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NBA Predictions, Picks & Betting Odds (Wednesday, Jan. 22): How to Take Advantage of Clippers-Hawks Injury Situations

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Photo credit: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images. Pictured: Lou Williams

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.

Monday I finished 3-7 for -3.2 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 76ers-Nets under 221 and it closed at 218 (lost)
  • I bet 76ers +1.5 and it closed at 76ers -2.5 (won)
  • I bet Kings +4 and it closed at Kings +3.5
  • I bet Knicks-Cavs (2H) under 108 (won)
  • I bet Bulls-Bucks (2H) under 109.5 (won)
  • I bet Kings (2H) +3.5 (lost)
  • I bet Lakers -2.5 and it closed at Lakers -3 (lost)
  • I bet Lakers -130 and it closed at Lakers -155 (lost)
  • I bet Lakers (2H) -6.5 (lost)
  • I bet Nuggets-Wolves over 221.5 and it closed at 221 (lost)

Well, Monday was certainly a rough night, most notably due to the Lakers putting up a complete dud performance against the Celtics. To be fair, I bet those lines after Anthony Davis was ruled in but before Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were also confirmed playing. I likely would’ve still liked the Lakers a bit but wouldn’t have gone quite as heavy.

Otherwise, I’m fine with the other bets — sometimes things don’t work out. I got good closing line value in Sixers-Nets, for example, but still missed on my bigger bet in that game. Tough day, but we’ll keep grinding.

Anyway, let’s dive into today’s slate and find some angles.

Note: For updates, see the chat at the bottom of this post.

YTD Record:

  • Overall: 180-152-2
  • Spreads: 70-64-2
  • Totals: 65-58
  • Moneylines: 16-8
  • Props: 29-22

Jump To: Odds & Analysis | Projected Starting Lineups & Injury NewsPlayer Props | DFS Values & Strategy | My Bets


Odds as of Wednesday afternoon and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.


Betting Odds and Analysis

  • 7 p.m. ET: Sacramento Kings at Detroit Pistons (-1), 223.5
  • 7 p.m. ET: OKC Thunder at Orlando Magic (-1.5), 209.5
  • 7 p.m. ET: Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors (-7), 217
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: Memphis Grizzlies at Boston Celtics (-7), 232
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: LA Lakers (-11.5) at New York Knicks, 222
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: Washington Wizards at Miami Heat (-10), 229.5
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: LA Clippers (-4) at Atlanta Hawks, 234.5
  • 8 p.m. ET: Minnesota Timberwolves (-1) at Chicago Bulls, 220
  • 8 p.m. ET: Denver Nuggets at Houston Rockets (-8.5), 229.5
  • 9 p.m. ET: Indiana Pacers (-1) at Phoenix Suns, 221.5
  • 9:30 p.m. ET: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans (-3.5), 237
  • 10 p.m. ET: Utah Jazz (-8) at Golden State Warriors, 218.5

Let’s run through a couple angles I’m eyeing.

Clippers at Hawks

The Clippers, who are on a back-to-back after playing Dallas last night, will be missing all three of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Beverley. George has missed the last six games with a strained hamstring, Beverley went out last night with a groin injury and Kawhi is resting on the back-to-back.

It’s tough to make the case for the Hawks here based on data, admittedly. The Clippers without all three of those guys have played 844 possessions together and posted a still solid +4.8 Net Rating.

There’s even a decent sample of a unit — Lou Williams, Rodney McGruder, Jerome Robinson, JaMychal Green and Montrezl Harrell — playing well in sizable minutes together. That unit in 170 possessions has posted an awesome +26.5 Net Rating.

The issue: Those units without the three starters have largely played against bench players, which really skews the predictability of the sample. Net Ratings tell you how a lineup has done, sure, but it doesn’t tell you anything about the quality of the opponent. And that matters a great deal, of course.

The Hawks, meanwhile, have been up and down lately. They had two solid wins in a row against the Spurs and Suns last week, but then got blown out at home vs. the Pistons. That was a back-to-back, however, and they played the Raptors tough in their most recent game, losing by just five points.

I do think there’s reason for optimism for this squad moving forward. They have been dealing with a lot of roster uncertainty, with John Collins starting the year off suspended and Kevin Huerter dealing with an injury.

As a result, the Hawks’ most-used lineup — a combination of Trae Young, Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, Jabari Parker and Damian Jones — has gotten pummeled, posting an ungodly Net Rating of -26.1 (fourth percentile of all lineups this season). But substitute Huerter and Collins in for Parker and Jones, and that lineup has posted a +8.4 Net Rating in 181 possessions together.

What do you know: Playing good players together helps your team.

It makes sense, too: Collins is a very skilled offensive player, and Huerter is extremely underrated in his value to the team. This roster has very limited shooting, and Huerter, now that he’s seemingly fully healthy, provides that next to Young, who was drawing defenses but didn’t have any players to whom he could kick for open 3s.

Now, the Hawks still aren’t amazing — and the Clippers aren’t bad without those three guys, as Williams, Harrell and Landry Shamet are all awesome. But I do think there’s value on the Hawks at +4 at home in that situation.

Update: The Hawks announced Trae Young is suddenly questionable tonight with a thigh injury. I would wait on that news: I still like the Hawks if he plays, but if he’s out I’ll likely buy myself out of the position I’ve already bet.

76ers at Raptors

I’m not entirely sure what the reason is, but there’s a general trend of role-players performing way different at home vs. the road. And it’s hard to ignore. The Sixers just plain stink when they leave Philly.

  • 76ers at home: +11.6 overall (3rd), 114.0 Offensive Rating (6th), 102.4 Defensive Rating (2nd)
  • 76ers away: -3.1 overall (15th), 106.4 Offensive Rating (24th), 109.5 Defensive Rating (8th)

That’s a humongous drop in performance. The defense has definitely seen a decrease, but the drop-off in offense is the most startling.

And it’s hard to make the case things are really going to get much better. Per Cleaning the Glass, on the road the Sixers have the 28th-ranked expected eFG% mark, mostly because they take very few shots at the rim or behind the arc. They go into hero-ball mode on the road, and they just don’t have the one-on-one shooters and creators, especially without Joel Embiid, to make those efficient possessions.

On the other end, though, they are fourth in expected eFG% allowed on the road but have ranked 15th in that regard, showing their defense has gotten a little unlucky and likely doesn’t have the same splits as the offense. They’ve given up just a 29.0% 3-point rate on the road, best in the NBA, which is good news vs. a Raptors team that takes them at a top-six rate.

And finally, for whatever reason, the Sixers have been playing incredibly slow of late, ranking 24th in pace since the start of the year. Combine a potential luckier defense, a still-bad offense, the Raptors’ awesome defense and a slow pace, and I think you know where I’m going with this: I lean toward the under.

Spurs at Pelicans

It’s scary to take the under on a Pelicans game given how fast they’ve played and how good their offense has been over the last month, but I think that’s currently the sharp side.

One reason is the likely return of Derrick Favors, who I think helps this defense. Admittedly, the data isn’t fully there to support that claim, as it’s been about the same with him on the floor vs. off. Part of that, however, is the solid bench play of Jaxson Hayes, who plays against bench units.

Favors has been a smart defender in his career, and there’s some data to back that up even this season. With him on the floor, the Pelicans have allowed fewer shots at the rim, which is really what he can control as a big man in their defense. The big issue with his metrics have been that opponents have hit many more 3s with him out there, and I’m always hesitant to put that blame on a center rather than the perimeter players.

Further, it’s possible the return of Zion Williamson actually helps the defense. He had some issues in high school and at points in college on that end, but the upside is clearly there. When he’s engaged — and we’ve had a ton of precedence (see: Ben Simmons) of players really dialing it in when they reach the pros — he’s a force, capable of covering the floor as a free safety.

The Pelicans have really struggled with help rotations, and Zion, just through sheer athleticism, should help with that. Of course, that’s the biggest question with Zion tonight and in the near future: He’s coming off 44 games missed due to knee surgery. This wasn’t a wrist injury or something he could still keep his legs in shape and maintain that athleticism. Will that be there right away or will it take a bit to shake off the rust of sitting on the bench for months?

And finally, you could make the argument the Pels have been a bit unlucky defensively of late. Since Jan. 1 they’ve allowed the third-fewest shots classified as wide-open (a good thing), but opponents have posted the highest eFG% on such attempts (awful). That should normalize over time.

Of course, the Spurs have been very up and down defensively of late, too, and it’s more difficult to blame that solely on poor luck (although that’s part of it). But one thing the Spurs do very well is limiting transition opportunities, which is how the Pels thrive on offense. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Spurs force opponents into halfcourt sets 81.9% of the time, the highest rate in the league.

Again, this one is a bit scary, but it does also qualify for a Pro Betting System that identifies potential sharp money on the under:

Projected Starting Lineups and Injury News

Note: Info as of 11:30 a.m. ET. For up-to-the-minute lineups and news, see FantasyLabs’ matchups page.

Projected Lineups

  • Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young – Kevin Huerter – Cam Reddish – De’Andre Hunter – John Collins
  • Boston Celtics: Kemba Walker – Marcus Smart – Jayson Tatum – Gordon Hayward – Daniel Theis
  • Chicago Bulls: Kris Dunn – Tomas Satoransky – Zach LaVine – Lauri Markkanen – Luke Kornet
  • Denver Nuggets: Monte Morris – Torrey Craig – Will Barton – Jerami Grant – Nikola Jokic
  • Detroit Pistons: Derrick Rose – Bruce Brown – Tony Snell – Sekou Doumbouya – Andre Drummond
  • Golden State Warriors: D’Angelo Russell – Damion Lee – Glenn Robinson III – Draymond Green – Willie Cauley-Stein
  • Houston Rockets: Russell Westbrook – James Harden – Ben McLemore – PJ Tucker – Clint Capela
  • Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon – Jeremy Lamb – TJ Warren – Domantas Sabonis – Myles Turner
  • LA Clippers: Derrick Walton Jr. – Landry Shamet – Maurice Harkless – Patrick Patterson – Ivica Zubac
  • LA Lakers: LeBron James – Avery Bradley – Danny Green – Anthony Davis – JaVale McGee
  • Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant – Dillon Brooks – Jae Crowder – Jaren Jackson Jr. – Jonas Valanciunas
  • Miami Heat: Kendrick Nunn – Jimmy Butler – Duncan Robinson – Bam Adebayo – Meyers Leonard
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: Shabazz Napier – Jarrett Culver – Andrew Wiggins – Robert Covington – Karl-Anthony Towns
  • New Orleans Pelicans: Lonzo Ball – Jrue Holiday – Brandon Ingram – Zion Williamson – Derrick Favors
  • New York Knicks: Elfrid Payton – Reggie Bullock – Marcus Morris – Julius Randle – Taj Gibson
  • OKC Thunder: Chris Paul – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Luguentz Dort – Danilo Gallinari – Steven Adams
  • Orlando Magic: Markelle Fultz – Evan Fournier – Aaron Gordon – Khem Birch – Nikola Vucevic
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons – Josh Richardson – Matisse Thybulle – Tobias Harris – Al Horford
  • Phoenix Suns: Ricky Rubio – Devin Booker – Kelly Oubre – Dario Saric – Deandre Ayton
  • Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox – Buddy Hield – Harrison Barnes – Nemanja Bjelica – Harry Giles
  • San Antonio Spurs: Dejounte Murray – Bryn Forbes – DeMar DeRozan – Trey Lyles – LaMarcus Aldridge
  • Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry – Fred VanVleet – OG Anunoby – Pascal Siakam – Marc Gasol
  • Utah Jazz: Donovan Mitchell – Joe Ingles – Bojan Bogdanovic – Royce O’Neale – Rudy Gobert
  • Washington Wizards: Isaiah Thomas – Gary Payton II – Bradley Beal – Isaac Bonga – Ian Mahinmi

Injury News

  • Atlanta Hawks: Alex Len (back) is questionable. DeAndre’ Bembry (personal) is out. Trae Young (thigh) is questionable.
  • Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown (ankle) is out. Kemba Walker (knee) is available to play.
  • Chicago Bulls: Lauri Markkanen (ankle), Ryan Arcidiacono (elbow) and Chandler Hutchison (shoulder) are probable.
  • Denver Nuggets: Mason Plumlee (cuboid), Paul Millsap (knee) and Jamal Murray (ankle) are out. Gary Harris (adductor) is questionable.
  • Detroit Pistons: Tim Frazier (illness) is out. Reggie Jackson (back) said he’ll play. Andre Drummond (lip) is questionable. Markieff Morris (toe) is probable.
  • Golden State Warriors: Jacob Evans (concussion) is questionable. Glenn Robinson III (ankle) is probable. Draymond Green (illness) is not on the injury report.
  • Houston Rockets: Austin Rivers (thumb) is questionable.
  • Indiana Pacers: Aaron Holiday (thumb) is questionable.
  • LA Clippers: Paul George (hamstring), Kawhi Leonard (rest candidate) and Patrick Beverley (groin) are out.
  • LA Lakers: Anthony Davis (glute) and Rajon Rondo (finger) are probable.
  • Memphis Grizzlies: Nothing new.
  • Miami Heat: Duncan Robinson (ankle) is questionable. Goran Dragic (knee) and Jimmy Butler (hip) are probable.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: Nothing new.
  • New Orleans Pelicans: JJ Redick (hamstring) is questionable. Zion Williamson (knee), Derrick Favors (back) and Jahlil Okafor (back) are probable. Kenrich Williams (back) is out.
  • New York Knicks: Dennis Smith Jr. (oblique) and Marcus Morris (ankle) are questionable.
  • OKC Thunder: Terrance Ferguson (personal) and Abdel Nader (ankle) are out. Nerlens Noel (ankle) and Steven Adams (ankle) are questionable.
  • Orlando Magic: Nothing new.
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid (hand) remains out.
  • Phoenix Suns: Aron Baynes (hip) is out. Cam Johnson (quad) is questionable.
  • Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley (foot) is out.
  • San Antonio Spurs: DeMarre Carroll (illness) remains out. Rudy Gay (illness) is available to play.
  • Toronto Raptors: Nothing new.
  • Utah Jazz: Nothing new.
  • Washington Wizards: Anzejs Pasecniks (ankle) is out.


Player Props

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 Isaiah Thomas’ 10-point total.

I wrote about this one a week or so ago, and it seems the props market still hasn’t properly adjusted.

Thomas just isn’t playing many minutes right now and has seen a role decrease in the Washington offense. Over the last two games, he’s played just 18 and 16 minutes, scoring a combined 13 points.

He’s gone under this total in nine of his last 11 games, and we’re projecting him tonight for just 18 minutes again. Further, he’s playing against a solid Miami defense on the road. I’ll take the under here again.

DFS Values and Strategy

Value-wise, things aren’t very tough to figure out. The Clippers are missing three key players in Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Beverley due to either injuries or rest, which means a ton of minutes and usage is now available, and the Clips get an awful defense in the Hawks, who also play at a fast pace. It’s about a good of a spot you can hope for honestly.

And none of these guys are expensive. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell lead our models currently in Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel, and Williams also takes that crown on DraftKings. Landry Shamet is also popping as a value at $3,500, which is a crazy price considering his likely minutes load tonight.

That mid-tier value is just so loaded tonight, as other values include Donovan Mitchell against the terrible Warriors, Kemba Walker vs. the fast-paced Grizzlies without Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum for the same reason, and Ricky Rubio, who can’t seem to get a price hike.

That, plus the low-end values like Jerami Grant, Shamet, Reggie Jackson and others, make it pretty darn easy to get up to some of the studs and still have a very awesome lineup.

The studs are interesting today. James Harden is the most-expensive, and he’s always in play given his minutes expectation (near 40), usage rate and matchup against a bad Denver defense right now. LeBron and Anthony Davis are also priced up and have a beautiful matchup against the Knicks, although there’s the blowout risk in that one.

Nikola Jokic is an intriguing stud to buy given the injuries to the Nuggets — Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap, Gary Harris and Mason Plumlee are all likely to be out — although he’s always a boom-or-bust guy. Against the fast-paced Rockets, he could definitely be a boom tonight. Trae Young is also interesting against the injured Clippers, although note he’s currently questionable.

You know the drill: Follow the news and make sure to subscribe to our models to see up-to-the-minute projection updates.

For more DFS analysis and value plays, check out the FantasyLabs NBA models.

My Bets Currently

  • Hawks +4 (wait on Trae news, see above for more details)
  • 76ers-Raptors under 216

[In New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana or West Virginia? Bet now at FanDuel]

Follow me in our free app if you want an alert on bets I make.

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