Monday NBA Predictions, Picks & Betting Odds (Dec. 9): Value in Thunder-Jazz Total
Photo credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Rudy Gobert
This NBA season, I’m trying something new. I’m going to write a daily piece that highlights everything bettors and DFS players need to know for that night’s slate. For more on what to expect, read the inaugural piece.
Yesterday I finished 4-5 for +0.1 units. While I don’t want to get sucked into the past, I think it’s worth reviewing things each day.
The best way to do that is to look at closing line value (CLV), which is just measuring whether the line you bet moved for or against you by closing.
- I bet Magic -4 and it closed at Magic -5 (won)
- I bet Magic -195 ML and it closed at -190 (won)
- I bet Magic (1Q) -1.5 (lost)
- I bet Pacers-Pistons under 212.5 and it closed at 212 (won)
- I bet Pacers -1.5 and it closed at Pacers -1 (lost)
- I bet Wizards under 111 points and it closed at 109.5 (won)
- I bet Warriors-Bulls over 214 and it closed at 215 (lost)
- I bet Wolves-Thunder under 220.5 & 220 and it closed at 217 (lost)
My biggest bets on Friday were on the Magic, so even though I finished below .500 overall I was still able to have a positive day in terms of units. I lost a little CLV on the Magic ML, but felt OK about that, and the only other game I lost value on was the Pacers at -1.5.
Perhaps I downplayed the rebounding edge Detroit could’ve had — the Pacers have been surprisingly mediocre there even with two bigs in Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner (more on this below for today’s writeup) — and in fact the Pistons out-rebounded them 51-33 and won by seven points.
Otherwise, it was a solid day I think; it would have been way more profitable if the under in Wolves-Thunder had hit. I got insane CLV on that one — 3.5 and 3 points, respectively, on my two bets.
Unfortunately, it was just one of those games where both teams had ceiling shooting games, both going over 50% from the field. It honestly didn’t even matter it went into overtime.
Anyway, enough on Friday’s games; let’s get to today’s nine-game slate and find some angles.
Note: For updates, see the chat at the bottom of this post.
- Overall: 125-109-1
- Spreads: 44-45-1
- Totals: 38-36
- Moneylines: 9-6
- Props: 29-22
Betting Odds and Analysis
- 7 p.m. ET: LA Clippers (-1.5) at Indiana Pacers, 217
- 7:30 p.m. ET: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics (-13.5), 214.5
- 8 p.m. ET: Toronto Raptors (-5.5) at Chicago Bulls, 214.5
- 8 p.m. ET: Detroit Pistons at New Orleans Pelicans (-1.5), 226.5
- 8 p.m. ET: Sacramento Kings at Houston Rockets (-12.5), 227
- 8 p.m. ET: Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks (-12.5), 218
- 9 p.m. ET: OKC Thunder at Utah Jazz (-8), 211.5
- 9 p.m. ET: Minnesota Timberwolves at Phoenix Suns (-4), 234
- 10:30 p.m. ET: Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors (-3), 218.5
Let’s run through a couple angles I’m eyeing.
Clippers at Pacers
Let’s start with this from our FantasyLabs NBA news feed: “Coach Doc Rivers didn’t commit to Paul George or Kawhi Leonard playing Monday on the second leg of a back-to-back, but George confirmed he will play Monday.” We have George in, but Kawhi listed as out.
On the other side, the Pacers should be whole after Malcolm Brogdon missed Saturday’s game against the Knicks. It was a victory but not a convincing one, winning by just one point and not covering the spread.
Let’s start with the Clips. They’re obviously better at full strength, but they’ve been pretty darn good with Paul George playing and Kawhi out. During those 350 possessions, the Clips have posted a strong +8.7 Net Rating, notably scoring 116.9 points per 100 possessions on offense (94th percentile).
That included some hot shooting, sure, but a lot of their success came on the offensive glass with those units, grabbing 33.5% of their misses (99th percentile).
Interestingly this season, the Pacers haven’t been that good rebounding the ball, ranking 17th in offensive rebound rate and 16th in defensive rebound rate. It’s not a weakness per se, but it’s a concern tonight if the Clips with Montrezl Harrell try to bully them in the paint.
If Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner can keep that in check, the Pacers should be pretty darn competitive in this one. I’ve written a couple times over the past week that I’m buying the Pacers right now, as I think they’re a bit undervalued by the public.
Their main lineups have been dominant this season:
- Brogdon-Lamb-Warren-Sabonis-Turner: +18.2 Net Rating in 297 possessions
- Holiday-Brogdon-Warren-Sampson-Sabonis: +18.0 Net Rating in 132 possessions
Their issues have been with some of the bench units featuring guys further down the rotation like TJ McConnell and Justin Holiday, especially playing a ton of those guys together.
We’ll see if they plan on staggering minutes any more than they have. Against the Pistons the other night, they didn’t too much, playing just Sabonis with the bench guys:
They actually went on a run in that second quarter (they were a +11 then), but overall those units have struggled. Perhaps staggering Warren and Brogdon a bit more instead of Sabonis could help a bit, but we’ll see if they adjust at all or continue to do mostly hockey-style subbing.
The result has been a lot of uninspiring fourth quarters: The Pacers on the year are second in the league with a ridiculous +17.1 Net Rating in the third but 22nd in the fourth with a -4.9 mark. Against a solid closing unit with George and Lou Williams, again, it’s a little concerning.
I still like the Pacers here at anything better than a pick’em. They’re finally back at home tonight after a five-game road trip that ended with a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday. Further, I think this starting unit is really solid and should continue to jell throughout the year.
With Kawhi likely out and the Clips on the second leg of a road back-to-back, I think this should be more around Pacers as a small favorite. As of around noon ET Monday, the Clippers were receiving the majority of spread tickets, but the line has moved sharply against them:
Both of those steam moves were on Pacers +1.5, indicating sharp bettors like them at that number.
Thunder at Jazz
There’s also some sharp money on the under in this game, which is getting just 46% of the bets and 58% of the money so far. There have been two steam moves on the under at both 212.5 and 211.5, and I like it at anything 211 or higher.
That also matches a trend I built, which is just a small tweak on a Pro System of ours at Bet Labs that highlights unders seeing reverse line movement (when majority of bets are on over but line is moving down).
OK, the market is on the under, but let’s talk on-court stuff.
First, neither team is very good on offense. They’re both around the bottom-10 in the league in efficiency, and they’re both near or below that mark in terms of shots at the rim and 3-point rate. They’re the two worst teams at grabbing offensive boards. You get the picture: They don’t make things very easy on themselves to score.
The Jazz will be without Mike Conley today, as they have been the past two games. They struggled in their first game offensively without him, but that was somewhat to be expected against the Lakers. Then on Saturday they exploded without him, although that was again to be expected at home against the fast-paced Grizzlies. I’m not sure we learned much there.
I think we can measure style of offense, though, even if the efficiency numbers are under/over-inflated due to matchups. Against the Lakers, the Jazz played 84.0% of their possessions in the halfcourt (80th percentile of games). Against the fast-paced Grizzlies who want to run, they played 92.9% of their possessions in the halfcourt — literally the 100th percentile.
On the year, the Jazz have been the most halfcourt-heavy team in the league. Combine that with an atrocious shot profile and poor rebounding marks, and it’s no surprise the offense hasn’t blossomed like expected. Everything is just so tough if you’re not getting easy looks and tilting math in your favor.
Now for the under sealer: We can say nearly the exact same thing about the Thunder. They’re last in offensive rebounding, have an even worse shot profile and they’re the second-most halfcourt-heavy team in the league.
There’s a way this can go over, certainly. But it’s really only one way, which is really hot shooting against set defenses. More likely in my opinion is a slow-paced, halfcourt affair with teams taking a bunch of mid-rangers and not getting any rebounds. If that’s the case, if they have merely average efficiency, the under is the play here at anything 211 or higher.
Projected Starting Lineups and Injury News
Note: Info as of 2 p.m. ET. For up-to-the-minute lineups and news, see FantasyLabs’ matchups page.
- Boston Celtics: Kemba Walker – Jaylen Brown – Jayson Tatum – Gordon Hayward – Daniel Theis
- Chicago Bulls: Kris Dunn – Zach LaVine – Tomas Satoransky – Lauri Markkanen – Wendell Carter Jr.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland – Collin Sexton – Cedi Osman – Kevin Love – Tristan Thompson
- Detroit Pistons: Bruce Brown – Luke Kennard – Tony Snell – Blake Griffin – Andre Drummond
- Golden State Warriors: D’Angelo Russell – Glenn Robinson III – Eric Paschall – Draymond Green – Willie Cauley-Stein
- Houston Rockets: Russell Westbrook – James Harden – Danuel House – PJ Tucker – Clint Capela
- Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon – Jeremy Lamb – TJ Warren – Domantas Sabonis – Myles Turner
- LA Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Terance Mann – Paul George – Maurice Harkless – Ivica Zubac
- Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant – Dillon Brooks – Jae Crowder – Jaren Jackson Jr. – Jonas Valanciunas
- Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Bledsoe – Wes Matthews – Khris Middleton – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Brook Lopez
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins – Jarrett Culver – Josh Okogie – Robert Covington – Karl-Anthony Towns
- New Orleans Pelicans: Lonzo Ball – Jrue Holiday – JJ Redick – Brandon Ingram – Derrick Favors
- OKC Thunder: Chris Paul – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Abdel Nader – Danilo Gallinari – Steven Adams
- Orlando Magic: Markelle Fultz – Evan Fournier – Aaron Gordon – Jonathan Isaac – Khem Birch
- Phoenix Suns: Ricky Rubio – Devin Booker – Kelly Oubre – Dario Saric – Aron Baynes
- Sacramento Kings: Cory Joseph – Buddy Hield – Harrison Barnes – Nemanja Bjelica – Richaun Holmes
- Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry – Fred VanVleet – OG Anunoby – Pascal Siakam – Marc Gasol
- Utah Jazz: Donovan Mitchell – Joe Ingles – Bogdan Bogdanovic – Royce O’Neale – Rudy Gobert
- Boston Celtics: Robert Williams (hip) is out. Gordon Hayward (hand) and Marcus Smart (eye) are questionable.
- Chicago Bulls: Chandler Hutchison (shoulder) is TBD.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Nothing new.
- Detroit Pistons: Markieff Morris (cervical strain) is not on the injury report.
- Golden State Warriors: Jacob Evans (adductor) is questionable. Damion Lee (hand) is probable.
- Houston Rockets: Tyson Chandler (illness) is doubtful.
- Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon (hand) said he’ll play. JaKarr Sampson (back) is questionable.
- LA Clippers: Kawhi Leonard (rest) is uncertain to play. Paul George (rest) said he’ll play. Landry Shamet (ankle), Rodney McGruder (hamstring) and Patrick Patterson (back) are TBD.
- Memphis Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke (oblique) is out. Kyle Anderson (heel) is doubtful. Ja Morant (back) is probable.
- Milwaukee Bucks: Nothing new.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Jake Layman (toe) is TBD.
- New Orleans Pelicans: Derrick Favors (personal) is questionable.
- OKC Thunder: Terrance Ferguson (hip) is unlikely to play.
- Orlando Magic: Nothing new.
- Phoenix Suns: Aron Baynes (calf) is likely to play. Mikal Bridges (finger) and Dario Saric (back) are probable.
- Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley (thumb) is out at least 2 more games.
- Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet (knee) is TBD.
- Utah Jazz: Mike Conley (hamstring) is out.
To bet props, I use our FantasyLabs player props tool. Follow me in the Action Network app to see my bets (or go to the bottom of the article), but the more important thing is the tool, which measures our projections for every player vs. current odds in the market and highlights the biggest edges for you.
Player props are an inefficient market, which allows casual bettors (limits are low, so pro bettors aren’t incentivized to prioritize them) to grab very +EV bets. That said, the lines move quickly. Our props tool is set up so you can always see whether there’s an edge even at the updated numbers throughout the day.
It’s one of my favorite tools we offer and should be one of your bookmarked pages if you like making a few extra bucks. Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like:
My usual recommendation: Bet unders.
Last season, 10-rated props in our tool hit at a 60.31% rate. But overs hit at a 57.08% rate vs. 66.47% for unders. For 9-rated props, 55.96% of overs were successful bets vs. 62.60% for unders.
As I have noted in the past, unders have more outs: A blowout, an injury, a poor shooting night — all will likely make the under hit. But also, props are less efficient as a market given the low limits, so they’re less likely to adjust for things like opponent and pace.
One under I think is intriguing is Myles Turner’s 7.5-rebound total.
Despite his size and athleticism, Turner is just not a huge rebounder. He’s averaging just 5.7 per game this season — his lowest mark since his rookie season — and his overall rate of 10.1% is a career-low and pretty darn minuscule for a guy his size.
It makes some sense: Turner often plays on the perimeter, he’s usually with another big in Domantas Sabonis, and even the guards and wings in Brogdon and Warren are solid rebounders for their positions. There’s only one ball, after all.
Further, the Pacers get a Clippers team that is excellent at rebounding, and as I wrote about in the betting analysis section, the units with Paul George have been especially good, particularly with Montrezl Harrell out there. I still like the Pacers in the game, but I think Turner at under 7.5 is the right side. He’s been under this mark in each of his past 10 games.
DFS Values and Strategy
There are numerous studs available today, starting with the most-expensive guy on both sites in James Harden, who is on quite a tear lately. He wasn’t able to make it three in a row of 50-point games, but he’s still hit value in 12 of his last 16 games. What’s more, he’s playing absolutely huge minutes right now, going for 39 ore more in each of his last three.
His only real poor game lately was in Toronto, when the Raptors absolutely blanketed him and forced the other Rockets to beat them. In his 40 minutes he posted a usage rate of just 16.3%, easily one of his lowest marks ever. He was still highly efficient with his 11 shots and missed value by just six points on FanDuel, which shows his regular ceiling each night.
Below him are guys who are definitely worthy of GPP consideration, including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Karl-Anthony Towns. The former is always a bit risky for cash games with a double-digit spread; the Bucks don’t push him and they seemingly blow all these bad teams out. Towns is a much better play on DraftKings, where he’s just $9,300. He’s cash-viable there certainly.
And then down a peg are awesome values in guys like Pascal Siakam (against the Bulls potentially down a starter in Fred VanVleet), Domantas Sabonis (somehow still underpriced despite nearly always hitting value), Andre Drummond and Brandon Ingram.
If you’re playing on DraftKings, unfortunately they made a mistake and essentially eliminated a spot tonight due to a pricing error. Gordon Hayward is somehow the minimum price at $3,000 and has been upgraded to questionable after fracturing his left hand.
We’ll have to see whether he has a minutes limit and what that looks like, but if he’s going to get reasonable run and be even close to his usual self, you have to play him.
There aren’t many screaming values right now at the bargain bin, although you don’t really need them if Hayward is a go. JaMychal Green could be popular if Kawhi Leonard ultimately doesn’t go, and there will likely be more value opening up once we get injury news, especially with Toronto.
Make sure to follow our news feed and subscribe to our models to see up-to-the-minute projection changes.
My Bets Currently
- Pacers +1 (I’d bet anything better than a pick)
- Looking for under 211 or higher in Thunder-Jazz
Follow me in our free app if you want an alert on bets I make. I’ll also make updates in the chat below.
Updates and Live Chat
I will put updated thoughts below, whether they’re about line movement, injury news, etc. You can also ask questions, which I’ll answer as quickly as I can.