NBA Predictions, Picks & Betting Odds (Tuesday, Dec. 17): The Angles to Consider for Nets at Pelicans
Photo credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Lonzo Ball
- The updated betting odds for Tuesday night's NBA game between the Brooklyn Nets and New Orleans Pelicans makes the Nets small road favorites (spread: Brooklyn -2), with the over/under set at 228.
- The total has ticked down a bit from an opener of 230.5, while the Nets have gotten some betting action throughout the day (moving from -1 to -2).
- How should you be thinking about betting Nets-Pelicans and the rest of Tuesday night's NBA slate? Our NBA expert Bryan Mears analyzes all the angles and picks out his favorite bets.
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.
Yesterday I finished 3-2-1 for +0.1 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 Wizards +5 and +4.5 and it closed at Wizards +2.5 (both won)
- I bet Wizards +165 ML and it closed at Wizards +125 (won)
- I bet Wizards-Pistons under 230.5 and it closed at 232 (lost)
- I bet Bucks -11 and it closed at Bucks -10.5 (lost)
- I bet Blazers -1 and it closed at Blazers -2.5 (pushed)
It was a middling day overall: I was right on the Wizards and got them at a good number, but man was I wrong on the Bucks.
I thought Luka Doncic was potentially undervalued by the betting market, mostly because of how the Mavs offense operates. It is quite reliant on Luka’s gravity, shot creation and penetration to set up efficient looks for his role-playing shooters. Apparently that wasn’t an issue last night, as the Mavs hit 39.0% of their 3-pointers, including 41.2% on 3s above the break.
The Mavs played great and the Bucks looked poor at times, although it’s important to remember basketball can be a highly volatile game. The Mavs weren’t lucky necessarily — but they did play on the top end of their range of outcomes. They hit 66.7% of their long mid-rangers.
I don’t feel bad about the bet and still think there will be opportunities to fade the Mavs minus Luka. One I do think I missed on was the Wizards-Pistons over/under. I bet it after Blake Griffin was ruled out assuming that Andre Drummond would play, but regardless I think it was still a poor bet.
The Wizards defense is just so bad, their offense is so good and this game projected to be fast-paced, especially with Derrick Rose taking a bigger role in terms of facilitating the offense. That’s one I wouldn’t make in hindsight.
Anyway, let’s dive into today’s slate and find some angles.
Note: For updates, see the chat at the bottom of this post.
- Overall: 139-117-2
- Spreads: 53-49-2
- Totals: 41-40
- Moneylines: 11-6
- Props: 29-22
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Betting Odds and Analysis
- 7 p.m. ET: LA Lakers (-4) at Indiana Pacers, 211
- 7 p.m. ET: Sacramento Kings (-4.5) at Charlotte Hornets, 206.5
- 7:30 p.m. ET: Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks (-2), 226
- 8 p.m. ET: Brooklyn Nets (-2.5) at New Orleans Pelicans, 228
- 9 p.m. ET: Orlando Magic at Utah Jazz (-6.5), 208
- 10:30 p.m. ET: Phoenix Suns at LA Clippers (-12.5), 226
Let’s run through a couple angles I’m eyeing.
Hawks at Knicks
Both of these teams have been atrocious defensively all season and especially in the last couple of weeks. And yet, the point totals in their games haven’t been super high, mostly because both the Hawks and Knicks have played slow-paced defensive teams.
The Hawks are coming off games against the Lakers and Pacers; the Knicks are coming off games against the Nuggets and Kings.
As a result, I think this line opened way too low given the terrible defenses and potential pace in this one. On the season, both the Hawks and Knicks have been above-average in limiting offensive plays within the halfcourt; the Knicks have used the sixth-fewest halfcourt plays, in fact.
Further, neither team has been great on defense in transition, and the Hawks have been particularly bad. They rank dead last in transition frequency given up to opponents, and they’re 26th in defensive efficiency on those.
Part of that is because they’re 30th in turnover rate, which means the Knicks won’t have to necessarily push in semi-transition off made and missed baskets — they should get layups and very high-quality looks.
These offenses have been bad, sure, but there’s at least some (even if it’s faint) room for optimism. On the year, the Hawks have an expected eFG% rank of 10th, but sit 24th in actual eFG%.
Trae Young has had a huge burden on his shoulders, and he hasn’t really been the problem. It’s been the role-players, and they’ve really been hurt by missing John Collins and Kevin Huerter — two of their three best players last year — for most of the season.
Collins is still out, but Huerter is getting healthier and starting to take on a bigger role and more minutes. That hasn’t translated to success, as he’s been absolutely atrocious shooting the ball since his return, but that also coincides with a pretty tough schedule. Maybe the shoulder is still bothering him — he did tweak it last game — but hopefully for the Hawks’ sake he’ll continue to get healthier and provide some much-needed shooting.
Really, though, I think the line just underestimates how bad these defenses have been and the pace with which they could play. The point totals haven’t been there lately against good, slow teams, so perhaps there’s a bit of recency bias surrounding the performances.
I’ll likely take the over here, although I’d like to get it at 225 or better.
Suns at Clippers
Both of these teams have posted below-average Offensive Ratings over the last two weeks and could be missing key offensive talent in this one. For the Clips, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams are questionable, while JaMychal Green is unlikely to play. For the Suns, Devin Booker and Tyler Johnson are both TBD after missing last night’s loss to the Blazers.
The Clips struggled last game without Williams, scoring just 106 points in a road loss to the lowly Bulls. To be fair, they were also without Kawhi Leonard, but Lou Will is a fairly valuable part of these team given his shot creation off the bench. Without him, the Clips have been 3.3 points per 100 possessions worse offensively, although they have been 5.5/100 better defensively.
Given the Suns’ play of late — they’ve been below the 50th percentile offensively in four of their last five games — and the potential absence of Booker, I think there’s some value on the under. Without Booker, the Suns have been a ridiculous 10.2 points/100 worse offensively. He’s been awesome in transition and in the halfcourt, and his absence would be surely felt.
This game also currently matches a Pro Trend I’ve slightly adjusted, which identifies potential sharp money on the under:
In games where the under has gotten the minority of bets but the line has moved in its favor (or held firm), it’s been historically profitable to follow that sharp reverse line movement.
I’ll wait on the injury news for this one, but especially if Lou and Booker are out, I’ll grab the under here.
Nets at Pelicans
Over the last two weeks, the Nets have ranked sixth in Net Rating while the Pelicans have been way down at 29th. They’ve sucked.
They’ve lost 12 straight games, during which they’ve ranked 24th on offense and 27th on defense. Sure, the schedule has been pretty darn tough, I’ll give them that. But they’ve also just gotten eviscerated often: In that 12-game stretch, they’re below-average in all but one of the four factors for both offense and defense. They haven’t really done anything well.
The defense has been particularly problematic: In that stretch, they’re allowing 67.9% shooting at the rim, which ranks 28th in the league. It might be tempting to think that will improve with Derrick Favors back in the lineup, but 1) he’s not playing a ton of minutes right now and 2) he’s actually been one of the problems this year. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Pels have allowed a FG% at the rim 3.9% higher with him on the floor vs. off.
One thing I like to look at for teams in a hot or cold stretch is whether they’ve been lucky or unlucky on opponent shooting from outside. The Pels are slightly above-average in terms of opponent shooting on open shots, which suggests they’ve been maybe slightly unlucky, but they’ve also been allowing a high rate of those shots. (Un)luck is sometimes created.
Meanwhile, the Nets have been awesome lately, as evidenced by their recent Net Rating over the last two weeks. They’ve chugged along just fine without Kyrie Irving, mostly thanks to All-Star-level play from Spencer Dinwiddie. That main unit with him starting has posted a solid +5.7 Net Rating in a pretty large sample size of 490 possessions.
Contrast that with the Pels: Lonzo Ball is projected to start tonight, and the main units with him playing have posted Net Ratings of -7.0 (with Jaxson Hayes at center) and -12.8 (with Favors at center). On the whole, the Pels have been outscored by a high 11.4 points per 100 possessions with Lonzo on the floor, and he’s projected for over 32 minutes tonight with JJ Redick out.
The Pels have talent and hopefully they’ll get Zion Williamson back at the beginning of the year. Their talent is better than a 12-game losing streak, if nothing else. And while it may be tempting to buy low on them as a short home dog, I’m buying the Nets, who have been really darn good lately. I’ll likely grab a piece of the moneyline here at hopefully below -140.
Projected Starting Lineups and Injury News
Note: Info as of 3:30 p.m. ET. For up-to-the-minute lineups and news, see FantasyLabs’ matchups page.
- Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young – Kevin Huerter – De’Andre Hunter – Jabari Parker – Damian Jones
- Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie – Garrett Temple – Joe Harris – Taurean Prince – Jarrett Allen
- Charlotte Hornets: Devonte’ Graham – Terry Rozier – Miles Bridges – Marvin Williams – Bismack Biyombo
- Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon – Jeremy Lamb – TJ Warren – Domantas Sabonis – Myles Turner
- LA Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Maurice Harkless – Ivica Zubac
- LA Lakers: LeBron James – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Danny Green – Anthony Davis – JaVale McGee
- New Orleans Pelicans: Lonzo Ball – Jrue Holiday – Brandon Ingram – Kenrich Williams – Derrick Favors
- New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina – RJ Barrett – Marcus Morris – Julius Randle – Taj Gibson
- Orlando Magic: Markelle Fultz – Evan Fournier – Aaron Gordon – Jonathan Isaac – Nikola Vucevic
- Phoenix Suns: Ricky Rubio – Devin Booker – Kelly Oubre – Dario Saric – Frank Kaminsky
- Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox – Buddy Hield – Harrison Barnes – Nemanja Bjelica – Richaun Holmes
- Utah Jazz: Mike Conley – Donovan Mitchell – Bojan Bogdanovic – Royce O’Neale – Rudy Gobert
- Atlanta Hawks: Kevin Huerter (shoulder) is expected to play. Jabari Parker (ankle) is available to play. Chandler Parsons (illness) is out.
- Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving (shoulder) remains out.
- Charlotte Hornets: PJ Washington (finger) is out. Nicolas Batum (hand) is questionable. Marvin Williams (knee) is probable.
- Indiana Pacers: JaKarr Sampson (back) is questionable.
- LA Clippers: Patrick Beverley (concussion) and Lou Williams (calf) are questionable. JaMychal Green (tailbone) is unlikely to play.
- LA Lakers: Kyle Kuzma (ankle) is out. Anthony Davis (ankle) is questionable. Rajon Rondo (hamstring) is probable.
- New Orleans Pelicans: JJ Redick (groin) is out.
- New York Knicks: Allonzo Trier (concussion) and Wayne Ellington (Achilles) are out.
- Orlando Magic: Nothing new.
- Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker (forearm) and Tyler Johnson (illness) are TBD.
- Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox (ankle) is questionable.
- Utah Jazz: Mike Conley (hamstring) is probable.
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 Frank Ntilikina’s 7.5-point total.
The Knicks point guard is certainly not a high-usage player, and we have him projected around 14% tonight. He is coming off a solid outing against the Nuggets game in which he hit two of his four 3-pointers to finish with 13 points. That was just his third multi-3 game of the year, however, and he hasn’t taken more than six total shots in a game in weeks.
The matchup today is a solid one against the Hawks, but he’s not playing huge minutes — we have him projected around 20 — and he’s consistently playing with high-usage guys like Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. Prior to last game’s outing, he had scored exactly two points in four straight games. I’ll fade the recency bias and take the under here.
DFS Values and Strategy
The biggest news of the day is with Anthony Davis, who is questionable to suit up with a sprained right ankle suffered in Sunday’s game. Today’s matchup isn’t awesome for the Lakers against the Pacers, but LeBron James would obviously be incredibly popular if AD is not able to go.
Per our NBA Models, LeBron and AD have a negative correlation of -0.23, which means Davis playing is bad for LeBron and vice versa. Bron has been great lately, exceeding value easily in each of his last five games, and he would be perhaps the most popular play on the slate without his co-star.
If that happens, the best play in tournaments would be to either fade LeBron for another stud or pair him with another to force a different roster construction. Trae Young could be an interesting pivot: He’s playing huge minutes and has a wonderful matchup against the lowly Knicks.
Value-wise, in that same game RJ Barrett is standing out at just $4,500 on DraftKings, where he comes with a 93% Bargain Rating. He’s performed poorly of late, but has a supreme matchup and has seen his salary drop to easily the lowest it has ever been.
Other values include Lonzo Ball against the fast-paced Nets, who have some values of their own in Spencer Dinwiddie (more of a mid-tier option), Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince.
As noted above, the Pelicans have been one of the worst teams in the league in the last couple of weeks, particularly defensively. That game, plus the Knicks-Hawks one, are good games to target as stacks within tournaments.
It’s a super compelling slate with a ton of value and potential value still to come due to all of the injuries and plus matchups. Make sure to subscribe to our FantasyLabs models and check out our new Labs NBA Insiders tool to get up-to-the-minute information on injuries and projection changes.
My Bets Currently
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