NBA Odds, Picks & Predictions: Matt Moore’s Bets for Cavaliers vs. Celtics, Pelicans vs. Lakers & More
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images. Pictured: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Nothing better than a full slate of NBA games on a Wednesday with tons of sides, totals, and props to choose. The two key matchups we’re watching are on ESPN, but there is plenty elsewhere on the schedule that’s catching my eye.
Here’s a look at what I’m betting off Wednesday’s slate.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics
The Cleveland Cavaliers got their best win of the season last Friday in an overtime thriller in Boston. They have been one of the best teams in the league to start the season, ranking top five in both offense and defense, schedule-adjusted at Dunks And Threes. But I have to play the Celtics here.
I try and determine three different angles to a bet: the number, the spot, and the team.
The number screams Cavaliers. In-season numbers (#smallsample) give me Cavaliers -3.5, and my adjusted power rating off preseason figures put this at Cavs +1. The Cavaliers have been better this season, by the numbers, and they’re at home.
But the spot and the team matchup say Boston is the play.
Let’s talk teams first. Darius Garland practiced Tuesday and could play in this game. If he does, that adds another high-usage ball-handler to the mix and that disruption of what’s worked may not be the benefit to the spread one would expect.
The Celtics are also a switch-heavy team. Donovan Mitchell went off for 41 in the win last Friday on 15-of-25 shooting, but for the season, his numbers are truncated vs. switching defenses. In fact, he performs worse against them historically. He got loose in other play-sets, even being left open on the perimeter in last Friday’s game.
Boston’s defense was flat-out, bad but the numbers have suggested that has more to do with shooting variance than the shots the Celtics were giving up. We may have started to see some of that regression with their next game vs. Washington, the Celtics’ best defensive effort of the season.
The Cavaliers play heavy at the level in pick-and-roll coverage, which may help contain Jayson Tatum, but he has proven to be an adept passer. Expect Al Horford to have a lot of opportunities scoring and passing on the short roll. (I’ve already bet Horford over 11.5 points and assists and posted it in the Action Network app.)
So that’s the team angle. Then there’s the spot.
This is what we call a Duplex Game, a term coined by Ken Barkley of You Better You Bet. This is the second match-up inside of a week. The Cavs were dogs in Boston, and are dogs at home here.
Teams that played the same opponent inside a week, who were dogs in both matchups, and won the first game on the road are a jaw-dropping 10-26 straight up and 12-24 ATS (33%).
I thought maybe this was a “the bad team wins a random first game and then gets destroyed in the second game” spot. But nope, teams over .500 in this spot are 7-15 going back to 2003.
With trends I always think it’s important to logic it out. The concept is that the better team (the favorite) gets upset at home and, familiar with the opponent, makes the adjustments necessary. If the favorite wins the first matchup, the dog can probably make more adjustments. Teams don’t gameplan a lot in the regular season, but sheer familiarity will spark some of that.
So with a short road favorite in one of the highest-power-rated teams in Boston, I’ll lay the points and take Horford over 11.5 points and assists.
Atlanta Hawks vs. New York Knicks
Note: Action Network is partnering with the NBA and DraftKings to bring you a special NBA BetStream on this game. You can find it under the alternate streams on League Pass for this game, with myself and Chirag Hira on commentary, firing off live bets.
The Knicks feel like a team we want to bet as dogs and fade as favorites. Sometimes early in the season, books are reluctant to adjust. Here, it looks like they’ve over-adjusted.
In Atlanta on a 4.5-point flip for homecourt, this makes the Hawks -3. That feels light. I’m fading a pretty big home/away split here. The Hawks the last two seasons are 18-37 ATS as a road dog. Yikes.
But Atlanta has the edge in my power rating and the Knicks were just 13-15 as a home favorite last season, so I think homecourt should be mitigated , at least right now in the handicap.
There’s a huge edge for the starters in this game. The Hawks’ starters have a raw plus-minus of +11, while the Knicks are at -11. The bench edge is heavy towards the Knicks, but the start of the game and end of the game lean towards Atlanta.
This is Trae Young in the Garden with a chance to put on a show. Dejounte Murray should help with perimeter defense on Jalen Brunson.
Speaking of Murray, I have some props on him in this spot. The Knicks play primarily drop coverage in pick and roll, which, if he and the Hawks are hitting shots, he should tear up.
I have a Same Game Parlay on Murray in this game: Murray over 17.5 alternate points (over in six of seven), Murray over 1.5 3-pointers (over in every game this season), Murray over 5.5 alternate assists (over in five of seven and three of four road games). That pays +135 at DraftKings. We’re using lowered expectations to try and cash here. I also have sprinkled ever so slightly on a Murray triple-double at +1300.
For the game, though, I like the Hawks to win outright and would bet their moneyline odds down to +115.
Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks have been great at home. Luka Doncic should go off without a key perimeter defender on him.
I’m still taking the Jazz. I mentioned the three reasons to take a team above; this is a number play.
Based on this season’s numbers, I have the Jazz as a 1-point favorite. On adjusted power rankings, this number is about right. Dallas’ homecourt is high based on last season’s numbers, but this season they haven’t been as good.
Who knows if that holds, but Utah is 5-1 against the spread as an underdog, and 2-1 ATS as a road underdog.
There should be a lot points here, I lean toward the over. Dallas’ defense is 13th, which is good but not as good as last season. The Jazz’s offense is a little smoke and mirrors, but their statistical profile gives them an edge as Brandon Anderson wrote here.
I’m willing to back the Jazz here down to +6 and fade the idea that right now, Utah should not be a home dog to Dallas as this line would imply if it were switched to Utah.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Sharp money seems to be holding this at 3; we’re tracking 89% of the bets and 96% of the money on the Los Angeles Lakers.
It makes sense: No Brandon Ingram for the Pelicans, Lakers finally have a win under their belts and maybe a formula that works with Russell Westbrook coming off the bench.
However, I think this is skeptical of the Pelicans being that legit and skeptical of the Lakers being that bad and I think both are true. The Lakers want to play physical; the Pelicans are just as physical but they can actually shoot.
You want to wait to see if Zion Williamson plays. Wait until the official announcement for him pre-game, but I’m willing to lay the points with New Orleans.