NBA Predictions, Picks & Betting Odds (Wednesday, Jan. 29): Fade Spurs Without Aldridge?
Photo credit: Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images. Pictured: LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gobert
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 2-3 for -1.0 unit. 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 Suns +7 and it closed at Suns +7 (won)
- I bet Wizards +16 and it closed at Wizards +11.5 (lost)
- I bet Warriors under 101 and it closed at 101 (lost)
- I bet Knicks-Hornets under 207.5 and it closed at 209 (won)
- I bet Knicks -115 ML and it closed at +103 (lost)
That was a frustrating evening. I got nearly five points of CLV on the Wizards, and while the team put up over 130 points, they still didn’t cover.
I do think CLV is probably less valuable as the spread gets higher: Significant numbers aren’t as significant in basketball as they are in event-based sports like football, but given both teams are trying to win, I would imagine that 3 is more valuable than, say, 15 in terms of range of outcomes. Still, not covering after five points of CLV is frustrating.
That Charlotte situation was weird. I liked the under and wrote about it yesterday, and that hit. But I also grabbed a little of the Knicks after Devonte’ Graham was ruled out for the Hornets, only for him to be ruled back in approximately 1.5 seconds after I placed my bet. What fun.
I was able to hit on the Suns, as I was worried about the Mavs without Dwight Powell. I thought I handicapped pretty well yesterday, but the results didn’t come through due to that Wizards game mostly, as it was my biggest bet.
Anyway, let’s dive into today’s slate and find some angles.
- Overall: 196-167-2
- Spreads: 76-69-2
- Totals: 74-67
- Moneylines: 17-9
- Props: 29-22
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: Chicago Bulls at Indiana Pacers (-9), 214
- 7:30 p.m. ET: Detroit Pistons at Brooklyn Nets (-6), 223.5
- 7:30 p.m. ET: Memphis Grizzlies (-2.5) at New York Knicks, 223.5
- 8:30 p.m. ET: Utah Jazz (-5) at San Antonio Spurs, 221
- 10 p.m. ET: OKC Thunder (-3) at Sacramento Kings, 220.5
- 10 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets (-1.5) at Portland Trail Blazers, 235.5
Grizzlies at Knicks
The Knicks had been playing a little better over the last few weeks but completely stunk up the arena last night, putting up just 92 points in a loss to the lowly Charlotte Hornets. They just didn’t generate anything easy — not getting offensive boards, not getting to the line and not taking good shots.
Tonight they’re on a back-to-back against the upstart Grizzlies, who are also on a back-to-back. But these teams have performed very differently this season in that situation.
- Grizzlies on B2B: 4-2 ATS, 4-2 straight-up, +3.5 Net Rating
- Knicks on B2B: 2-4 ATS, 1-5 straight-up, -17.3 Net Rating
Also, per our Labs NBA Insiders tool, the Grizz have a big advantage in terms of recent miles traveled:
Further, the Grizzlies have just been way better than the Knicks of late. Since Jan. 1, the Grizz are ninth in Net Rating, 11th on offense and 10th on defense. The Knicks in the same span are 25th in Net Rating, 27th on offense and 19th on defense.
The biggest battle tonight is going to be inside. The Grizzlies with their athleticism — Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. are about as good as it gets in the league in that regard — have absolutely blitzed the rim. They’re shooting … 70.9% at the rim since Jan. 1!
Beyond the arc, they’ve been lucky on non-corner 3’s (will regress) but unlucky on corner 3’s (will get better).
The Knicks have been rough defensively, but they’ve actually been OK in terms of defending the rim, mostly because of Mitchell Robinson. But he’s playing just around 20 minutes a game right now, and in the minutes they get against Taj Gibson (who is starting), the Grizz should clean up.
I will say that I’m going to wait until closer to game time to make sure Morant and crew don’t decide to sit out to rest, but if they’re all playing, I’ll likely grab a little bit of the moneyline below -150.
Jazz at Spurs
The Spurs will be missing LaMarcus Aldridge again, who is sitting out with a sprained thumb.
It’s tough to gauge Aldridge’s value to this team, mostly because the Spurs have some pretty rough starter/bench splits. They’ve been better without Aldridge on the floor, but that’s also true with Dejounte Murray, DeMar DeRozan, Bryn Forbes and Trey Lyles — the typical starting unit.
Jakob Poeltl will get the nod in Aldridge’s absence, and he should absorb most of the minutes as a straight one-for-one fill-in. But those players are definitely not similar; Aldridge is obviously the better shooter and more talented offensive player, while Poeltl is a better defender and more of a traditional center and rebounder.
Interestingly, the Spurs have actually run a ton without Aldridge on the floor, which makes sense given the scheme. He’s a player out of the 90s, preferring to play in the halfcourt and take slow touches in the mid-range. He’s made a career out of that style, but it’s not conducive to fast paces. As a result, his on/off split in terms of pace is the highest in the league.
Perhaps they can do some damage there, although I wouldn’t expect that to be a source of strength against the Jazz, who have been excellent this season both in the halfcourt and in transition.
Further, while Aldridge is probably overrated in terms of his talent, I do wonder how this team will continue to operate without him given their scheme. Perhaps only James Harden and the Rockets are a more fundamental example of a team’s offensive identity fully emerging with its main players like with Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan with the Spurs.
I don’t think they’ll change much tonight, which means it’s going to be a ton of mid-rangers and not a lot of great looks.
That’s tough against a Jazz team that has really turned around their season mostly because of that same reason. Their issues early on were 1) protecting the ball and 2) shot profile. Since Jan. 1, they’re sixth in turnover rate and eighth in expected eFG%. They’re now taking a ton of 3’s — especially from the corners — which creates a math problem for the Spurs. They deal with that math problem nearly every game, but they also typically have Aldridge.
And the Jazz have just been so freaking good lately. They’re scoring over 120 points per 100 possessions in the last month, continuing their trend of starting seasons off slowly and really coming on strong after the turn of the calendar. They’re just absolutely rolling right now.
The Spurs are home, but they also have a big travel disparity of late:
And finally, while you might think this is a spot the Spurs — the grinders of the league, always undervalued and putting in awesome seasons — would be a value in the market, that hasn’t been the case this year. In fact, they’ve been way overvalued at home this year, going 7-17 ATS.
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.
- Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving – Garrett Temple – Joe Harris – Taurean Prince – Jarrett Allen
- Chicago Bulls: Kris Dunn – Tomas Satoransky – Zach LaVine – Thad Young – Luke Kornet
- Detroit Pistons: Derrick Rose – Bruce Brown – Tony Snell – Sekou Doumbouya – Andre Drummond
- Houston Rockets: Russell Westbrook – James Harden – Ben McLemore – PJ Tucker – Clint Capela
- Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon – Jeremy Lamb – TJ Warren – Domantas Sabonis – Myles Turner
- Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant – Dillon Brooks – Jae Crowder – Jaren Jackson Jr. – Jonas Valanciunas
- 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
- Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard – CJ McCollum – Trevor Ariza – Carmelo Anthony – Hassan Whiteside
- Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox – Bogdan Bogdanovic – Harrison Barnes – Nemanja Bjelica – Dewayne Dedmon
- San Antonio Spurs: Dejounte Murray – Bryn Forbes – DeMar DeRozan – Trey Lyles – Jakob Poeltl
- Utah Jazz: Donovan Mitchell – Joe Ingles – Bojan Bogdanovic – Royce O’Neale – Rudy Gobert
- Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving (personal) is not on the injury report. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (illness) is available to play. DeAndre Jordan (finger) will play.
- Chicago Bulls: Luke Kornet (ankle), Zach LaVine (ankle, knee), Tomas Satoransky (ankle), Ryan Arcidiacono (elbow), Chandler Hutchison (shoulder, hip) and Denzel Valentine (hip) are probable.
- Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond (wrist) is questionable. Sekou Doumbouya (ankle) is probable. Tony Snell (illness) and Derrick Rose (knee) are not on the injury report.
- Houston Rockets: James Harden (thigh) and Clint Capela (heel) are questionable.
- Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner (illness) and Malcolm Brogdon (concussion) are questionable. Victor Oladipo (quad) will make his season debut.
- Memphis Grizzlies: Jae Crowder (knee) is not on the injury report. De’Anthony Melton (hand) is out.
- New York Knicks: Nothing new.
- OKC Thunder: Terrance Ferguson (personal) is out. Abdel Nader (ankle) is questionable. Chris Paul (personal) is not on the injury report.
- Portland Trail Blazers: Nothing new.
- Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley (foot) is out.
- San Antonio Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge (thumb) is out.
- Utah Jazz: Nothing new.
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 Joe Ingles’ 11.5-point total.
Ingles has been excellent lately, but he’s been operating more as a facilitator than scorer. Over his last five games, he’s been under this prop each time, landing in the single digits in four of them. His assist numbers have been impressive, but the usage rate has been near 15% or below.
The Jazz actually have quite a few high-usage guys now in the rotation, including Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson and Mike Conley. Given how they’ve been playing of late, I think the Jazz will try to keep things rolling, which means Ingles more of a passer than creator.
DFS Values and Strategy
There are four guys priced over $9,500 on FanDuel today: Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Make sure to monitor injuries, as both Drummond and Harden have been out with nagging injuries lately and are questionable to suit up tonight.
Drummond, if he goes, is an intriguing guy to buy. He’s been very solid in fantasy of late, especially with Blake Griffin and most of the Detroit guys out, and he has a beautiful matchup today against the Nets, who have allowed centers to overperform expectations by 3.89 points.
Westbrook could be the uber chalk if Harden is out. In the one game he played without his teammate this year, Westbrook increased his usage rate by 9.9%. Eric Gordon, for what it’s worth, played in all three and increased his by 9.0%, although that sample also includes time without both Westbrook and Harden.
And then we get to Lillard, who has scored 50, 47, 61, 34 and 34 points in his last five games; he’s beat his salary-based expectations in seven straight games and is just so, so hot right now.
Value-wise, there’s a free square tonight, which is the Spurs’ Jakob Poeltl, who we’re projecting to start in LaMarcus Aldridge’s absence. He did the same last game, got over 35 minutes and finished with over 40 FanDuel points thanks to a double-double. At $4,400, you need to use him.
Values will pop up later in the day, too. There are so many notable injuries tonight, including Harden, Drummond, Clint Capela, Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner and Zach LaVine. Those are all big names with big roles, so if any of them are out, it would definitely shift value in a big way.
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
- Jazz -5
- Waiting on Grizzlies ML (see above)
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