Wednesday’s NBA Odds, Picks & Projections: Betting Analysis for Pistons vs. Pelicans, Hornets vs. Suns, More (Feb. 24)
Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured (L-R): Deandre Ayton #22, Mikal Bridges #25, Chris Paul #3 and Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns.
- Two unders, one over, and projections across the league.
- Raheem Palmer digs into Wednesday's NBA action and gives his three favorite picks.
For the 2020-2021 NBA season, I’ll be publishing my projections for every NBA game on Wednesday and Friday night’s. 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 NBA slate.
Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks
These teams should be very familiar with one another after playing twice last week. Both of those games flew over their respective totals, but this feels like a great spot for an under.
In many ways, it’s telling that oddsmakers opened this total at 226.5. Last week’s overs were aided by a 40-point scoring outburst from Trae Young in their first game and a 123-point second half in their second game.
That’s not to say that can’t happen today, but with both teams playing their third game in four nights and coming off a back-to-backs, I’m expecting a lower offensive output in this spot.
The Celtics and Mavs played at a pace of just 93.4 possessions Tuesday night and the Hawks and Cavs played at similarly low pace at just 92.8 possessions. I’m assuming that we’re going to see a slower pace tonight with this being a back-to-back.
Injuries are also a factor for the Hawks and should suppress their offensive output even further. Cam Reddish is questionable after missing Tuesday game against the Cavs with a sore achilles and John Collins left last night’s game with a concussion. If both are out of the lineup, we’re looking at a Hawks offense down multiple rotation players with Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Andre Hunter already out of the lineup.
The Celtics are a solid defensive team, holding teams to just 110.3 points per 100 possessions (12th in the NBA this season), so the Hawks could have some trouble without a full unit. However, Boston has struggled to score recently and ranks 21st in Offensive Rating scoring 110.3 points per 100 possession over the last two weeks.
Brad Stevens can’t seem to find a solution for this offense, which has resulted in heavy isolation; that’s great when the shots are falling, but when they aren’t, this offense is as ugly as it gets.
Despite Jaylen Brown’s 29-point performance against the Mavericks, his numbers come back to earth. Over the past nine games he’s averaging 24.1 points on 46% shooting and 36% from deep compared to his season averages of 27.3 points on 50% shooting and 40% on 3s.
This Celtics’ offense depends heavily on Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker (who will likely rest tonight) and Jaylen Brown scoring in ISO situations and without a viable bench, this offensive will remain disjointed.
My projections make this game 223, so I’ll play the under 224.5 here.
Detroit Pistons at New Orleans Pelicans
These teams played on Feb. 14, which was also the last time a Pistons game went over. They’ve produced four straight unders since and they’ve gone under in six of their past seven games.
At just 91 possessions, that game was the slowest-paced game the Pelicans have been a part of since they started to up their pace in late January. The Pelicans still put up and Offensive Rating of 122.7 despite running well under expectation from 3-point range by shooting 9-of-35.
The Pelicans have the third-best offense in the league since these two teams last met, per NBA Advanced Stats, scoring 122.3 points per 100 possessions. Against a Pistons defense that ranks 17th in Defensive Rating this season (111.3), I don’t see the Pelicans having any issues with scoring.
The Pelicans have given up just as much on the defensive side of the floor as they have scored on offense. Over the past five games, they rank 27th in Defensive Rating, allowing 121.3 points per 100 possessions. The Pistons’ offense isn’t good by any stretch, but they still had no problems putting up 123 points on 1.34 points per possession against the Pelicans.
Delon Wright is out for at least the next few weeks, but I’m not sure he impacts this offense enough for this total to be priced this low. With the Pelicans listed as 9.5-point favorites, I think we could see a similar total in this matchup with the points being reversed.
My projections make this game 227, so in my view this total is short. I’ll play the over 222.
Charlotte Hornets at Phoenix Suns
I typically like to play the under on Suns games because they play at the second-slowest pace in the league (97.43 possessions per game).
Although it didn’t work out for me in Monday night’s game against the Trail Blazers with garbage time points pushing that game over, I’m going right back to the well here against a Charlotte Hornets team that ranks 19th in Offensive Rating (110.2).
The Suns rank fifth in Defensive Rating, allowing just 108.9 points per 100 possessions, so I expect them to hold the Hornets to a lower offensive output tonight.
The important thing to note here is that the Suns are great at defending the area where Hornets are most efficient: the 3-point line. While the Hornets are shooting 38.9% from behind the arc, the Suns are holding teams to the second-lowest 3-point percentage in the NBA (34.5%).
I expect the Suns to have no problems scoring in this matchup, however I think this total is a tad bit too high as my projections make this game 220. I like the here.