Moore’s Saturday Angles: How Trae Young Dramatically Affects the Total
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young
A preamble: I hate March in the NBA. There’s no data that supports it, but the players and coaches drag in March and the results are correspondingly weird. The good teams already know they’re going to make the playoffs and in most cases, a high speed, the bad teams know their season is over. The biggest problem with betting the NBA week to week is trying to factor for not only shooting variance but effort variance. And it’s never wider than in March.
Anyway! Here are angles for Saturday based on matchups and trends…
Jazz at Pistons
- Spread: Pistons +8
- Over/Under: 210.5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
THE ANGLE: The one spot you can trust the Jazz
Utah is 12-7-2 as a favorite this season vs. sub-.400 teams. They trounce these teams. Detroit is one of the few teams that is actively trying to lose games. They got rid of every major player, and just assigned a useful one, Sekou Doumbouya, to the G-League. Their biggest strengths are Christian Wood, who Gobert can cover, and Derrick Rose, who’s injured.
Detroit is feisty but poorly built to beat Utah, and Utah is designed to crush these types of teams. I like getting this number below double digits.
THE PLAY: Jazz -8
Nuggets at Cavaliers
- Spread: Nuggets -9.5
- Over/Under: 218
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
THE ANGLE: Denver doesn’t deserve your trust
The Cavaliers beat the Nuggets at home earlier this season. If this were January, I’d be taking the Nuggets at any number. They were playing their best basketball. Now they’re playing their worst. They are 4-3 since the All-Star Break. They are beating bad teams, but not convincingly,
Now, they’re on the road after barely getting by the Hornets. Their offense is really busted right now with Gary Harris, Will Barton, and Jamal Murray all inconsistent night to night. Their bench units struggle with Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee on the floor due to spacing issues.
The Cavs haven’t given up and Collin Sexton is continuing his trend of late-season improvement. With where Denver is at, the line should be closer to -6.5, but you can’t hang it there or you’ll get crushed with Denver money.
Denver is 1-2-1 this season as more than a 6-point favorite on the road.
THE PLAY: Cavaliers +8.5
Hawks at Grizzlies
- Spread: Grizzlies -6.5
- Over/Under: 233
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
THE ANGLE: A total that hinges on a Trae
Trae Young is questionable due to illness. If he can’t go, the under is the move. The under is 8-0 in Young’s career for Hawks games where he doesn’t play. Even with as bad as the Hawks’ defense is, that’s baked into the line. They average 99 points per game without Young. NINETY-NINE! In this economy!
So if Young’s out, bang the under. If he plays, the over is the move. The Grizzlies score 114 points per 100 possessions vs. bottom-ten defenses, good for 13th-best in the league, via Cleaning The Glass. The under has gone five times in a row for the Grizzlies; their defense has been much better. But that total was six points higher than it currently is, and the over in Hawks games where Young plays this season is 19-8.
His availability should guide you.
THE ANGLE: If Young is out, UNDER 233, if he’s playing, OVER 233
KINGS AT BLAZERS (-3, 230.5)
Kings at Blazers
- Spread: Grizzlies -3
- Over/Under: 230.5
- Time: 10 p.m. ET
THE ANGLE: Sac can’t hack it
The Kings are 9-16 this season vs. top-ten offensive teams, per Cleaning The Glass. Portland is 12-7 vs. bottom-ten offensive teams. This line is close for a reason; it’s the completely stoppable force of the Kings vs. the very movable object of the Blazers’ defense.
But the Kings don’t necessarily light it up vs. bad defensive teams. Sacramento is 18th vs. bottom-ten defenses in offensive rating, scoring just 112 points per 100 possessions. The Kings’ defense is decent overall, but rank 29th against the pick and roll including passes, via Synergy Sports.
This isn’t a must-win game for the Blazers, but after losing to the Suns Friday, falling back to potentially five games behind Memphis in the loss column with less than 20 games remaining would be brutal for their dimming playoff hopes.
The Kings often put two on-ball, which is Damian Lillard’s Kryptonite. But the King’s coverage is soft; the big comes up but doesn’t play at the level of the screen, instead they play a step or two behind the screen without fully dropping. this is the same as dropping vs. Damian Lillard, and it’s how teams get killed by him.
Expect a big-game atmosphere and a big-game performance from Lillard, with the line factoring for Portland on the back to back.
THE ANGLE: Blazers -3