NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Raptors vs. 76ers, Bucks vs. Heat and More Bets for Tuesday (Dec. 29)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers.
- Using his NBA betting model, analyst Raheem Palmer breaks down his favorite matchups on Tuesday's slate.
- Along with his projected spreads and totals for all 10 games, he's making picks on Warriors-Pistons, Celtics-Pacers, Raptors-76ers and Bucks-Heat
- Check out his analysis for those matchups below.
For the 2020-2021 NBA season, I’ll be publishing my projections for every NBA game. Here’s what you’ll find in my model: projected team totals, projected combined totals, projected spreads for the matchup and the implied odds for the moneyline.
Note: My projections won’t be updated in real-time throughout the day, but Action’s PRO Projections tool is dynamic and will reflect the latest injury and lineup news.
I’ll also be highlighting some of the slate’s most intriguing matchups with in-depth, game-level analysis that goes beyond the numbers.
NBA Projections Model
NBA Odds & Picks
Although projections give us a solid baseline for what a number should be, it’s also important to handicap each matchup for things that the numbers can’t tell us. For the first week or two of the season, my numbers heavily incorporate priors, so we’ll be relying much more on handicapping ability when looking for an edge.
Check out my analysis for tonight’s massive 10-game slate.
Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat
Even with a poor shooting night against the Knicks in which they went 7-of-38 from behind the arc, The Milwaukee Bucks are still scoring a whopping 115.5 points per 100 possessions through the first three games of the season in their non garbage time minutes, per Cleaning the Glass.
One should expect the Bucks to have Tuesday night’s game against the Miami Heat circled, hoping to avenge their playoff loss, however this isn’t a true revenge spot. The Bucks will be facing a Heat team without Jimmy Butler, (inactive with an ankle injury) and Jae Crowder (currently with the Phoenix Suns).
While the Heat are sixth in Defensive Rating (104.7), that’s largely skewed based on their performance against the offensively challenged Pelicans (27th in Offensive Rating). Stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton feels like a tall task without two of their best wing defenders from last season.
Defensively, the Bucks have been downright abysmal, allowing 115.8 points per 100 possessions this season and come off a game in which they gave up 130 points to the New York Knicks, who aren’t an offensive juggernaut by any stretch.
Even without Butler, we can expect this Heat offense to score with a lineup featuring Goran Dragic, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro as the Bucks have consistently been the league leader in opponent 3-point field goals during coach Mike Budenholzer’s tenure in Milwaukee.
My numbers make this 226, so I like the over up to the number. Be sure to move fast before the market shifts.
Golden State Warriors at Detroit Pistons
At some point we have to start questioning Stephen Curry’s status as an elite floor raiser in this league — a guy who’s presence alone can make any roster a playoff team.
LeBron James, James Harden and even lesser skilled players like Russell Westbrook are so physically imposing (and more durable in some respects), which allows them to up their usage rates and carry higher scoring loads to make up for a lack of talent around them.
Are we sure Curry can do that for a full season without his ankles falling off?
We know his presence can lift a good team’s ceiling to championship levels. (You could argue he was more important to the success of the Warriors than Kevin Durant.) His resume speaks for itself: Leading a team that broke the record wins in a single season, first unanimous MVP and three NBA championships.
Curry’s mere presence on the floor means his gravity is creating open shots for teammates, but how much does it matter when those open shots are going to Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins? These two have started out the season a combined 4-for-30 from 3-point range. The Splash Brothers have been replaced by the Brick Brothers and the lack of scoring threats has impacted Curry who has only shot 40% or better in two of his past eight games.
Truthfully, the signs were there in Game 3 of the 2019 Finals. With Klay Thompson missing in action, the Warriors had declined to the point where Curry could drop 47 points in game where his team wasn’t remotely competitive — getting taken into the deep waters and drowned in a 14-point loss by the Toronto Raptors.
This season, the Warriors are scoring a league low 97.2 points per 100 possessions, rank last in eFG% (43.7%), 28th in 3-point shooting percentage (30.2%) and in the bottom 10 in the league in nearly every other shooting metric.
While the Warriors shooting should regress positively at some point, they aren’t any better defensively, ranking 28th in Defensive Rating (116.0). They’re also dead last in Rebound Rate and 24th in Offensive Rebound rate and will be facing a Detroit Pistons team with Mason Plumlee, Jerami Grant and Blake Griffin, all players with size and an ability to crash the boards.
With Derrick Rose also returning after a rest day, I think the Pistons are in prime position to make this a close game and possibly win outright as this is a Warriors team that needed a buzzer-beater to beat the Chicago Bulls.
The Pistons aren’t any good, but I’m fine with fading the Warriors as my model thinks that the Pistons should be favored in this matchup. I’ll take the +4.5 with the home team.
Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers
As my colleague Matt Moore pointed out in Sunday’s best bets, favorites who play a team twice in the same week and lose the game, typically do well in the following matchup. All trends are meant to be broken, however. I make this game a pick and honestly the Pacers should be favored in this game.
The Pacers are scoring 112.4 points per 100 possessions while allowing 101.7 points per 100 possessions. The Celtics on the other hand are scoring 109.6 but allowing 117.8 points per 100 possessions. Because of the love affair for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, no one has noticed just how much this roster has declined around then.
Kemba Walker is out with a knee injury while Gordon Hayward opted out and headed for Charlotte in free agency. This team is heavily reliant on an old Jeff Teague and an unreliable bench.
Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers
My model makes this game 76ers -2.5 but honestly I think it could be higher. The Raptors are still getting a ton of respect in the market but I’m not sure it’s warranted.
They’re an even worse version of last year’s team, a team that struggled generating offense when they weren’t hitting threes or generating turnovers to get out in transition. The Raptors are currently 27th in Offensive Rating, scoring 103.9 points per 100 possessions. Even the defense has declined this season as they’re 20th, allowing 113.2 points per 100 possessions.
Without Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, this front line is food for Joel Embiid. This is a good spot for Philly to assert its dominance over the Atlantic Division.