NBA Odds, Picks, Previews for Sunday: 2 Best Bets, Including Hornets vs. Hawks & Pelicans vs. Rockets
Ned Dishman/Getty Images. Pictured: Jonas Valanciunas
The NBA has a smaller four-game slate on Sunday, but our Action Network NBA Staff has you covered with two best bets for the early evening games.
Austin Wang breaks down which team total you should play in the Hornets vs. Hawks matchup, and Roberto Arguello shares his favorite spread pick of the day in the Pelicans vs. Rockets game.
Check out their best bets below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Charlotte Hornets vs. Atlanta Hawks
Austin Wang: Earlier this week, I featured the Hornets in my Weekly NBA Totals column to target on overs, but circumstances have changed, and it may be time to reverse course.
The Hornets’ roster has been decimated as the following players will be out due to league-wide health and safety protocols: LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Mason Plumlee and Jalen McDaniels.
We all know how great and impressive Ball has been in his sophomore season, but here are some numbers to put it in perspective: On/Off numbers show that when Ball is off the court, Charlotte’s Pace decreases from 101.3 to 98.9, and its Offensive Rating decreases from 115.7 to 106.1, per Basketball Reference.
The speedy Ish Smith will take over point guard duties, and while he should keep up the pace, he only shoots 39% from the field and does not have the court vision that Ball has to run the offense as efficiently.
Rozier, who has been on a scoring tear, will also be out. He has eclipsed 30 points three times in the last six games. The Hornets lack additional firepower with him out of the lineup.
The Hawks’ defense has been much improved as of late, ranking sixth in Defensive Rating in their previous 10 games. I also think they will control the pace against an inexperienced Hornets squad that could be out of sync without their key players. I will take the Hornets Team Total under as my best bet of the day.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Houston Rockets
Roberto Arguello: After starting the season 3-16 in their first 19 games, the Pelicans are showing signs of life as they have won four of six games. Similarly, the Houston Rockets went 1-16 over their first 17 games, but they are currently on a five-game winning streak since then (the longest active win streak in the NBA).
All five wins for the Rockets have come since they went away from the two-big starting lineup and started playing Christian Wood at center. While this has given the Rockets a boost, the Rockets will take a step back on Sunday as they will be without Kevin Porter Jr., who re-aggravated a nagging left thigh contusion on Friday.
Both Porter Jr. and rookie Jalen Green (hamstring) will be out, so this means the Rockets will need to replace two of their main ball handlers. Porter Jr.’s absence is more significant as he leads the team by a wide margin with 5.8 assists per game.
While playing Wood at center has opened up the offense for the Rockets, his matchup against the bigger Jonas Valanciunas on Sunday will be a challenge. Valanciunas is not only a mountain of a man who can throw his weight around in the post, but he is also an underrated scorer as he showed on Monday when the Pelicans upset the Clippers behind his 39-point performance (where he made seven of eight 3-point attempts!).
This will be a tough matchup for the Rockets against an improving young Pelicans team with Brandon Ingram finding his form recently. Ingram has scored 24 or more in three straight games, and he and Valanciunas will be the best two players on the court Sunday. I’ll ride with New Orleans to win by 2.5 on FanDuel (with value down to -3).
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