NBA Odds, Picks & Projections: Betting Analysis for Lakers vs. Grizzlies, Thunder vs. Suns, More (Wednesday, December 29)
Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Paul (left) and Mikal Bridges (right) of the Phoenix Suns.
I’m firing up my NBA betting model for the final time in 2021 and today’s slate has me excited.
Here’s what you’ll find in my model: projected team totals, projected combined totals, projected spreads for the matchup and the implied odds for the moneyline.
Note: My projections won’t be updated in real-time throughout the day, but Action’s PRO Projections tool is dynamic and will reflect the latest injury and lineup news.
I’ll also be highlighting some of the slate’s most intriguing matchups with in-depth, game-level analysis that goes beyond the numbers.
NBA Projections Model
NBA Odds & Picks
Although projections give us a solid baseline for what a number should be, it’s also important to handicap each matchup for things that the numbers can’t tell us.
Check out my analysis for tonight’s nine-game slate.
New York Knicks vs. Detroit Pistons
The New York Knicks are coming off a 96-88 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves and now travel to take on the Detroit Pistons. They’ve won three out of their last four games, capitalizing on opponents who have been ravaged by absences with players injured or entering the health and safety protocol.
Tonight is no different with the Detroit Pistons missing Cade Cunningham, Jerami Grant, Trey Lyles and Kelly Olynyk. While Knicks have their fair share of absences, they’re much more healthy than this Pistons team who comes off a 144-109 loss to the Spurs in which they gave up a whopping 1.29 points per possession.
I’d love to recommend a play on the Knicks here, but with the market pushing this number up to 7.5 from the opener of 6.5, we’ve reached a fair market price according to my model.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies
The Los Angeles Lakers found themselves in a dog fight with the 10-25 Houston Rockets last night in their 132-123 victory last night. Now they travel to take on the Memphis Grizzlies who are fourth in the Western Conference and are 7-3 in their last 10 games.
This is a pretty bad spot for the Lakers who have been struggling to score efficiently with an Offensive Rating of 105.8 over the past two weeks. They also haven’t defended well, allowing 114.7 points per 100 possessions in that same time frame. They’ll be taking on a Grizzlies team that ranks fifth in Defensive Rating over the past two weeks, allowing just 107.2 points per 100 possessions.
While the Lakers have struggled defensively, their offense has been such a concern that this total feels too high considering these teams played to a 95-108 final just two weeks ago. While that did come without Ja Morant, the Lakers also had Anthony Davis in the lineup and lack scoring without him.
I’ll play the under 226.5 in this spot.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Phoenix Suns
My model continues to show value on unders involving the Oklahoma City Thunder as this is the second least efficient offense in the league, scoring just 102.1 points per 100 possessions.
Now they’re set to take on the Phoenix Suns just one night after their 117-111 loss to the Sacramento Kings. The last time these two teams played on Dec. 23, we finished with a 113-111 finals with the Suns winning in a game with 100 possessions. The Thunder scored just 1.0 point per possession while the Suns put up an Offensive Rating of 112.3.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Sacramento Kings
The Dallas Mavericks are coming off a 132-117 win against the Portland Trailblazers and now travel to take on the Sacramento Kings who come off a 117-111 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in a two game series.
Despite the absence of Luka Doncic, who is still in the health and safety protocols, the Mavericks have played solid basketball without their star. Although they are just 4-4 in the last eight games since Doncic has been out of the lineup, they are sixth in Net Rating (+6.5) during this stretch with an Offensive Rating of 115.5 and a Defensive Rating of 109.0. This feels like an ideal situation to back the Mavericks who had a day of rest against a Kings team who are coming off a back-to-back.
Although there’s no travel involved for the Kings, the Mavericks should be able to capitalize on a Kings defense that ranks 27th in Defensive Rating, allowing 113.4 points per 100 possessions. Even more troubling, the Kings allow teams to shoot 65% at the rim, 17th among NBA Teams.
With the Mavericks missing Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis has taken more of the load scoring and with this team ranking fourth in field goal percentage at the rim (68.1%) and sixth in midrange shooting percentage (43.6%), the Mavericks are in a good position to score efficiently.
On the other side of the ball, the Kings score most efficiently in transition where they rank fifth in pts+/poss at 3.7, according to Cleaning the Glass. This is an area where the Mavericks are solid at defending, ranking 12th. With the Kings ranking 24th in half court pts/play (90), I expect the Mavericks to get the win here. I’ll lay the -1.5 and would bet this up to -2.5.