Monday NBA Betting Picks & Odds (Nov. 18): How to Play Thunder vs. Clippers & More
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Paul George and Jrue Holiday
- The latest injury info for Thunder-Clippers has Kawhi Leonard missing another game for L.A. Paul George is expected to play, however, and the team is still a sizable home favorite.
- How should you be betting the late-night NBA showdown? Bryan Mears analyzes the angles to know and picks out his favorite bets for the slate.
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.
On Friday I finished 3-4 for -0.37 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 Lakers -10.5 and it closed at -10.5 (lost)
- I bet Kings team total under 102 and it closed at 101.5 (won)
- I bet Lakers/Kings under 214.5 and it closed at 214 (won)
- I bet Wizards-Wolves under 242 and it closed at 239.5 (lost)
- I bet Spurs+140/+125 ML and it closed at +125 (lost)
- I bet Spurs +3 and it closed at Spurs +2.5 (won)
- I bet Pistons/Hornets over 220.5 and it closed at 220.5 (lost)
I didn’t lose value on any bets, which is a good sign. Still, it was a slightly negative day. I was high on the Spurs, who remain a very frustrating team on which to bet. Our Action app had them at a 75% chance to win with three minutes remaining in the game, but they blew it down the stretch, ultimately covering the +2.5 closing number by a half-point.
The one game that I might have made a mistake on is the Wizards-Wolves game. I bet the under once Shabazz Napier and Andrew Wiggins were ruled out for Minnesota.
The line movement was encouraging and suggests that it was the correct side. The team has had noticeable splits with those guys:
- With Wiggins & Napier: 109.8 pace, 101.4 Offensive Rating
- Without Wiggins & Napier: 104.7 pace, 104.0 Offensive Rating
The team has performed better offensively but run at a slower pace. I probably overrated the pace angle, especially against a poor Washington roster. I didn’t think those players were worth much to the spread, and I probably should’ve been cautious about them being worth anything to the total, either. Or maybe it was the right play given the line movement. Basketball betting is tough!
Anyway, let’s get to today’s nine-game slate and find some angles. This is a long post, so use the jump links below to skip ahead to whatever you’re looking for.
Note: For updates, see the chat at the bottom of this post.
- Overall: 75-59-1
- Spreads: 23-24-1
- Totals: 17-13
- Moneylines: 5-2
- Props: 28-20
Betting Odds and Analysis
- 7 p.m. ET: Cleveland Cavaliers at New York Knicks (-5), 210
- 7:30 p.m. ET: Charlotte Hornets at Toronto Raptors (-9), 215
- 7:30 p.m. ET: Indiana Pacers at Brooklyn Nets (-2), 216
- 8 p.m. ET: Milwaukee Bucks (-8.5) at Chicago Bulls, 231
- 8 p.m. ET: Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets (-7.5), 230.5
- 8:30 p.m. ET: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks (-5), 223.5
- 9 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics at Phoenix Suns (-3.5), 227.5
- 9 p.m. ET: Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz (-9.5), 219
- 10:30 p.m. ET: OKC Thunder at LA Clippers (-9), 222
Odds as of Monday afternoon.
Let’s run through a couple situations for today.
Pacers at Nets
Note: Kyrie Irving has been ruled out.
I was a little worried about the Bucks this year, in relative terms; I thought they’d clearly be one of the best in the East and a contender for the Finals. But they lost some key pieces from last year’s team, most notably Malcolm Brogdon, who I believe is one of the more underrated players in the league.
He’s out today for the Pacers, who could also be missing Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb and TJ Warren, all of whom are questionable. Here are the on/off numbers for all of those players:
- Warren: +13.3
- Brogdon: +12.6
- Sabonis: +7.6
- Lamb: +1.0
Warren has the best on/off differential on the team, but I think Brogdon’s is more indicative. Warren’s value has largely been on defense, which doesn’t exactly match the eye test. Brog’s, however, is largely on offense: The team has been 9.3 points per 100 possessions worse on that end without him. The team shoots significantly worse and takes a lot fewer efficient shots, including from the corner-3 area.
With him out, the offense is sure to take a hit. If Warren and the other guys are out (or even a combination), it could be an ugly offensive night, even if I’m still long-term in on Aaron Holiday.
The question is how much that will matter against a Nets team that ranks second in pace and bottom-10 in defensive efficiency after scrubbing out garbage time (via Cleaning the Glass).
Kyrie Irving could be out for the Nets (he’s currently questionable), but there’s uncertainty with his splits as well…
- Nets with Kyrie: 103.7 pace, 112.9 ORtg, 114.7 DRting
- Nets without Kyrie: 104.3 pace, 106.4 ORtg, 108.3 DRtg
The pace is about the same, and while the Nets have been much worse offensively with him on, they’ve been much better defensively.
All in all, I think this potentially sets up for an under play if Kyrie is out and more of the Pacers guys are out or limited. When these teams met in late October, the Pacers’ slow pace dragged down the Nets (as opposed to the Nets pulling up the Pacers); they both had 97 possessions, which is lower than the slowest-paced team in the league.
They’ll likely play faster than that today, but there’s just potentially a lot of firepower missing tonight, and the Pacers looked a little better defensively last game with Myles Turner back to defend the rim.
There’s also a Pro System currently matching the under here, suggesting it might be the sharp side even before knowing the injuries:
The over/under has moved down a couple points already since opening, but if we get more injury news that both of these teams are going to be limited (mostly looking at Warren and Kyrie), I’ll likely take a shot on the under and then potentially more in-game.
For what it’s worth, the above trend also matches for Mavericks-Spurs tonight.
Bucks at Bulls
These teams played four days ago, and the Bucks were favored by 11.5 in Milwaukee (the Bulls covered). Neither team was on a back-to-back, and the rosters should be the same today as they were then: Otto Porter is the big name missing for the Bulls, but he was out then, too.
In that game, the market essentially said the Bucks were nine points better than the Bulls on a neutral floor (I’m using 2.5 points for home-court advantage here). The line today is Bucks -8.5, and it could get up to -9. That means the market now thinks the Bucks are 11.5-12 points better.
These teams have played a game each since then, with the Bucks winning an ugly affair against an injured Pacers team and the Bulls losing an ugly one at home to the Nets without Kyrie Irving. Perhaps that Nets game is worth downgrading the Bulls a bit, although you could argue the Bulls got very unlucky in that game: They went just 3-of-21 (14.3%) on wide-open 3-pointers and 3-of-12 (25.0%) are merely open ones.
All in all, should the line be three points different than it was just a few days ago? Also, what happened to my not-betting-on-the-Bulls rule?
Sigh. This one is testing me a bit. The Bulls continue to underperform their expected offensive output, which is due to regress over the long-term. They’re a young team, which makes them volatile on a nightly basis, but it also gives them upside. They’ve been playing rookie point guard Coby White more minutes lately, and he has nice on/off splits.
Listen, this is a terrifying one to bet. It’s a classic hold-your-nose type of wager. But on paper, the Bucks aren’t 12 points better on average than the Bulls, especially without Khris Middleton, who has posted career-high shooting numbers this season.
Especially if this gets to Bulls +9, I’ll have to grab it and hate myself in the morning for it. A quick note on the on-court game: I wrote about this matchup last week, particularly how I was curious how the Bulls offense would look. They like to attack the rim, which just isn’t possible against the Bucks’ conservative, drop defensive system. It was encouraging to see them adapt and get up more 3-pointers, which is a positive note for today.
Celtics at Suns
Outside of potentially seeing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George together (Kawhi is questionable), this might be the most interesting matchup of the evening.
The Suns, for whatever you thought of them before the year, have a pretty unimpeachable statistical profile at this point. Sure, they’re hitting a ton of shots, ranking second in eFG%, but that’s right in line with their expected eFG% based on their shot quality. They are getting pretty lucky on the defensive end by that measure, but they’re likely still an above-average unit.
The Celtics also have a top-10 offense and defense, even after losing a brutal game to the De’Aaron Fox-less Sacramento Kings the other night.
Boston’s offense has dropped off the last two games, which coincides with the injury to Gordon Hayward. There are some weird splits there, however. Per Cleaning the Glass, most of Hayward’s value has been on the defense end; the Celtics have been 7.2 points/100 worse without him. I’m not sure I buy that though, especially since almost all of that is opponent shooting at the rim, which he is less involved with than a big man.
On offense, the Celtics have shot worse without him, but that was going to regress anyway: He was on fire from the mid-range in a very unsustainable way. Overall, the Celtics have actually gotten more efficient looks without him, shooting 3.1% more shots at the rim and 1.4% more 3-pointers. They’ve decreased their mid-range output by 4.5%.
The Celtics in a vacuum are a pretty good matchup for the Suns. They’ve been solid all around, but a big part of it has been the play of Devin Booker who is shooting 53.7% from the field. His 61.2% eFG% mark is way higher than his career-average of 49.9%. It’s way higher than last year’s mark of 52.1%. Maybe Booker is just this good now, but there’s some uncertainty there.
Of course, the Celtics are on a road-road back-to-back after playing in Sacramento last night. That’s not ideal, but they are in a profitable spot, which is Brad Stevens as a dog:
Specifically as a road dog, he’s 83-55-1 (17.6%) ROI. This line at 3.5 is about right, so I don’t have a bet for it currently, but I think it will be a fascinating one to watch given the question marks around these teams’ hot starts.
Projected Starting Lineups and Injury News
Note: Info as of 1 p.m. ET. For up-to-the-minute lineups and news, see FantasyLabs’ matchups page.
- Boston Celtics: Kemba Walker – Marcus Smart – Jaylen Brown – Jayson Tatum – Daniel Theis
- Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie– Garrett Temple – Joe Harris – Taurean Prince – Jarrett Allen
- Charlotte Hornets: Devonte’ Graham – Terry Rozier – Miles Bridges – PJ Washington – Cody Zeller
- Chicago Bulls: Tomas Satoransky – Zach LaVine – Chandler Hutchison – Lauri Markkanen – Wendell Carter Jr.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland – Collin Sexton – Kevin Porter – Cedi Osman – Tristan Thompson
- Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic – Seth Curry – Dorian Finney-Smith – Kristaps Porzingis – Maxi Kleber
- Houston Rockets: Russell Westbrook – James Harden – Danuel House – PJ Tucker – Clint Capela
- Indiana Pacers: Aaron Holiday – Justin Holiday – TJ Warren – Domantas Sabonis – Myles Turner
- LA Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Kawhi Leonard – Paul George – Maurice Harkless – Ivica Zubac
- Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Bledsoe – Wesley Matthews – Donte DiVincenzo – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Brook Lopez
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Jeff Teague – Treveon Graham – Jake Layman – Robert Covington – Karl-Anthony Towns
- New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina – RJ Barrett – Marcus Morris – Julius Randle – Taj Gibson
- OKC Thunder: Chris Paul – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Terrance Ferguson – Danilo Gallinari – Steven Adams
- Phoenix Suns: Ricky Rubio – Devin Booker – Kelly Oubre – Dario Saric – Aron Baynes
- Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard – CJ McCollum – Rodney Hood – Nassir Little – Hassan Whiteside
- San Antonio Spurs: Dejounte Murray – Bryn Forbes – DeMar DeRozan – Trey Lyles – LaMarcus Aldridge
- Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet – Norman Powell – OG Anunoby – Pascal Siakam – Marc Gasol
- Utah Jazz: Mike Conley – Donovan Mitchell – Bojan Bogdanovic – Royce O’Neale – Rudy Gobert
- Boston Celtics: Nothing new.
- Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving (shoulder) is out.
- Charlotte Hornets: Nothing new.
- Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine (ankle) is available to play. Otto Porter (foot) is without a timetable for return. Luke Kornet (surgery) is out.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Kevin Love (knee) and Larry Nance (thumb) are out.
- Dallas Mavericks: Nothing new.
- Houston Rockets: Clint Capela (concussion) and Danuel House (back) are probable.
- Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon (back), TJ McConnell (groin) and Jeremy Lamb (aknle) are out. Domantas Sabonis (hip) is questionable.
- LA Clippers: Kawhi Leonard (knee) and Patrick Beverley (calf) are questionable.
- Milwaukee Bucks: Nothing new.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins (illness) and Shabazz Napier (hamstring) are doubtful. Josh Okogie (knee) is questionable.
- New York Knicks: Elfrid Payton (hamstring) is out. Mitchell Robinson (ankle) is available to play.
- OKC Thunder: Andre Roberson (knee) is out. Hamidou Diallo (knee) is questionable.
- Phoenix Suns: Nothing new.
- Portland Trail Blazers: Nothing new.
- San Antonio Spurs: Nothing new.
- Toronto Raptors: Nothing new.
- Utah Jazz: Nothing new.
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 Miles Bridges’ 11.5-point total.
Bridges’ minutes have been a bit all over the place lately. He got less than 15 the other night in New York, and he played miserably, scoring zero points on 0-of-8 shooting. We’re projecting him for 24 minutes tonight, but it may not be that many more shot attempts.
In the game prior to that against the Pistons, Bridges posted just a 15.5% usage rate; he hit half of his shots but still scored just seven points due to the low volume. One factor is Nicolas Batum’s return, which potentially had something to do with Bridges’ minutes being so low last game.
Bridges is a part of the Hornets’ future, so he’ll likely get more run over time, but he’s still going to be a fairly low-usage guy right now. Against a very good Raptors defense, 11.5 points is a bit too high given his uncertainty.
DFS Values and Strategy
Man, there are some huge Projected Plus/Minus scores today. Among the higher-priced options, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and Domantas Sabonis are all above +10.0 on DraftKings, which is a truly absurd number.
All three have great matchups and have been dominating this season. Note that Sabonis is currently questionable, but so are a bunch of players for the Pacers. They could be incredibly shorthanded today, which would make a few of them — Sabonis, Myles Turner and TJ Warren especially — great values.
I don’t feel like I need to say a whole lot more about the studs: Those guys are easy rosters tonight, and there are great pivot plays for GPPs, too. James Harden will go under-owned given his price tag, but he’s always liable to be the leading scorer on the slate. Karl-Anthony Towns, Russell Westbrook, Pascal Siakam are great GPP pivots as well.
Perhaps the best value of the day is Tristan Thompson, who has a +15.36 Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings. Kevin Love is out today, which means Tristan will have even higher rebounding upside against a Knicks team that hasn’t exactly hit a ton of shots this year (nor have the Cavs).
Spencer Dinwiddie is in that mid-range as well, and he’ll be a very popular option today with both Caris LeVert and Kyrie Irving out. He’ll get all the minutes he can handle given he’s the only high-level creator on the roster currently. He used 30% of the Nets’ possessions last game without Kyrie, which shows just how under-priced he is given his current role.
It’s an interesting slate, and it should get even more interesting given the other injury news we’re waiting on. Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Beverley are questionable for the Clippers, Sabonis is questionable, Andrew Wiggins is doubtful to play and Clint Capela is probable.
As always, it’s critical to keep up with news and use our updating projections to make sure you’re spotting the day’s best values.
My Bets Currently
- Pacers +3 (I wouldn’t bet past -1.5)
- Pacers-Nets under 218.5 and 218 (I wouldn’t bet past 216)
- Spurs-Mavericks under 224 (I wouldn’t bet past the number)
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.