Wednesday NBA Odds & Picks (Nov. 20): How to Bet Rockets-Nuggets, More

Wednesday NBA Odds & Picks (Nov. 20): How to Bet Rockets-Nuggets, More article feature image

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Russell Westbrook

  • Bryan Mears breaks down tonight's 11-game NBA slate, offering betting advice, DFS strategies and injury news to help you find an edge.

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 4-0 for +4.5 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 Kings -2.5 and it closed at Kings -3 (won)
  • I bet Blazers-Pels under 233.5/230 and it closed at 231.5 (won)
  • I bet Pelicans +4 and it closed at Pelicans -3 (won)

Talk about line value: The market apparently had a ton of respect for Damian Lillard, as the odds in the Blazers-Pels moved from Pels +4 at open to Pels -3 by closing. Part of that might have been due to Brandon Ingram and some of the Pels guys playing, along with Carmelo Anthony starting for the Blazers, but that’s a huge swing and shows the value of following news closely.

I grabbed the under at 233.5 and hit it again at 230 when it reopened after the Lillard news, and I was surprised it continued to move up throughout the day, eventually closing at 231.5 behind a couple late steam moves. I was very down on the Blazers offense in that spot, so I don’t mind the negative CLV in theory, but I could’ve gotten lucky on that particular bet.

Finally, I bet the Kings for a unit once it was announced Aron Baynes was out for the Suns. Baynes has been incredible this season: The offense has been 13.6 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor vs. off, which ranks in the 95th percentile of players. This one ended up being a surprising sweat late, but the Kings covered eventually by a few points.

Anyway, let’s get to today’s huge 11-game slate and find some angles. This is a long post, so use the jump links below to skip ahead to whatever you’re looking for.

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

YTD Record:

  • Overall: 85-61-1
  • Spreads: 29-25-1
  • Totals: 21-14
  • Moneylines: 5-2
  • Props: 28-20

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

Betting Odds and Analysis

  • 7 p.m. ET: New York Knicks at Philadelphia 76ers (-12), 210.5
  • 7 p.m. ET: San Antonio Spurs (-2) at Washington Wizards, 237
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks (-14), 217
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: Milwaukee Bucks (-11) at Atlanta Hawks, 232.5
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat (-10.5), 213.5
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: Charlotte Hornets at Brooklyn Nets (-4), 219.5
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors (-3), 207
  • 8 p.m. ET: Utah Jazz (-3) at Minnesota Timberwolves, 222.5
  • 8 p.m. ET: Detroit Pistons at Chicago Bulls (-1), 222.5
  • 9 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets at Denver Nuggets (-1), 221.5
  • 10 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics at LA Clippers (-7), 220

Let’s run through a couple situations for today.

Warriors at Mavericks

D’Angelo Russell will remain out for this game, which means the Warriors will be down their best playmaker. The Mavs defense hasn’t exactly been elite this year, but they are excellent in limiting transition plays and forcing teams into halfcourt sets.

And this Warriors team just hasn’t gotten out in transition very often: On the year, 81.5% of their plays have been in the halfcourt, which is the fifth-highest mark in the league. Without Russell, they’ve been right at that number, and they’ve averaged just 87.3 points per 100 halfcourt plays.

Even if we look at how they’ve done with Draymond Green out there without Russell, it’s now different. They’ve been in halfcourt more, and they’ve actually been less efficient.

This is just a brutal matchup for the Warriors, and that’s reflected in the huge spread of -14 in Dallas. The Warriors have limited transition opportunities themselves this season, although Dallas thrives in halfcourt sets with Luka Doncic: They’re second in the league in efficiency behind only the Celtics.

The Mavericks should be able to score here, but I just think this game is going to be very slow-paced and should operate almost solely in the halfcourt. Both teams have been pretty good at grabbing offensive rebounds, which should help efficiency but also continue to slow down the game.

Dallas has a team implied total of 115.5, but the Mavs have been below that number in eight of their 13 games. They’ve had just three games over 120, and those were their explosive shooting nights against fast-paced teams in the Grizzlies and Pelicans. Their defense wasn’t great in those, either.

There’s some risk here because Luka and Co. could absolutely carve up the Warriors, but I do think the under is the sharper side. If you’re really worried about the Mavericks offense, you could just bet the under on the Warriors’ team total at 102.5.

Rockets at Nuggets

I thought my colleague Matt Moore made some really excellent points about this game in his Angles column here.

James Harden and the Rockets lost the Nuggets in Denver this past February. That was the first win against Harden the Nuggets have had since December of 2015. The Rockets have beaten them 10 out of the last 11 times.

Denver has a very interesting defense this year. The Nuggets have allowed the third-lowest eFG% mark in the league at 49.0%, although they’ve allowed the sixth-highest rate of shots at the rim. They’re merely average in 3-point rate allowed. They’ve done an excellent job in the mid-range defensively — an important spot of the floor against the Rockets — and from the 3-point line.

But per, the Nuggets have allowed the second-lowest 3-point percentage on open shots at 26.5%, just behind the Miami Heat. Denver opponents have posted an eFG% nearly 4% lower than expectations based on the shot quality allowed. There’s probably some regression in the defensive numbers coming for the Nuggets.

Meanwhile, Denver is not an optimized offense: The Nuggets are 24th in shots at the rim and 23rd in 3-point rate. We’ve talked about the “Math Problem” at times here at the Action Network, and that could rear its head tonight. If you aren’t familiar, it’s just the idea that it’s hard to keep up with a team taking a lot of 3s when you’re trying to match with 2s.

Further, the Rockets defense has been elite lately. Since Nov. 4, during which the Rockets have gone on an impressive run, they’ve allowed the lowest eFG% in the league. That’s likely to regress a little for the same reason as the Nuggets’ situation — they’ve gotten lucky on opponent 3-point shooting — but, again, the math problem. If both teams regress, it hurts more for Denver given the volume issue at hand here.

The Nuggets have pulled out some wins lately, winning six of their last seven. But they haven’t exactly been blowing out teams, and their schedule hasn’t been crazy: Their last four have been against the Grizzlies, Nets, Hawks and Wolves. And outside of the Memphis game, they’ve been close affairs.

I think the Rockets are better in this spot, even factoring in Denver’s sizable home-court advantage, and James Harden is on a tear. I’ll take the dog and see if Houston can keep up the excellent play.

I’ll likely add more bets throughout the day, especially as we get injury news, so make sure to follow me in the app (which is free).


[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Projected Starting Lineups and Injury News

Note: Info as of 1 p.m. ET. For up-to-the-minute lineups and news, see FantasyLabs’ matchups page.

Projected Lineups

  • Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young – Cam Reddish – De’Andre Hunter – Jabari Parker – Damian Jones
  • Boston Celtics: Kemba Walker – Marcus Smart – Jaylen Brown – Jayson Tatum – Daniel Theis
  • Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie – Garrett Temple – Joe Harris – Taurean Prince – Jarrett Allen
  • Charlotte Hornets: Devonte’ Graham – Terry Rozier – Miles Bridges – PJ Washington – Cody Zeller
  • Chicago Bulls: Tomas Satoransky – Ryan Arcidiacono – Zach LaVine – Lauri Markkanen – Wendell Carter Jr.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland – Collin Sexton – Cedi Osman – Larry Nance – Kevin Love
  • Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic – Jalen Brunson – Dorian Finney-Smith – Kristaps Porzingis – Dwight Powell
  • Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray – Gary Harris – Will Barton – Paul Millsap – Nikola Jokic
  • Detroit Pistons: Langston Galloway – Bruce Brown – Luke Kennard – Blake Griffin – Andre Drummond
  • Golden State Warriors: Alec Burks – Glenn Robinson III – Eric Paschall – Draymond Green – Willie Cauley-Stein
  • Houston Rockets: Russell Westbrook – James Harden – Danuel House – PJ Tucker – Clint Capela
  • LA Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Kawhi Leonard – Paul George – Maurice Harkless – Ivica Zubac
  • Miami Heat: Jimmy Butler – Kendrick Nunn – Duncan Robinson – Bam Adebayo – Meyers Leonard
  • Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Bledsoe – Donte DiVincenzo – Wesley Matthews – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Brook Lopez
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: Jeff Teague – Andrew Wiggins – Treveon Graham – Robert Covington – Karl-Anthony Towns
  • 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
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons – Furkan Korkmaz – Tobias Harris – Al Horford – Joel Embiid
  • San Antonio Spurs: Dejounte Murray – Bryn Forbes – DeMar DeRozan – Trey Lyles – LaMarcus Aldridge
  • Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet – Norman Powell – OG Anunoby – Pascal Siakam – Marc Gasol
  • Utah Jazz: Mike Conley – Donovan Mitchell – Bojan Bogdanovic – Royce O’Neale – Rudy Gobert
  • Washington Wizards: Isaiah Thomas – Bradley Beal – Troy Brown – Rui Hachimura – Thomas Bryant

Injury News

  • Atlanta Hawks: Jabari Parker (shoulder) and Evan Turner (Achilles) are expected to play. Vince Carter (personal) is not on the injury report.
  • Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart (ankle) is probable.
  • Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving (shoulder) is out.
  • Charlotte Hornets: Nothing new.
  • Chicago Bulls: Chandler Hutchison (shins) is out.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson (rest) and Brandon Knight (ankle) are out. Kevin Love (back) said he’ll play. Larry Nance (thumb) will start.
  • Dallas Mavericks: Seth Curry (illness) is out.
  • Denver Nuggets: Nothing new.
  • Detroit Pistons: Tony Snell (hip) is out.
  • Golden State Warriors: Nothing new.
  • Houston Rockets: Nothing new.
  • LA Clippers: Kawhi Leonard (knee) is questionable.
  • Miami Heat: Justise Winslow (concussion), Derrick Jones Jr. (hip) and KZ Okpala (Achilles) are out. Goran Dragic (illness) is TBD.
  • Milwaukee Bucks: Nothing new.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: Jake Layman (foot) is out. Shabazz Napier (hamstring) is doubtful. Andrew Wiggins (illness) and Josh Okogie (knee) are questionable.
  • New York Knicks: Elfrid Payton (hamstring) remains out. RJ Barrett (thumb) will start.
  • Orlando Magic: Jonathan Isaac (ankle) is on track to play. Michael Carter-Williams (hip) is out.
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Richardson (hip) is out.
  • San Antonio Spurs: Derrick White (foot) is out.
  • Toronto Raptors: Nothing new.
  • Utah Jazz: Nothing new.
  • Washington Wizards: Nothing new.

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 Darius Garland’s 3.5-assist total.

The rookie guard has gone under this total in each of his last four games, getting exactly two dimes in each. Garland has a 0.80 assist:usage rate, which measures how often he’s diming up teammates given how much he’s had the ball. He’s definitely not a pure point guard, especially right now, and that ratio ranks in the 32nd percentile of players.

Garland also struggles with turnovers, and tonight he’ll face a Miami team that has been the second-best team at turning over opponents. Garland is more of an off-ball player at this point, so I’ll take a shot on the under here given his current role and matchup.

DFS Values and Strategy

On DraftKings, the studs with the highest Projected Plus/Minus marks currently are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic, both of whom are over +9.0. They’ve been ridiculous this season, and they’re always triple-double threats. That’s especially true tonight in good matchups against the Hawks and Warriors, respectively.

They should be two of the most popular options on the slate at the higher-priced tier, which means the other guys around them are intriguing GPP options. Kawhi Leonard, who is questionable but went through shootaround today, has the highest Leverage Plus/Minus currently, and both he and Paul George will likely be low-owned in their first time playing together.

Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook all have high Leverage scores on FanDuel, and they’ll likely go underowned tonight given their matchups and the other studs available. Beal actually has a positive matchup against the Spurs, and he’s second on the slate in projected minutes at 39.2, just behind Pascal Siakam, who is also projected to be a value.

Nets PG Spencer Dinwiddie is one of our best projected values, as he’ll continue to play big minutes as one of Brooklyn’s only playmakers with Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert both out. Further, he has a nice matchup against the Hornets, who haven’t exactly been awesome defensively this year.

There are a variety of other values, especially on DraftKings, including Alec Burks (without D’Angelo Russell), Tim Hardaway Jr./Delon Wright (without Seth Curry) and Larry Nance Jr. (without Tristan Thompson).

We also have a variety of injuries we still have to monitor, including to Kawhi Leonard, Andrew Wiggins, Marcus Smart, Josh Okogie and more. Make sure to follow the FantasyLabsNBA feed and use our models for up-to-the minute projections.

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

My Bets Currently

  • Rockets +1 (I wouldn’t bet past the number)
  • Warriors/Mavs under 217 (I wouldn’t bet past the number)

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Follow me in our free app if you want an alert on bets I make. I’ll also make updates in the chat below.

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.

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