NBA Saturday Betting Picks & Angles (Dec. 14): Cavaliers vs. Bucks, Pistons vs. Rockets & Heat vs. Mavericks
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Mike Budenholzer
Three angles for Saturday based on matchups and trends…
Odds as of Saturday afternoon and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
The Game: Cavaliers at Bucks
- Spread: Bucks -12.5
- Over/Under: 224
- Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
The Angle: Budenholzer Bullying
Mike Budenholzer has been fortunate in his coaching career to play vs. two of the weakest divisions in the NBA. With the Hawks, he coached against the Magic, Wizards and Hornets; with the Bucks, he’s landed Cleveland post-LeBron, the Bulls and Pistons.
In his career, he’s 28-18 against the spread as a home favorite vs. divisional opponents, including 9-2 ATS with the Bucks. He’s also 17-11 ATS as a double-digit favorite vs. Eastern Conference teams.
The Cavs, meanwhile, are on the brink of falling apart. There are media reports of unrest toward their first-year coach, and Tristan Thompson was openly yelling at John Beilein in a game last week before being benched.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is questionable in this game with a sore calf, while Eric Bledsoe is out. The Bucks trailed throughout most of the game Friday without the Greek Freak… and yet still covered the closing line of -12.5 vs. the Grizzlies.
The Cavs are worse both offensively and defensively than the Grizzlies, so I like the Bucks regardless of whether Giannis plays. (Set up news alerts here so you can act quickly if Giannis is cleared. If he’s scratched, it’s worth waiting for the line to adjust a few points before grabbing Milwaukee.)
By the way, under Budenholzer, the Cavs are 4-0 ATS without Giannis as a double-digit favorite.
THE PICK: Bucks spread
The Game: Pistons at Rockets
- Spread: Rockets -7
- Over/Under: 225.5
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
The Angle: The Elephant Named Russ Not in the Room
The Rockets are on a back to back with Russell Westbrook out, and as such the line has moved from Rockets -8.5 to Rockets -7 vs. the Pistons.
Are you kidding me?
The Rockets have a +2.4 net rating with Westbrook on the floor. That’s fine, if relatively unimpressive, for a starter. They have a +14.5 net rating with Westbrook not on the floor.
With Westbrook on the bench, they’re scoring 121.6 points per 100 possessions, which is a nuclear inferno.
Now, it’s not that simple, but there’s the letdown effect, as well. The Rockets pride themselves on their regular season performances and this is a spot to step up, which they’ve been very good at.
All of the Rockets’ starters have better net ratings with Harden on court and Westbrook off.
The Pistons’ defense gives up the fourth-fewest 3s per 100 possessions in the league, which gives me pause, but honestly, no one stops Houston from shooting 3s. It’s impossible. And the Pistons give up the fifth-most shots at the rim in distribution percentage, via Cleaning The Glass.
Oh… and they’re the 29th-ranked team in isolation defense, which is kind of a problem, vs., you know, James Harden, who literally ISOs more than anyone in NBA history.
One more for you: Mike D’Antoni’s Rockets teams are 25-19 ATS on the second night of a back to back, 9-6 ATS at home on SEGABABA, and a stellar 21-13 ATS as a favorite SEGABABA.
THE PICK: Rockets -7
The Game: Heat at Mavericks
- Spread: Mavericks -8
- Over/Under: 216
- Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
The Angle: The Heat Are Really Bad on Back-to-Backs
As a heads up, I’m on this, but I’m not super confident on it. The Heat have historically been really good on back-to-backs since LeBron left, and the Mavericks’ record is spottier vs. really good teams ATS when they’re favored. Plus, Miami is 20-11 ATS since the start of last season when Justise Winslow is out.
However… the Mavs have been great overall ATS this season, just outpacing teams with their offense. And Miami is 0-4 straight up and 0-3-1 ATS on the second night of a back to back this season. Short-handed, in a letdown game after a close loss to the Lakers at home Friday night, and facing a red hot Mavericks team that has covered eleven of the past 13 games … I’m obligated to fade the Heat.
I’m just determined to make up my losses on the Mavericks’ win total (under 41) by betting them consistently.
THE PICK: Mavericks -8