NBA Betting Picks, Odds & Angles (Saturday, Jan. 4): The Trend to Know for Celtics vs. Bulls
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Brad Stevens
Angles for Saturday’s huge NBA slate, based on matchups and trends…
Raptors at Nets
The Angle: Injuries make the Raps go under
The under has hit in four straight Raptors games, as Marc Gasol, Norman Powell, and most notably, Pascal Siakam have been out and continue to be out. The Nets have one of the best shot profiles in the NBA, with the second-best expected eFG% league-wide. Now, they haven’t been able to, you know, actually make those shots, shooting just a 50.5 eFG%.
The Raptors are also the third-best team defending spot-ups, the very shots the Nets are always looking for. The Nets’ team totals in the last two weeks have been consistently under 110, putting a good chance here that Toronto wins a stilted affair with all the injuries. Evan Scott is officiating, and the under is 14-9 in games he refs, per Bet Labs.
The Play: Under 216
Jazz at Magic
The Angle: Fade the Letdown
The Magic got a huge win Friday vs. the Heat, and now have a back-to-back vs. the Jazz. Teams coming off an underdog straight-up win, on a back-to back-vs. a West opponent above .500 are 27-36-1 ATS since 2003 per BetLabs. That sounds like a lot of qualifiers, but let me speak it in plain English.
Teams on a back-to-back coming off a big underdog upset facing a good West team have lost 57% of the time.
The Magic also are without Jonathan Isaac and have to be careful with Aaron Gordon (Achilles) plus have Al-Farouq Aminu out. The Jazz are without Mike Conley, but that’s opened up their offense. This screams a Jazz win.
The Play: Jazz (-4.5)
Thunder at Cavs
The Angle: The Cavs’ win profile is very clear
The Cavs are 1-17 straight-up this year vs. teams over .500. That’s remarkable not only for how bad it is, but how many of those games they’ve played. They’re actually pretty good vs. bad teams; they’re 9-7 SU vs. teams under .500.
But the Thunder are over .500. And teams that were above .500 when they faced the Cavaliers are 10-4-1 ATS this season. OKC is rolling, and while that makes me nervous for a slip-up, the Cavs have the sixth-worst offense and second-worst defense. If you make it easy for the Thunder, they carve you up. They have a big man in Steven Adams to counter Tristan Thompson and a decided advantage in the backcourt with Collin Sexton’s shooting regression this year.
The Play: Thunder -6.5
Pacers at Hawks
The Angle: The Right Number
The Hawks are on a back-to-back and are 2-7 this year ATS with rest disadvantage. In their last game, they suffered a bummer loss to the Celtics Friday night following a good start to that game.
I don’t love it at 7, but see if this will climb another point (it opened all the way down at 5 so it’s unlikely) to 8 and I start to lean towards the Hawks. The Pacers are without Malcolm Brogdon, and while Aaron Holiday has been great filling in this year, that’s a big loss in terms of size and defensive acumen vs. Trae Young.
The Hawks finally have Young, Huerter, and John Collins back together, and that showed in their game Friday vs. the Pacers.
I do need to note that under Lloyd Pierce, the Hawks are 2-7 since the start of last season on a back-to-back at home as at least a 7-point dog. The trends, they are not here. But Indiana’s a little inflated due to recent performance and last night’s loss covers over how well the Hawks played.
The Angle: If you can get it at 8, the Hawks might be worth a play, but otherwise stay away. Late news says John Collins is out, another reason to likely stay away.
Celtics at Bulls
ANGLE: BRAD STEVENS AS A DOG SEGABABA ALERT
The Celtics are 41-17 ATS — let me say that again, FORTY-ONE AND SEVENTEEN — under Brad Stevens as a dog on the second night of a back to back. They are playing the perennially disappointing Bulls.
Kemba Walker is out, which is why the line moved from Celtics -1.5 to Celtics +1.5. Kemba Walker should not move the line three points with an otherwise healthy wing rotation for Boston.
The Play: Celtics +1.5
Nuggets at Wizards
The Nuggets have been a great defensive team… until the last few weeks. Their defense has slipped while their offense has climbed into the top 10. This is causing Michael Malone no small amount of blood pressure increase, but Denver also doesn’t seem particularly motivated to lock it down.
The Wizards are without almost everyone important for their team: Mo Wagner, Davis Bertans, John Wall, Rui Hachimura and CJ Miles are all out, Bradley Beal is questionable (though that upgrade from Friday indicates he might play).
I recommended the under on the Portland game Friday and that cashed with the Wizards scoring just 103 points. But there are two outcomes possible here: Denver screws around and Jordan McCrae and Ian Mahinmi go wild as the Nuggets find themselves in a shootout, or the Nuggets drop 140 on one of the worst defenses in the NBA. Both are possible, and more likely than Denver locking down vs. a bad opponent coming off a big win vs. the Pacers.
The Play: Over 222.5
Hornets at Mavericks (Total 216.5)
The Mavericks run up big numbers vs. bad teams with bad offenses. They put up more than 140 vs. both Golden State and Cleveland.
They’re without Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis in this game, but a total below 220 for the Mavs at home off rest vs. a bottom-five defense is going to be a value play even with the injuries. Luka Doncic is active, but maybe make sure he plays.
The Play: Over 216.5
Spurs at Bucks
The Play: Fading the Spurs starters
The Spurs are 11-21 against the first-half line this season overall and 5-11 ATS first-half vs. teams over .500. The Spurs starters are a train wreck this year; LaMarcus Aldridge has a negative plus-minus in 20 of 31 first-halves this year.
The Spurs’ overall numbers for the first quarter are good because the bench comes in and saves the day, but then the starters come back in to finish the half which means they often end on a rough stretch.
The double-digit spread for the game is too much but even at a higher line of 7, I like Milwaukee to crush the Spurs starters at home.
The Angle: Spurs -7 (1H)
Pistons at Warriors
This assumes that the Pistons, 13th in offensive rating this season, can’t put up points with Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, Luke Kennard, Markieff Morris, Bruce Brown, Reggie Jackson, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Isiah Thomas and Dennis Rodman out, which is a good assumption.
But the over has hit in four of the last five games for the Pistons despite most of those guys being out over that stretch. The Pistons’ bench scores the third-most points per game and seventh-most per 100 possessions, in the league. Their backups can put up points.
The over on Warriors home games with the opposing offensive efficiency over 107 is 5-2 this season.
The Play: Over 215.5