Wednesday’s NBA Experts Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for Hornets vs. Cavaliers, Pelicans vs. Timberwolves

Wednesday’s NBA Experts Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for Hornets vs. Cavaliers, Pelicans vs. Timberwolves article feature image

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Charlotte Hornets point guard Devonte’ Graham (4).

There are nine games on the NBA schedule for Wednesday night and our experts are betting on three specific matchups:

  • 7 p.m. ET: Charlotte Hornets at Cleveland Cavaliers 
  • 7 p.m. ET: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers
  • 8 p.m. ET: New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves 

See what bets they’re making below.

Odds as of Wednesday afternoon and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

Rob Perez: Hornets at Cavaliers

  • Spread: Cavaliers -3
  • Over/Under: 212.5
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

I’m having a difficult time understanding this line — are we sure the books didn’t switch the +/- by accident?

If this game was being played in Charlotte, the Hornets would be 4.5-5.5 point favorites. Are you telling me Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse … THE Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse … is a home court advantage worth seven points?

While on paper it reads factually true, in context it would be a foolish mindset. Yes, the Hornets are on the second leg of a road back-to-back, but let’s not act like they finished at 1:30 a.m. PT and had to travel across the country the next day.

This entire roster is filled with dudes playing for more burn, future contracts and to get out of Charlotte — they don’t need any motivation to give Game 7 effort every single night, so no need to worry about a ‘letdown’ here. They’re the better team.

And with the Cavaliers having some (allegedly) behind-the-scenes drama between the players and head coach John Beilein, Kevin Love looking like a shadow of his old self, nothing about them scares me other than Tristan Thompson’s browser history.

I cannot believe the Cavaliers are favored. The Hornets are actually decent, which is a compliment for most of these teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Unleash hell, Devonte’ Graham, no need to stop now.

The PICK: Hornets +3

Brandon Anderson: Hornets at Cavaliers

I had a long argument with a buddy (a Cavaliers fan) before the season about which team would finish with a worse record this season: the Hornets or the Cavs. My argument for the Hornets was that they were more bad than awful, that there were real quality NBA players on the team. Maybe not first-class starters, but like seven or eight real rotation players.

Well, we’re a third of the way into the season and the Cavs are 6-21 while the Hornets are 13-17. The metrics suggest Charlotte is outrunning its coverage a bit, but so far my suspicions have been confirmed. And all of that was before Graham broke out as the Hornets’ best player, or before P.J. Washington established himself as a useful rookie right out of the gates (though he’s out injured now, of course).

The Hornets are 11-7 this season against teams with a losing record. They’re not going to beat many good teams that show up against them, but they’re a group of professionals that make you earn the win. They’re even above .500 against the spread and have covered four of their last five.

The line here is -3.5, so feel free to grab Charlotte to cover if you’re chicken. We’ll take the moneyline juice and go for the outright win. And the line is moving in Cleveland’s direction, so you might find an even better price if you wait.

The PICK: Hornets ML +130

John Ewing: Heat at 76ers

  • Spread: 76ers -8
  • Over/Under: 213
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

The 76ers opened as 6.5-point favorites in Philadelphia against the Heat. The Sixers and Heat have been two of the best teams in the league this season – each has won more than 70% of their games.

In game featuring evenly matched teams, more than 60% of spread tickets are on Miami. Despite the public backing the Heat, the 76ers have moved from -6.5 to -8. What gives?

Sharp bettors are on Philly. Though only 37% of bets are on Joel Embiid & Co., it represents 51% of money wagered on the spread. This is an indication that bigger bets, often from professionals, are backing the home favorite.

You might be thinking that it is nice to know which side the sharps are on, but the line movement killed the value. Not true. Historically, it has been profitable to bet teams getting less than 50% of bets when a majority of dollars are on them.

A $100 bettor following this strategy has returned a profit of $4,689 since 2015.

The PICK: 76ers -8

John Ewing is 520-457-19 (53.2%) overall betting on the NBA. You can follow him in our free app.

Bryan Mears: Pelicans at Timberwolves

  • Spread: Timberwolves -7
  • Over/Under: 231.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

This is an interesting game given the poor play of both teams and the injury to Karl-Anthony Towns, who is questionable tonight.

Over the last two weeks, the Pels and Wolves rank 28th and 29th, respectively, in Net Rating. The Pels have lost 13 straight, including last night at home to the Nets in overtime. The Wolves have lost seven straight.

During the past two weeks, the defenses have been especially egregious; in fact, the Wolves have posted a top-five offense in that span, so that shows how bad they’ve had to play defensively to be 29th in overall Net Rating. In that span, they’ve allowed 128.0 points per 100 possessions, easily last in the league. In fact, the 29th-ranked team, the Wizards, allowed 122.1. It’s been an abomination of a defensive stretch.

Combine that with a still-good offense, the Pelicans defense and the pace of these teams — they are both in the top-seven in seconds per play — and it’s no surprise this total is up at 231.5. In fact, it should probably be even higher than that given the play.

Of course, both teams have had pretty brutal schedules, which is an important caveat. The Pels looked better last night against the Nets, even if they ultimately did not win or cover by losing overtime so handily.

But here’s where things get more confusing: The Wolves’ most-used lineup — Jarrett Culver, Andrew Wiggins, Treveon Graham, Robert Covington and Towns — has been very good, posting a +14.1 Net Rating. They’ve been pretty good on both ends of the floor, honestly.

This is really about Towns. With him on the floor this season, the offense has scored 115.7 points per 100 possessions — 92nd percentile in the league. With him off, however, the Wolves have been down at 99.1 points/100 — fourth percentile in the league. Yes, you read all of those data points correctly. You could make the argument that Towns is the most valuable offensive player in the entire league.

My opinion: Given the magnitude of Towns’ importance, I think sportsbooks are hedging here. If he plays, this over/under is too low. If he’s out, then the under potentially provides some value, although my favorite bet in that situation would be the Pels against the spread — it’s currently +7.

Lean: Pelicans +7 (Pending injury news)

Bryan Mears is 412-319-11 (56.4%) overall betting on the NBA. You can follow him in our free app.

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