NBA Odds & Betting Picks: Our Favorite Bets for Rockets vs. Thunder, Grizzlies vs. Spurs (Monday, Feb. 1)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies.
If you’re reading this from the northeast and are currently on blizzard watch, we’ve got something that’ll make your night. The NBA offers up a 10-game slate on Monday night, and while it’s a little light on marquee matchups, there should be plenty of offense to go around.
Our NBA crew has zeroed in on three bets on tonight’s slate. You can find their analysis and picks on those games below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Raheem Palmer: Did you know that since trading James Harden the Rockets have the best defense in the league?
In the nine games since the trade, the Rockets are holding teams to just 102.8 points per 100 possessions compared to the 111.1 they allowed during their first nine games. Interestingly enough the Rockets are actually playing at a faster pace over that same span — 102.5 possessions per game compared to 100.7.
Their offense hasn’t improved as we’ve seen this team go from scoring 109.2 to 108.4 points per 100 possessions. They’ll be matched up against the Thunder who are scoring an abysmal 106.7 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes — 26th among NBA teams.
While this is likely to be a fast paced game, overall these are two bad offenses matched up together in a game in which one team has one of the best defenses in the league. Both of these teams are average in eFG% with the Rockets ranking 14th (53.6%) and the Thunder ranking 18th (52.8%) per NBA Advanced Stats.
Both of these teams are in the top 10 in 3-point shooting frequency, but rank in the bottom 10 in 3-point shooting accuracy. If these two teams don’t run over expectation from behind the arc, I see this game going under the total of 224 as my projections make this game 221.
Portland Trailblazers vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Raheem Palmer: Even without CJ McCollum, I’m not sure they can make some of these Trail Blazers totals high enough when they face the better offensive teams in this league. The Blazers played the Bulls on Saturday and the game flew over the 232-point closing total by 13 points — a little more than one standard deviation as far as NBA sides totals.
Assuming NBA totals are normally distributed, a result should fall within one standard deviation from the mean around 68% of the time. That’s said, that doesn’t mean the market isn’t off on these games. While the Blazers are just 8-9 to the over this season, they’ve gone over in four out their past five games, with the lone under coming against the Houston Rockets who I highlighted above has an improved defensive team.
The Blazers’ defense is absolutely abysmal, allowing a whopping 116.6 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass. Their last two weeks paints and even more grim picture as they’re giving up 122.5 points per 100 possessions.
Fortunately for the Blazers this team can score as well, the rank sixth in Offensive Rating scoring 115.9 points per 100 possessions. Led by Damian Lillard and his 29.6 points per game, this team can score with the best of them and has shooters in Gary Trent Jr, Anfernee Simons and Rodney Hood who can make teams pay from the perimeter.
Of course, they’ll be facing a Bucks team that ranks third in Offensive Rating in non garbage time minutes, scoring 118.3 points per 100 possessions.
With both the Blazers and Bucks sitting in the top 10 in Pace, I have trouble seeing how this game doesn’t go over the total. My projections make this game 239 so at this price, I’m buying in.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs
Brandon Anderson: Folks, the Memphis Grizzlies are the fifth in the Western conference standings right now. It snuck up on me too.
The Grizzlies haven’t lost a game since Jan. 7, but they also didn’t play for 12 days before finally returning to action on Saturday. They won by 17 in their return, and that puts Memphis on a six-game winning streak. After starting 2-6, Memphis is now 8-6, which gives them the fifth-highest winning percentage in the West.
So what are they doing right? Well, Ja Morant is finally back, for starters. Morant has been terrific this season when he’s actually been healthy enough to play. He’s averaging 22 points and 7.7 assists per game, and the Grizzlies are 4-2 with Morant in the lineup. That includes wins over the Nets, 76ers, Suns, and these Spurs.
The Spurs win came on Saturday, in their most recent game. The Grizzlies were red-hot from behind the arc, hitting 17-of-35 3s. It’s unlikely they’ll repeat that tonight since the Grizz rank bottom five in the NBA in 3-point attempts and percentage. The Spurs shot nearly 45% on 3-pointers as well, so both teams had outlier performances.
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What’s more concerning is that the Grizzlies made more than60% of their shots inside the arc, while the Spurs barely cleared 40%. These teams shoot the first- and second-most 2s in the NBA right now, so this is about performance inside the arc.
Memphis is one of the NBA’s strongest teams at defending 2-point shots, with youngsters Brandon Clarke and Xavier Tillman making life very difficult for opponents there. San Antonio’s offense continues to take way too many 2s and make far too few of them, and the Grizzlies defense inside the arc only exacerbates that problem.
The Grizzlies look like a playoff team with Morant on the floor. I like the matchup here, and though Saturday’s hot shooting won’t be repeated, I still think the wrong team is favored.
I’m grabbing the Grizzlies moneyline at plus juice, +148 right now at FanDuel. I’ll play down to +125 in a game that feels like at least a coin flip for the Grizzlies, maybe better.