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
The Vegas Summer League playoffs continue Thursday with eight more games. Yesterday, dogs finished 4-3-1, while overs went 4-4. Anecdotally, it seems sportsbooks are continuing to adjust to the heightened mainstream focus on Summer League; the totals today seem quite high. The first two games of the day, for example, currently have totals of 178 and 177.5. We’ll see if we can tease some value out today; perhaps they’ve adjusted too much.
Miami Heat vs. New Orleans Pelicans (-2) | O/U: 178
4 p.m. ET
- The Heat are 1-2 in Vegas and have a sorry -7.3 point differential. The Pelicans are 2-1 with an incredible +10.3 point differential.
- This total seems high, but it’s definitely warranted: The Pelicans are first in Summer League with an average of 99.0 points per game; the Heat are in the top 10 with 90.7 points per game. The Heat’s defense has also been atrocious: They rank dead last in Vegas with 98.0 points per game allowed. The Pels are also in the top 10 in points allowed. Call me square, but I’m still taking the over.
- The Heat have been solid with Bam Adebayo in the lineup, who should be the Heat’s center of the future. In their last game — a win over the Jazz — Bam went for 24 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks in just 23 minutes. He was a +12 while on the floor. He’s been up and down in Vegas, but he’s shown enough both last season and this week to warrant a significant spot in the rotation come October.
- The Pels do a lot of their damage around the rim, which will be an interesting test for Adebayo down low. New Orleans’ starting five took just five 3-pointers in their first game against the Heat (a blowout win for the Pels), and they took only six in their final game against Detroit. The fact they’ve gotten up so many shots without bombing from 3 makes me feel a bit better about the over, since their totals haven’t solely been the product of hot shooting.
Lean: Over 178
New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics (-4.5) | O/U: 177.5
4:30 p.m. ET
- The Knicks are 1-2 in Vegas with a -6.7 point differential. The Celtics are 2-1 with a +4.3 point differential.
- The Knicks lost their last game against the Lakers, although guard Frank Ntilikina did not play (presumably for rest). I haven’t seen any news suggesting he’ll be out again today, which will be a positive for New York. Rookie Kevin Knox continues to be the hero of Las Vegas, putting up 29 points and grabbing nine rebounds last game in a loss to the Lakers. Mitchell Robinson continues to be very tantalizing as well; Knicks fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about a possible core of Kristaps Porzingis-Knox-Ntilikina-Robinson.
- The Celtics don’t boast any future stars, but they do have solid guys such as Guerschon Yabusele, Semi Ojeleye, Jabari Bird, and Kadeem Allen. Will those guys be a big part of a championship Celtics rotation? Probably not, but they should be on other teams’ radars considering how loaded Boston is.
- Both of these teams rank in the top 10 in Vegas in points per game, and the Knicks have allowed the second-most points per game (96.0). Even with Ntilikina back, this game will have some points scored.
Lean: Knicks +4.5
Memphis Grizzlies (-1) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder | O/U: 167
6 p.m. ET
- The Grizzlies have arguably been the worst team in Vegas. While they are 1-2, they own the worst point differential this summer at -13.7. The Thunder are 2-1 with a point differential of +7.7.
- Jaren Jackson, Memphis’ top five pick this year, missed the last game due to rest. I haven’t seen any news on him sitting out today, so he will obviously boost their outlook, although it’s still curious why they’re one-point favorites.
- The Grizzlies have really struggled to score in Vegas: They rank dead last among the 30 teams with just 69.7 points per game. They really lack high-end shot creators, which Jackson won’t be able to help.
Lean: Thunder +1
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Phoenix Suns (-7) | O/U: 164.5
6:30 p.m. ET
- The 76ers have been terrible in Vegas, going 0-3 with a putrid -11.7 point differential. Only the Grizzlies have posted a worse point differential. The Suns, meanwhile, have been one of the best teams in Vegas, going 3-0 with a +11.0 point differential.
- The Sixers have been worse than I expected them to be this summer considering intriguing talent such as Zhaire Smith, Jonah Bolden, Furkan Korkmaz and Demetrius Jackson. I’m curious whether they’ve been on the wrong side of variance, especially with shooting: In their last loss to the Wizards, for example, they went 6-of-25 from the 3-point line; their starters were specifically 1-of-12.
- The Suns are loaded with young talent, and they’ve been solid this summer. DeAndre Ayton has been somewhat forgotten due to the stellar play of guys such as Jaren Jackson, Knox and Wendell Carter Jr., but he’s still a physical freak who has shown flashes down low, especially with corralling rebounds. Dragan Bender and Josh Jackson have had moments, and considering how important they are to the upcoming rotation, it will be nice to see them finish strong.
Lean: 76ers +7, Over 164.5
San Antonio Spurs (-2) vs. Milwaukee Bucks | O/U: 170.5
8 p.m. ET
- The Spurs are 1-2 in Vegas with a -3.7 point differential. The Bucks are also 1-2 but have posted a superior point differential of +5.7.
- San Antonio’s roster isn’t exactly brimming with high-level talent outside of 2018 first-round draft pick Lonnie Walker, who has had an up-and-down Vegas campaign. As I mentioned in my piece a couple days ago, I’d still like him to increase his outside shooting. He didn’t do that last game, getting up only two 3-pointers in 25 minutes, and that will be a big problem for him projecting to the NBA as a true shooting guard.
- The Bucks have more intriguing guys to me, especially at guard and on the wing with players such as D.J. Wilson, Sterling Brown and Donte DiVincenzo (who didn’t play last game). And I’m still a sucker for the potential of Christian Wood, who has a modern game and has had success in the G League. I think the better overall team here is the dog, so I’ll take the points.
Lean: Bucks +2
LA Clippers vs. LA Lakers (-2) | O/U: 168.5
8:30 p.m. ET
- It’s the battle for LA. The Lakers have been the best team in Vegas, going 3-0 with an awesome +14.3 point differential. The Clips have been average, going 2-2 with a +1.2 point differential.
- The Lakers got a bye, and the Clips beat the Wizards yesterday by 15 to advance to this second-round game (the games before are still first-round matches). I have been quite impressed with the Clippers youngins such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson. The former has shown parts of his game that didn’t stand out in Kentucky (thanks, John Calipari), and he was great yesterday, scoring 17 points, grabbing four boards, dishing out six assists and getting three swipes. He has star potential in the league.
- The Lakers have been dominant, in large part thanks to the play of Josh Hart, who has arguably been one of the best players in Vegas this summer. He went off for 27 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals yesterday. I’ll give you a hot take: He’s a more valuable player than Lance Stephenson, and their minutes come October should reflect that. The Lakers do have some bad news, however: While it doesn’t seem to be serious, Moe Wagner will miss today’s game with a knee injury. That’ll be important today.
Utah Jazz vs. Orlando Magic (-2) | O/U: 167
10 p.m. ET
- The Jazz are 1-2 in Vegas with a sorry -6.0 point differential. The Magic have been better, going 2-1 with a nice +6.0 point differential.
- Keep an eye out for news on Utah big man Tony Bradley, who sat out last game — an eight-point loss to the Miami Heat. His absence meant more minutes for Diamond Stone, who played well with 17 points in 24 minutes. Still, Bradley is the superior player, especially defensively, and he should be a part of the Utah rotation this season. One random note: Bradley apparently grew 1.5 inches this offseason. That standing reach got even nicer.
- The Magic got demolished last game, 71-53, by the Phoenix Suns; it was easily their worst performance of the summer, and they weren’t really missing anyone notable. Both Jonathan Isaac and 2018 first-round pick Mo Bamba struggled, going a combined 4-of-13 from the field. The Magic shot 3-of-20 from behind the arc, and Bamba didn’t attempt a 3. Hopefully that skilled big-man duo can leave Vegas on a better note than that.
- The Magic have been one of the best defensive teams this summer, allowing 69.0 points per game (behind only the Suns). The Jazz, meanwhile, have been one of the worst, allowing 92.0 points per game.
Lean: Magic -2
Atlanta Hawks vs. Portland Trail Blazers (-6) | O/U: 175
10:30 p.m. ET
- The Hawks are now 2-2 in Vegas with a -1.2 point differential. They won a tough battle last night against the Pacers to move to this second-round matchup. The Blazers have been awesome in Vegas, going 3-0 with a +12.7 point differential.
- Trae Young has really turned a corner over the past two games, especially regarding his shooting. He finished yesterday’s affair with 23 points on 14 shots and dished out eight assists. I’m still waiting for the Trae haters to mention the last two games. He really took over at the end yesterday:
— Justin Jett (@JustinJett_) July 12, 2018
That’s the beauty of his shooting. Sure, you can criticize his shot selection and throwing it up from just inside half court. Those criticisms are probably somewhat valid. But that shooting gravity is devastating for a defense: In the video above, the Pacers were consistently picking him up at half court, and that opened all sorts of roll and passing lanes for other players. Trae will continue to be a divisive player, but the strengths are clearly there.
- I love this Blazers Summer League roster. It’s filled with intriguing guys such as Wade Baldwin, Anfernee Simons, Jake Layman, John Jenkins, Caleb Swanigan, K.J. McDaniels, Georgios Papagiannis and Gary Trent. This is probably my pick to win the whole thing considering the roster.
Lean: Over 175, Blazers to win SL