Monday NBA Predictions, Picks & Betting Odds (Nov. 25): Kemba’s Value to the Celtics, More
Photo credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kemba Walker
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 4-3 for +0.9 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 Heat-Bulls over 217 and it closed at 217 (won)
- I bet Spurs-76ers under 220.5 and it closed at 220.5 (won)
- I bet Spurs +240 and it closed at Spurs +245 (lost)
- I bet Cavs-Mavericks over 221 and it closed at 221.5 (won)
- I bet Warriors-Jazz under 208 and it closed at 208.5 (lost)
- I bet Warriors-Jazz under 222.5 live (won)
- I bet Celtics-Nuggets (2H) under 105 and it closed at 104.5 (lost)
My biggest bet of the day was on the Heat-Bulls over, which honestly was a pretty lucky hit. The teams combined for 72 points in the fourth quarter, and there were 19 points in the last 90 seconds. The over ended up hitting by seven points, but it was seriously in doubt entering the third quarter.
The others I feel good about, although it wasn’t a memorable day in terms of CLV. One I did want to touch on is the Celtics-Nuggets second-half under, which ultimately ended up losing. Still, there’s a potential market inefficiency worth exploring.
Per our BetLabs software, when a first-half over/under goes way under — let’s say more than 10 points — most people might expect there to be regression in the second half and thus the over is a value. But for whatever reason — those teams don’t regress or maybe the market overcorrects — that has not been the case.
In those situations, it’s been profitable to hit the under again in the second half. This system has hit at a nearly 56% rate for a 7.4% Return on Investment historically.
It’s been blindly profitable each of the last six years, including this season. I never encourage blind betting, especially on systems that are measuring against past market data, but I do like looking for public biases and inefficiencies. This might be one to keep your eye on.
Anyway, let’s get to today’s small two-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: 95-81-1
- Spreads: 32-32-1
- Totals: 28-25
- Moneylines: 5-3
- Props: 27-21
Betting Odds and Analysis
- 7 p.m. ET: Brooklyn Nets at Cleveland Cavaliers (pick), 217.5
- 7 p.m. ET: Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons (-4.5), 206.5
- 7 p.m. ET: Memphis Grizzlies at Indiana Pacers (-9.5), 218
- 7:30 p.m. ET: Minnesota Timberwolves (-4.5) at Atlanta Hawks, 234.5
- 7:30 p.m. ET: Philadelphia 76ers (-1.5) at Toronto Raptors, 212
- 7:30 p.m. ET: Sacramento Kings at Boston Celtics (-6.5), 207.5
- 7:30 p.m. ET: Charlotte Hornets at Miami Heat (-10.5), 213.5
- 8 p.m. ET: Portland Trail Blazers at Chicago Bulls (pick), 226
- 8 p.m. ET: Utah Jazz at Milwaukee Bucks (-7), 223
- 8:30 p.m. ET: LA Lakers (-5) at San Antonio Spurs, 223
- 10:30 p.m. ET: OKC Thunder (-6) at Golden State Warriors, 216
Let’s run through some angles for today.
Kings at Celtics
There’s a bunch of uncertainty in this one with Kemba Walker doubtful and Bogdan Bogdanovic uncertain to play.
Let’s start with Walker. His on/off numbers are merely mediocre so far: The Celtics have been just 0.2 points per 100 possessions better when he’s been on the floor vs. off, which is right at the 50th percentile of players. The splits are noticeable, however: They’ve been 10.7/100 better on offense but 10.5/100 worse on defense.
He’s clearly a valuable player on offense, but what’s with those defensive numbers? Is that indicative of his value?
I’m not buying it: In the 370 possessions this season without Walker and Gordon Hayward, who remains out, the Celtics have ranked in the ninth percentile offensively but the 98th percentile defensively. Specifically they’re in the 100th percentile in opponent eFG% allowed.
Digging deeper, those lineups have been atrocious at defending the rim, ranking in the third percentile in that category. But opponents have hit just 17.9% of their 3-pointers against those Kemba- and Hayward-less lineups. They’re just 23.5% on corner-3s.
Kemba has limitations on defense because of his size, but he plays hard within the scheme and will fight through screens and close out. You’re telling me Carsen Edwards, a rookie, and Brad Wanamaker filling in for Kemba is worth that much value on defense? No way — those lineups have been crazy lucky.
Now let’s talk about the Kings. Bogdan has been one of the sneaky super valuable players this season, especially since De’Aaron Fox went down. Over that time, the Kings have gone 4-2, including a win over these Celtics with Walker. They’ve survived due to solid defense and better-than-expected shooting, which Bogdan has helped with, especially beyond the arc.
Still, they’ve probably been lucky shooting the ball, and they’ve been a bit up and down lately, beating the Wizards last game but getting rolled by the Kyrie-less Nets in the prior game after three days off. They’re a weird team.
The Celtics have historically been a great home team, although that’s been a bit flipped this season: They’re eighth in Net Rating at home vs. second on the road.
It’s possible, as other writers have mused, that they’re best when embracing the underdog status Brad Stevens has historically thrived in. They’re sizable favorites today, but they also might feel the underdog narrative with two of their starters out.
All in all, this is a fascinating game, and it’s made more complicated by the Kings playing on the second leg of a back-to-back. Most of their main starters had to grind out a win at 35-plus minutes, so it’s a factor for sure.
That may be why the Celtics are popular bets today:
That steam move was on the Celtics early this afternoon at -6.5.
I’ll be interested to see where this line moves. If it gets back to Kings +7.5 (it’s currently at +7) or even +8 or above, I think that’s an overcorrection and potentially undervaluing Kemba’s value to the spread. I’ll buy the Kings at that point, and I’m also going to look to live bet this if the Celtics start out hot.
76ers at Raptors
Both of these teams have had excellent offensive outings consistently over the last two weeks, but it’s mostly against poor teams. The Sixers were impressive in a win over the Heat the other day, but they’ve also played the Spurs, Knicks and Cavs over the last two weeks. The Raptors have played the Hawks and Hornets since last Monday, and they went over at home vs. the Magic.
Today’s matchup will be much harder offensively for both teams given the defensive talent here, plus it’s important to note the pace in all of these recent games. It hasn’t really been up for either team; in fact, these have been slower games.
They’re just being incredibly efficient on offense, which is a crucial difference. Over the past two weeks, both teams are in the top-10 in eFG%, and the Raptors lead the league in 3-point shooting. They’ve been especially hot on open 3-pointers, which will come down. They also won’t see as many tonight against the length of Philly.
I think there’s some potential value on the under today, and it’s mostly about pace and public recency bias. The majority of the bets are on the over despite these teams having awesome defenses. One system we have at Bet Labs tries to identify recency bias by looking at unders on good home over teams:
It’s been historically profitable to take the under on the inflated lines in these matchups, and this year this system has gone 16-6. We also have another system that identifies reverse line movements on unders, and we’ve seen that already this afternoon on this game:
All of those indicators, plus the recency bias angle plus the defenses I think provides value on the under, although it has already moved down to 212 from the opening number of 214. Still, with over 60% of the bets on the over and the potential public bias, I think it could potentially move back up. I’m going to wait on this closer to game time, unless things change and it looks like it’s going to continue to move down due to sharp money.
Nets at Cavs
Neither of these teams have been particularly impressive offensively of late, although they have had some poor injury luck to both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, both of whom are important for these offenses. Kyrie has the offensive on/off stats to back that up, and while Love doesn’t I think that will revert over a larger sample.
Despite the poor offensive showings, I think there’s some regression potentially coming. Both of these teams rank in the bottom-five over the last two weeks in eFG% on wide-open shots; they’re both below 50%. They’re both in the bottom-10 on open shots. These aren’t offensive juggernauts, but they do have good shooters; they aren’t this bad.
The concern with betting on the over is the Cavaliers’ pace: They’re dead last in the league in seconds per play. That said, they’re nearly just as bad opponent pace — meaning their opponents get off shots very quickly. Brooklyn, meanwhile, has played very fast this year, ranking in the top-10 in pace, including both off made and missed field goals.
Both teams are pretty terrible defensively in transition, and it’s not like they’re awesome in that halfcourt either, both ranking in the bottom-10. The Nets can be exploited by those Love transition outlet passes. The Cavs are especially bad defending the rim this year, and Brooklyn is second in the league in shots at that location.
What’s more, these teams are among the worst in forcing turnovers on defense, and both offenses are pretty good at getting to the line. The offenses should be set to succeed, and if shooting regression comes, we could see more efficient outings than expected.
There’s already been some sharp money on the over here…
… and if Love is a go, I’ll likely jump on board as well.
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.
- Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young – Cam Reddish – De’Andre Hunter – Jabari Parker – Damian Jones
- Boston Celtics: Brad Wanamaker – 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 – Cedi Osman – Kevin Love – Tristan Thompson
- Detroit Pistons: Bruce Brown – Langston Galloway – Luke Kennard – Blake Griffin – Andre Drummond
- Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green – Alec Burks – Glenn Robinson III – Eric Paschall – Willie Cauley-Stein
- Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon – Jeremy Lamb – TJ Warren – Domantas Sabonis – Myles Turner
- LA Lakers: LeBron James – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Danny Green – Anthony Davis – JaVale McGee
- Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant – Dillon Brooks – Jae Crowder – Jaren Jackson Jr. – Jonas Valanciunas
- Miami Heat: Kendrick Nunn – Duncan Robinson – Jimmy Butler – Bam Adebayo – Meyers Leonard
- Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Bledsoe – Donte DiVincenzo – Wes Matthews – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Brook Lopez
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Jeff Teague – Andrew Wiggins – Treveon Graham – Robert Covington – Karl-Anthony Towns
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Chris Paul – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Terrance Ferguson – Danilo Gallinari – Steven Adams
- Orlando Magic: Markelle Fultz – Evan Fournier – Wes Iwundu – Jonathan Isaac – Khem Birch
- Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons – Josh Richardson – Tobias Harris – Al Horford – Joel Embiid
- Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard – CJ McCollum – Rodney Hood – Carmelo Anthony – Hassan Whiteside
- Sacramento Kings: Cory Joseph – Buddy Hield – Harrison Barnes – Nemanja Bjelica – Richaun Holmes
- San Antonio Spurs: Dejounte Murray – Bryn Forbes – DeMar DeRozan – LaMarcus Aldridge – Jakob Poeltl
- 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
- Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish (wrist) is probable.
- Boston Celtics: Kemba Walker (neck) is doubtful. Daniel Theis (illness) is questionable.
- Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving (shoulder) remains out.
- Charlotte Hornets: Nothing new.
- Chicago Bulls: Luke Kornet (nose) is doubtful.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Kevin Love (back) is questionable.
- Detroit Pistons: Tony Snell (hip) is out. Blake Griffin (hamstring) is not on the injury report.
- Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green (heel) is questionable.
- Indiana Pacers: JaKarr Sampson (back) is doubtful. Malcolm Brogdon (back) will play.
- LA Lakers: Alex Caruso (calf) and Anthony Davis (shoulder) are probable.
- Memphis Grizzlies: Marko Guduric (knee) is questionable.
- Miami Heat: Justise Winslow (concussion) and Derrick Jones Jr. (hip) are out.
- Milwaukee Bucks: Ersan Ilyasova (heel) is probable.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Jake Layman (toe) is out. Shabazz Napier (hamstring) is doubtful. Treveon Graham (arm) is on track to play. Josh Okogie (knee) is questionable. Robert Covington (personal) will play.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Andre Roberson (knee) and Hamidou Diallo (elbow) are out. Nerlens Noel (illness) is not on the injury report.
- Orlando Magic: Aaron Gordon (ankle) and Michael Carter-Williams (hip) are out.
- Philadelphia 76ers: Kyle O’Quinn (calf) is out. Furkan Korkmaz (ankle) is available to play.
- Portland Trail Blazers: Hassan Whiteside (hip) said he’ll play. Gary Trent Jr. (hamstring) is questionable.
- Sacramento Kings: Bogdan Bogdanovic (hamstring) is probable. Trevor Ariza (personal) is out.
- San Antonio Spurs: Nothing new.
- Toronto Raptors: Serge Ibaka (ankle) is doubtful.
- Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert (ankle) is questionable.
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 PJ Washington’s 9.5-point total.
I wrote about this on Friday when the prop was set at 10, and Washington responded with just three points in 22 minutes of action. Here’s what I had to say:
Washington’s minutes have been way down lately: He’s played just 12 and 16 in Charlotte’s past two games. Whether that’s due to a leg contusion that’s bothered him in the last couple weeks or the addition of Nicolas Batum back to the rotation, it seems his role his currently limited.
We’re projecting him for just 16 minutes tonight, and although the game environment should be good against the Wizards, that’s just not a whole lot of time to get up shots. He has 10 points combined in the last two games.
We’re projecting him tonight back around 20, but he also has a tougher matchup against the Heat; on Friday he was against the terrible Bulls defense. There’s been a role change here that just hasn’t been accounted for the in the market.
DFS Values and Strategy
There’s no shortage of studs on tonight’s massive slate, and a few of them have obviously high ceilings in cake matchups. Giannis Antetokounmpo has a tough one against Utah and is the highest-priced guy, but the players below him should be popular, especially Karl-Anthony Towns in Atlanta, Trae Young in that same game and Anthony Davis against the bad Spurs.
You likely won’t gain a ton of leverage on a lot of those guys; they’ll all be as owned as expected. If you want to gain some leverage, you’ll likely have to take a stud in a bad matchup like Giannis or Pascal Siakam, or you can dip down a bit and go for guys like Trae Young, Jimmy Butler, or Damian Lillard, all of whom have been a bit down lately but have massive ceilings and awesome matchups tonight.
Note that there’s quite a few injuries to keep an eye on, including to big-name players. Walker is doubtful, Irving is out, Love is questionable, Draymond Green is questionable, Aaron Gordon is out and Rudy Gobert is questionable, just to name a few situations.
Those guys will obviously shift value on the slate quite a bit, which highlights the importance of following our news feed and getting access to our DFS models, which update projections after injuries in real-time to make sure you’re always building optimal lineups.
There are a few values we can note now still, including Bradley Wanamaker, who will get a huge boost in role with Walker doubtful. Spencer Dinwiddie continues to crush without Kyrie and Caris LeVert. Tristan Thompson would be a solid play without Love, as would someone like Tony Bradley without Gobert.
It’s a very fluid slate, so I won’t spend too much time laying out which guys are must-plays; it’ll change a bunch by slate lock. Again, make sure to subscribe to our models.
My Bets Currently
- Kings +7
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.