in March, which is why we always talk ourselves into them as playoff contenders before whatever sad fate befalls them in the postseason.
It is the turning of the seasons.
The Knicks have been pesky lately and are 11-10 ATS on the season as a home dog. Good, but not great. The Rockets are riding high and have been clobbering everyone since they went to the small-ball approach. This is a tight double-digit spread. Even if the Rockets were to rest one of the stars, they can breeze through this.
The Knicks are 8-7 vs. double-digit spreads and 6-2 vs. the West in such instances. But this is also just the third time they’ve been a double-digit dog at home this season (1-1). Houston needs to be the play in most spots right now.
On a bigger note, since MDA took over the Rockets, the under is 34-20 (63%) when they are on the road vs. the Eastern Conference. The under when the Knicks are home dogs this season is 14-6. The Knicks are 23rd in Defensive Rating, which isn’t good but also isn’t god-awful. They’re 17th since January 1.
The total is up at 230, which doesn’t account for how good Houston’s defense is. The Rockets may keep the Knicks under 100, depending on the pace.
THE PLAY: Rockets -10, Under 230
JAZZ (-8.5) AT CAVALIERS, 220.5
THE ANGLE: UTAH IS STILL UTAH
The Jazz have been a mess the last few weeks, and there was a pretty predictable period of panic. I’m not immune: I’ve crossed them off of making it out of the first round.
But Utah has always destroyed bad teams under Quin Snyder. Under Snyder, the Jazz are 39-29 (57%) ATS vs. teams under .500 with a single-digit spread and 14-10 (58%) ATS vs. teams with a win percentage below 30%.
The Cavaliers this season are 9-15-2 (35%) ATS vs. teams over .500. The Jazz are a top-10 offense and currently 11th in defense. Let’s round them up to top-10 for the sake of an experiment. The Cavs this season, via Cleaning the Glass, are 0-9 straight-up with a -20.9 point differential and a league-worst -7.5 ATS differential against teams that are top-10 in offense and defense.
I’d stay away from the total; Utah’s defense is wildly inconsistent. But the Jazz win these games and win them handily. Getting less than double-digits here is a gift of the recency-bias gods.
THE PLAY: Jazz -8.5
PACERS (-2) AT SPURS, 221
THE ANGLE: TOTAL VS. SMALL-BALL
LaMarcus Aldridge is doubtful and Jakob Poeltl is out for San Antonio. In games in which Aldridge does not play, the over is 5-1 this season.
I do not trust the Pacers defense here. The Spurs offense is better when it’s guard-oriented, and San Antonio’s strength is its offense.
The Pacers are rough against-the-spread (-0.8, 17th) vs. middle-10 offenses, per Cleaning the Glass, and they get worse vs. top-10 offenses, which the Spurs are much closer to without Aldridge on the floor.
Getting a total below 225 feels very much like a steal. This feels like a game where Indiana puts up a big number in a win or loss and lets the Spurs shoot a high percentage.
THE PLAY: Over 225