Wednesday NBA Odds, Picks & Projections: Betting Analysis for Wizards vs. Hawks, Trail Blazers vs. Jazz, More (May 12)
Daniel Shirey/Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz.
- Raheem Palmer is using his betting model to project spreads and totals on Wednesday's six-game slate.
- He's betting three of tonight's six games, including a Western Conference clash between the Trail Blazers and Jazz.
- See where he's finding value in that matchup plus two more games below.
For the 2020-2021 NBA season, I’ll be publishing my projections for every NBA game on the Wednesday and Friday slate. 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 six-game slate.
Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks
These two teams met Monday night and face off again for the second game of a two game series that has major playoff implications. The Wizards can clinch a spot in the play-in game while the Hawks want to avoid dropping to sixth in the Eastern Conference, which mean both teams are motivated for this matchup.
Unfortunately for the Wizards, they’ll be playing their second consecutive game without Bradley Beal who is sidelined with a hamstring injury. Under normal circumstances with Beal in the lineup, my model makes this game Hawks -3.52 and the market believes his loss is significant for good reason.
The loss of Beal feels like the Wizards are fighting with one hand tied behind their back as they are scoring a whopping 115.7 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor vs. 104.7 with him off the floor. Replacing 31.4 points per game isn’t easy and it’s no surprise the Wizards are 1-9 with a Net Rating of -10.7 and an Offensive Rating of just 103.5 in 10 games without him this season.
In many ways you have to wonder if oddsmakers are over adjusting this spread based on the result of Monday’s game as well as making Wizards backers pay a premium as they make a run for the playoffs.
The Hawks closed as consensus -8 favorites in Monday’s game and held a 96-79 lead at the end of the third quarter before the Wizards outscored them 45-29 in the fourth quarter and nearly completed the comeback.
The Hawks shot just 8-of-23 (34.8%) in the fourth, while the Wizards were 17-of-24 (70.8%). Of course, it’s a lot easier to score when the other team isn’t making shots, but it’s pretty clear that quarter was an aberration against the Wizards who rank 20th in Defensive Rating (113.3).
One of the alarming things about Monday’s game is that the Hawks dominated on the boards with a 28% Offensive Rebound Rate while out-rebounding the Wizards 55-42. Hawks center Clint Capela grabbed 22 rebounds, including seven offensive rebounds and the Hawks also got to the line 26 times compared to the Wizards; 11 free throw attempts.
Although things might not play out exactly like the first game, the same advantages are there for the Hawks — they rank seventh in Offensive Rebound rate while the Wizards are 18th. The Hawks also shot 51.1% in the mid-range, which is consistent with what you would expect given that the Wizards are dead last in opponent field goal percentage from that area of the floor.
The Hawks didn’t shoot particularly well from 3-point range as they were just 10-of-30 from behind the arc while the Wizards ran over expectation shooting 13-of-26 (50%). For a Wizards team that’s shoots 36.3% from behind the arc regularly and is missing Beal, I’m not expecting this to continue.
Overall, the Hawks have a ton of advantages here and I think this line is short. I’ll lay the 6.5 points with the Hawks and look for them to close out the game strong unlike their performance on Monday.
San Antonio Spurs at Brooklyn Nets
You have to wonder if we’ll ever seen Brooklyn’s Big 3 play together this season again? Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden are essentially playing a game of musical chairs as one manages to get inured as soon as one is scheduled to return to the lineup.
You can’t make this up. In the third quarter, Irving suffered a facial contusion after colliding with Bulls center Nikola Vucevic while going up for a rebound. Although Irving was cleared of a concussion, it’s unclear if he will play tonight. The good news is that the game of musical chairs between the Nets’ Big 3 continues as Harden is a game time decision for tonight’s matchup with the Spurs.
I’m in the minority of people who believe Harden is the Nets’ most important player as his playmaking and scoring make him more difficult to defend. He makes teammates better in ways that no other Nets player can and his playmaking has truly been missed on a team with two heavy isolation scorers.
Of course, Kevin Durant is a nightmare to guard and he comes off a game in which he scored 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting. The Nets don’t seem to be putting emphasis on seeding, so it would be a surprise to see Durant playing on a back-to-back.
Under normal circumstances, I would make this game Nets -5.9, but at this point there’s a ton of uncertainty regarding this lineup and I’m not sure how you place your money on the Nets tonight if the Durant, Irving or Harden can’t go.
As much as Harden helps this team, if he plays without Durant or Irving in this lineup, I think the Spurs have an advantage against a team with a high usage player trying to regain its rhythm.
The Spurs have the motivational edge as they clinch a play-in spot with a win. But you know what they always say about must win games in the regular season: If a team finds itself in one, they might not be very good.
Although the Spurs come off a 146-125 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, they’ve been downright abysmal defensively since the loss of their best wing defender in Derrick White. Over the past two weeks this team is giving up a whopping 118.9 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes according to Cleaning the Glass.
I guess, this matchup is ideal because the Nets also can’t defend either. The Spurs should find some success with DeMar DeRozan in the mid-range. The Spurs rank eighth in field goal percentage in the mid-range (43.7%) and the Nets’ defense is slightly below average in opponent field goal percentage from that area of the floor.
That said, I can’t give out a play on this game until we learn the status of the Nets big three. We could see both the side and total drop should if Durant, Irving and Harden miss tonight’s game, so I’d lean toward grabbing the Spurs +5 before the line moves based on injury news or sit this one out.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz
The Jazz opened as 4.5-point favorites and we’ve seen this line get steamed down to -2 across the market as books take money on the Trail Blazers who have won four in a row and eight out of their past nine games.
Their lone loss in this stretch came on May 3 in a road back-to-back against the Hawks one night after defeating the Boston Celtics, so that should tell you how locked in this team has been. Over this stretch the Blazers are scoring 124.9 points per 100 possessions and have been holding teams to 110.2 points per 100 possessions defensively, good for a Net Rating of +14.7.
That’s not bad at all for a team that has been reliant on Damian Lillard to win them games in the clutch. They’re certainly motivated as they look to avoid the play-in tournament with two wins out of their final three games.
The Jazz still hold the league’s top record and can clinch the top seed in the Western Conference with two wins or two losses from the Suns. However, they’re still missing their All-Star guards Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley.
The team hasn’t fell apart, though, despite Mitchell missing the past 13 games and Conley missing the past eight. The Jazz are 8-5 during this stretch with an Offensive Rating of 116.0 and a Defensive Rating of 108.3. The Offense has slipped a bit, but the cupboard is far from bare on this team that’s making 17 3s per game.
The starting lineup without Mitchell and Conley has played exceptionally well. With Bojan Bogdanović, Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale and Georges Niang on the court, the Jazz are outscoring teams by a whopping 41.8 points per 100 possessions with an Offensive Rating of 136.9 and a Defensive Rating of 95.1 And with the Jordan Clarkson increasing his usage off the bench, the Jazz don’t lack for offense.
The Blazers have improved defensively over the past two weeks, but their games have come against the Rockets, Spurs, Lakers (without LeBron James), Cavaliers, Celtics, Nets (without Kevin Durant), Grizzlies and Pacers (without Domantas Sabonis).
That’s not exactly a murder’s row of opposing offenses and Jazz might be the best offense they’ll face during this stretch. The Blazers rank 25th in opponent 3-point percentage (38.2%), while the Jazz are third in 3-point percentage (39.6%) and first in frequency.
My model makes this game Jazz -4.95, so I personally don’t agree with the move down to -2 (it’s as low as -1.5 at FanDuel as of this writing). The Blazers still struggle to defend, so I’ll lay the points with the Jazz and look for them to win as they look to lock down the No. 1 seed in the West.