Wednesday NBA Predictions, Picks & Betting Odds (Nov. 27): Can Portland Fix Its Offense?
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0).
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 1-2 for -0.3 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 Clippers-Mavs under 227 and it closed at 225.5 (won)
- I bet Wizards +10.5 and it closed at Wizards +10.5 (lost)
- I bet Wizards (1H) +255 ML and it closed at +240 (lost)
It was a positive day in terms of CLV, but I ended up going just 1-2, although one of those was a longshot (Wizards first-half moneyline). Speaking of CLV, I want to interject a quick point I made on Twitter last night:
Good example of why you shouldn’t get too up/down on small sample size of bets. Better to look at your process/models & whether you feel good about them.
Here are my biggest bets (by units/money bet) over the last couple weeks. I have a negative/no correlation on win/loss to CLV pic.twitter.com/mekos4cmXN
— Bryan Mears (@bryan_mears) November 27, 2019
It’s really easy with betting — or DFS or anything in life, really — to get way up or way down in a small sample. You’re 30-7 over the last two weeks? You’ve figured it out; you can’t lose! You’re 15-25? Something is fundamentally wrong and you’re clearly a losing bettor.
Both of those things could be true, but it’s more likely that it’s random variance. That’s why I talk about CLV every day; it’s not a perfect way of measuring whether you’re a good bettor, but I do think it’s much better than pure win/loss record.
It’s one part of the puzzle: We should all be taking audits, tweaking models, re-evaluating our process, etc. to make sure we’re making the smartest, most-informed bets we can.
And sometimes it’s good to know when to not tweak your process. Sometimes you’re just running good, and sometimes you’re just running bad. Set up some goals that are actually predictive — beating an efficient closing market, for one — and attempt to achieve those. Results will come.
Anyway, the only real note I had on last night was on the Clippers-Mavs game. In my writeup, I noted how the Clippers were a screaming positive regression candidate and the Mavs were the exact opposite.
Of course, predicting when regression will come is the name of the game: The Mavs have been due for regression for weeks, but if you’ve been fading them, your bankroll is likely hurting. If you faded them just last night, congrats — you hit the perfect time. Sports betting — really, predicting things — is hard.
Anyway, let’s get to today’s huge 14-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. And before I forget: I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for people who take their time to read my musings on basketball, and especially those who take time to interact. Enjoy the food and time with family.
Note: For updates, see the chat at the bottom of this post.
- Overall: 106-86-1
- Spreads: 35-35-1
- Totals: 34-26
- Moneylines: 7-4
- Props: 27-21
Betting Odds and Analysis
- 7 p.m. ET: Orlando Magic (-1) at Cleveland Cavaliers, 208
- 7 p.m. ET: Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics (-8), 213.5
- 7 p.m. ET: Utah Jazz at Indiana Pacers (-1.5), 211
- 7 p.m. ET: Sacramento Kings at Philadelphia 76ers (-9.5), 211
- 7 p.m. ET: Detroit Pistons (-3.5) at Charlotte Hornets, 214
- 7:30 p.m. ET: New York Knicks at Toronto Raptors (-10), 212.5
- 8 p.m. ET: Miami Heat at Houston Rockets (-8), 226
- 8 p.m. ET: Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks (-14.5), 239
- 8 p.m. ET: LA Clippers (-6) at Memphis Grizzlies, 225
- 8:30 p.m. ET: Minnesota Timberwolves at San Antonio Spurs (-3), 230
- 9 p.m. ET: Washington Wizards at Phoenix Suns (-7.5), 240
- 9:30 p.m. ET: LA Lakers (-6.5) at New Orleans Pelicans, 232
- 10 p.m. ET: OKC Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers (-2.5), 218.5
- 10:30 p.m. ET: Chicago Bulls (-2.5) at Golden State Warriors, 215.5
Let’s run through a couple angles I’m eyeing.
Heat at Rockets
I already bet this one at Rockets -7 (-105), grabbing it when Jimmy Butler was ruled out with an illness. The Heat quickly updated that he’s “unlikely to play,” so we’ll see what happens. Following NBA news can be very profitable, but it can definitely be a roller coaster at times.
I was already eyeing the Rockets even before the Butler news, as I’m having trouble really believing the Heat are as good as their record indicates. This team isn’t bad by any means — they boast a lot of solid NBA guys and have great depth — but are they really 12-4 good with one of the best offenses and defenses?
They are statistically one of the weirdest teams I can remember. Based on pbpstats.com‘s shot quality model, which predicts a team’s eFG% based on shot location, play context and other factors, the Heat should be slightly above-average — around 53%. They’re actually at 56.02%, easily the best mark in the league.
It’s even more confusing defense. They rank 24th in expected eFG% allowed, but they’re actually 11th in eFG% allowed. They allow one of the highest 3-point rates in the league, but they’re second in 3-point percentage allowed. On wide-open 3-pointers, opponents are shooting the third-worst mark in the league. On open 3s, opponents are shooting the worst in the league — 25.0%!
Those stats aren’t perfect, I know. And perhaps Miami is just historically good at closing out and historically good at hitting tough shots. More likely it’s that the Heat have been one of the league’s luckiest teams.
There are some other indicators, too. One notable one is that they’re the worst team in the league in limiting transition opportunities, and yet they’re first in the league in transition defense. Literally first and last. They’re dead last in turnover rate, but first in shooting. This is such a weird freaking team.
As a result, I was already interested in fading them, especially given their 3-point rate issues and especially against the 3-point-loving Rockets. The Rockets, by the way, have been unlucky shooting, with an expected eFG% rank of fourth but an actual mark of 17th so far.
And then the Butler news came. So far this year, he’s been easily the most-important member of the Heat, evidenced by his +13.6 on/off differential. The Heat have been 9.9 points per 100 possessions worse on offense without him and 3.7/100 worse on defense. They allow a lot more 3s and struggle to defend the paint without him. And he’s likely a big part of that transition defense.
The Rockets went out a hot run earlier in November but have now dropped three straight at Denver, at the Clippers and vs. the Mavericks. James Harden and Co. should be motivated in this one, although it’s always tough to tell with this team. Regardless, I like the Rockets in this one.
Wizards at Suns
I’ve written before that back-to-backs are likely overrated a bit in the early season, as players are rested; it’s not as much of a grind to play twice in two days as it is after months of action. That said, there are still spots where it likely does matter, and a road back-to-back coming off elevation in Denver might be one of those spots.
That’s where we find the Wizards today, who are coming off a non-cover against the bruising Nuggets last night. Now they’ll face a Phoenix Suns team that is finally getting a bit more healthy.
Ricky Rubio announced he’s playing tonight, which is a big deal for this team. With him on the floor, the Suns have been a ridiculous 10.0 points per 100 possessions better than with him off. He’s obviously not the world’s best shooter, but the Suns have still improved their eFG% by 4.1% with him on. He’s just an incredibly smart, steady player on both sides of the ball.
It’s not ideal that Aron Baynes is still out with a hip flexor, but the Suns with Rubio and the rest of the starters but without Baynes have still been very solid. Rubio and Devin Booker together have been in the 93rd percentile of offensive efficiency this season.
Note that we aren’t sure how much Rubio will play tonight, but unless it’s a severe minutes restriction, his addition should be a big deal, especially against a tired Wizards team with an uninspiring roster. If you want to wait for more news on that, I don’t blame you. Assuming he’s good to play decent minutes, I like this below Suns -8.
Thunder at Blazers
Man do the Blazers stink right now. On the season, they’re 6-12 with a negative point differential, and before Monday’s blowout win against the terrible Bulls, they had lost four straight, including one to a Kevin Love-less Cavs team.
The defense is a problem, although it’s not too surprising given the current personnel. Gone are wing defenders Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu, and they’re also missing Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, who are at least passable down low as rim protectors.
But the more disappointing thing has been the offense. The Blazers are dead last this season in assist rate, instead opting for ISO ball. Apparently they thought that was a good plan despite the slow start and went even more in on that idea by signing Carmelo Anthony. It hasn’t gone well: The Blazers have been 7.0 points/100 worse offensively with him on the floor.
They’ve been somewhat fast this season in pace, although they’ve played much slower with Melo on the court, which isn’t surprising. They exploded offensively against the Bulls last game, but even that was a slow-paced affair. They just shot the lights out of the ball from mid-range, going 61.3% on such shots — the 98th percentile of games this season.
Their opponent today, the Thunder, have given up a ton of mid-rangers this year, although that should be viewed as a good thing for a defense — not a negative despite the Blazers’ preference. Further, the Thunder have been one of the league’s slowest teams, averaging 14.75 seconds per play. Missed field goals, made ones, it doesn’t matter; they’ve been slow.
And even the Blazers’ fast pace, which has slowed with Melo, is a bit misleading. They’re 29th in transition frequency and play almost exclusively in the halfcourt. They’ll get shots up at an average pace once they cross halfcourt, but that’s not really that important. A fast pace can be valuable because it usually comes with easy layups. The Blazers can be fast — but being fast with bad shots doesn’t do much for you.
You can probably see where I’m headed with this: I like the under in this one, although I’m going to wait a bit to see if it’ll move up. The majority of the money bet is on the over so far, which might push it up above 218.5.
Projected Starting Lineups and Injury News
Note: Info as of 3 p.m. ET. For up-to-the-minute lineups and news, see FantasyLabs’ matchups page.
- 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 – Shaq Harrison – Zach LaVine – Lauri Markkanen – Wendell Carter Jr.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland – Collin Sexton – Cedi Osman – Kevin Love – Tristan Thompson
- Detroit Pistons: Bruce Brown – Luke Kennard – Tony Snell – Blake Griffin – Andre Drummond
- Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green – Alec Burks – Glenn Robinson III – Eric Paschall – Willie Cauley-Stein
- Houston Rockets: Russell Westbrook – James Harden – Danuel House – PJ Tucker – Clint Capela
- Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon – Jeremy Lamb – TJ Warren – Domantas Sabonis – Myles Turner
- LA Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Rodney McGruder – Paul George – Maurice Harkless – Ivica Zubac
- LA Lakers: LeBron James – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Danny Green – Anthony Davis – JaVale McGee
- Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant – Dillon Brooks – Jae Crowder – Jaren Jackson Jr. – Jonas Valanciunas
- Miami Heat: Justise Winslow – Kendrick Nunn – Duncan Robinson – Bam Adebayo – Meyers Leonard
- Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Bledsoe – Wes Matthews – Khris Middleton – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Brook Lopez
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins – Jarrett Culver – Treveon Graham – Robert Covington – Karl-Anthony Towns
- New Orleans Pelicans: Jrue Holiday – JJ Redick – Brandon Ingram – Kenrich Williams – Jaxson Hayes
- New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina – RJ Barrett – Marcus Morris – Julius Randle – Taj Gibson
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Chris Paul – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Terrance Ferguson – Danilo Gallinari – Steven Adams
- Orlando Magic: Markelle Fultz – Evan Fournier – Wes Iwundu – Jonathan Isaac – Khem Birch
- Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons – Josh Richardson – Tobias Harris – Al Horford – Joel Embiid
- Phoenix Suns: Ricky Rubio – Devin Booker – Kelly Oubre – Dario Saric – Frank Kaminsky
- Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard – CJ McCollum – Rodney Hood – Carmelo Anthony – Hassan Whiteside
- Sacramento Kings: Cory Joseph – Buddy Hield – Harrison Barnes – Nemanja Bjelica – Richaun Holmes
- San Antonio Spurs: Derrick White – Bryn Forbes – DeMar DeRozan – LaMarcus Aldridge – Jakob Poeltl
- 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
- Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young (ankle), De’Andre Hunter (knee) and Cam Reddish (wrist) are available to play. DeAndre Bembry (hip) is probable.
- Boston Celtics: Kemba Walker (neck) is probable. Daniel Theis (illness) is expected to play.
- Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving (shoulder) remains out. DeAndre Jordan (ankle) is questionable.
- Charlotte Hornets: Malik Monk (finger) and Cody Zeller (hip) are probable.
- Chicago Bulls: Luke Kornet (nose) is questionable. Ryan Arcidiacono (elbow) is probable.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Kevin Love (back) is questionable. John Henson (hamstring) is out.
- Detroit Pistons: Tony Snell (hip) is questionable.
- Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green (heel) is questionable.
- Houston Rockets: Clint Capela (illness) is questionable.
- Indiana Pacers: JaKarr Sampson (back) is doubtful.
- LA Clippers: Kawhi Leonard (rest) is out.
- LA Lakers: Anthony Davis (shoulder) is probable.
- Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant (back) and Kyle Anderson (heel) are questionable.
- Miami Heat: Derrick Jones Jr. (hip) is out. Justise Winslow (concussion) is probable. Jimmy Butler (illness) is unlikely to play. James Johnson (illness) is expected to be available.
- Milwaukee Bucks: George Hill (back) is doubtful. Khris Middleton (thigh) said he’ll play.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Shabazz Napier (hamstring) is doubtful. Josh Okogie (knee) and Treveon Graham (arm) are probable. Jake Layman (toe) is out.
- New Orleans Pelicans: Lonzo Ball (illness) and Josh Hart (ankle) are questionable. Derrick Favors (personal) is out.
- New York Knicks: Kevin Knox (quad), Frank Ntilikina (quad, groin) and RJ Barrett (illness) are probable.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Andre Roberson (knee) is out. Hamidou Diallo (elbow) is out 4-6 weeks.
- Orlando Magic: Aaron Gordon (ankle) and Michael Carter-Williams (hip) are out.
- Philadelphia 76ers: Shake Milton (illness) and Kyle O’Quinn (calf) are out.
- Phoenix Suns: Aron Baynes (hip) is out. Cam Johnson (knee) is probable. Ricky Rubio (back) said he’ll play. Ty Jerome (ankle) is uncertain to play.
- Portland Trail Blazers: Gary Trent Jr. (hamstring) is probable.
- Sacramento Kings: Trevor Ariza (groin, personal) is out. Bogdan Bogdanovic (hamstring) is probable.
- San Antonio Spurs: Nothing new.
- Toronto Raptors: Serge Ibaka (ankle) is doubtful.
- Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert (ankle) is questionable.
- Washington Wizards: Ian Mahinmi (Achilles) is TBD.
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 Myles Turner’s 8.5-rebound total.
Turner surprisingly isn’t an awesome rebounder, evidenced by his 11.4% rebound rate this season. That’s down a bit but is mostly consistent with his career-marks.
For reference, Andre Drummond is at 28.3%, highest in the league so far this year. Kristaps Porzingis, a not dissimilar player, is even up at 15.2%. Dejounte Murray, a point guard, is at 15.6%!
And now Turner will get a Jazz team that ranks in the top-10 in rebound rate this season, including fourth on the defensive glass. I don’t mind waiting to see if Rudy Gobert suits up to play this (he’s questionable), but if he does I like the under on this one.
DFS Values and Strategy
A 14-game slate … yikes. Let’s start with this:
Key news to watch, Part 1 (status as of 3 ET):
Kevin Love – questionable
Rudy Gobert – questionable
Draymond Green – questionable, GTD
Clint Capela – questionable
Jimmy Butler – doubtful
Justise Winslow – probable
Anthony Davis – probable
Ja Morant – questionable, GTD
— FantasyLabs NBA (@FantasyLabsNBA) November 27, 2019
There are three parts of that tweet, so obviously there’s a lot of information still to come for today. And it’s huge names that would fundamentally shift the slate’s value dynamic, too. It should be a fun time leading up to lock.
Still, let’s tease out some current studs and values. At the top of the pricing scheme is Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden, who are obviously always in play given their ceilings. Giannis has a cake matchup against Atlanta, although note the Bucks are nearly 15-point favorites here.
His minutes could be limited in a blowout, and while that’s probably less important in a smaller slate — a blowout means he did well — it’s important on a huge slate.
Harden has a nice matchup as well against the Heat, who are likely to be without Jimmy Butler, their best defender, today. Justise Winslow is also a good defender, but the Heat have consistently given up one of the highest 3-point rates in the league. Harden could easily go off in this one.
But let’s get to the real story: Anthony Davis against his former team in the Pelicans. Davis is probable, although that’s the case in every game.
He’s going to play in this one. He’s been a bit up-and-down lately, and he has a strong negative fantasy correlation with LeBron James, which limits his ceiling some nights, but it’s hard to imagine him not being the star in this revenge game.
Value-wise, Ricky Rubio looks like a great one right now, although we’ll have to see if there’s any word about a minutes restriction. He’s way too cheap at $5,500 on DraftKings, especially given a matchup against the fast-paced Wizards, who have a terrible defense.
Other values tonight include Bam Adebayo without Butler, Lou Williams without Kawhi Leonard, among others. But again, things are likely to change given all of the injuries. Ja Morant could be a solid play tonight, but he’s questionable. Rudy Gobert’s absence could open up Tony Bradley as a play again.
You get the drill: Monitor news and subscribe to our models to get up-to-the minute projection updates.
My Bets Currently
- Rockets -7 (I wouldn’t bet past -7.5)
- Looking for Suns -7 but would bet at -7.5
- Looking for Thunder-Blazers under 219 but would bet at 218.5
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.