NBA Predictions, Picks & Betting Odds (Monday, Jan. 13): Expect Thunder Bounceback After Lakers Blowout?
Photo credit: Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
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.
Friday I finished 2-3 for -0.7 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 Mavericks -2 and it closed at Mavs -2.5 (lost)
- I bet Suns -190 and it closed at Suns -180 (won)
- I bet Heat -3.5 and it closed at Heat -4 (lost)
- I bet Pelicans -4.5 and it closed at Pelicans -4.5 (won)
- I bet Hawks -1.5 and it closed at Hawks -1.5 (lost)
Let’s dive into today’s slate and find some angles.
Note: For updates, see the chat at the bottom of this post.
- Overall: 164-133-2
- Spreads: 63-57-2
- Totals: 51-48
- Moneylines: 15-6
- Props: 29-22
Odds as of Monday afternoon and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Betting Odds and Analysis
- 7 p.m. ET: Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers (-2), 213.5
- 7 p.m. ET: New Orleans Pelicans at Detroit Pistons (-3.5), 224.5
- 7:30 p.m. ET: Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics (-10.5), 216.5
- 8 p.m. ET: OKC Thunder (-3) at Minnesota Timberwolves, 218.5
- 10 p.m. ET: Charlotte Hornets at Portland Trail Blazers (-9.5), 216
- 10 p.m. ET: Orlando Magic at Sacramento Kings (-2), 211.5
- 10:30 p.m. ET: Cleveland Cavaliers at LA Lakers (-13.5), 221
Let’s run through a couple angles I’m eyeing.
Thunder at Wolves
I wrote a lot about the Wolves last week and how weird they’ve been since Karl-Anthony Towns, who is out tonight, went down with an injury. He has some pretty insane on/off differential splits:
- Wolves with Towns: +4.0 overall, +15.1 offense, -11.2 defense
They’ve essentially been a dumpster fire on offense without him on the floor, but they’ve turned into the world’s best defense, too. It’s weird.
The biggest issue with his defensive splits has been the shooting: In particular, teams are hitting 9.2% more of their 3-pointers with Towns playing, including 12.5% not from the corners. In one of last week’s breakdowns, I showed some film and data about how the Wolves’ scheme is the same regardless of big.
With Towns, they drop in pick-and-rolls.
With Gorgui Dieng or whoever is out there, it’s exactly the same.
Further, opponents are getting unlucky on shooting outside in those non-Towns minutes. I do think Dieng and crew has been better defending the paint than Towns, but I’m not sure it’s a huge drop-off. And I’m skeptical that the outside shooting is really the fault of any of the bigs in particular. It’s either all of them — the scheme is the issue — or it’s just random luck.
All in all, I think the defense will see its luck turn a bit, although they still have solid players and should be a good unit. I do think, however, the offensive drop-off is sustainable. Without Towns, the Wolves take 7.1% fewer shots at the rim. They shoot 6.3% worse at that area, and they’re 4.9% worse on 3s. Given Towns’ offensive value, skill and gravity, that feels right.
Meanwhile, last we saw the Thunder, they were really breaking the hearts of bettors everywhere. On Saturday, they hosted the Lakers and opened as one-point underdogs. But LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Danny Green were all ruled out, eventually moving the line to Thunder -9 at closing.
Not only did the Thunder fail to cover the closing number — they lost outright by 15, failing to cover for bettors who grabbed them right after the news. Ten points of closing line value and a loss — the 2019-20 NBA season, everyone!
Still, they’ve been pretty darn good lately, posting a +5.9 point differential over the last two weeks, and that includes the Lakers drubbing. And even that game was an unlikely outcome: The Lakers went 50.0% on 3s overall, including 52.0% on non-corner shots. They literally hit everything, contested or not. That happens sometimes.
Take out that game, and things have been pointing way up for the Thunder. They had covered 11 of their prior 13 games, including wins over the Rockets, Mavericks, Raptors and Clippers. Their only two losses in that stretch were competitive games in Philly and against a Memphis team that has been incredibly hot over the last month.
Danilo Gallinari is back from a brief injury, which certainly helps the team. It is a little concerning that the starting lineup has a negative point differential together this year, but 1) that’s changing and 2) the lineups without Terrance Ferguson have been awesome. I think they’re still on the upswing.
As a result of everything written above, I grabbed the under at 219 mostly due to not believing in the Wolves offense minus Towns. I also like the Thunder moneyline at -170 or lower.
Click below to bet now.
Pelicans at Pistons
The Pistons over the last two weeks have posted an Offensive Rating of just 104.6 — the third-worst mark in the league. They’ve lost two straight games to the Bulls and Cavs, and weren’t particularly impressive in the prior game to the Cavaliers, either.
The shot profile has been just so bad without Blake Griffin in the lineup. With him off the floor, the Pistons have taken 8.4% fewer 3-pointers, including a 2.8% drop-off in attempts from the corners. They haven’t really replaced those attempts with good penetration, either; rather it’s just been inefficient mid-rangers. They still have some fine shooters and good offensive players, but that profile just isn’t going to produce a high-level offense.
On the other side of this game, the Pelicans could be incredibly shorthanded in this contest. Kenrich Williams and JJ Redick have already been ruled out, and Jrue Holiday was downgraded to doubtful. On top of that, Brandon Ingram was added to the injury report today; he and Derrick Favors are questionable.
That’s almost the entire main rotation and especially a lot of the main offensive playmakers. Redick has arguably been the most important player to their offense given his shooting: The Pels have posted a eFG% 3.3% worse without him on the floor.
I think Ingram is the big one here, though. He’s been the linchpin of the offense so far this season, and they’ve dropped 3.2/100 in efficiency without him. One of his biggest sources of value has been getting to the foul line, which the Pels have done 6.2% more often with him.
If he’s out, I don’t think there will be a lot of offensive firepower on the floor for either team and would take the under at 224.5.
Click below to bet now.
Projected Starting Lineups and Injury News
Note: Info as of 3 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 – Enes Kanter
- Charlotte Hornets: Devonte’ Graham – Terry Rozier – Miles Bridges – PJ Washington – Bismack Biyombo
- Chicago Bulls: Kris Dunn – Tomas Satoransky – Zach LaVine – Lauri Markkanen – Daniel Gafford
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland – Collin Sexton – Cedi Osman – Kevin Love – Tristan Thompson
- Detroit Pistons: Bruce Brown – Svi Mykhailiuk – Tony Snell – Sekou Doumbouya – Andre Drummond
- Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon – Jeremy Lamb – TJ Warren – Domantas Sabonis – Myles Turner
- LA Lakers: LeBron James – Avery Bradley – Danny Green – Anthony Davis – JaVale McGee
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Shabazz Napier – Jarrett Culver – Andrew Wiggins – Robert Covington – Gorgui Dieng
- New Orleans Pelicans: Lonzo Ball – E’Twaun Moore – Josh Hart – Brandon Ingram – Derrick Favors
- OKC Thunder: Chris Paul – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Terrance Ferguson – Danilo Gallinari – Steven Adams
- Orlando Magic: Markelle Fultz – Evan Fournier – Aaron Gordon – Khem Birch – Nikola Vucevic
- Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons – Josh Richardson – Tobias Harris – Mike Scott – Al Horford
- Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard – CJ McCollum – Kent Bazemore – Carmelo Anthony – Hassan Whiteside
- Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox – Buddy Hield – Harrison Barnes – Nemanja Bjelica – Harry Giles
- Boston Celtics: Daniel Theis (knee) is out. Vincent Poirier (finger) is questionable. Romeo Langford (illness) is not on the injury report.
- Charlotte Hornets: Nothing new.
- Chicago Bulls: Daniel Gafford (ankle) will start. Lauri Markkanen (ankle), Chandler Hutchison (shoulder) and Ryan Arcidiacono (elbow) are probable.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Dante Exum (illness) is questionable.
- Detroit Pistons: Nothing new.
- Indiana Pacers: Domantas Sabonis (knee) and Malcolm Brogdon (illness) are questionable.
- LA Lakers: Anthony Davis (glute) and Rajon Rondo (finger) are questionable. LeBron James (illness) and Avery Bradley (illness) are probable.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) is out.
- New Orleans Pelicans: Kenrich Williams (back) and JJ Redick (hamstring) are out. Jrue Holiday (elbow) is doubtful. Derrick Favors (hamstring) and Brandon Ingram (knee) are questionable.
- OKC Thunder: Nerlens Noel (ankle) is out.
- Orlando Magic: Michael Carter-Williams (AC joint) is out. DJ Augustin (knee) and Aaron Gordon (calf) are questionable.
- Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid (hand) remains out.
- Portland Trail Blazers: Mario Hezonja (back) is questionable. Hassan Whiteside (illness) is probable.
- Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley (foot) will play. Cory Joseph (illness) is questionable. Richaun Holmes (shoulder) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (ankle) are out. Nemanja Bjelica (ankle) and Harrison Barnes (quad) are expected to play.
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 Kent Bazemore’s 9.5-point total.
Bazemore went for 10 points last game, although that required him to have the second-most free throws he’s had this season. In his 29 minutes of action, he still used just 13.8% of the possessions, taking seven total shots.
Prior to that game, he had gone under 10 points in nine straight games, which is just his role right now. He’s playing with four high-usage players and is mostly out there for defense and spotting up. Tonight’s matchup is a good one against the Hornets, but I will continue to bet under for such a low-usage guy until they lower these odds.
DFS Values and Strategy
At the top of the pricing structure today sit the Lakers guys in Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Davis is questionable to play and has missed the last two games with this glute injury. He and LeBron actually have a positive correlation now in terms of fantasy points, but obviously LBJ would be an awesome value if he’s the solo star on the team, especially against his former team in the Cavs.
Right now the stud with the highest Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel is Andre Drummond, who remains the main guy down low with Blake Griffin now out for the year following surgery. Drummond underwhelmed last game but had been playing close to 40 minutes and dominating. Against a Pelicans team that could be missing almost its entire key rotation, Drummond could absolutely clean up on both sides of the floor.
Make sure to follow in the injury news and, of course, follow which guys are values on which site. Drummond is cheaper than the Lakers duo on FanDuel but actually the most-expensive player on the slate on DraftKings. He’s still a value on the latter site, but in tournaments it could be worth dropping down to someone like Hassan Whiteside, who has a higher Projected Plus/Minus and has dominated lately, exceeding value in eight of his last 10 games.
Or you could drop down to guys like Steven Adams or Kevin Love, who stand out as values on DraftKings in the mid-tier.
On FanDuel, some of the best values of the day currently include guys like Al Horford and Ben Simmons (Joel Embiid is still out), Nemanja Bjelica, Gorgui Dieng (KAT is out) and the Kings guards.
There are a ton of injuries still to come, however. Brandon Ingram is questionable, and outside of the Lakers guys could be the most impactful guy on the slate with regards to news. Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon are both questionable, too.
You get the drill: Follow the news and make sure to subscribe to our models to see up-to-the-minute projection updates.
My Bets Currently
- Thunder-Wolves under 219
- Thunder -160
- Pelicans-Pistons under 225
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