NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s 3 Favorite Bets for Monday
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Paul
The late-afternoon tip between the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies is TNT’s showcase game as part of the NBA’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day schedule.
With Ja Morant returning to action, all eyes will be on the young point guard as he battles the savvy veteran Chris Paul, who returns to the court with his team after a week off because of COVID-19 protocols. Our staff previews the game with a pair of best bets.
NBA Odds & Picks
Suns vs. Grizzlies
Raheem Palmer: MLK Day Unders have been a thing for as long as I remember betting on the NBA. Athletes are creatures of habit. Imagine being used to sleeping, eating, practicing, having shootarounds and walkthroughs for a 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. game every day, only to have your routine altered for a national holiday one day a year.
It’s not surprise that we tend to see a diminished offensive output on MLK Day. Take a look at how unders have done the last 10 seasons:
- 2020: 8-6 (57.1%)
- 2019: 8-3 (72.7%)
- 2018: 6-5 (54.5%)
- 2017: 3-5-1 (37.5%)
- 2016: 2-8-0 (20%)
- 2015: 9-2-1 (81.8%)
- 2014: 4-5-1 (44.4%)
- 2013: 6-3-0 (66.7%)
- 2012: 6-4-1 (60%)
- 2011: 6-7-0 (46.2%)
That’s 58-43-3 (57%) the last 10 seasons, and that’s not even including derivative bets like first halves, first quarters or second halves. It’s clear that for a while you could blindly bet these and bet profitable. Now, I wouldn’t recommend blind betting anything, so we need to take our angle and find a way to a game that makes sense. For me that game is Suns-Grizzlies. Believe it or not, these are two of the league’s top defenses, with the Grizzlies ranking fourth in Defensive Rating, allowing 106.5 points per 100 possessions. Over the past two weeks, the Grizzlies have the league’s best Defensive Rating at 101.7. They held LeBron James and Anthony Davis to just a 95.6 Offensive Rating and 94 points in the second of their two matchups. The Suns have seen their Defensive Ratings dip after games against the Wizards and Pacers, but until then, had the second-ranked defense this year.
With the Suns having games canceled due to COVID-19 protocols and not playing a game since last Monday, they may come out a bit rusty on the offensive end and lock in defensively after giving up 128 points to a bad Wizards team. The Suns play at the third-slowest pace in the league (97.35) while the Grizzlies are 18th in pace of play at 100.54. While the Grizzlies pace is likely to increase with Ja Morant back in the lineup, I still see this as a game in which we can see a lower offensive output than what the market is expecting. I’ll take the under 219.5.
Suns vs. Grizzlies
Brandon Anderson: Remember the Phoenix Suns?
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen the Sun(s). The last time we saw Phoenix on a basketball court, the Suns were absolutely routed by the terrible Washington Wizards even without Russell Westbrook, losing 128-107.
It was Phoenix’s first loss by more than five points all season and deflated some of the sparkling Suns numbers after a wonderful start to the season. Health and safety protocols took over from there, and the Suns have postponed games all week and are playing with a week’s rest today as they head to Memphis.
This should be a full-go from this Suns roster, which should be fully rested and champing at the bit to get back out on the court after so much time away. That could leave a little rust and a slow start, but Phoenix has been so good this year that I’m happy to play them anyway.
Phoenix has been good on defense and better on offense. This Suns’ offense has all the markings of a Chris Paul team. The pace has slowed to a snail’s crawl, they never turn it over, and they’ve become super efficient all over the court, taking and making a lot of good shots.
Memphis has hung around at 6-6 on the basis of one thing: defense. The Grizzlies force a ton of turnovers and have a solid defensive shot profile, though they’ve gotten a bit lucky on opponent three-point percentage. That defense has helped offset a pretty miserable offense that has sorely missed Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. The offense leads the league in two-pointers while ranking dead last in free throw attempts, which is a pretty lethal combination, and not in a good way. The Grizzlies have no shooting, ranking second to last in three-point percentage, and aren’t finding easy ways to score points.
The return of Morant certainly helps with all of that, but does it help enough? Phoenix is just a far better team right now and has looked like a top-five team most of the season. Morant’s return might actually be a bit of a gift here since it’s depressed the line and given us some Suns value.
Be sure to shop around for the best line with this one bouncing around a bit. I trust the Suns in their return and will grab them up to -5.
Spurs vs. Blazers
Matt Moore: Portland with Enes Kanter instead of Jusuf Nurkić honestly isn’t that much worse defensively, and it’s a good matchup vs. LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Spurs are 3-6 in first quarters straight-up this season. They always start in a hole, and then come back in the second behind the strength of their bench. I’ll be parlaying first-quarter Blazers with second-quarter Spurs at sites with in-game parlays.