NBA Best Bets Odds & Picks: Our Picks for Bulls-Pistons, Raptors-Cavaliers (Sunday, March 21)

NBA Best Bets Odds & Picks: Our Picks for Bulls-Pistons, Raptors-Cavaliers (Sunday, March 21) article feature image
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Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Tomas Satoransky and Zach LaVine.

  • Sunday's NBA slate features 10 games including two nationally televised contests on NBATV.
  • Our experts have their eyes on a pair of contests between struggling offenses.
  • Continue reading for our best bets on Bulls-Pistons and Raptors-Cavaliers.

Sunday’s NBA slate features 10 games, including a pair on national television. The Wizards and Nets meet at 7 p.m. on NBATV, followed by the LeBron James-less Lakers taking on the Suns in Phoenix at 10 p.m. ET.

Our experts have their eyes on a pair of games, with both focused on the totals in matchups between struggling offenses. You can check out their game analysis and picks below.

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NBA Odds & Picks

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Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons
7 p.m. ET
Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers
7 p.m. ET

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Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons

Pick
Under 217.5 (DraftKings)
Tipoff
7 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Austin Wang: While the entertainment value may be far from that of the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons against the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls from the late ’80s/early ’90s, tonight’s game between these two long-standing rivals presents the most value from a betting perspective.

Since the return from All-Star Break, here is a breakdown of each team’s stats, per NBA Advanced Stats:

  • Defensive Rating: Pistons 108.9 (9th), Bulls 109.6 (11th)
  • Offensive Rating: Pistons 108.9 (20th), Bulls 109.4 (18th)
  • Pace: Pistons 96.5 (27th), Bulls 99.03 (17th)

Both teams have been above-average on defense, below-average on offense and have been playing at a slow pace. The Bulls adding Thaddeus Young to the starting lineup for the last four games has really strengthened their defense. Outside of their overtime loss against the Nuggets, they gave up 95, 102 and 106 points in their other three games.

Since 2018-2019, short favorites (fewer than five points) coming off an overtime loss have gone 20-8 (71.4%) to the under, per the SDQL Database. This is active on the Bulls, who will look to avenge their last heart-breaking loss in Denver by getting it done on the defensive end.

The Pistons have only averaged 105 points per game since returning from the All-Star break and are 4-1 to the under during this timeframe. Even if they decide to show up against their division rivals, I see them having a hard time scoring against the improved Bulls defense. Jerami Grant has been wildly inefficient as of late, shooting just 39% from the field since the All-Star break. Wayne Ellington, one of their stronger scorers, will be out for this game.

I make the fair total on this game 213, so I believe we are getting a generous cushion with the line of 217.5. I anticipate Chicago bounces back from its tough overtime loss and wins this game 110-102. My recommendation is a play on the under, down to 215.


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Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers

Pick
Under 217.5 (DraftKings)
Tipoff
7 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Raheem Palmer: This Cleveland Cavaliers team just can’t score. This is one of the league’s worst offenses, scoring just 105.8 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass. While they’ve scored efficiently over the last two games against the Celtics and Spurs, this was a bit of a mirage. They played a Celtics team that hasn’t been in sync all year and is giving up 116.6 points per 100 possessions in the last two weeks, 24th among NBA teams.

In Friday’s game against the Spurs, we had wager on the Under 216, which subsequently closed at 213. With 1:48 to go in the fourth quarters, the Cavaliers were down 105-92. You’d think a game with 197 points scored through 46:10 of game time would be on pace to go under the total, but we witnessed these two teams score a combined 29 points over the final 1:48 of game time to push it well over the closing total of 213 and opening total of 216.

The Cavaliers refused to concede, and a series of Spurs turnovers allowed them to score quickly. If you ever want to know why the best bettors in the world hit only between 55-60% of their wagers, it’s games like this. Nonetheless, we move on and put the loss behind us. Besides, in some ways that game may have created value for us in the future.

This is still a bad Cavaliers offense going against a Raptors team that is finally healthy after COVID-19 absences of Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam. In many ways, the Raptors’ defensive metrics are skewed by this seven-game skid and we should expect this team to go all out to make a playoff push.

The Cavaliers don’t score well from any area of the floor. They’re 30th at the rim (59%), 22nd in the mid-range (40.8%) and 28th from behind the arc (34.6%). The Cavs are also playing at the third-slowest pace in the league at just 97.88 possessions a game. While the Cavs’ defense has fallen off a cliff, they are 22-18-1 to the under due to their offense and I expect them to struggle scoring enough to keep this game under the total of 217.5.


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