NBA Odds, Picks & Projections: Bets for Mavericks vs. Hornets, Pelicans vs. Clippers (Jan. 13)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers.
Editors note: The Brooklyn Nets have reportedly traded Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince in a three-team deal to acquire James Harden from the Houston Rockets.
For the 2020-2021 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.
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. For the first week or two of the season, my numbers heavily incorporate priors, so we’ll be relying much more on handicapping ability when looking for an edge.
Check out my analysis for tonight’s seven-game slate.
Dallas Mavericks at Charlotte Hornets
I’m surprised this game is even happening considering the postponement of the Mavericks’ Monday game against the Pelicans due to COVID-19 protocols.
It appears the Mavericks have enough eligible players for this game to proceed. Still, they’ll be without five key rotations players: Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell and Josh Richardson.
Richardson (13.8 points per game ) and Brunson (11.1 PPG) are the third- and fourth leading scorers on the team while Kleber and Finney-Smith are two of their five most efficient 3-point shooters. (Kleber’s absence will have a huge offensive impact — he’s shooting an astounding 47% on 3s this season)
While the Mavericks will welcome the return of Kristaps Porzingis from a knee injury, this is his first game back without any previous action and they should be taking an enormous hit to their outside shooting and overall scoring.
Surprisingly these are two of the league’s best defenses this season. The Hornets rank eighth in Defensive Rating, allowing 108.7 points per 100 possession and the Mavs rank fourth allowing 107.3 points per 100 possessions. While Finney-Smith and Richardson may be their two best perimeter defenders, I’m willing to bet that what the Mavericks are missing on offense in this matchup outweighs what they bring on defense.
With the Mavericks ranking 24th in pace (99.13) and the Hornets ranking 19th (100.55), I think we see a lower scoring game tonight. It’s worth it to note , that these teams played at full strength on Dec. 30 and despite the Hornets shooting 51% from the field and making 15-of-34 3s, the game still went under.
Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks
Kevin Durant will be playing in his first back-to-back game since returning from his achilles injury. This is a prime let down spot for the Nets who played yesterday and needed to overcome a 17-point third-quarter deficit to get a win.
The Nets will still be without Kyrie Irving int he short term and will be face a Knicks team that ranks seventh in Defensive Efficiency (108.4) in their non garbage time minutes.
In addition, the Knicks have struggled to score, putting up just 103.6 points per 100 possessions, according to CleaningThe Glass. Despite the Nets’ struggles on defense of late, the Knicks haven’t scored more than 90 points in their past three games.
The Knicks are just 2-9 to the over this season and are playing at the slowest pace in the league. We’re likely to see this under trend continue tonight.
New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Clippers
This total got steamed down this morning from 220 to 218 and personally I don’t agree with it. While both of these teams rank in the bottom five in terms of pace and the Pelicans have struggled offensively, I think we could see a higher offensive output in this game.
The Pelicans are allowing 48% of opponent field goal attempts to come from behind the arc while the Clippers are making the highest percentage of 3s (42.4%) in the NBA this season. As we saw in the Pelicans game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in which they made 19-of-46 3s, the Clippers will have plenty of opportunities to score from 3-point range.
The Clippers’ perimeter players — Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Nicolas Batum, Lou Williams and Luke Kennard — will likely see a ton of open 3s.
Defensively, the Clippers are giving up 110 points per game and rank just 25th in Defensive Rating this season, allowing a whopping 113.3 points per 100 possessions this season.
Playing Reggie Jackson, Williams and Kennard certainly isn’t the recipe for a solid defense even if Leonard and George are on the team. Marcus Morris’ return really hasn’t helped this defense either as opposing teams have an Offensive Rating of 136.2 with him on the floor. While this is likely to regress as the season goes on, this is still a bad defensive team. I like this total to go over.