NBA Odds & Picks for Tuesday: Betting & DFS Values, Props, Injuries, More for Pelicans-Raptors & Lakers-Clippers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23).
- The NBA season will kick off tonight with Pelicans-Raptors (8 p.m. ET on TNT) and Lakers-Clippers (10:30 p.m. ET on TNT).
- From betting analysis to player props to DFS value picks and more, Bryan Mears gets you ready for Tuesday's opening NBA slate.
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 the upcoming night’s slate.
To keep it readable, I of course won’t be able to go completely in-depth on DFS values and strategy, but thankfully we have a full breakdown each day. I won’t be able to talk about the nitty gritty injury news and notes, but we have projected lineups/news here and injury analysis here. I’ll do my best to combine the most important pieces of information in this post, along with my thoughts on where the biggest edges of the day exist.
I also want this piece to be a living, breathing organism. I mean that in two ways: First, I want this to be the most actionable NBA piece you read each day. If I’m missing something, please let me know. And second, I’m going to continually update this throughout the day leading up to the start of the slate. In fact, I’ll have a chat at the bottom so I can provide updates and you can ask questions, which I’ll answer as quickly as possible.
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Betting Odds and Analysis
- 8 p.m. ET on TNT: New Orleans Pelicans at Toronto Raptors (-7), 230
- 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT: LA Lakers (-3.5) at LA Clippers, 223.5
Pelicans-Raptors: With big names on opening night, bettors are of course itching to bet these matchups. The handles are already large, and we’ve already seen a ton of line movement on both games.
For the Raptors-Pelicans game, I was able to bet the line at Raptors -5.5 right after the Pelicans announced Zion Williamson underwent surgery and would be out 6-8 weeks to recover. It’s since moved to Raptors -7, although a couple of the sharper books have it at -6.5, which indicates the consensus could move down later today. If you want to bet the Pels, grab the +7; if you want the Raptors, I’d wait to see if it’ll budge off that number prior to tip.
All in all, I think the value from the spread is largely gone at the current number. That’s probably the case with all the sides and totals tonight given it’s opening night and there are just two games. Markets generally get more efficient with more money, and as of Tuesday afternoon, we’re likely approaching if not at the closing lines for these games.
Instead tonight, I would look at player props (more on those below) and live betting opportunities. Pelicans-Raptors could be ripe for a live play. Both teams project to play fast: They ranked top-five in pace in the preseason, and their rosters suggest an uptempo pace (Lonzo Ball, Pascal Siakam, etc. like to push the ball). Further, they’re both playing small-ball with Siakam and Brandon Ingram at the respective power forward positions.
That said, I’m worried about the Pelicans offense. Losing Zion hurts given his hyper-efficiency, although playing Ingram at the 4 and starting JJ Redick should help the offense. Still, this team has very questionable shooters, and both squads project to be good defenses. If the Pelicans look out of sorts offensively, I’ll look to live bet the under in anything in the 230 range.
Lakers-Clippers: I unfortunately wasn’t able to grab the Lakers at +1 when it opened, and it now sits all the way at Lakers -3.5. Again, given the timing and handle for these opening-night games, I think we’re very close to closing lines and there’s not much value left.
If you’re curious about why the spread has moved so much, my colleague PJ Walsh detailed the movement here. The total has also been pushed down: We’ve tracked steam moves on Under 227 and 226. It now sits at 223.5 at most books.
Projected Starting Lineups and Injury News
Update: Rajon Rondo is unlikely to play.
- Los Angeles Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Landry Shamet – Kawhi Leonard – Patrick Patterson – Ivica Zubac
- Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James – Avery Bradley – Danny Green – Anthony Davis – JaVale McGee
- New Orleans Pelicans: Lonzo Ball – Jrue Holiday – JJ Redick – Brandon Ingram – Derrick Favors
- Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry – Fred VanVleet – OG Anunoby – Pascal Siakam – Marc Gasol
And injury news…
- Clippers: Paul George (shoulder) and Rodney McGruder (ankle) are out.
- Lakers: Kyle Kuzma (foot) is out. Rajon Rondo (calf) is unlikely to play. Alex Caruso (pelvic bone) is probable. Anthony Davis (thumb) will play.
- Pelicans: Zion Williamson (knee) is out. Derrick Favors (soreness) is not on the injury report.
- Raptors: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) and Patrick McCaw (knee) are out.
I detailed how the injuries would affect DFS and betting in-depth here, but a couple of notable things…
The Lakers’ starting lineup is still in flux, so be sure to monitor news on our FantasyLabsNBA twitter feed up to lock. Unfortunately it’s unclear whether Rondo’s status and the starting lineup will be announced before lineup lock, although there could be an edge in the single-game contests later in the evening. I don’t think he’s worth anything to the betting market.
If Rondo is unable to go, I’d expect most of his minutes to go to Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook, with more going to the former. Both are dealing with injuries of their own, however: Caruso is probable with a pelvic contusion and Cook has a calf injury (the Lakers said they would monitor his minutes). Given all of that information, LeBron might have to take a heavier-than-usual load in terms of playmaking tonight, which makes him intriguing in DFS and the props market.
I wrote more on the injuries to Zion, Kuzma and Anthony Davis here. Perhaps the most notable piece of info today is that the Lakers will not limit minutes for LeBron (old) or Davis (sprained his thumb in preseason). That’s good news for DFS players and Lakers backers at the pre-close number.
I’ve already bet eight props using our FantasyLabs player props tool. Follow me in the Action Network app to see my bets if you want (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 incredibly quick. 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.
It looks like there’s still some value on the overs for Toronto big men Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, both of whom are being underrated by the market in relation to their bigger roles this season. For example, we have Ibaka pegged for 30% more points and 27% more rebounds than his lines at the time of writing:
Ivica Zubac is also offering value in the props market currently, which highlights an important point. You’ll largely be able to find the most value with non-stars, as those are the players who have the most year-over-year (or day-to-day with an injury) changes in roles.
DFS Values and Strategy
It’s a small slate, so expect a ton of players to be incredibly high-owned. There’s a bunch of value today interestingly enough, and it’s mostly concentrated in the early Raptors-Pelicans game due to pricing not catching up to new roles for these players.
The guys at the top of our FantasyLabs Models for DraftKings are Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka given their increased roles and minutes this year. I don’t mind using both of them together given their incredibly low price tags: Gasol is the slate’s best value at $5,500 with a +9.20 Projected Plus/Minus; Ibaka is close behind at $5,200 with a +6.93 Projected Plus/Minus.
The stud I want is Anthony Davis, as the Lakers said they won’t restrict his minutes tonight and he should be in for a huge game with a better Lakers team against a Clippers squad that is severely limited at the big position. Ivica Zubac is underrated, but this is AD we’re talking about. Further, there’s not really a true center behind Zubac, who’s projected for just 21.4 minutes right now. Montrezl Harrell is undersized; AD should eat here.
If you optimize around Davis and Gasol, your lineup isn’t going to be bad at all. You’ll likely get a lot of the other players in Pels-Raptors, including Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Fred VanVleet, but again that’s likely to game to target in cash games given outsized roles vs. salaries and the fact that the total is much higher than the Clippers vs. Lakers affair.
With FanDuel’s more rigid positional structure and tougher pricing (for once), you’ll have to take a few more questionable value guys. Norman Powell is standing out as a value at just $3,900; he in fact has the highest Projected Plus/Minus on the slate on that site. He’s not starting, but I think DFS players in general overrate starters.
I would still prioritize Anthony Davis despite the higher $12,100 price tag. Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James are going to be more difficult to justify in cash games considering they’re SF only on FanDuel. Pascal Siakam and Brandon Ingram look like fine values at much cheaper salaries, and they allow you to pay up for AD in cash games.
In tournaments, it could be wise to take a shot on the two stud SFs though, given they’ll likely be a tad lower-owned than AD (although they certainly won’t be contrarian). The move might be to cram two of them together and take shots on contrarian punt players.
We have a tool called Bet Labs, which lets users query specific situations to see if there’s an edge in the betting market. For example, want to see how road favorites traveling from the West Coast to East Coast have done? You can find out in 30 seconds. It’s pretty cool.
We also have “Pro Systems,” which we’ve built for you and keep up to date as the market adjusts. My colleague John Ewing highlighted three notable ones for this upcoming season, as well as four specifically for season-opening matchups.
Some systems are set up so you won’t get closing line value and are thus competing against an efficient market. My preference is to find systems that exploit public biases. Here’s an example:
This system shows that after a team scores 130 or more points, the under has gone 58.3% against the closing line in the next game. This system went 52-29-3 last season, good for a 24.3% ROI.
This system could very well dry up; books could open totals lower this year. But in general, I’m looking for potential spots I can fade the public’s biases. In a sense, it turns betting from you vs. the book into a peer-to-peer endeavor, and the latter is always going to be much more profitable than beating a market.
That’s not a perfect analogy I know, as the market still exists, but I do think there’s value in thinking about systems in this way.
My Bets Currently
Check out our player props tool to see the props that still have value if the odds below have shifted.
- Raptors -5.5 (wouldn’t bet at anything more than Raps -6)
- Jrue Holiday over 6.5 assists (-120)
- Pascal Siakam over 2.5 assists (-170)
- Marc Gasol over 11.5 points (-125)
- Serge Ibaka over 6 rebounds (-145)
- Serge Ibaka over 11.5 points (-130)
- Ivica Zubac over 5.5 rebounds (-120)
- LeBron James over 6.5 rebounds (-145)
- Patrick Beverley under 9.5 points (-130)
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.