Palmer’s NBA Odds & Projections: Picks for Rockets vs. Thunder, Suns vs. Pelicans, More (Wednesday, Feb. 3)

Palmer’s NBA Odds & Projections: Picks for Rockets vs. Thunder, Suns vs. Pelicans, More (Wednesday, Feb. 3) article feature image
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Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Devin Booker.

  • Wednesday's NBA slate features a solid 10 games to get us through the night.
  • Raheem Palmer breaks down three games his projections show value on, including Hawks vs. Mavericks and Rockets vs. Thunder.
  • Check out each breakdown complete with Palmer's pick below.

For the 2020-21 NBA season, I’ll be publishing my projections for every NBA game.

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.

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Click on a game to skip ahead
Atlanta Hawks at Dallas Mavericks
7:30 p.m. ET
Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder
8:00 p.m. ET
Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans
9:30 p.m. ET

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 slate.

Atlanta Hawks at Dallas Mavericks

Pick
Under 224 (DraftKings)
Gametime
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass


Had these teams played a year ago, our projection would be a lot different, but it may come as a surprise to many that these two teams aren’t ranked in the top 10 offensively this season despite having two of the league’s youngest offensive phenoms in Luka Doncic and Trae Young.

This Mavericks offense, in particular, has been a huge disappointment this season.

Replacing a 45% 3-point shooter in Seth Curry with a 28% 3-point shooter in Josh Richardson has completely changed the face of this offense, especially with Kristraps Porzingis struggling since coming back from his knee injury.

Porzingis is shooting just 30% from behind the arc this season and appears to be a shell of his former self.

Nevertheless, this Mavericks offense that was the best offense in NBA history, scoring 115 points per 100 possessions last season primarily based on playing 5-out around Luka Doncic, is now just 21st in Offensive Rating with 109.0 points per 100 possessions this season.

Doncic is still putting up big numbers in a Harden-esque fashion, averaging 27.3 points, 9.4 and nine rebounds per game, but more and more this team resembles a European version of the “Moreyball” Rockets without the ability to close games.

The Hawks are just 14th in Offensive Rating, scoring 110.8 points per 100 possessions this season, but they’ve been snake bitten by injuries.

Bogdan Bogdanovic is still out with a knee injury, as is De’Andre Hunter. This Hawks team has improved defensively this season, ranking ninth in Defensive Rating (108.6).

With the Mavericks ranking 23rd in pace (99.25) and the Hawks ranking 15th (100.33) we could see a slower-paced game.  My projections make this game 221, so I like this game to stay under the total, as I think the market is currently overvaluing both of these offenses.

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Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder

Pick
Under 222.5 (BetMGM) + Thunder Team Total Under 107.5
Gametime
8 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

These two teams played Monday night, and that game flew over the total of 224 by 18 points largely because the Rockets shot a season-high 28-of-52 (53.8%) from behind the arc.

If you’ve read the best bets for Monday, you’ll know that we took the under, and while it lost, the performance was a clear aberration for a Rockets team that only shoots 37% from 3-point range this season.

When a team runs that high over expectation, there isn’t much you can do but clap your hands and move on to the next game.

Despite the 3-point shooting barrage, the game went over by just 1.5 standard deviations (NBA sides and totals have a standard deviation of 12), which really should happen less than 5% of the time, so I’m confident we weren’t that off in our assessment of Monday’s game despite not getting a favorable result.

Nonetheless, because of the NBA schedule being impacted by COVID-19, these two teams meet again, this time with the Rockets missing John Wall (rest) and the Thunder missing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (knee sprain).

Even with these two in the lineup, I felt like there would be value with the under, but with the Thunder missing their starting point guard and leading scorer and the Rockets missing their starting point guard and third-leading scorer, I’m not expecting a ton of points in this matchup.

SGA truly hurts this Thunder team, as he’s leading the team in usage and generates most of its offense. The Thunder are also missing George Hill, so I’m struggling to see how they put up a solid offensive performance.

In the 10 games since the James Harden trade, the Rockets have had the best defense in the league, holding teams to just 102.6 points per 100 possessions and come off a game against the Thunder in which they held them to just 106 points.

My projections make this game 220, and as long as the Rockets don’t have another otherworldly shooting performance, this one should stay under the total. I also like the Thunder team total under 107.5.

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Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans

Pick
Over 222.5 (FanDuel)
Gametime
9:30 p.m. ET
TV
ESPN

Since replacing Alvin Gentry with Stan Van Gundy, the Pelicans have had a pretty big change in philosophy this season.

They’ve gone from fourth in pace (103.89) to 18th (100.00). However, it appears they’ve returned to their previous form recently.

Since their Jan. 19 game against the Jazz, the Pelicans have been playing at the blistering pace of 103.92 possession per game, the most in the league over the past six games.

Their offense has improved during this stretch, as they’re now scoring 112.8 points per 100 possessions, which is much better than their full-season mark of 109.7.

New Orleans’ defense has left a lot to be desired as it’s giving up 116.4 points per 100 possessions. Looking at its last six games, it’s given up 129, 120, 106, 126, 126 and 118 to the Jazz, Timberwolves, Wizards, Bucks, Rockets and Kings, respectively.

The only team to not put up 118 points or more was a depleted Wizards squad.

This team is simply not defending right now, and it may be without the services of Steven Adams, who is +4.8 defensively on/off.

This Pelicans team is allowing the fifth-highest eFG% (55.8%) in the league this season, behind only the Blazers, Wizards, Pistons, and Kings.

With the Pelicans allowing the highest percentage of 3s (44.3%) this season and facing a Suns team with Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder, I’m expecting a huge offensive output from the Suns. Overall, I think this total is a tad bit too low, and I’m going to continue playing these Pelicans overs until the market corrects itself. I like the over 222.5.

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