NBA Odds, Picks & Predictions: Matt Moore’s Bets for Nets vs. Bucks, Heat vs. Trail Blazers & More

NBA Odds, Picks & Predictions: Matt Moore’s Bets for Nets vs. Bucks, Heat vs. Trail Blazers & More article feature image

Credit: Tim Nwachukwu, Getty. Damian Lillard passes the ball in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The NBA is in full swing, complete with injuries robbing us of players on marquee teams, drama percolating, and some surprise teams making noise.

Wednesday night brings what is supposed to be a heavyweight bout in Milwaukee between Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo, another chance for the Los Angeles Lakers to get their first win of the season against an inconsistent Denver Nuggets team, and chances for the surprising UtahJazz and San Antonio Spurs to keep their good vibes rolling.

Here’s my card for Wednesday in the NBA.

Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks

7:30 p.m. ET
The Bet: Bucks -3.5

I grabbed this when the number first opened. It’s Bucks -4 as I write this, I like it to -4.5, at -5 you’ve chased too much steam.

The Nets have allowed the second-most points in the paint per 100 possessions this season and have gotten worse at rim protection in each of the past two seasons. That’s not a good formula when you’re standing on the tracks with the G-Train coming through. (Giannis Antetokounmpo for the uninitiated.)

It’s not just Antetokounmpo, though. Jrue Holiday has looked plucky offensively, and Brook Lopez looks really good. With how the Bucks slip, cut, and attack, they should hammer the Nets inside, and I’m not sure the Nets are built for the physical style of play required to contain the Bucks.

Antetokounmpo is 5-1 straight up and against the spread when playing Kevin Durant the past two seasons. More than anything, this is a number play. I make this Bucks -6; on a neutral court, this projects to Bucks -1.5 or Bucks -2, and that’s too low.

Brooklyn is habitually overrated by the books; they have to be with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. If the Nets win, it’s because those guys did what they did to Toronto by repeatedly hitting impossibly tough shots. That can happen. But if we’re playing the percentages, there’s value on Milwaukee to win and cover.

Charlotte Hornets vs. New York Knicks

7:30 p.m. ET
NBA League Pass
The Bet: Hornets +8

Why am I doing this to myself again? Why am I betting on Charlotte? I’ve never once gotten them right. If I fade them, they roll. If I back them, they get smashed. They are my kryptonite. And yet here I am again, rolling into harm’s way.

I just can’t get to this number. With LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, I have the Hornets two points worse than an average team, a four-point move from their 2021-22 number. Let’s downgrade them 1.5 points for LaMelo Ball, Rozier, and Cody Martin being out.

I have upgraded the Knicks to a +2 vs. an average team from their preseason mark of -2. Even with all that, I can’t get to Knicks -8. It’s close, but also Dennis Smith Jr. was impressive in his fill-in game.

I wouldn’t call this a “best bet.” But it’s just too many points. I like it to 7, no more.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets

10 p.m. ET
The Bet: Nuggets -5.5

This is a real “extremely stoppable force meets unbelievably movable object” situation. The Nuggets' defense is a dumpster fire, and the Lakers’ offense is a hazmat zone.

Russell Westbrook is likely to miss this game with a hamstring injury (supposedly suffered from having to come off the bench in the preseason). This, of course, generates a great deal of excitement about better vibes, shooting, and play. Except that the Lakers have a -6.6 Net Rating with Westbrook on the floor and a -6.9 Net Rating with him on the bench. They are just as bad when he doesn’t play.

The LeBron James-Anthony Davis minutes are better without Westbrook. But the minutes with either one without the other and Westbrook are horrendous so far.

The Nuggets, meanwhile got trounced by the Blazers. Michael Porter Jr. is questionable for this game. But Denver tends to get up for national TV games. I make this Nuggets -8.5 in Denver’s altitude. If you’re going to bet the Lakers? Bet the moneyline. They’ll either win this outright or get waxed.

Miami Heat vs. Portland Trail Blazers

10 p.m. ET
NBA League Pass
The Bet: Blazers +2.5

On the surface, this is a team that missed the playoffs last season against the Eastern Conference runner-up.

But Portland has started off red hot and looks like the best version of their possible outcomes on the season, and Miami looks like a team dragging an old and frazzled roster with little depth across a desert.

I get the counterargument: You’re buying high on the Blazers and selling low on Miami. However, Miami has real structural problems offensively. They are the sixth-worst in eFG%. These two teams should be rated more evenly. Damian Lillard is the best player on the floor right now. (If this were the playoffs, I’d say it’s Jimmy Butler.)

The Blazers have gotten to +2.5, but I think they should be favored (-1.5) in a close game.

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Doug Ziefel
Jul 13, 2024 UTC