As mentioned in our inaugural Summer League piece last Friday, over the past two seasons it has been highly profitable to bet underdogs and overs.
- Favorites: 66-117-5 ATS, -30.0% ROI, -$5,636 lost for a $100/unit bettor
- Dogs: 117-66-5 ATS, +22.5% ROI, +$4,227 won for a $100/unit bettor
- Over: 107-77-4, +12.0% ROI, +$2,252 won for a $100/unit bettor
- Under: 77-107-4, -19.4% ROI, -$3,638 lost for a $100/unit bettor
After the favorites and unders crushed for the first couple of days, the long-term trend has seemingly started to correct itself: Yesterday, dogs went 4-1, with the Lakers covering the final game of the night as a 1.5-point favorite. The overs absolutely smashed, going a perfect 5-0; every team scored at least 80 points, with eight of the 10 going for at least 90.
Will that continue today? Let’s get to the eight games on the playoff slate.
LA Clippers (-1.5) vs. Washington Wizards | O/U: 168.5
4 p.m. ET
- Both the Clippers and Wizards enter the Vegas playoff tournament with a 1-2 record. The Wizards have a subpar -2.0 point differential, with the Clippers right below them at -3.3.
- The Clippers’ youngins have had nice flashes, especially point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who had 25 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in 28 minutes on Monday against the Rockets. He’s showing different facets of his game than he did at Kentucky, which is a growing trend with John Calipari and his scheme. I think it’s safe to say, between Shai, Kevin Knox, Bam Adebayo last year, and countless others, Kentucky’s system makes its prospects somewhat underrated coming into the draft. Shai is almost certainly a better prospect than Collin Sexton, who went before him.
- The Wizards have some G-League vets, but they lack the top-end talent the Clippers have outside of 2018 first-round pick Troy Brown, who has been streaky shooting the ball (as you might expect from an 18-year-old). Talent says to lay the points with the Clips, but the Wiz do have a better point differential through three games — an admittedly minuscule sample size.
Lean: Over 168.5
Sacramento Kings (-1) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers | O/U: 164.5
4:30 p.m. ET
- The Kings enter the playoffs with a 1-2 record and -1.3 point differential. The Cavs are 2-1 with a +4.3 point differential.
- Now in a single-elimination tournament, I’m guessing teams won’t rest players today. Marvin Bagley will remain out with an injury, of course, but I haven’t seen any news that suggests any of the main players for the Cavs will be out. Cedi Osman returned last game after resting Saturday, while Ante Zizic had the last game off.
- Both teams have a lot of intriguing talent, including the Cavs players listed above. The Kings, even without Bagley, have rotation-level players in Harry Giles, Frank Mason and Justin Jackson. This game should be a close one.
Lean: Cavs +1, Over 164.5
Brooklyn Nets vs. Houston Rockets (-6.5) | O/U: 172.5
6 p.m. ET
- The Nets enter the Vegas playoffs with an 0-3 record and a putrid -9.7 point differential. The Rockets, meanwhile, are 3-0 with a stellar +7.7 point differential.
- That said, I think the Nets provide some value, as that point differential doesn’t account for Jarrett Allen’s return. The big man, who looks like he could be the Nets’ starting center for years to come, played last game and put up eight points, 12 rebounds and five blocks in 26 minutes. He didn’t get to play last year due to an injury, so this was his first career Summer League game. I’m expecting him to get more into a groove today if he gives it another go.
- Of the 30 teams in Vegas, the Rockets rank behind only the Pelicans with 94.3 points per game. The Nets rank above only the Grizzlies with a sorry 75.0 points per game. But, again, with Allen back, I think the Nets can be more competitive on both ends of the floor.
Lean: Nets +6.5, Over 172.5
Chicago Bulls vs. Dallas Mavericks (-2) | O/U: 167.5
6:30 p.m. ET
- The Bulls are 1-2 in Vegas so far with a -4.0 point differential. The Mavericks are 2-1 with a +5.3 point differential.
- Bulls first-round draft pick Wendell Carter Jr. continues to impress. The concern with him in college was defense, as Coach K chose to run a zone at Duke because of the supposed defensive limitations of Carter and Bagley. It seems those were overstated for Carter, as he’s been excellent on that end so far. He’s been able to protect the rim while also showing proficiency guarding the pick-and-roll. I was on record stating Jaren Jackson Jr. was the best big-man prospect of the draft, but I think it’s conceivable Carter ends up being right behind him when their careers are over.
- The Mavericks won by 20 on Monday against the Warriors despite Luka Doncic still not playing (reports are he won’t suit up at all in Vegas) and Dennis Smith Jr. graduating from Summer League. They weren’t particularly good, shooting just 42.1% from the field, but they did grab 23 offensive rebounds to boost their numbers. I think we could see some regression today.
Lean: Bulls +2, Over 167.5
Detroit Pistons vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (-1.5) | O/U: 164.5
8 p.m. ET
- The Pistons are currently 1-2 in Vegas with a poor -7.3 point differential. The Timberwolves are 2-1 with a solid +6.3 point differential.
- The Wolves have a nice roster with young, talented guys such as Keita Bates-Diop and Josh Okogie to go along with Summer League vets such as Amile Jefferson. Those guys have nice defensive upside, and the Wolves are currently tied for fourth in the Summer League in fewest opposing points allowed per game (77.0).
- The Pistons put up 105 points on the Pelicans on Monday, despite grabbing just nine offensive rebounds. The reason was because they hit 24-of-27 free throws, and I’m skeptical they’ll be able to create those types of opportunities around the rim against this long Wolves squad. This might be the rare game in which I lay the points with the favorite.
Lean: Timberwolves -1.5
Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers (-3) | O/U: 173.5
8:30 p.m. ET
- The Hawks are 1-2 in Vegas so far with a -3.7 point differential. The Pacers are also 1-2 but boast a slightly better point differential of +0.7.
- It was a question whether Trae Young was going to play yesterday after he left the previous game after just nine minutes with a quad contusion, but he suited up and had his best game as a pro, going for 24 points on 19 shots in 33 minutes of action. He finally got hot from 3-point land, finishing 7-of-13, and the high-level passing was still there to boot. I’m sure all those keyboard warriors who criticized him early on were the first to give him credit yesterday — that’s how 2018 works, right?!
- The Pacers have been pretty up and down, which is a bit concerning for some of their prospects. I expected TJ Leaf to be more dominant entering his sophomore season, and he’s still struggled with scoring efficiency. On Monday against the Cavs, he went 8-of-21 from the field, including 1-of-5 from behind the arc. Aaron Holiday also struggled to shoot the ball, but he still continues to pass the eye test as a guy who should be a part of the Pacers’ future.
Lean: Hawks +3, Over 173.5
Toronto Raptors vs. Denver Nuggets (-4) | O/U: 168.5
10 p.m. ET
- The Raptors are 0-3 in Vegas with an embarrassing point differential of -11.3. The Nuggets, meanwhile, are 3-0 with a point differential of +7.0.
- Toronto is trying to feature wing OG Anunoby, who will be a very important part of their future. It’s still crazy that he fell so low last season, even behind guys such as Leaf (mentioned above), who have a tough fit in the modern NBA game. However, they lack high-end shot creation, which is a critical need in the free-flowing Summer League environment.
- The Nuggets also lack high-end talent you’ll see in the NBA for years to come, although they do have some older guys with skill such as Monte Morris, Devaughn Akoon-Purcell and Tyler Lydon. Sometimes being older and more physically mature is enough to overcome a lack of talent in the Summer League.
- The Raptors have allowed the third-most points per game in Vegas (95.0), while the Nuggets have allowed the third-fewest (73.7).
Lean: Over 168.5
Golden State Warriors vs. Charlotte Hornets (-3.5) | O/U: 168.5
10:30 p.m. ET
- The Warriors are 1-2 this summer with a poor -6.7 point differential. The Hornets are 2-1, although their point differential of -5.0 suggests they’re a bit worse than that. They lost by 20 to the Celtics on Monday, which certainly is contributing to that number. Again, these are small sample sizes in Vegas.
- It’s nice to see the Warriors suck at something for a change, and this roster is pretty darn bad. There are no players in Vegas who will even sniff the NBA roster now that Jordan Bell has left, and I’m sure the staff is looking forward to getting home.
- The Hornets were rolling in Vegas and had perhaps the best starting five with guys such as Devonte Graham, Dwayne Bacon, Willy Hernangomez, Miles Bridges and Malik Monk. However, Monk injured his thumb and sat out Monday, and the Hornets subsequently shot 29% from the 3-point line. He’s considered day-to-day, although I still like the Hornets here considering the other guys in the starting lineup.
Lean: Hornets -3.5, Over 168.5