NBA Odds & Picks: Best Bets for Raptors vs. Grizzlies, Cavaliers vs. Suns (Monday, Feb. 8)
Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns.
The NBA season rolls on Monday night with an eight-game slate headlined by an intriguing NBA TV matchup in primetime: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Denver Nuggets (9:30 p.m. ET).
The bets that our experts are making are from games that are much more lowkey in comparison, but offer significant value. You can find their analysis and picks on those games below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Raptors vs. Grizzlies
Raheem Palmer: The Raptors have had a disappointing season. They’re currently sitting at 10-13 on the year and would find themselves out of the playoffs if it started today.
Despite that, they have a pythagorean expectation of 12-11 and are 3-9 against teams above .500 and 7-4 against teams below .500. In addition this team is just 4-9 in the clutch game, which the NBA defines as games in which the point differential is five or less with five minutes to go.
Nonetheless, it’s clear that while this team isn’t a championship contender the way they were in year’s past, they are just a few lucky breaks from having a much better record. They’re currently 2-1 on this six game road trip with wins over the Magic and Nets but dropped a game to the Hawks on a back-to-back. This feels like the perfect spot against a Grizzlies team missing Brandon Clarke and De’Anthony Melton.
The Grizzlies are also in a complete tailspin losing three straight after winning seven straight despite stops and starts due to postponements. Over the past two weeks their defense has fell off a cliff, allowing 119.3 points per 100 possessions.
With the Grizzlies allowing opposing teams to shoot the fifth highest percentage from behind the arc (38.2%), an area that the Raptors thrive in as they’re shooting 41.9% of their field goal attempts from deep, this feels like an idea matchup for the Raptors.
From a numbers perspective this line is pretty tight, but I like the spot for the Raptors catching a struggling Grizzlies team at the right time with Ja Morant in the middle of a a slump in which he’s averaged just 9.5 points on 33% shooting over the past three games.
Cavaliers vs. Suns
Raheem Palmer: What do you get when you combine two teams who are bottom five in pace and top 10 in defense? An under.
That’s what we’re playing here as the Suns play at the second-slowest Pace in the league (97.56) while the Cavaliers play at the fifth-slowest pace (98.21). The Suns are fifth in Defensive Rating (107.5) while the Cavaliers are 10th (110.0).
To add fuel to the fire, the Cavaliers are dead last in Offensive rating scoring a mere 103.8 points per 100 possessions this season. With the Suns missing Jae Crowder, Cam Payne and Dario Saric, we’ve seen a drop-off in this team’s scoring.
My projections make this game 213.5 while the market currently sits at 215. I’ll take the under here.
Cavaliers vs. Suns
Brandon Anderson: The Cleveland Cavaliers are not scoring much these days.
They rank last in the NBA in Offensive Efficiency and second to last in points per game, averaging under 104 points per game in the Year of our Lord 2021. Those numbers probably aren’t quite as bad as they look, now that Collin Sexton and Darius Garland are back in the lineup and balling again, but this offense clearly isn’t very good.
The Cavs take the fewest 3-pointers in the league and are one of the league’s worst shooting teams, ranking in the bottom five in 3-point, 2-point, and free throw percentage. Cleveland turns it over a ton, a staple of a young team, and the only reason they score much at all is because they get a ton of offensive rebounds.
The Suns are certainly nowhere near as bad on offense, but they’re not very good either. Phoenix just makes life harder on itself. The Suns rarely get to the line, don’t grab many offensive rebounds, and their pace has slowed way down this season with Chris Paul, which is taking away some transition opportunities.
These are two of the five slowest teams in the league, so this game should be a grind. The Suns are certainly grinding on offense, trying to find something that works, and both of these teams are far better on defense than offense.
Phoenix is winning games even as the offense grinds, in part because the Suns have such good defensive shooting percentages. That defense is going to make it tough for Cleveland to find much of a groove, but I’m not sure Phoenix will score much here either.
Suns games have gone under this season in 14-of-22, while Cavs games are under in 15-of-24. Cleveland has had an even harder time scoring on the road, and Suns games have gone under in 11 of 15 when Phoenix is favored.
This is a game for defense, with offense optional. Even with a low line at 215, I have to play the under. I’ll play down to 213.5.