Wednesday NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for Jazz vs. Trail Blazers, Suns vs. Mavericks, More (Dec. 23)
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images. Picutured: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz.
- Thirteen NBA games on a loaded card. Four bets we love.
- See where our crew is finding value on Bucks vs. Celtics, Hawks vs. Bulls, Jazz vs. Blazers and Mavericks vs. Suns below.
Wednesday’s NBA schedule gives 13 games in one day. It’s almost like Christmas came early for hoops bettors.
NBA Odds & Picks
Bucks vs. Celtics
Brandon Anderson: Early in the season, I am looking to mostly play my preseason reads with one eye on match ups as well. And in this case, the Bucks-Celtics hits everything.
We already know that the Bucks are going to be great in the regular season. They have been a juggernaut each of the past two seasons and turned Eric Bledsoe into Jrue Holiday in the offseason at the cost of only some depth. The Bucks were the best defensive team in the league by a wide margin and should be just as good on that end, if not better with Holiday running point.
It’s hard to look at the Celtics current roster and see it being better than what they had last season. Say what you will about Gordon Hayward‘s new contract, but he was good for the Celtics last season — one of their six reliable players — and he left in free agency without a viable replacement. Another one of those six players, Kemba Walker, is out indefinitely with an injury that places his immediate and long-term future in question.
Without Walker, the Celtics don’t have much versatility or shot creation. Maybe Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can make up the difference as the season goes on, but right now those two alone just aren’t enough offense, especially not against the Bucks’ defense.
I realize we are all trying to be careful with the Bucks after their poor showing in the playoffs, but this is the regular season and they are still the best regular season team in the NBA. While Tatum and Brown have given Giannis Antetokounmpo some trouble in the past, the rest of Milwaukee’s defense is just far too much to expect Boston to find enough points to win this game.
I’ll play Milwaukee up to -4.5, and while we are here, get your bet in for the Christmas game early. If the Bucks beat the Celtics as easily as I think they might, you’ll want to grab that -7.5 against an outmatched Warriors team before it jumps into the double digits.
Hawks vs. Bulls
Matt Moore: This is a simple one, for me.
The Atlanta Hawks are overrated in the marketplace, there’s no reason for them to be favored over the Bulls on the road. The Hawks have the best player in this game (Trae Young), but Zach LaVine is not far behind, in terms of impact. The Hawks are also nursing some significant injuries in this matchup, per our NBA Insiders tool.
The Bulls were lightyears better as a defensive team last season, and their offense should catch up. Billy Donovan is a better coach than Lloyd Pierce (who is no slouch). I will take Chicago at plus money at home against what I feel is an overrated Hawks team.
Jazz vs. Trail Blazers
Matt Moore: The Portland Trail Blazers are instituting a new scheme defensively. They want to show with the bigs in pick-and-roll situations, trusting their weak side rotations.
This likely fails on multiple levels. Asking Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter to negotiate space is a bad idea. Asking their weak side personnel to rotate is a bad idea.
On the second unit, however, these problems reach meltdown. The big who will be tasked with trying to contain is Kanter, one of the worst defensive bigs in the league. The weak side forward trying to recover inside? Carmelo Anthony. Throw in their undersized backcourt with no defenders or size, and there’s a matchup advantage out of the box.
Meanwhile, the second unit for the Utah Jazz has Jordan Clarkson as a scoring weapon. More importantly, if you look at their rotations last season, the Jazz consistently played Donovan Mitchell to start the second quarter. Mitchell-Clarkson lineups averaged 114 points per 100 possessions in second quarters.
You can get 27.5 second quarter total Jazz points at FanDuel. You’re laying -130, but I’m fine at that figure. I think the Jazz will put 35 or more on the board in that quarter.
Mavericks vs. Suns
Raheem Palmer: Besides championship contenders like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Bucks, there’s no team that is more overvalued in the betting market than the Phoenix Suns.
After going 8-0 in the bubble seeding games, the Suns added Chris Paul to the core of Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton and Mikal Bridges.
With the addition of veteran Jae Crowder who shot 44.5% from behind the arc with Miami Heat last season, the Suns look poised to snag their first postseason berth since 2009 if everything breaks right.
However, they come into this game banged up, not playing a single game with a full roster. Per our NBA Insiders tool, Paul is nursing an ankle injury, Dario Saric is set to miss the opener with a quad injury, and Abel Nader is in the concussion protocol.
The Suns open the season against the Dallas Mavericks who had the most efficient offense in NBA history last season, scoring 115.9 points per 100 possessions. Despite ranking 18th in defense, giving up 111.2 points per 100 possessions, the Mavs were sixth in Net Rating. With a 17-24 (.415%) record in games that featured clutch-time minutes, the Mavericks struggled to win close games, finishing with a 43-32 record and a Pythagorean Expectation of 49-26 — well under expectation.
With Luka Doncic in Year 3 and the odds on favorite to win MVP, the return of Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson, plus the additions of Josh Richardson, Wes Iwundu and James Johnson, the Mavericks are a better team than last season even without Kristaps Porzingis.
I don’t expect them to struggle in the clutch this season and while oddsmakers installed the Suns as 1-point favorites, I expect to see some positive variance in crunch time for this team. With my model making this game Mavericks -1.60, I believe the wrong team is favored.