Wednesday’s NBA Expert Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets, Including Rockets vs. Nuggets

Wednesday’s NBA Expert Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets, Including Rockets vs. Nuggets article feature image
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Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jamal Murray and Michael Malone

Wednesday’s NBA slate is loaded with intriguing matchups from top to bottom, including the season’s current leader in triple-doubles, Luka Doncic, in primetime against the Warriors.

Our NBA crew has found value in each of these four games:

  • 7 p.m. ET: San Antonio Spurs at Washington Wizards 
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks 
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors 
  • 9 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets at Denver Nuggets 

See how they’re betting these matchup below.

Odds as of Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. ET

Wob: Spurs at Wizards

  • Spread: Spurs -2
  • Over/Under: 237.5
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

I must be missing the part where San Antonio should be favored against anybody in the NBA not named the Knicks?

The Spurs have absolutely no desire to run with anybody, and tonight they face the seventh-fastest team in the league with the second best offensive rating.

The Wizards might stink, but they just never stop getting to the rim while LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan will counter this new-age strategy by demanding the ball 18 feet from the rim with their backs turned. No thanks.

There will be just too many possessions in this game for the Spurs to maintain any sort of scoring production. Sorry.

The PICK: Wizards +2
[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Brandon Anderson: Spurs at Wizards

Quick, who’s the second best player on the Washington Wizards? Trick question, it apparently doesn’t matter. The Wizards might be only 3-8, but they have the league’s No. 2 offense (as Wob just noted) thanks to Bradley Beal, big men who can shoot, and a pretty nifty system.

Do you know who’s bad at defense? The San Antonio Spurs (shh, don’t tell Pop). The 5-9 Spurs are on a six-game losing streak and rank 27th in the league in defensive rating.

So one of the league’s worst defenses is ice cold, on the road against one of the best offenses, and they are favored? The books are counting on the public defaulting to the fact that it’s the Spurs facing the Wizards.

San Antonio is 3-11 against the spread this season and just 2-7 as a favorite. The Wizards, meanwhile, are 7-3-1 ATS and an outstanding 6-1-1 as an underdog.

No, the Wizards aren’t good. But the Spurs might not be too great either.

The PICK: Wizards +2
[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

John Ewing: Magic at Raptors

  • Spread: Raptors -3
  • Over/Under: 207
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Bettors love the Raptors tonight as more than 70% of spread tickets are on Toronto. But the Magic have moved from +4.5 to +3. What gives? We are tracking a higher percentage of spread dollars on Orlando.

This is an indication that bigger bets, often from professionals, are backing the Magic. You might be thinking that it is nice to know which side the sharps are on, but the line movement killed the value.

That is a fair thought, but we’ve found using BetLabs that it has still been profitable to bet an NBA game after the line moves in certain situations.

Since we began tracking spread dollars percentages in the 2015-16 season, teams matching this system have returned a profit of $5,465 for a $100 bettor.

Professional bettors don’t always win, but being on the same side as smart money is advantageous. Money percentages and line movement indicate that sharp bettors are on the on Magic Wednesday.

The PICK: Magic +3
[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Matt Moore: Rockets at Nuggets

  • Spread: Nuggets -1
  • Over/Under: 221.5
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET

This is one of those lines that is so off it makes you pause. Like there’s this perfect looking cupcake just sitting on a clean counter, unclaimed, no note around. It sure seems like you could just take it and eat it … but you hesitate like a wild animal when it senses a predator watching it.

It can’t be this easy, can it?

The Rockets are two-point dogs against the Nuggets Wednesday night in Denver. The Rockets are 10-1 in their last 11 meetings dating back to 2016-17 against the Nuggets, including 4-1 ATS in Denver. The one loss was last season when Clint Capela was out and Malik Beasley and Torrey Craig combined for 57 points — and, no, that’s not a typo.

I cannot stress enough how bad this matchup is. The Nuggets know it, the Nuggets coaches know it, the Nuggets front office knows it, the Nuggets fans and media know it.

Let me put it this way. Last season the Nuggets intentionally lost a game to Portland late in the season (sitting multiple starters) simply to increase the chances that the Rockets would fall to the fourth seed and thereby out of their playoff bracket until a prospective Western Conference Finals matchup that of course never happened.

That’s how much they need to stay out of Houston’s way. It’s not that Houston’s actually that much more of a contender. It’s a matchup problem.

For starters, the Nuggets backcourt is small, so they don’t have any real chance vs. James Harden’s stepback or strength on the drive. That means when they put a wing on him, the smaller guards are defending taller shooters, or, in this case, Russell Westbrook. (That last part is actually OK; Gary Harris does a decent job on him.)

james harden-nba mvp odds-2019 20
Steven Erler-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13).

Now, no one can guard Harden — the man is averaging 39.2 points per game this season — but the Nuggets in particular struggle with him. Additionally, if you can’t guard a guy, sometimes the best thing to do is try and shut down everyone else… but the Nuggets go to pieces on that vs. the Rockets as well.

Clint Capela is the key here. Nikola Jokic isn’t exactly a jump-out-of-the-gym guy, and he struggles with pogo-stick lob dunkers like Capela. Guys who are big and athletic who just throw down the lob give Jokic trouble in containment.

This means the Nuggets then have to bring down help to try and contain the lob… which leaves the corner-3 open, which is kind of a problem vs. the Rockets, who are entirely built on that sequence.

The Nuggets’ defense has been top-notch this year, but their offense has had real issues. They broke out vs. Memphis but are still struggling to hit open shots.

It’s possible Denver’s bench could make a real push and help corral this game, but the starters are going to be in the negative — that I feel confident in. And just ask the Spurs how hard it is to win a game when you start and end the game in a deficit.

If you just bet the moneyline on the Rockets since 2016-17 vs. Denver, at $100 per bet you would have made $578 for a 52.5% ROI.

Oh, and Denver is 2-4 ATS at home this season.

This may be bait. I don’t care. I’m grabbing the plus odds.

The PICK: Rockets moneyline (+110)
[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Bryan Mears: Warriors at Mavericks

  • Spread: Mavericks -14
  • Over/Under: 217
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

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.

The PICK: Under 217 (I wouldn’t bet past the number)
[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]