NBA Predictions, Picks & Betting Odds (Thursday, Feb. 20): These Unders Are Providing Value
Photo credit: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Bam Adebayo
- Bryan Mears has his favorite picks and DFS strategies in his daily manifesto.
- Mears explains why he's put a bet down on tonight's showdown between the Nets and 76ers (8 p.m.) and other lines he's considering from tonight's six-games slate.
- See the full breakdown below.
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.
Welcome back! It was an awesome weekend of All-Star festivities; I was especially impressed by Sunday’s All-Star game. The format was questionable going in, but it really worked and provided some awesome drama.
Now that ASB is behind us, we push towards the playoffs. Teams will be resting players, tanking will be prevalent to some degree and in general we’ll have to be sharp about news in order to take advantage of lines.
Anyway, let’s dive into today’s slate and find some angles.
- Overall: 223-201-2
- Spreads: 87-85-2
- Totals: 87-85
- Moneylines: 23-10
- Props: 29-22
Betting Odds and Analysis
- 7 p.m. ET: Milwaukee Bucks (-13) at Detroit Pistons, 225.5
- 7:30 p.m. ET: Miami Heat (-6.5) at Atlanta Hawks, 229.5
- 8 p.m. ET: Charlotte Hornets at Chicago Bulls (-4.5), 211
- 8 p.m. ET: Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers (-8.5), 216
- 10 p.m. ET: Memphis Grizzlies (-1) at Sacramento Kings, 229.5
- 10:30 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets (-10) at Golden State Warriors, 234
Nets at 76ers
I grabbed the under here for a variety of reasons.
First, the Sixers are at home, where they’ve had some extreme splits this season …
- Sixers at home: +11.7 Net Rating (2nd), 113.7 ORtg (11th), 102.0 DRtg (1st)
- Sixers away: -5.1 Net Rating (23rd), 105.7 ORtg (25th), 110.8 DRtg (9th)
Perhaps those are neutral splits for an over/under in a vacuum — at home the defense is much better, but so is the offense. But in this game against the Nets, who rank 22nd this season on offense but ninth on defense, I think we’ll see more of a defensive battle than a potential explosion from Philly.
In their first three games this year, two of them were played at slower paces — and one of them (without Kyrie Irving) was quite slow. And that’s consistent with the Nets’ play this year: With Kyrie off the floor, they’ve gotten out in transition much less and have been in the halfcourt for designed sets much more.
I bet this total before it was announced Ben Simmons was questionable, and he has even more extreme pace splits for his team than Irving. When he’s playing, the Sixers run halfcourt sets 4.5% less — one of the strongest on/off splits in the league. Per Cleaning the Glass, he’s literally the most important player in pushing in transition for his team in the league: They get out in transition 5.1% more with him playing.
Further, I thought maybe the Sixers would operate in the halfcourt a little more tonight anyway. The Nets have been devastated this year down low by opposing centers, and Joel Embiid is obviously a difficult player to defend. I could see a situation in which the Sixers really let him go to work on DeAndre Jordan and the rest of the frontcourt, which would work to slow down the pace even more than usual.
This line drifted down to 214.5 after the Simmons news, but I think there’s still some value there if he’s ultimately ruled out.
One last piece of info: When an under is getting the minority of bets but the total has moved down, it’s been profitable to tail that line movement:
That’s also been true for unders in the first half, and I grabbed that earlier as well at 105. Overs have hit historically in the first couple of days after the All-Star break, but I’ll take my chances here.
Heat at Hawks
I guess the theme of today’s piece is home/road splits. Like the Sixers, the Heat have some extreme ones this year …
- Heat at home: +11.4 Net Rating (3rd), 117.3 ORtg (2nd), 105.9 DRtg (6th)
- Heat away: -3.0 Net Rating (14th), 108.8 ORtg (18th), 111.8 DRtg (15th)
They’ve just largely sucked on the road compared to home, but, man, look at that drop in offensive efficiency — nearly 10 points/100!
I think it makes sense given how the Heat play: They’re a team entirely dependent on jump-shooting. They don’t have a particularly great shot profile or guys who can really go get their own difficult shots; it’s all about the role-players and whether the looks go in, and it’s not a surprise that at rest and at home they go in more frequently.
Also note that the Heat can be prone to slower games, especially with some of their newer players in place of Justise Winslow and others. Already on the season, they’re averaging the second-most halfcourt sets per game. Given their current personnel, I don’t see why that would necessarily change.
A lot of their trade deadline moves were for defense, especially with Andre Iguodala, who is likely an offensive liability at this point of his career. I expect the defense to be there tonight, but I don’t trust this Heat offense on the road — yes, even against the Hawks.
Also, this game matches the same trend above: The under is getting the minority of bets, but the line keeps moving down.
Sharps have been hammering this under, but it’s still stayed somewhat up since public money is on the over. I’d wait to see if this gets back up closer to 230 based on the bets, but I still like it at 229.
Projected Starting Lineups and Injury News
Note: Info as of 12:15 p.m. ET. For up-to-the-minute lineups and news, see FantasyLabs’ matchups page.
- Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young – Kevin Huerter – De’Andre Hunter – John Collins – Dewayne Dedmon
- Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie – Caris LeVert – Joe Harris – Taurean Prince – Jarrett Allen
- Charlotte Hornets: Devonte’ Graham – Terry Rozier – Miles Bridges – PJ Washington – Bismack Biyombo
- Chicago Bulls: Tomas Satoransky – Zach LaVine – Shaq Harrison – Thad Young – Luke Kornet
- Detroit Pistons: Derrick Rose – Bruce Brown – Tony Snell – Christian Wood – Thon Maker
- Golden State Warriors: Jordan Poole – Damion Lee – Andrew Wiggins – Draymond Green – Marquese Chriss
- Houston Rockets: Russell Westbrook – James Harden – Robert Covington – Danuel House – PJ Tucker
- Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant – Dillon Brooks – Kyle Anderson – Jaren Jackson Jr. – Jonas Valanciunas
- Miami Heat: Kendrick Nunn – Jimmy Butler – Duncan Robinson – Derrick Jones Jr. – Bam Adebayo
- Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Bledsoe – Wes Matthews – Khris Middleton – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Brook Lopez
- Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons – Josh Richardson – Furkan Korkmaz – Tobias Harris – Joel Embiid
- Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox – Bogdan Bogdanovic – Harrison Barnes – Nemanja Bjelica – Harry Giles
- Atlanta Hawks: Clint Capela (plantar fasciitis) is out for weeks. De’Andre Hunter (ankle) is questionable. Kevin Huerter (allergic reaction) is probable.
- Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving (shoulder) remains out indefinitely.
- Charlotte Hornets: Cody Martin (nose, concussion) and Terry Rozier (knee) are not on the injury report.
- Chicago Bulls: Chandler Hutchison (shoulder) and Denzel Valentine (hamstring) are out.
- Detroit Pistons: Nothing new.
- Golden State Warriors: Kevon Looney (hip) is not on the injury report.
- Houston Rockets: Eric Gordon (leg) is unlikely to play.
- Memphis Grizzlies: Nothing new.
- Miami Heat: Tyler Herro (ankle) and Meyers Leonard (ankle) are out.
- Milwaukee Bucks: Kyle Korver (back) remains out. George Hill (hamstring) is not on the injury report.
- Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons (back) is a game-time decision.
- Sacramento Kings: Alex Len (hip) is out. Jabari Parker (shoulder) is not on the injury report.
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 like tonight is Luke Kornet’s 5-rebound total.
I actually like the under for Kornet’s point total as well. He’s just not a big statistical producer: He has a low usage rate and has had his minutes fluctuate game-to-game depending on matchups and potential foul issues.
He’s gone over this mark — despite pretty high minutes — in just two of his last 11 games. For his point total, it’s been just four of the last 11.
The reason I like the unders is just the potential pace of this game. Since the start of the new year, the Hornets have played at the league’s slowest pace, so Kornet just won’t have as many opportunities to accumulate stats.
DFS Values and Strategy
Four players tonight are priced at $10,000 or more on DraftKings: Russell Westbrook, Trae Young, Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden.
Of those three, Trae seems like the easiest fade, although that means he’ll likely be the lowest-owned in tournaments. The other three are popping as values on account of cake matchups: The Rockets are on primetime TV against the terrible Warriors; the Bucks get the Bucks, who are down pretty much all of their starters from the beginning of the year.
Westbrook has been one of the best fantasy assets of the last month, and it’s hard to imagine him slowing down in this matchup. He’ll likely be the highest-owned of the studs, and while he may be a scary fade in cash games, it might be wise to pivot to Harden or Giannis in GPPs to gain leverage.
Some of the best plays of the night are down in the next tier. Joel Embiid gets a Nets team that has bled points to opposing centers all year, and the Sixers could be down Ben Simmons, who is a game-time decision. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo will have big roles tonight down a couple rotation players, and they’ll likely have an easy time against the Hawks defense.
Value-wise, there are several easy plays at cheap price tags. Shaq Harrison should get the start for the Bulls and he’s at the min price. Derrick Rose is somehow under $6K on DraftKings despite being the only ball-handler for the Pistons. His teammate, Christian Wood, is an awesome value without Andre Drummond. Robert Covington is way too cheap, especially with Eric Gordon unlikely to play.
Regarding injuries, Gordon and Simmons are the two ones to watch. Kevin Huerter is probable and De’Andre Hunter is questionable for the Hawks.
You know the drill: Follow the news and make sure to subscribe to our models to see up-to-the-minute projection updates.
My Bets Currently
- Nets-Sixers under 215.5
- Nets-Sixers (1H) under 105
Follow me in our free app if you want an alert on bets I make.