|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|02-21-19||Celtics v. Bucks UNDER 227.5||Top||97-98||Win||100||12 h 26 m||Show|
10* Under Celtics/Bucks (8:05 ET): I can see this being the matchup for the Eastern Conference Finals, but we have a long way to go until then. Milwaukee is certainly in good position coming out of the Break as they lead the Conference w/ a 43-14 SU record along w/ the NBA's best point differential (+9.8). Boston has been hit hard by both injuries and internal strife, thus they are "lagging" behind some in 4th place (37-21 SU), though they can claim the East's 2nd best point differential at +6.4. Coming out of the Break, I expect both sides to be a bit rusty, thus I'll go w/ the Under here.
Milwaukee is known as an "offensive team," but they actually sport the league's best defensive efficiency rating. (Boston isn't too far behind at #4). The Bucks ended the 1st half w/ three straight Unders and only one opponent has topped 107 pts in their last six games. This will be just the third time this season that the Bucks are playing w/ three or more days rest. The Under is 2-0 the previous two times and they've also gone Under the last four times when playing teams with a winning record. Given the competitive nature of the two teams involved here, this seems like a really high total.
Boston and Milwaukee have met two times this year and both games did go Over. However, those were lower totals. Both games took place in Boston and each team won once. It should be noted that the Celtics' scoring does drop slightly, down to 109.9 PPG, on the road. Now Milwaukee obviously averages more PPG at home, but neither team's average PPG scored + allowed adds up to what the total is for tonight. Again, with this being the 1st game back from the Break, I don't see either side being in "peak" form offensively. 10* Under Celtics/Bucks
|02-13-19||Kings v. Nuggets OVER 230||Top||118-120||Win||100||13 h 20 m||Show|
8* Over Kings/Nuggets (9:05 ET): Denver has been one of the biggest surprise teams of the first half as no matter what happens here, they'll go into the All-Star Break in a top three position in the Western Conference. But as far as surprises go, nothing has caught me off-guard more than the fact Sacramento has remained relevant in the playoff hunt. The Kings are four games over .500 and currently in the eighth position in the West. I don't think that will last, but there's no denying this team is performing well above expectations. I expect this game to go Over the total.
A reason to be a bit trepidatious regarding Sacramento is their defense. They give up 114.5 PPG, which is bottom five in the league. On the road, the number predictably jumps slightly (to 116.6 PPG). Now the Kings have spent the better part of a month going Under the total more often than not. The Under is 14-2 their last 16 games. But oddsmakers aren't fooled for this one. The total is high for a reason. The Kings are going to give up a lot of points to a Denver team averaging 116.0 PPG at home.
The Nuggets have gone Over in four of their last five games vs. winning teams. They had lost three in a row before drilling Miami on Monday, 103-87 as 9.5-point chalk. I don't see them getting away w/ that kind of defensive effort here. Sacramento is fourth in the league 3-point shooting percentage. (For the record, Denver is also in the top 10). Both prior meetings this year between these two have gone Over w/ at least 230 total pts scored each time. 8* Over Kings/Nuggets
|02-13-19||Heat v. Mavs OVER 209||Top||112-101||Win||100||13 h 50 m||Show|
8* Over Heat/Mavs (8:35 ET): I also expect this matchup to be a higher scoring than expected. I've already gone into how Dallas should win. I believe that win comes w/ a strong offensive night. For four consecutive games, they've been held under their season scoring average of 108.8 PPG. I don't see that happening here. The Mavs' scoring average rises to 110.7 PPG at home.
An interesting thing about Miami is that they have actually performed better on the road than at home. Obviously, that doesn't mean I think they'll win here. But coming off a poor 87-point effort in Denver, the Heat should at least score more tonight. They average 105.5 PPG on the road for the season. They shot only 41.2% from the floor in Denver. They were particularly dismal from three-point range where they went 9 of 33 (27.3%). They also stunk from the FT where they shot a poor percentage on a low number of attempts (10 of 16). All those percentages should improve tonight.
But Dallas should shoot better than they have been recently as well. Ironically, they shot decent against Houston (lost by 16) after three straight games being at 41.4% or lower (won two of those). On average, Mavs' games see 217.5 total PPG scored. So you can see we've got some value here. After being snubbed from the All-Star Game, look for Luka Doncic to have a strong effort here. 8* Over Heat/Mavs
|02-12-19||Jazz v. Warriors OVER 229||Top||108-115||Loss||-102||14 h 10 m||Show|
10* Over Jazz/Warriors (10:35 ET): This should be a good game. Golden State's reputation precedes itself while Utah is as hit as any team in the league, let alone the Western Conference. Despite continuing to win, the Warriors have actually had their share of struggles recently, getting off to a slow start vs. Phoenix and then barely escaping w/ a two-point win over Miami. I actually contemplated taking the Jazz plus the points in this one, but I think the Over is the stronger play here as both teams have been doing a lot of scoring recently.
Utah dominated San Antonio on Sunday, winning 125-105. Over the last five games, they are averaging 114.4 PPG and that's even w/ a poor 98-point effort vs. Houston. In winning 14 out of their last 18, the Jazz have scored at least 110 pts eleven times. With Golden State having regressed considerably on the defensive end, I don't expect Utah having much difficulty scoring in this game. The Jazz have shot 50% or better in three of their last four games. They are also 6-2 Over this season w/ a total of 220 pts or higher. The Over is 5-1 the last six games overall.
Golden State has now won five times this season after trailing by 15+ points. Two of those five wins have been the last two games. They trailed Phoenix early by as many as 17, then faced that same deficit against the Heat. The Dubs were far more fortunate to win that game, which I cashed easily w/ Miami as 14-point underdog. Another of the come from behind efforts came early in the year vs. Utah. That was a 124-123 final where the Warriors shot better than 56% from the floor and Durant/Curry combined for 69 points. They had 62 more in a loss to Utah in Salt Lake City in December. As per usual, Golden State is leading the league in scoring (119.1 PPG). They've scored at least 115 in eight of the last nine game. 10* Over Jazz/Warriors
|02-09-19||Hornets v. Hawks UNDER 230||Top||129-120||Loss||-109||21 h 26 m||Show|
10* Under Hornets/Hawks (7:35 ET): The Hornets have played 11 games this season with a total of 230 points or higher. Ten of them have resulted in Unders. The previous two seasons had no such games. So a benchmark of sorts has been established for this team when betting totals. Their last game was really low scoring as they lost to Dallas by a score of 99-93. Up next is a date in Atlanta and while the Hawks are one of the worst defensive teams in the league, I look for the Under pattern to continue here. The Hawks only scored 101 in their last game, a blowout loss to Toronto.
Despite being division rivals, these teams haven't met since late November. The last meeting had a similar O/U line and easily stayed Under as Charlotte prevailed 108-94. The Hawks and Hornets combined to go 15 of 64 from three-point range and Atlanta shot just 34.4% overall. Maybe the shooting won't be that poor this time around, but I still wouldn't expect this to turn into a shootout. The Hawks are bottom five in the league in offensive efficiency while Charlotte is in the bottom third in pace of play. Two of the three meetings in November stayed Under.
Atlanta managed only 33 points in the second half vs. Toronto on Thursday, thus they blew a 17-point lead and ended up losing by 18. That's quite the swing. Meanwhile, Charlotte never got out of the box vs. Dallas. It was a bad night from three as they missed 26 of 37 attempts. It's a proven fact the Hornets don't go Over when the total is this high and the truth is few teams do. Too much has to go right and I just don't see this turning into a shootout. The Under is 12-4 in the last 16 meetings. Also, the Under is 5-2-1 the Hornets' last eight road games as well as 5-1-1 the L7 times they have been off a SU loss. 10* Under Hornets/Hawks
|02-08-19||Bucks v. Mavs OVER 222.5||Top||122-107||Win||100||24 h 58 m||Show|
8* Over Bucks/Mavs (8:35 ET): Dallas has gone Under in each of its last four games as well as 9 of the last 10. They're also on a money-making 8-0 ATS run that stretches back to January 21st. But even though they're 19-7 SU at home this season, it's going to be tough to keep Friday's opponent in check. The league-leading Bucks are coming to town and just got stronger offensively by making a (trade) deadline deal for Nikola Mirotic, who may or may not suit up tonight. Not like the team needs him though. They already average an Eastern Conference high 117.8 PPG and just dropped 148 in their last game. I'll be going w/ the Over here.
Wednesday's 148-129 win over the Wizards makes it five straight wins AND covers for Milwaukee. This is a team w/ few holes and I have them atop my own personal power rankings. But if there was one curious thing about the Mirotic deal, it's that they passed up on a chance to pick up what would have been a key defensive piece. Stanley Johnson was acquired in a trade from Detroit and is known for being an underrated defender. But he was then flipped as part of the Mirotic deal.
These teams met on MLK Day and the 116-106 win by Milwaukee managed to stay under the total by less than a bucket. Dallas shot just 41.4% from the field and missed 7 of 17 free throws. That was pretty much the difference. I expect more from the Mavs offensively here as they average 111.2 PPG at home. I don't think the loss of Harrison Barnes (traded to Sacramento) will affect them much offensively. Maybe defensively it will. Bottom line is that after holding four straight opponents under 100 pts, that will NOT be happening here against one of the top offensive teams in the league. 8* Over Bucks/Mavs
|02-05-19||Wolves v. Grizzlies OVER 203||Top||106-108||Win||100||12 h 41 m||Show|
10* Over T'wolves/Grizzlies (8:05 ET): If there's one team you can count on for a low total it's Memphis. The Grizzlies are 29th in offensive efficiency and last (30th) in PPG. They also play at the slowest tempo. They've gone Under in four straight and the last game (a win!) was a 96-84 final against the Knicks. But looking at tonight's O/U line vs. Minnesota, the number is too low. Minnesota doesn't play much defense at all and this should be a much more high scoring game than the one the two teams played in the Twin Cities last week. Take the Over.
Last Wednesday, the T'wolves beat the Grizzlies 99-97, in overtime. As you can probably guess, neither team shot well in that game. Minnesota won despite shooting 38.9% overall and 22.9% from three-point range. Memphis was actually slightly better in both categories and made two more free throws. So how did they lose? It was an issue of volume as the T'wolves simply attempted more shots. The final one they took was the most important as Karl-Anthony Towns made a desperation jumper at the buzzer. Speaking of Towns, he scored all 16 of his pts in that game after halftime. I don't see a player of his caliber getting shut out in the 1st half again tonight.
Minnesota then lost a close game at home over the weekend, 107-106 to Denver. After scoring 38 pts in the 1st quarter of that game, they failed to do much offensively the rest of the way. Memphis is tough on defense, but I still see the T'wolves shooting better here than they did in last week's meeting. This is a team that averages 111.4 PPG and they've been under that number in four straight games. At the same time, they also give up 114.4 PPG on the road, so we should see Memphis break out offensively as well. While the Grizzlies have gone four straight games w/o breaking 100, the last three were all on the road. 10* Over T'wolves/Grizzlies
|02-02-19||76ers v. Kings OVER 235||Top||108-115||Loss||-106||15 h 52 m||Show|
8* Over Sixers/Kings (10:05 ET): Sacramento had stayed Under in 11 consecutive contests going into Wednesday night, but that didn't stop me from picking them to go Over a very high number against Atlanta. As discussed here, the Hawks are one of the league's very worst teams - overall and defensively - so I said a shootout would be in order and that's exactly what we got as the Kings went onto win by a score of 135-113. Tonight, a much better team comes to California's capital city and again the expectation here is for a high-scoring affair. I agree. Take the Over.
Philadelphia will have to guard against a letdown here as they are coming off a huge upset of Golden State, on the road, Thursday night. The Sixers won 113-104, thanks in no small part to the Warriors shooting an uncharacteristic 11 of 38 from three-point range. It should also be pointed out that game featured a very low-scoring 4th quarter w/ both teams scoring only 18 points. Before that, the teams were on pace for a 240-point game. Sacramento may not be Golden State, but I expect them to shoot better from three than the Dubs did Thursday night. For the year, the Kings are 38.2% from behind the arc. That's the third best mark in the league.
Wednesday was one of Sacramento's higher scoring efforts all season. It was only the fourth time that they topped 130 pts this season. Interestingly enough, the Over is a perfect 3-0 following the previous three instances. Considering how many times in a row they went Under, one would reasonably expect things to start going the "other way." This might be a high total for Philly, but it's not quite as high as the Golden State game and the Sixers are averaging 1117.4 points over the last five games. They also allow 114.8 PPG on the road. I think we're looking at what will be one of the higher scoring games in the NBA this week. 8* Over Sixers/Kings
|01-30-19||Hawks v. Kings OVER 235||Top||113-135||Win||100||13 h 16 m||Show|
10* Over Hawks/Kings (10:05 ET): Unless you closely follow NBA totals, you are probably unaware that Sacramento has gone Under in 11 consecutive games. If you think that sounds highly irregular, well, you'd be right. Not only is the length of the streak unusual, but given the team in question, so is the way that it has gone. The Kings have been one the league's WORST defensive teams all season, giving up 115.1 points per game. The fact that they have gone under in 11 straight games might make tonight's high O/U line seem questionable, but the Kings are matched up here w/ the league's VERY WORST defensive team (Atlanta). I expect a shootout and won't be scared off by the number. Take the Over.
Some of Sacramento's recent games have been "close calls" when it comes to the total. Sunday's 122-108 loss to the Clippers stayed Under the closing O/U line by half a point. Last Tuesday's game at Toronto was also just a bucket shy of going Over. It must be noted here that tonight is the Kings' first game back home following a long, six-game road trip. In those six road games, their offense largely "betrayed" them as they averaged just over 100 PPG. This is a team that averages 113.0 PPG at home and overall. So I expect a rather dramatic increase in scoring from the Kings tonight, not just because of the opponent they're facing, but also due to simple "law of averages." Over the course of the six-game road trip, Sacramento's shooting got progressively worse, "bottoming out" w/ a 39.8 FG% vs. Clippers Sunday.
Atlanta would seem to be the cure for any team's offensive woes. While the Kings rank 26th in the league in points allowed (115.1 PPG), the Hawks are dead last, giving up 117.5 PPG. Interestingly enough, Atlanta just beat the same team (Clippers) that Sacramento lost to in its last game. Of course, the Hawks happened to get the Clips playing in the second night of a back to back. Still, they (Atlanta) were able to score 123 pts, which is encouraging for tonight. I'll conclude by mentioning that the first time these teams played this season (in Atlanta), the final score was 146-115 in favor of the Kings. Expect another wild one tonight. 10* Over Hawks/Kings
|01-29-19||Bucks v. Pistons OVER 218.5||Top||115-105||Win||100||12 h 53 m||Show|
10* Over Bucks/Pistons (7:05 ET): This was going to be an interesting number from the oddsmakers as Bucks games - on average - are much more high scoring than Pistons games. Milwaukee's efficiency has fallen a bit over the last month or so, but they're still the second highest scoring team in the league right now, trailing only Golden State. As for Detroit, they're close to the bottom of the league in scoring and have averaged only 97 pts over the L5 games. Both teams are on Under streaks and the Under is 6-0-1 the L7 times they have met. But I think the number is low and we're "due" for an Over.
Milwaukee has gone Under in three straight games, but all of those had high O/U lines. The team should be plenty motivated tonight after losing at OKC on Sunday. They were down double digits at halftime as Giannis Antetokounmpo had only three points and was 0 for 6 from the field. I'm going to go out on a "limb" here and say that won't happen again here. There's been only one game since Christmas where the Bucks failed to score at least 111 points. They are also 28-14 Over the L3 seasons after allowing 115 or more points.
Detroit has seen the Under cash in each of their last five games as well as 9 out of its last 10. They've only been able to top 101 pts once in the last seven games, which is pretty shocking in the modern NBA. When they faced Milwaukee on New Year's Day, they were able to only score 98 points. But that game was on the road and still almost went Over (stayed Under by a point). The Pistons do average a respectable 107.7 PPG at home. Antetokounmpo scored only 15 in the last meeting as well. Improved offense should be expected from both sides in this one. Thus, I'm on the Over. 10* Over Bucks/Pistons
|01-25-19||Pistons v. Mavs OVER 210.5||Top||101-106||Loss||-106||10 h 50 m||Show|
10* Over Pistons/Mavericks (8:30 ET): Both teams have been seeing a lot of Unders this month, but I look for that to change in a major way Friday night. Detroit comes in having gone Under in four straight games and 8 out of its last 10. Dallas is also on a 4-game Under streak and is 9-2 Under in January. But you'll notice this number has been set much lower than recent O/U lines - for both sides. I feel we have a number we can exploit here as Pistons' games are averaging 214 points this year while Mavs' games are at 218.9. Over is the play in the one.
No one will mistake the Pistons for a sharpshooting team. But Blake Griffin is having a great season, averaging 26.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists. He's shooting 48% from the field and just went for 37 in a win Wednesday night at New Orleans. The rest of the team contributed only 61 pts, a number they almost certainly "have" to top tonight. At the same time, I do not expect Detroit to maintain its recent defensive numbers, which have seen their last five opponents average only 101.2 PPG. Remember the New Orleans team they faced two nights ago did NOT have Anthony Davis.
Dallas does have Dennis Smith Jr back in the lineup and that's certainly a good thing as he and rookie Luka Doncic form one of the more exciting young backcourts in the league. The Mavs went 2-4 SU in a six-game stretch w/o Smith, whose absence reportedly had to do w/ him being upset over his diminished role because of Doncic. Smith scored 17 in a 106-98 win over the Clippers Tuesday. I would expect the Mavs' offensive numbers to start going up w/ him now back in the fold. The Mavs have only shot 42.9% the L5 games, which is well below their season average. They average 111.6 PPG at home. 10* Over Pistons/Mavericks
|01-24-19||Pelicans v. Thunder UNDER 238||Top||116-122||Push||0||12 h 54 m||Show|
10* Under Pelicans/Thunder (8:05 ET): New Orleans would seem to be in some real trouble w/o superstar Anthony Davis and tonight is NOT a spot where they're likely to "figure things out." They just lost last night, at home to Detroit, and what made that loss all the more painful is that it was the first time all year they dropped a game when allowing fewer than 100 points (final score was 98-94). The fact they failed to score 100 pts themselves (just the sixth time this season) may very well be a "sign o' the times" without Davis, who is going to be out until at least next week.
Oklahoma City has actually been one of the league's top defensive teams for most of this year. They enter Thursday tied (w/ Utah) for the third best defensive efficiency rating in the league. After a few wild (i.e. high-scoring) games earlier in the month, things have settled down a bit for the Thunder over the L7 days as they've won three straight. This would seem to be a favorable spot for them as New Orleans is just 1-6 SU/ATS when playing in the second night of a back to back. But I'm not sure OKC can score enough to cover what is a lofty pointspread.
Therefore, Under is the call here as the Pelicans should continue to struggle to score w/o Davis. I already mentioned how they typically struggle when playing in the second night of a back to back. Those struggles are actually more about the defense, but this is a massive total, one where neither team's YTD scoring average would add up to an Over. Even the Pelicans, whose games - on average - are the highest scoring in the league (231.5 PPG) don't add up to what the oddsmakers are calling for here. This total is simply too high considering NO is w/o Davis and OKC is inconsistent shooting the ball. 10* Under Pelicans/Thunder
|01-22-19||Kings v. Raptors OVER 228||Top||105-120||Loss||-110||12 h 7 m||Show|
10* Over Kings/Raptors (7:05 ET): Sacramento is a team that I remain highly skeptical of, moving forward. The fact that they are over .500 has to be considered a major shocker at this point as coming into the year, it was expected to be them and Phoenix at the bottom of the Western Conference. But although the Kings are 24-23 SU on the year, they do happen to own the West's third worst overall point differential, a sign that regression could be forthcoming. Last night was certainly a step in the WRONG direction as they were blown out in Brooklyn, 123-94.
Things certainly don't get any easier for the Kings tonight as they must head north of the border to play Toronto. The Raptors are battling the Bucks for the top spot in the Eastern Conference right now w/ the two teams tied for first (Milwaukee technically percentage points ahead). Toronto has been a dominant team on its home floor, going 20-4 straight up while averaging 115.4 PPG. This team has been doing plenty of scoring lately, although some of that is tied to a 140-138 win over Washington that went to double overtime. They are top 7 in offensive efficiency, for the year, however. They'll also be getting Kawhi Leonard back (missed L2 games) tonight.
I've been through this before, but the fact Sacramento gives up so many points will ultimately be their undoing. They are bottom five in the league in PPG allowed (115.2) and that number gets even worse on the road. Last night, they allowed 123 points to a Nets team that is nowhere near what Toronto is offensively. However, it was still the eighth straight Kings game that stayed Under the total as they shot just 41.9% from the field. They should improve on that number tonight and while the number is high, I expect this game to go Over the total. (The total was even higher when these teams met in Sacramento earlier in the season). The Kings are 23-12 Over as underdogs this season, including 13-4 when on the road. Such a streak of Unders is a bit perplexing when you consider how bad Sacramento is defensively. 10* Over Kings/Raptors
|01-21-19||Mavs v. Bucks UNDER 225.5||Top||106-116||Win||100||7 h 35 m||Show|
8* Under Mavs/Bucks (2:00 ET): Although Golden State has been making a strong case recently, I still consider Milwaukee to have been the best team in the league over the 1st half of the season. They now lead the Eastern Conference w/ a 33-13 SU record and have outscored their opponents by 10.0 PPG. That's a remarkable point differential over a 46-game stretch considering the next best team (Golden St) is +6.5 PPG. I'm sure the Bucks will score plenty this afternoon, but will their opponent? I look for this game to stay Under the total.
Dallas isn't exactly one of the top offensive teams in the league. On the road, they've played very poorly this season, going just 4-19 SU. A three-game losing streak is a killer in the current Western Conference climate and in this instance, it's dropped the Mavs to third from the bottom in the Western Conference. I do not see this team making any kind of serious run to the playoffs, but they do have at least one thing going for them and that's rookie Luka Doncic. Of course, Doncic's emergence has led to Dennis Smith Jr going AWOL, which isn't exactly what you want. In the Mavs last two games, they've scored "just" 200 points.
In the Mavs previous 12 games, the Under has gone 9-2-1. On offense, they haven't been shooting the ball well for awhile now. They've been at or below 43% from the field in seven of the past eight games. The Under is also 7-0 off their previous seven losses. On Saturday, they lost 111-99 to Indiana. The Mavs have also gone Under in their last six non-conference games. Milwaukee has seen the Under cash in five of their last seven games. They aren't likely going to shoot the ball as well in this game as they did in their last one (55.3%) vs. Orlando. 8* Under Mavs/Bucks
|01-18-19||Warriors v. Clippers UNDER 242||Top||112-94||Win||100||16 h 35 m||Show|
10* Under Warriors/Clippers (10:35 ET): So, I guess we now have to get used to NBA totals in the 240's? It's become almost a nightly occurrence to see a 230+ pt total on the card, but thanks to Golden State (who else?) the bar is getting raised. In their last two games, the Warriors have scored an astronomical 289 pts by themselves (!) and their last game was a 147-140 final, which flew past a 241-pt total that tied for the highest O/U line in any game this season. For the record, there have only been nine games in NBA history (prior to tonight) w/ totals of 240 pts or higher. Four of them (and now a 5th) have taken place this season. Not surprisingly, the Warriors have been involved in 2 of the 4. Both of those games went Over. This one won't. Take the Under.
Golden State has gone Over in four straight games, scoring 140 or more in three of those. That's just ridiculous. They and New Orleans just set a record w/ 43 made three-pointers, breaking the "old" mark of 41, which was just set earlier this month when the Warriors beat the Kings. Steph Curry has made 28 three-pointers himself the L3 games, tying his own record, and has made at least eight in all three games. No player before him had ever made 8+ three-pointers in three straight games. I have to think that this ridiculous amount of scoring we're seeing from Curry and the Warriors is "due" to subside, at least a bit, no?
There are two things that should disrupt the Warriors' recent rash of Overs. One is that DeMarcus Cousins is set to make his debut tonight. As good a player as "Boogie" is, he could very well disrupt the offensive flow. Two is that the Clippers are struggling right now. They've lost four in a row. The Under is also 6-2 in their L8 games. I realize that recent history says the Over is the way to go in this Pacific Division matchup (9 straight Overs!), but this O/U line is simply too high. 10* Under Warriors/Clippers
|01-16-19||Magic v. Pistons OVER 206||Top||115-120||Win||100||11 h 6 m||Show|
10* Over Magic/Pistons (7:05 ET): Both of these teams got off to surprisingly good starts to the season. But, in each instance, that's rapidly faded. Orlando, even after big upsets over Boston and Houston in the last week, is five games below .500. Right behind them (by one-half game) is Detroit, who has lost 17 of its last 22 games. But in the watered down Eastern Conference, no one is really ever out of it (well, there are a few teams) and these two actually rank 9th and 10th in the Conference respectively. I anticipate this being a higher scoring game than anticipated. Take the Over.
The Magic beating the Celtics and Rockets on B2B nights is not something I, nor anyone else outside of Orlando, saw coming. Against Boston, they trailed by 10 at halftime even though there was a stretch where they'd held the Celtics w/o a field goal for 5:45. The win over Houston was another rally as this time the Magic found themselves down seven w/ just under five minutes to go. They were very lucky in that James Harden had an all-time horrific night shooting the ball as he went 1 for 17 from three-point range. Detroit isn't known as a three-point shooting team, but they should easily top what Harden did from distance. Orlando has largely been an "Under team" this season, but the Over is 9-3 when they're off a SU win as a dog.
Detroit has seen its last four games all stay Under the total, but those numbers were all higher than the O/U line for tonight. They were held to just 94 points Monday night in Utah, on 38.9% shooting, but that was against a Jazz team that ranks near the top of the league in defensive efficiency. It should also be pointed out that game did feature a pretty high-scoring 1st half as it was 59-53 Pistons heading into the break. Unfortunately, Detroit could only manage 35 points in the second half. The last time these teams played, the game went Over despite them combining to go 15 of 59 from three-point range. 10* Over Magic/Pistons
|01-14-19||Pistons v. Jazz OVER 209.5||Top||94-100||Loss||-106||13 h 59 m||Show|
8* Play Over Pistons/Jazz (9:05 ET): So these teams just met nine days ago and I took the Over in what ended up being a 110-105 Utah win and cover. Both teams shot an identical percentage from the floor (47.6%), each going 39 of 82. The Pistons also outshot the Jazz from three-point range, making 11 of 25 as opposed to just 7 of 21 for Utah. Detroit was also 80% from the free throw line, but Utah had 12 more attempts and made nine of them. That was the difference in the ballgame. I thought the total was too low in the Motor City and the oddsmakers still haven't adjusted for the rematch here in Salt Lake City. I'm on the Over again.
Something else I've written about recently is how you're going to see the Jazz go on a nice run here in January. I said this before taking them Friday night against LA, a game they easily covered as 8.5-pt chalk as they won 113-95. They won again the following night, again here at home, 110-102 over Chicago (though they did not cover). The schedule sets up well for Utah moving forward as this is their fourth straight game playing as a home favorite. They'll visit the Clippers on Wednesday, but after that it's four more home games and they should be favored every time.
Utah has won and covered five straight times against Detroit. To have any chance of snapping that streak, the Pistons are going to have to find a way to score (obviously!) as they come in averaging just 104.6 points over the L5 games. Not a terrible average, but a slight increase would be helpful here. For them, tonight is the end of a four-game trip out West. The Under is 3-0 so far, but the totals for the previous three games were all much higher than this one. They did just upset the Clippers on Saturday, led by Blake Griffin's 44 points. So if you want to know where the offense is likely to come from, there you go. Utah is shooting 46.7% for the year at home where it averages 111.1 PPG. An average game from the two sides, in terms of points scored and allowed, would work itself out to an Over here. An "average game" doesn't sound that difficult to me. 8* Over Pistons/Jazz
|01-13-19||Bucks v. Hawks UNDER 232.5||Top||133-114||Loss||-117||7 h 4 m||Show|
8* Under Bucks/Hawks (3:35 ET): This total is simply too high, especially if Giannis Antetokounmpo ends up not playing. Sure, we know the Bucks can score on Atlanta. The last time these teams played, Milwaukee was my 10* Game of the Week and they hung 144 pts on the Hawks, making 55 of the 100 shots they attempted. That's a ridiculous percentage considering the number of field goal attempts and something that's unlikely to be repeated, especially on the road and possibly w/o their best player. For the record, with or without "The Greek Freak," this Under play stands.
Antetoukounmpo is expected to play here as he was upgraded to probable this morning. When the Bucks trounced the Hawks earlier this month, none of the starters played more than 22 minutes as it was a 43-14 game at the end of one quarter. I would not expect that kind of game to unfold yet again here, even if Milwaukee ends up winning comfortably. On the road, the Bucks' scoring average "dips" to 113.1 PPG, down from 120.5 at home. The Under is 12-6 this year for them when the face a team w/ a losing record. Atlanta has one of the worst records in the league at 13-29 SU.
The Bucks did just lose w/o Antetokounmpo, 113-106 at Washington, so that might give Atlanta some hope here. Plus, the Hawks are off a pretty shocking results as they went to Philly on Friday as DD underdogs and came away w/ a 123-121 victory. However, take note that the Under is 29-12 the L3 seasons when Atlanta is off an outright win as a dog. That includes 8-2 this season. The Hawks are near the bottom of the league in offensive efficiency (29th). Milwaukee has gone Under in its last three games. 8* Under Bucks/Hawks
|01-12-19||Celtics v. Magic OVER 213||Top||103-105||Loss||-115||19 h 22 m||Show|
10* Play OVER Celtics/Magic (7:05 ET): It's been a tale of two games this week for Boston, who blew out Indiana Wednesday (at home), only to then lose at Miami on Thursday. In my eyes, this is a team destined to move up the Eastern Conference standings in the second half of the season as the own the second best point differential in league right now. I find that point diff is a far better predictor of future performance than is a team's actual won-loss record. That being said, I still would be a little guarded about laying this many points on the road tonight, even though the opponent has struggled mightily of late.
This season got off to a somewhat promising start for Orlando, but they've hit the skids hard. They just ended a six-game road trip w/ four consecutive losses, all by double digits. In the last three, they failed to score even 100 points every time. I realize that facing a Boston team that ranks third in the NBA in defensive efficiency doesn't exactly scream "offensive turnaround," however the Magic do average a respectable number of points per game at home (105.9). Curiously, they also allow FAR more points per game at home (111.4) than they do on the road (105.0). Boston should score plenty in this game.
Despite ranking 3rd in defensive efficiency, the Celtics still give up 108 PPG on the road. The Over is 14-7 in their 21 road games so far and the number of points they're allowing has to be considered the main reason they have a losing record (10-11 SU) outside of Beantown. Thursday in Miami marked just the fifth time the Celtics were beaten by double digits this season. The Over is 3-1 off the previous four instances. The Over is also 9-2 their L11 games overall. The Miami game marked the 1st time Boston had been held under 100 pts (they scored 99) since a game vs. Utah on November 17th. When they hosted Orlando back in October, it was their lowest scoring game of the season (lost 93-90), but that was a dreadful shooting night for both sides and only 19 total free throws were attempted in the contest. 10* Play OVER Celtics/Magic
|01-09-19||Bulls v. Blazers OVER 206||Top||112-124||Win||100||14 h 24 m||Show|
10* Over Bulls/Blazers (10:05 ET): I tried w/ the Over in Portland's last game, but unfortunately they and the Knicks just couldn't "get there" falling a a bit short of the number. At first glance, a date w/ Chicago (who ranks last in the league in offensive efficiency) hardly seems to be the likely end of a now eight-game Under streak. But this number is not just low from Portland's perspective; it's also low for the Bulls too as they're giving up almost 110 PPG on the season. They've allowed more than that each of the L3 games and all of those were at home. Take the Over here.
As I talked about in Monday's writeup on Blazers-Knicks, Portland certainly doesn't have much trouble scoring as they've now averaged 114.4 points over the last five games. This despite relatively pedestrian shooting, save for the blowout of Philadelphia back on December 30th. But they haven't been above 50% in any game since and a hot shooting night is probably forthcoming. The Bulls have allowed 50% shooting in each of their last three games. Three-point shooting is a specific area where Portland should improve moving forward. Note that before the game vs. NY, the Over had been 4-0 the L4 times the Blazers had faced a team w/ a losing SU record.
So much for defensive improvement under HC Jim Boylan. The Bulls have allowed 112, 119 and 117 pts the last three games w/ those respective opponents all shooting better than 50% from the floor against them. I look for that trend to obviously continue tonight. On offense, the Bulls haven't been attempting enough threes under Boylan, but I look for that to start changing very soon. Zach LaVine is one of the NBA's top scorers at 23.9 PPG. Bottom line here is that it's time for Portland's Under streak to expire and this number is far too low. The average number of PPG scored in both teams' games YTD exceeds what the number is here. 10* Over Bulls/Blazers
|01-08-19||Wolves v. Thunder OVER 226.5||Top||119-117||Win||100||11 h 12 m||Show|
10* Over T'Wolves/Thunder (8:05 ET): Minnesota just fired its HC (and team president) Tom Thibodeau, which I view as a bit of a curious decision as expectations are simply too high for this young team in the loaded Western Conference. The team had been better since dealing Jimmy Butler away and had even won B2B games, getting their YTD scoring differential into the black. T'Wolves star Karl Anthony Towns seemed stunned by the move as well. So I'm not sure this decision by ownership is going to have a positive impact on the team.
Speaking of YTD point differentials, Oklahoma City has the top one in the Western Conference right now and has a real shot at finishing 1st. I think it's them, Golden State and Denver and entering play tonight, the trio is separated by just 1.5 games. Don't look for OKC to have any sympathy for Minnesota's plight as they are in off an embarrassing 116-98 loss (here at home!) to Washington Sunday night. That was a dismal offensive showing for the Thunder, who failed to score 100 pts for the first time in nearly a month. I look for a bounce back game on that end of the floor tonight as the T'wolves are not noted as a defensive team (allow 114.6 PPG on the road).
Oklahoma City actually leads the league in defensive efficiency. Sunday night was just the fifth time they allowed more than 115 pts in a game this season. But they allowed 114 the last time they faced Minnesota, which was right before X-Mas. That game ended up being a two-point T'wolves win as both teams shot well (Minnesota was 14 of 27 from three-point range). Prior to holding the Lakers to 86 points (no LeBron) on Sunday, Minnesota had seen its L10 games all go Over the total. With Sunday marking one of Minnesota's best defensive showings of the year and one of OKC's worst offensively, it's only natural things slide back to the mean tonight. 10* Over T'wolves/Thunder
|01-07-19||Knicks v. Blazers OVER 220.5||Top||101-111||Loss||-106||24 h 6 m||Show|
10* Over Knicks/Blazers (10:05 ET): Portland has gone Under in every game since Christmas. That's a streak of seven straight (if you're counting at home) and the Under is 14-3 their L17 games overall. That's quite the streak of Unders right there. But I look for it to end on "Championship Monday" (if you already haven't done so, pick up my side/total on Bama-Clemson!) as they're playing a Knicks team that is very bad defensively. But an additional key here is I expect a rested Knicks squad to also play better than usual on the offensive end. Take the Over.
Portland is a little better defensively at home than they are on the road (not uncommon in this league). But that will be offset here by the fact they also average more PPG at home (again, not uncommon). Total PPG in Blazers' home games isn't all that different from the road. They come into this game having not shot the ball particularly well any of the L3 games. Yet they've still scored at least 109 pts in each, including 110 in an impressive win over the Rockets Saturday night. For the year, they average 113.6 PPG at home on better than 46% shooting from the field.
I look for the Blazers to have a break out offensive game here against a Knicks team that simply cannot defend. New York ranks 29th in the league in defensive efficiency and gives up 117.0 PPG on the road. When you look back and see that they just beat the Lakers on Friday (snapping an 8-game losing streak), 119-112, take note LA played that game w/o the services of LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo. Against some evidence to the contrary, I do expect NY to shoot well in this game. They're only at 38.6% from the field the L5 games, which is a really low number that is due to go up. Being rested is huge as the Knicks are 7-1 Over this season when playing on exactly two days rest. They are also 9-2 Over against the Western Conference this year. The Over is 3-0 their L3 games and when these teams met in MSG back in November, it was a 118-114 final (in favor of Portland). 10* Over Knicks/Blazers
|01-06-19||Heat v. Hawks UNDER 221.5||Top||82-106||Win||100||10 h 18 m||Show|
10* Under Heat/Hawks (6:05 ET): Even though they were double digit dogs, Atlanta was a pretty easy target for me Friday night in Milwaukee as that particularly matchup would certainly qualify as one of the biggest mismatches in the entire league right now. Sure enough, it was every bit the mismatch I thought it would be, if not even more so. The Hawks were completely buried, losing 144-112 as the Bucks shot 55.0% for the game and had two 40+ pt quarters. It was a 43-14 game at the end of the 1Q and was never close from there. Tonight, Atlanta is at least back home where they'll host division rival Miami, another team that has been playing quite well of late.
The Heat have won 8 of 10 w/ one of the two losses coming by a single bucket vs. Toronto. The team's latest win came Friday against the Wizards (no John Wall, remember) 115-109. It was the sixth straight Miami game to go Over the total. In the last five, they are averaging 111.6 PPG, which is well above their YTD average of 107.2. They've also shot a blistering 49% from the field, which is well above their season average of 43.9% (one of the lowest FG%'s in the league). So the Heat are due to "cool off" (pun intended!) and while I know it's hard to say that it will come here, given what the Bucks just did to the Hawks, I think regression to the mean offensively is all but inevitable for Miami.
These teams have met twice before this year and both games did go Over. But in those two games, it was Atlanta that shot surprisingly well and thus they have won both games. I don't look for the Hawks to be that prolific tonight as they too rank near the bottom of the league in field goal percentage and they are also 29th in the league in offensive efficiency. Interesting about Miami's recent rash of Overs is they have actually held half of the opponents to 94 pts or fewer! Every O/U line has been significantly lower than the one here w/ five of them at 207 pts or lower. We've got plenty of "wiggle room" here as only the last game (vs. the Wizards) would have gone Over this total. 10* Under Heat/Hawks
|01-05-19||Jazz v. Pistons OVER 208.5||Top||110-105||Win||100||11 h 14 m||Show|
10* Over Jazz/Pistons (7:05 ET): It wasn't necessarily easy for Utah last night (trailed Cleveland at the half), but a strong second half propelled them to a 117-91 win and cover. Still a game under .500 for the year, they desperately need to keep winning as the Western Conference is as loaded as ever this year. One thing that does speak well for their future is that they own the West's fifth best YTD point differential. As I've said many times before, point differential is typically a far better predictor of future outcomes than is a team's actual win-loss record. I do expect the Jazz to start making a move up the standings.
But with tonight being the second game of a back to back, I'm not quite as optimistic on the Jazz's chances in the Motor City. The total does look awfully low, however, and that has me thinking Over. Taking advantage of the league's worst defensive team (Cavs) last night, Utah shot 51% from the floor and scored 117 points. But that point total has not been atypical of late. It was the 4th time in the last 5 games that Utah scored at least 116. The Pistons team it will be facing tonight has had defensive issues of its own of late. On a recently completed four-game road trip, they allowed two opponents to shoot 60% from the field!
The Pistons were able to avoid a winless trip by winning a low-scoring game at Memphis Wednesday night, 101-94. Detroit is not the prettiest shooting team in the league by any means as Wednesday marked the sixth time in the last seven games that they posted a FG% below 44.0. But perhaps they'll break out here against a Utah team that does often struggle to defend on the road (FG% allowed of 46.5). When looking at each team's season scoring average, in terms of points scored and allowed, both are in excess of tonight's total. An "average" game thus should land us Over the total and I think we'll get more than average here tonight. 10* Over Jazz/Pistons
|01-02-19||Wolves v. Celtics UNDER 216||Top||102-115||Loss||-105||5 h 28 m||Show|
8* Under T'Wolves/Celtics (8:05 ET): Minnesota has gone Over in eight straight games. Boston has gone Over in six straight. Those respective streaks have conspired to get this total far higher than it ought to be and I'm going Under on this Wednesday night ESPN matchup. Boston remains one of the top defensive teams in the league, ranking 4th in efficiency. Minnesota is a team that was 12-2 Under in the month of November. So December may have simply been a case of "regression to the mean" for them. These teams played almost exactly one month ago (12.1) and a hot shooting night from Boston resulted in a 118-109 final, which went Over the total of 216. But tonight, they'll be w/o leading scorer Kyrie Irving due to an eye injury suffered in Monday's loss to San Antonio.
In last month's win at Minnesota, the Celtics shot 47.1% overall from the field, including 17 of 44 from three-point range, and they went a perfect 21 of 21 at the free throw line. Those percentages are simply unlikely to be matched here, especially w/o Irving. Gordan Hayward also tossed in a season-high 30 points in the Twin Cities. Irving had 21 pts and 9 assists, production that won't be easy to make up. Monday night in San Antonio, the game seemed well on its way to an easy Under before Boston had an uncharacteristic defensive breakdown, allowing 46 pts in the third quarter, including 21 in a three-minute stretch. San Antonio made 14 of the 26 three-pointers it attempted in the game. Again, that's simply not emblematic of the kind of defense the Celtics usually play.
Boston is attempting more threes themselves this year, but that's tied to Irving and the number they had (44) the last time they faced Minnesota was definitely on the "high side." Minnesota is toward the bottom of the league in 3PA and is thin right now in the backcourt w/ both Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague injured. The Under is 13-6 this year when the T'wolves face a team that has a winning record. 8* Under T'wolves/Celtics
|12-31-18||Celtics v. Spurs UNDER 218||Top||111-120||Loss||-110||10 h 14 m||Show|
10* Under Celtics/Spurs (7:05 ET): Two defensive-minded teams meet in a game that is sadly buried on New Year's Eve. Things weren't always looking rosy for the Spurs at the defensive end. They started this season by posting some of their worst numbers on that end of the floor in the Gregg Popovich era. But they've certainly turned things around this month. At one point, they held seven straight opponents under 100 pts. They went nine straight holding teams to a FG% of 43.5 or lower. As a result, they are now just 1.5 games out of 4th place in the Western Conference.
Despite the Over being 5-0 in the last five games and 8-1 their last nine, Boston is #3 in the league in defensive efficiency. In terms of net efficiency rating, they aren't all that far off from the top two teams in the East, Toronto and Milwaukee. So even though the Celtics are currently in 5th place in the East, expect them to start moving up the standings shortly. They've won three of four coming into tonight, including a nice come from behind effort against Memphis on Saturday where Kyrie Irving led the way w/ 26 points and 13 assists. They held the Grizzlies to just 16 pts in the 4Q.
The rash of recent Overs for the Celtics seems atypical and is likely to reverse itself. Meanwhile, the Spurs have gone Under in 8 of their last 11 games. With all five starters scoring in double figures, led by LaMarcus Aldridge's season-high 38 points, the Spurs scored 122 on the Clippers Saturday night. I would not look for such an offensive performance to be repeated tonight. Lucky for them, they are allowing only 103.9 PPG at home, a huge improvement over the 114.7 PPG they allow on the road. These teams have gone Over the L4 times they've played, but the totals were far lower, including a pair of sub-200 pt lines LY. 10* Under Celtics/Spurs
|12-29-18||Knicks v. Jazz OVER 214||Top||97-129||Win||100||12 h 30 m||Show|
10* Over Knicks/Jazz (8:05 ET): Utah's streak of Under has now reached eight in a row, but the last two have been razor-thin and I think they have a willing dance partner for an Over tonight in the Knicks. New York has been terrible defensively all year long and has given up an average of 118.8 PPG its L5 contests. What an absolutely dreadful month of basketball its been in the Big Apple w/ NY going just 2-11 in December w/ both wins coming by only two points in overtime. They were just swept in a home and home by Milwaukee, failing to score 100 in either game.
Despite NY's recent offensive ineptitude, I think Utah has a chance to set a season-high in points scored tonight and that alone could very well lead to an Over. The Jazz do averaged 110.1 PPG at home and I'm somewhat shocked that they have a losing record here as they've outscored opponents. Coming off a poor 97-point showing vs. Philadelphia on Thursday, we should see a bounce back offensively here. They shot just 38.4% against the Sixers, who are a top 10 team in defensive efficiency this year. The Knicks rank 29th in defensive efficiency and are not used to seeing totals this low.
The Knicks didn't shoot well in either game vs. Milwaukee, but did allow an average of 110.5 PPG. Really, that number of points allowed is kind of low for the Knicks. They've allowed at least 109 in 15 consecutive games. They've allowed an average of 115.6 PPG in December, which is fourth most in the league. Utah is going to score plenty tonight, so really this one comes down to whether or not the Knicks can top 100. I think they can as they are averaging 107.8 PPG for the season and the Over is 4-2 this year when they're a road dog of at least 12.5 points. 10* Over Knicks/Jazz
|12-29-18||Cavs v. Hawks UNDER 218.5||Top||108-111||Loss||-110||12 h 60 m||Show|
8* Under Cavs/Hawks (7:35 ET): This is a matchup of two of the league's worst teams and while that usually signals a lack of defense, I look for this one to stay Under the total. Certainly, this matchup is "due" for an Under after the last TEN have all gone Over. That includes a pair this season w/ the winning side scoring 133+ in each game. But for both teams tonight, this is the second game of a back and back and I expect them to be pretty tired. Cleveland scored only 94 pts in a loss at Miami last night while Atlanta had to go to overtime to overcome Minnesota.
The Hawks came out and scored a season-high 42 first quarter points last night. They would get up by as many as 22 but blew the entire lead by getting held to 47 pts over the next two quarters of play. They were pretty fortunate to win as the T'wolves committed an innumerable amount of miscues down the stretch. The game was tied 112-112 at the end of regulation, which would NOT have been an Over had the game been over. So Over bettors were lucky to get the extra five minutes last night. I don't see another 40+ pt quarter on the horizon here and it should be pointed out that the Hawks are tied for 29th in the league (next to last) in offensive efficiency.
Cleveland plays at a slow pace, slower than all but one team (Memphis). I talked about the importance of tempo in last night's Under bet between San Antonio and Denver and we saw what happened there. Last night's Cavaliers game did go Over, but that was due to a low total. The Cavs have failed to score 100 pts in five of their last six games now, including three straight. When they beat the Hawks back on October 30th, they got a season-best 26 pts from Rodney Hood and also forced 23 turnovers, leading to 28 pts. I don't see either of those elements being present tonight. The Cavs aren't even averaging 100 PPG on the road for the year. 8* Under Cavs/Hawks
|12-28-18||Spurs v. Nuggets UNDER 214.5||Top||99-102||Win||100||13 h 49 m||Show|
8* Under Spurs/Nuggets (9:05 ET): With all that's currently going on in the sports world, you may not have noticed that the Spurs have turned things around and are back to being a player in the Western Conference as per usual. Now they currently still sit in ninth place, but this is a crowed conference as only 3.5 games separate them from the top. What's not surprising is how San Antonio has engineered its turnaround and that is w/ improved play on the defensive end. They held seven straight opponents under 100 pts before losing to Houston last Saturday.
Coming off the Christmas break, the Spurs rebounded w/ a win, beating Denver 111-103. Tonight is the second half of the home & home vs. the Nuggets, this time the game takes place in Denver. The Spurs held the Nuggets to just 38.9% shooting Wednesday night, their ninth straight game holding the opposition to a FG% of 43.5 or lower and their fourth straight time allowing under 39 percent. While the Nuggets should prove harder to defend tonight at home, I don't see them going 18 of 40 from three-point range again like they did on Wednesday. That's well above their average of 10 makes per game from behind the arc.
Denver is down three starters currently - Will Barton, Paul Milsap and Gary Harris, Jr. That coupled w/ the fact that leading scorer Nikola Jokic scored only four points while attempting five shots and it's a wonder how the Nuggets lost by only eight Wednesday night. San Antonio has actually become a remarkably efficient offensive team (#2 behind Golden State), but they still play at one of the slowest paces in the league. Surprisingly, Denver actually plays at a slightly slower pace. With both teams ranking no higher than 25th in adjusted tempo, this promises to be another relatively low scoring affair and I'm on the Under. 8* Under Spurs/Nuggets
|12-27-18||Blazers v. Warriors UNDER 226||Top||110-109||Win||100||13 h 21 m||Show|
10* Under Blazers/Warriors (10:35 ET): Both of these teams are off rather humiliating setbacks on Christmas Day. For a second time in less than week, Portland got demolished by Utah. Both games saw them held below 40% shooting while allowing the Jazz to shoot better than 55%. It was a 30-point loss at home last Friday and a 21-pt loss in Salt Lake City X-Mas night. As for Golden State, they got blown out on their home floor by the Lakers, 127-101, despite LeBron James having to leave the game early w/ a groin injury. So the stage is set for one of these to bounce back Thursday night.
Portland has failed to break the 100-point barrier three times in its last four games. That includes both losses to Utah. They did beat Memphis 99-92 back on 12.19. Oracle Arena seems like an unlikely place for the Blazers to turn things around for all the obvious reasons (Golden State is good!), plus they are only 5-11 ATS on the road to begin with. Tuesday in Utah, Damian Lillard scored 20 points, but that was on 9 of 21 shooting, and the rest of the starting five combined to make just 12 field goals. Lillard's fellow starter in the backcourt, CJ McCollum, is in a real shooting slump right now. He had only 11 pts vs. the Jazz and has missed 15 of his last 17 three-point attempts.
Perhaps McCollum and the Warriors' Klay Thompson can have a discussion about shooting slumps before tipoff. Because Thompson is in the midst of a bad one himself, having shot just 30.8% from the field the L4 games, including 3 for 18 from three-point range. On X-Mas, he was held to a season-low five points on 2 of 7 shooting. One positive for the Warriors is that when they hosted Portland last month, they held them under 100 points on 40.9% shooting. Something similar is certainly possible here tonight. Six of Golden State's last eight games have stayed Under the total. 10* Under Blazers/Warriors
|12-27-18||76ers v. Jazz OVER 218.5||Top||114-97||Loss||-110||13 h 21 m||Show|
8* Over Sixers/Jazz (10:35 ET): The Jazz have gone Under in their last seven games, but they were one score away from ending that streak Christmas night as they blew out Portland 117-96 (total was 214.5). That was the second time in less than a week that they crushed Portland, having also done so (by 30!) on the road last Friday. Tonight, they welcome in an Eastern Conference opponent that is off a pretty brutal loss on X-Mas, 121-114 in overtime at Boston. The Sixers didn't even end up covering despite having a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter.
My condolences to anyone who had the Sixers on Christmas or the Under for the matter. Neither they or the Celtics shot the ball very well (both below 42%), yet because of OT, the game went Over. That's over and done with (literally!) though and the bottom line here is I expect Philly to shoot much better tonight. Boston is #2 in the league in defensive efficiency and while that's where Utah finished last season, the Jazz have fallen a bit on that end of the floor this season. Note the Sixers shot 53% or better in three of their four games previous to Christmas. The Over is 7-4 when they are a dog this season.
Utah's Under streak is due to end sooner rather than later. Note that the 1st meeting between these teams went Over (a similar total) even though the Jazz shot just 4 of 22 from three-point range. You have to figure they'll shoot much better than that tonight as they're at home. In the final three quarters vs. Portland Tuesday, they were 13 of 21 from three-point range. Also, they did dominate the paint in Philly, scoring 66 points there in that first meeting. If there is one concern though, it's that they allow visiting teams to shoot nearly 38% from behind the arc. 8* Over Sixers/Jazz
|12-26-18||Pacers v. Hawks OVER 216.5||Top||129-121||Win||100||11 h 19 m||Show|
10* Over Pacers/Hawks (7:35 ET): Indiana is on an incredible run of Unders lately w/ 13 of their last 14 games going that way. During this time, they've turned it on defensively, holding 10 of the last 11 opponents to 42.2% shooting or lower. It's not like Atlanta, tonight's opponent, is a huge threat to shoot the lights out here, but they are shooting a respectable 45% for the year at home and averaging 110 PPG. Plus, like most bad teams, the Hawks aren't good defensively as they allow nearly 118 PPG, which is second most in the entire league. I'm on the Over in this one.
One particular area when the Hawks struggle to defend is the three-point line as opponents are making 37.5% from there for the year. That's the second highest percentage allowed in the league and is especially problematic for tonight as Indiana is making 37.0% of its threes for the year, which is top five in the league. These teams did play last month and it was still a low-scoring game. Indiana won 97-89 even though they were a strong 12 of 30 from three-point range. The key was they were just 23 of 58 (39.6%) from two-point range, which is highly irregular. Atlanta also shot very poorly overall, making only 35.6% of its field goal attempts, including 27.6% from 3-pt range.
That last meeting was in Indiana. The average Hawks' home game far exceeds what the O/U line for tonight's contest is. By the way, I should probably mention that the Hawks have won a season-high three straight games. They may be w/o leading scorer & rebounder John Collins and while the team's last game w/o him was quite low-scoring, I look for a different scenario to play out here. With this game taking place the day after X-Mas, don't be surprised if both sides aren't at their most intense on the defensive end. All three games during the Hawks win streak have stayed Under. But not only have they not won four in a row this year, they've never gone Under in four straight either. 10* Over Pacers/Hawks
|12-25-18||Blazers v. Jazz OVER 214.5||Top||96-117||Loss||-107||32 h 27 m||Show|
8* Over Blazers/Jazz (10:35 ET): Utah just trounced Portland 120-90 (in Portland!) four days ago, so you can bet the Blazers are out for revenge. But this game takes place in Salt Lake City and the Blazers are just 1-7 ATS their L8 road games. I do think the pointspread is a bit inflated, but it's the total that I believe is offering more value in this final matchup of the NBA's five-game Christmas slate Tuesday. It's easily the lowest O/U line of the five games and when you look at how many points are typically being scored in Portland games this season (221.1) and that Utah is averaging over 110 PPG at home, I think you have a clear sign that Over is the way to go here.
The last couple seasons have seen the Jazz be one of the more staunch teams in the league at the defensive end. But they've slipped from 2nd (last year) in defensive efficiency to 6th (this year). That may not seem like a huge drop, but truthfully they've recently risen up the efficiency rankings thanks to performances like the one they had in Portland Friday night. They held the Blazers to 40% shooting for the game and to their second lowest point total of the season to date. But I expect an offensive bounce back from the Blazers in this one. They already did bounce back a bit in a 121-118 overtime win over Dallas on Sunday, including a 37-point second quarter. Really, the Blazers should have finished off Dallas in the regulation as they had a 14-pt 2H lead.
Utah comes into this game on a six-game Under streak, but a lot of those games had higher totals than this one. The Jazz have held four of their last six opponents to a FG% of 40.2 or less, but I do NOT project that to be the case here as Portland comes in 48.0% its L5 games despite what happened in the head to head meeting Friday night. Also, the Jazz should start to improve offensively. They beat both Portland and Golden State in a three-day span despite SG Mitchell missing 30 of his 36 field goal attempts! The last three times these teams have played, the game has gone Under, but I like this one to go Over. 8* Over Blazers/Jazz
|12-25-18||Thunder v. Rockets OVER 221||Top||109-113||Win||100||25 h 59 m||Show|
10* Over Thunder/Rockets (3:00 ET): I realize that Unders have been the way to go on these NBA X-Mas Day affairs, in years' past. But the 2018-19 season has seen an influx of scoring and I believe we're gonna see the trend reversed this year in a couple games, including this one featuring Thunder-Rockets. Little can be ascertained from looking at the only other time these teams played this season, which was back on November 8th. Russell Westbrook didn't play for OKC, yet the Thunder still won easily, 98-80 as five-point home underdogs. So maybe there is one thing we can ascertain and that's OKC is the better team here. I do believe that to be the case still, but the Rockets are a little different now than they were in November as well. Over is the call here.
Back when these teams first met, Houston had yet to make the call to put perpetual loser Carmelo Anthony on ice. Deactivating Anthony has definitely been a case of "addition by subtraction" for the Rockets this season. He certainly didn't help in OKC last month, missing 10 of 11 shots. Now Houston must also overcome the loss of another key player, Chris Paul, for this X-mas Day showdown. James Harden is going to have to carry the workload, but that's okay as he's been averaging nearly 40 PPG in the team's last six contests. Also, the underrated Clint Capella is helping out w/ three 20+ pt efforts in the L5 games. At home, I can tell you the Rockets are a lock to improve upon their three-points shooting from the 1st meeting where they went 11 of 42.
Houston averages 112.7 PPG at home. So even though OKC is #1 in the league in defensive efficiency, I'll look for the Rockets to score their "share" here. As for the Thunder, Paul Georgia is averaging 34.3 points the L6 games and Westbrook has posted a triple double in three of the last four games. This month, they've scored no fewer than 107 pts in 10 of 11 games. One bad quarter (17 pts) cost them Sunday vs. Minnesota. They scored a total of 95 pts in the other three quarters. In that first meeting w/ the Rockets, all five starters were in double figures by the end of the third quarter. They scored 59 pts in the 1H, but just 39 in the 2nd as the game was out of hand. I expect a more competitive - and certainly higher scoring game - this time around. 10* Over Thunder/Rockets
|12-22-18||Mavs v. Warriors UNDER 225||Top||116-120||Loss||-104||10 h 0 m||Show|
10* Under Mavericks/Warriors (8:35 ET): Dallas doesn't figure to fare too well tonight. They're 0-8 straight up their last eight road games w/ a total of 220 pts or higher. They're big underdogs here at Golden State. In addition to that, they come in riding a four-game losing streak. Three of those losses have taken place on the road, where they're significantly weaker. At home, the Mavs are a strong 13-3 SU on the year. But on the road, they're just 2-12 SU. However, I'm going to concentrate on a different trend tonight and that's the fact Dallas hasn't gone Over in four straight games all season. Take the Under.
Golden State is probably as healthy as they've been all season. But that didn't prevent them from getting beat 108-103 out in Utah Thursday night. They were held to 40 percent shooting overall, including 32 percent from three-point range in another low-scoring effort. The Under is now 5-1 in the Dubs' last six games and they've been held to 110 pts or fewer in four of those games. Dallas may certainly not be as staunch as Utah, but I think they can keep the Warriors in relative check tonight.
I mentioned above that Dallas has not gone Over in four straight games all year. Well, they come into this game on a three-game Over streak. Not only are they 2-0 Under when off three straight Overs this season, but they're 10-2 in the situation the L3 seasons. When these teams faced off last month, it was a 112-109 Mavs win in Dallas (GSW not as healthy at the time). The O/U line for this game is about 10 points higher than it was for last month's, which seems to be an overadjustment by the linesmakers. The Under is 9-4 this season in Golden State home games where the total is 220 pts or higher. 10* Under Mavericks/Warriors
|12-21-18||Pistons v. Hornets OVER 218||Top||86-98||Loss||-110||11 h 55 m||Show|
10* Over Pistons/Hornets (7:05 ET): In an Eastern Conference w/ no depth, both of these teams figure to make the playoffs. They are likely to battle for the 6th seed, a spot which the Pistons currently occupy w/ a 15-14 SU record. But Charlotte is just one-half game back, has a better YTD point differential and has already beaten Detroit twice. But this play isn't about who's covering, rather I'm looking at a total which seems too low. The first two meetings both stayed Under, but only by a handful of points. Thus I'm looking at the Over cashing tonight as neither side is exactly noted for its defensive prowess.
Detroit allowed a shooting percentage of just 43.7% in its last game (at Minnesota), yet still gave up 123 points. The game did go into overtime, but the Pistons allowed just five points in the extra five minutes. Had the T'wolves shot even reasonably well, who knows how many points they could have scored. While two Minnesota players - Robert Covington and Dario Saric - combined to go 7 of 16 from three-point range, the rest of the team was an abysmal 2 of 17 from behind the arc. Charlotte is a much better three-point shooting team, especially here at home where they're hitting 37.1% for the year. Look for them to make the Pistons pay tonight from distance.
The Hornets allowed only 99 points their last time out, but that was against Cleveland. The Pistons aren't exactly the greatest shooting team in the world, but they'll present a far greater challenge defensively here for Charlotte. Detroit is averaging 110.7 PPG on the road. Meanwhile, the Hornets are averaging 115.2 PPG at home. Looking at season averages, we're several points clear of the O/U line, so all we need is an "average game" from both sides here. Note in the last meeting, Charlotte didn't shoot the ball well at all. I expect those numbers to go up substantially here tonight. 10* Over Pistons/Hornets
|12-19-18||Thunder v. Kings UNDER 235.5||Top||132-113||Loss||-115||13 h 25 m||Show|
10* Under Thunder/Kings (10:05 ET): Sacramento has been shredded defensively over its last four games, giving up 130 or more points three times. Note that none of those games went to overtime. Monday, they were caught playing the second game of a back to back and fell into a massive early hole in Minnesota. They trailed by 30 at halftime and ended up losing 132-105. But I don't look for tonight's game to be nearly as high scoring as they face an OKC team that is stout defensively (#1 in the league in efficiency) and often struggles to score on the road. Take the Under.
The Thunder come into this game off a 121-96 win over Chicago. That was actually a revenge spot for them as they'd lost to the Bulls, in Chicago, earlier this month. As I just stated, OKC is the top team in the league in defensive efficiency as they are the only team holding its opponents below one point per possession. At the same time though, we should expect a reduction in their own scoring tonight seeing as they are shooting only 43.9% on the road this year. The Thunder are also the worst three-point shooting teams in the league, in terms of percentage.
These teams have met twice before this season and both games went Over. However, this is the highest O/U line yet. Sacramento got almost nothing from its starting five in Minnesota Monday, but the bench did score a season-high 78 points. That number will come down rather dramatically here. As for OKC, the Under is 6-1 this season when they are facing a team w/ a winning record and 10-4 when they are on the road. Thunder games don't typically approach the number of total pts the oddsmakers are calling for here. In fact, their road games average "just" 214.3 points. 10* Under Thunder/Kings
|12-16-18||Knicks v. Pacers OVER 214.5||Top||99-110||Loss||-107||9 h 14 m||Show|
10* Over Knicks/Pacers (5:05 ET): Indiana is working on a few streaks coming into this Sunday afternoon contest. For starters, they've covered their last four games. They've won their last five straight up. But the one we'll focus on today is that they've gone Under nine straight times. That seems like an unsustainable streak to me and the oddsmakers have taken notice, installing a pretty low total for this matchup. It is actually higher than when these teams played back on Oct 31, but that was still early in the season when both were figuring things out. (The Knicks still haven't really figured things out, btw).
Leading scorer Victor Oladipo is now back for Indiana. His absence for 11 games at least partially explains the Under streak. He has been back for the last two contests, but predictably, it's taking some time to get back "into rhythm." Oladipo is just 10 of 27 from the field, with 26 points, so far. Don't be surprised though if this is the game where he gets it going again. He did nail a couple of clutch threes late in the team's 113-101 win over Philadelphia Friday. That's probably a sign of things to come.
The Knicks roster resembles a M*A*S*H* unit right now w/ a lot of guys hurt. But on Friday, they were able to rally back from a 21-point deficit to defeat Charlotte in overtime, 126-124. That final score is obviously inflated by five extra minutes of play, but the Knicks clearly have their issues defensively as they give up 115.2 PPG on the year and are 29th in the league in efficiency. The question here is how many points will NY score? Well, they average about 109 (108.9 PPG to be exact) and if they can get to that number, then this game should have no problem going Over. The Knicks are 3-0 Over the L3 games and 10-2 Over when seeking revenge for a home loss. 10* Over Knicks/Pacers
|12-14-18||Wizards v. Nets UNDER 226.5||Top||118-125||Loss||-110||19 h 51 m||Show|
10* Under Wizards/Nets (7:35 ET): Two struggling teams meet here. Washington has to be on the short list for biggest disappointment in the league, having started 11-17 SU. Having made the playoffs four of the past five seasons, in-fighting and just bad basketball are threatening to tear this team up. They've lost three in a row coming into tonight, the most recent defeat coming at home to Boston Wednesday night. That game went to overtime, so beware the 130-125 final score. I feel tonight's O/U line is simply too high, thus I'm on the Under.
Brooklyn has been searching for answers ever since losing leading scorer Caris LeVert to a serious injury. From 11/21 to 12/5, they lost eight in a row, but have since found a spark w/ a three-game win streak (also 3-0 ATS). They certainly didn't appear to miss LeVert Wednesday, winning 127-124 at Philadelphia while shooting nearly 52% from the field. Winning on the road, against one of the top teams in the East, is certainly impressive. Especially when you consider the Sixers shot 54% overall themselves! But the Nets counteracted that by going 14 of 28 from three-point range and 37 of 43 from the FT line. Spencer Dinwiddie went for a career-best 39 pts as well. I suspect none of those numbers will be repeated tonight.
Washington is a perfect 4-0 Under following a game where they allowed 130+ pts this season. Bottom line is that all the numbers from both teams' last games are due to come down. That's both offensively and defensively. Brooklyn will not make nor will they attempt as many free throws. They aren't going to shoot 50% from three-point range on a high volume of attempts either. When they met two weeks ago, it was a rough shooting night all around as the Wiz prevailed 102-88 in D.C. The teams combined to 16 for 59 from three-point range and Brooklyn was just 30 for 81 overall for the game. 10* Under Wizards/Nets
|12-13-18||Bulls v. Magic OVER 209||Top||91-97||Loss||-115||22 h 29 m||Show|
10* Over Bulls/Magic (9:35 ET): I like both side and total in this game, which takes place in Mexico City. Let's start w/ the total, which I like a little bit more. In one of the more bizarre trends you'll find, the Bulls & Magic have gone Under the total 11 straight times when facing off. I'm going to call for that to end Thursday as this O/U is way too low for pretty much any matchup, by 2018 standards. I realize the Magic are coming off a terrible 76-point showing in Dallas while Chicago is dead last in the league in offensive efficiency. But when you look at the season-long numbers for both sides, it adds up to an Over.
The Under is 8-2 in the Bulls' previous 10 games. They too are off a couple "stinkers" offensively. First, they were held to 77 pts in a humiliating 56-pt home loss to Boston. Then, perhaps equally as embarrassing was getting held to 89 points at home by Sacramento. There's a lot of turmoil going on w/ the Bulls right now as the players haven't exactly taken a "liking" to interim HC Jim Boylen. But both Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis are back from knee injuries and we should start to see some improvement, at least on the offensive end.
Orlando is off a dreadful shooting night against Dallas where they finished at 36% overall from the field and missed 20 of 28 three-point attempts. You have to figure they're going to shoot better here, even in a relatively unfamiliar environment. Leading scorer Nikola Vucevic, in particular, should have a bounce back game after he scored a season-low eight points on 4 of 15 shooting vs. Dallas. The Magic were also w/o both Mo Bamba (suspended) and third-leading scorer Evan Fournier in that one. Both are expected back Thursday and like Chicago, we should see a rather dramatic increase offensively from the Magic compared to the last game. They average 104.6 PPG while giving up 107.9. Chicago averages 101.8 PPG while giving up 112.9. Both of those points scored vs. allowed averages work out to an Over here. 10* Over Bulls/Magic
|12-13-18||Clippers v. Spurs UNDER 223||Top||87-125||Win||100||22 h 30 m||Show|
8* Under Clippers/Spurs (8:35 ET): We've gotten a glimpse of the "Spurs of old" as in their last two games (both wins), they've held the opposition to just 97 and 86 points respectively. That's a far cry from when Greg Popovich's team was torched for 127 PPG over the previous six games, a stretch where the Over went 6-0. While their defensive efficiency rating has slipped (tied for 26th), perhaps we're seeing the start of a turnaround. For tonight, it helps that the Spurs are at home where they allow "only" 106.6 PPG as opposed to the 118.1 PPG they give up on the road.
The Clippers have been one of the real surprises in the league so far. At one point, they head the best record in the Western Conference! But after needing OT to get by lowly Phoenix Monday night, the Clips got blown out in Toronto 123-99 the following night. It was their third SU loss in the last four games and they're 0-4 ATS during that same stretch. They've been held under 100 pts in all three losses and have averaged just 98.5 PPG in regulation factoring in the game against the Suns. Right now, LA is w/o Lou Williams, who is their third leading scorer despite being a reserve.
San Antonio shot a blistering 62% from three-point range in Tuesday's 111-86 win over Phoenix. I wouldn't look for that number to be repeated here. Even though they are shooting the ball really well from distance for the season, the Spurs are still at "only" 38.9% behind the arc. Nor would I look for Bryn Forbes to approach the career-high in points (24) he set vs. Phoenix, a night which included him going 5 for 5 on three-point attempts. Through the years, the Spurs are 6-1 Under in home games where the total is 220 pts or higher. These teams played a high scoring game last month (116-111 Clippers win), but I expect different this time around. 8* Under Clippers/Spurs
|12-13-18||Lakers v. Rockets OVER 223||Top||111-126||Win||100||11 h 57 m||Show|
8* Over Lakers/Rockets (8:05 ET): When these teams met early in the season, they have little difficulty in going Over a much higher total. Thus, I have no problem taking the Over here. The Lakers lost that early season meeting, 124-115, in Houston. It was part of an 0-3 start to the season for them, but they're the ones that have turned things around, going 17-7 SU since. Meanwhile, the Rockets are still trying to dig themselves out of a hole. They're two games below .500 entering play tonight and second from the bottom in the Western Conference.
Under has admittedly been the way to go w/ the Lakers over the last month. The Under is 16-4 in their L20 games, a stretch which dates all the way back to Halloween. Their last two games have stayed Under the total, but both came against low-scoring teams, Memphis and Miami . This should be a much different style of game w/ Houston likely trying to push the pace. Also, it's not as if the Lakers are a bad offensive team. They average 113.1 PPG on 47.4%. You may have heard of LeBron James, who has seen improvement in his three-point shooting since coming to LA. James and the Lakers should exploit a Rockets team that is 25th in defensive efficiency.
Houston found itself down double digits at home in the first half to Portland Tuesday night. They roared back for a 111-103 victory, snapping a three-game losing streak. They'd also gone 2-7 SU and ATS the last nine games. I have to say that it's been rather shocking to see how far the Rockets have fallen offensively after being neck & neck w/ Golden State last year in terms of efficiency and points per game. But there's still a lot of time to rectify that fall and the team's home games are already 7-4 to the Over, even if their last one didn't quite get there. Again, the total was much higher when these teams played early in the year (237.5) and the game went Over despite terrible FT shooting from both sides and the Lakers missing 24 of 32 three-point attempts. Six of the last eight meetings have gone Over. 8* Over Lakers/Rockets
|12-10-18||Jazz v. Thunder UNDER 216.5||Top||113-122||Loss||-110||12 h 10 m||Show|
8* Under Jazz/Thunder (8:05 ET): I've admittedly been on the wrong end of a couple Jazz totals in the last week. Both games were against the Spurs, the more recent one taking place just last night. After they scored 139 points to ruin my Under last Tuesday, Utah finished w/ only 97 Sunday to thwart my Over play. (For the record, I was correct in taking the Under when they played Houston Thursday night. That was a 118-91 win). Tonight, they're in Oklahoma City to face a Thunder team that tops the league in defensive efficiency, allowing fewer than one point per possession (only team in the league that can claim that). Under is pretty easy call for me here.
The Thunder will likely not be in a pleasant mood entering this game as they're looking to rebound from an embarrassing defeat to lowly Chicago on Friday. They gave up 114 pts to a 6-win team that ranks last in the league in offensive efficiency. A really poor 1st half is what cost them as they held the Bulls to just 44 pts after halftime. The loss was only the 4th in the L20 games for OKC, who previously had gone 13-0 SU vs. sub-.500 foes. I expect the defense to be a lot better here than it was in the 1st half vs. Chicago. The 114 pts scored by the Bulls was the most given up by OKC in any game in almost three weeks. The Bulls' 52.4% shooting was the highest percentage by any opponent in nearly four weeks.
Utah was one of the top defensive teams in the league last year. They finished #2 in efficiency, but have slipped somewhat this year down to 11th. They are 20th in offensive efficiency, which is actually only one spot below the Thunder. Both teams also rank near the bottom of the league in three-point shooting percentage w/ OKC 28th at 31.7%. But while the Thunder are lacking on the offensive end when it comes to three-point shooting, they make up for it by defending the arc well. They allow just 32.8% shooting from distance for the year, which ranks right near the top of the league. The percentage is even lower here at home. 8* Under Jazz/Thunder
|12-09-18||Jazz v. Spurs OVER 219||Top||97-110||Loss||-105||11 h 52 m||Show|
10* Over Jazz/Spurs (7:05 ET): Earlier this week, I made the mistake of playing a matchup between these two Under the total. Pretty clearly, I had underestimated just how much San Antonio has regressed this season. The play also flew in the face of the recent history between the teams as now eight of the past nine matchups have gone Over the total. While the numbers are now higher, I learned from my mistake and expect that trend to continue. The Spurs have seen the Over cash in six straight games, as well as 10 of the last 11, due in large part to the massive defensive regression. Utah hung 139 points on them Tuesday. Of course, San Antonio can score too; something that was readily apparent in a 133-120 win over the Lakers on Friday. Take the Over here.
Utah followed up its win over San Antonio by beating Houston on Thursday, 118-91. I did win w/ the Under in that game as they held the Rockets below 39% from the field. Key was forcing 22 Houston turnovers and turning them into 33 points. The most impressive thing about the win is that the Jazz did it mostly w/o Rudy Gobert, who was ejected in the 2nd quarter for arguing with the officials. After a mostly disappointing first quarter of the season, the team has now won 4 of its last 5. Now they'll look to replicate Tuesday's shooting performance against San Antonio when they were 60% overall from the field and made a season-high 20 three-pointers. Utah is 6-1 Over this season following a double digit win.
The Spurs were down 12 in the 4Q to the Lakers on Friday, but rallied back for a double digit win on the back of eight players scoring in double figures. One of them was DeMar DeRozan, who went for a season-high 36 pts. The bench also outscored the Lakers' reserves 54-26. But I still worry about this team defensively as they've slipped all the way down to 28th in efficiency, a stunning collapse and completely uncharacteristic of what we've seen during the Greg Popovich era. Only Phoenix and Cleveland are lower in defensive efficiency right now. But the Spurs aren't the only team to have regressed defensively in 2018-19. Utah was #2 last season and now #10. San Antonio is 11-3 Over this season in games where they are the underdog. 10* Over Jazz/Spurs
|12-07-18||Raptors v. Nets UNDER 221||Top||105-106||Win||100||10 h 8 m||Show|
10* Under Raptors/Nets (7:35 ET): Toronto has the best record in the league currently at 21-5 straight up. They've lost just one time in the L10 games and it was to Denver, the team w/ the best record in the Western Conference. That defeat took place on Monday (at home), but the Raptors quickly rebounded w/ a 113-102 win over Philadelphia. Tonight, the opponent is much easier, but they have to hit the road where on average their games are a little bit lower scoring. Toronto's working on a three-game Under streak as they head to Brooklyn on Friday and I think it continues.
The Nets lost an absolute heartbreaker Wednesday night, falling here at home to the Thunder 114-112. It's not just that they fell only two points short against one of the best teams in the league. Brooklyn led by as many as 23 points. They were outscored 39-19 in the 4th quarter w/ Russell Westbrook scoring 25 by himself. Though the Nets still covered (were 6 pt underdogs), the SU loss was their eighth in a row. I will point out that five of those have been by six points or less, so it's not as if the team is being blown out. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they're competitive again tonight.
But this is a play on the total, so we need to talk about scoring. Brooklyn's slide coincides w/ the loss of their leading scorer, Caris LeVert, back on November 12th. The team is just 2-10 SU since. Not having LeVert is clearly affecting the team down the stretch of games as they are shooting just 39.5% in the fourth quarter their L5 games at home. Over the L5 games overall, they are averaging just over 102 PPG. Toronto has less issues scoring, but it does average several points fewer per game on the road as opposed to at home. This total is simply too high. 10* Under Raptors/Nets
|12-06-18||Rockets v. Jazz UNDER 216.5||Top||91-118||Win||100||13 h 25 m||Show|
8* Under Rockets/Jazz (10:35 ET): Two Western Conference teams that are desperate for a win face off tonight in the second game of the TNT doubleheader. Both Houston and Utah are surprisingly below .500 as we've passed the quarter pole of this season. I think it's safe to call them the two biggest disappointments in the league right now, at least given preseason expectations. When they last met, it was a very low-scoring affair w/ the Jazz winning 100-89 on the road. I think we're in store for another relatively low-scoring game tonight, maybe not quite as low-scoring as the first go-around, but the Under is still the play here.
I played both of these teams Under the total in their last games. With Houston, it worked out well. They were held to 91 points, including just 29 in the second half, in a loss to Minnesota. That result snapped the Rockets' eight-game Over streak. Now certainly this team is fully capable of producing far more than 29 points in a half. But for tonight, I expect a more even distribution of scoring across the two halves. They had 62 pts in the 1H vs. Minnesota Monday night and that's about as unlikely to be repeated here as the 29 pt 2H. Also in handicapping this rematch, one thing that's different about the Rockets from the last time they faced Utah is no Carmelo Anthony (thank goodness for that!).
Playing Utah Under the total on Tuesday did not work out so well for me. They blistered the suddenly defensively incompetent Spurs for 139 points on 60.7% shooting. Perhaps more impressive is that the Jazz also shot better than 60% from three-point range in the contest, making a season-high 20 three-pointers! They aren't likely to repeat that performance though as for the season, the team shoots 46.4% overall and 33.8% from 3-pt range. Those aren't terrible numbers, just pretty average. I expect the three-point shooting in particular to decrease here, both in terms of percentage and volume. While Utah may not be as stout defensively this year compared to 2017-18, they certainly held Houston in check the first time. It's shocking to see the Jazz only 3-6 SU at home this year and perhaps almost as surprising that the Over is 8-1 in those games. But Houston is 24-11 Under the L35 times it has been an underdog, which isn't often. 8* Under Rockets/Jazz
|12-05-18||Spurs v. Lakers OVER 223||Top||113-121||Win||100||14 h 56 m||Show|
8* Over Spurs/Lakers (10:35 ET): Well, it was a bad read last night (by me) w/ the Under on Spurs-Jazz. Clearly, San Antonio's defense has regressed far more than anyone could have imagined. It was their third time giving up 130+ points in the last six games. (By the way, they also topped 130 themselves once during that stretch). Bottom line is that a team who for so long was a mainstay at the top of the defensive efficiency ratings, is no longer any good on that end of the floor. Tonight, they face a Lakers team that has gone Under in its last eight game as well as 14 out of its last 16. A matchup with the Spurs is just the recipe to change that. Take the Over here.
After a slow start (should have been expected), LeBron has the Lakers playing pretty well of late. The team has won three straight, all by double digits and all at home. They're actually up to fifth in the Western Conference right now. Tonight's spread might be an overlay as the only teams they've been asked to lay more points to in a game this season are Atlanta and Phoenix. Also, the Lakers are 0-2 against the Spurs this year w/ those two losses coming by a total of five points. The first one was an absolute shootout w/ the Spurs winning 143-142 in overtime (LeBron missed two free throws late). The rematch, which took place in San Antonio, was a lower-scoring affair w/ SA prevailing 110-106.
The total for this game is a lot lower than it was for the second meeting. That's probably because of the recent rash of Lakers' Unders. But San Antonio is 8-1 Over its last nine games and giving up a ton of points on the road this year. The Lakers are 14-6 SU since that first loss to the Spurs and should have a productive offensive night here. They scored 120 Sunday vs. a lousy Phoenix team. Note they were w/o third leading scorer Brandon Ingram for both previous matchups vs. the Spurs. The fact that San Antonio is in the second night of a back to back won't mean much here as HC Greg Popovich pulled his top two scorers - DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge in the 3Q last night. It was only two games ago that the Spurs had a historically great shooting night, becoming the 1st team in 23 years to shoot better than 60% overall, 70% from three-point range and 90% from the FT line. The Over is 9-3 when they are an underdog this season. 8* Over Spurs/Lakers
|12-04-18||Spurs v. Jazz UNDER 213.5||Top||105-139||Loss||-116||13 h 50 m||Show|
10* Under Spurs/Jazz (9:05 ET): These teams played four times last year and the Over hit in three of the games. But those were low totals, all sub-200 pts, a range you're probably not going to see very much this season. Alas, it's a much higher total this go around for the Spurs & Jazz, which also makes sense when you consider how both teams have regressed defensively. Last year, these teams were 2nd (Jazz) and 4th (Spurs) in defensive efficiency. This year, they've slipped to 13th and 27th respectively. The Over has hit in seven of San Antonio's last eight games as they've regressed to a shocking degree. This all being said, I still think tonight's number is too high. Take the Under.
After giving up 128 or more points three times in a four-game stretch, it was time for the Spurs to give their opponents a taste of their own medicine as they dropped 131 in a win over Portland on Sunday. They got a season-high 36 points from DeMar DeRozan and shot a blistering 60.2% from the floor overall. Even more ridiculous is how prolific they were from three-point range. They attempted only 15 shots from behind the arc, but made 11 of them! Needless to say, they probably won't shoot that high of a percentage from distance in any other game the rest of this season. Something else that happened in that game is the teams combined to go 36 of 38 from the free throw line. That's also highly irregular in today's NBA. Bottom line is that all the offensive numbers from the Spurs' last game are due to drop severely. It was the 1st time since 1995 that a team shot 60% overall, 70% from 3-pt range & 90% from the FT line. Overall, their recent numbers - both offensively and defensively - are way out of whack.
I think it's fair to say that Utah has been a giant disappointment so far this year. With San Antonio, you knew they'd fall off some w/ the entire core group of players from the last few years "vacating the premsis." But the Jazz came into 2018-19 w/ high hopes. From November 12th to the 26th, they were held under 100 pts six times in a nine-game stretch. That's bad. Perhaps most shocking of all is the team's 2-6 SU home record. The Over is 7-1 here, but I suspect better defense is forthcoming. The Jazz have played a ton out on the road lately, so they may still be a bit tired heading into tonight, which will affect their shooting. 10* Under Spurs/Jazz
|12-03-18||Rockets v. Wolves UNDER 220.5||Top||91-103||Win||100||12 h 12 m||Show|
10* Under Rockets/T'wolves (8:05 ET): Maybe Houston finally has things turned around? Things started getting better w/ the decision to put Carmelo Anthony "on ice." Melo still hasn't been traded, but it's been a clear case of "addition by subtraction," simply by making him inactive. The team rattled off five consecutive victories in mid-November before another swoon set in as they lost four in a row. But back to back blowouts (over San Antonio and Chicago) seem to have things pointed in the right direction as they're at least back to .500. They've also gotten back to scoring plenty of points, something we became accustomed to seeing throughout last season when they were neck & neck w/ Golden State for the top offensive team in the league.
Minnesota had its own "problem child" to start the season, that being Jimmy Butler, but he's been traded (to Philadelphia) and now they too are playing better. They did lose 118-109 to Boston on Saturday, but before that they'd won and covered four straight. Defense was key to their turnaround as they held three of the four opponents under 100 points, something you don't see very often in today's NBA. The loss to Boston snapped a streak of nine consecutive games holding the opponent below 43% shooting. The Celtics shot (44) and made (17) a lot of three-pointers in that game. It also hurt the T'wolves that Boston was 21 of 21 from the free-throw line. James Harden & the Rockets are certainly capable of putting up similar numbers, but I don't think they'll be quite as prolific as the C's were Saturday night.
This is a play on the total, so let's start looking at that. Houston has gone Over in eight straight games. They've topped 130 pts three times during that stretch, but they shouldn't approach that number given how Minnesota has been defensively of late. The T'wolves have gone Over in B2B games, but prior to that the Under had hit in seven straight games and 12 of the last 13. So something will have to give here. Minnesota also made a ton of FT's (26) in the last game and I don't see that getting repeated here. The Under is 12-4 for them when facing a team that gives up 106 or more PPG this season. It's also 11-5 when the O/U line is 220 points or higher. 10* Under Rockets/T'wolves
|11-27-18||Lakers v. Nuggets OVER 216||Top||85-117||Loss||-110||13 h 8 m||Show|
8* Over Lakers/Nuggets (9:05 ET): It didn't take long for this O/U line to start moving. For good reason too; I expect this to be a high-scoring game. Now both teams have gone Under in each of their last four games respectively. For the Lakers, the Under is 10-2 the last 12 games. But when you look at the O/U line from the last time these teams played, you can gain a real "appreciation" for how much the oddsmakers have overadjusted here. That previous O/U line either closed at 234.5/235 depending on your book. If you bet the total, the closing number definitely mattered as the final score was 121-114, in favor of the the Lakers. But for the purposes of tonight's total, all you need to know is that final score would make for an easy winner on the Over. That's the way I go here.
The Lakers have won 9 of 12 games since Halloween, but lost their last time out, 108-104 to Orlando. That was a Sunday afternoon home game and LA's second loss to the Magic in just over a week's time. The Lakers did not shoot poorly per se against the Magic on Sunday, but did finish well below their season average of 114.2 PPG. Defensively, they'd held their previous three opponents all to 40% or worse from the field, before allowing Orlando to shoot 45%. They re allowing 112.7 PPG on the year. Without PG Rajon Rondo (out indefinitely), the Lakers have turned the ball over a total of 41 times in the L2 games. They had no problems shooting against Denver the last time they met, sinking exactly 50% of their shots in the 7-point win.
Denver also shot exactly 50% from the floor in that last meeting. In fact, they took (92) and made (46) the exact same numbers as the Lakers! The difference was that the Nuggets only made 6 of 23 three-point attempts (26.1%) while LA was a more respectable 10 of 29. Denver averages 10 makes per game from behind the arc and you can also expect them to shoot better overall at home where they average 113.8 PPG on 48.1% shooting. What I'm not sold on here is them repeating the kind of defensive efforts we've seen in the last two games where they allowed 87 and 98 pts in wins over the Magic and Thunder. Denver is 50-28 Over the L78 times it has faced a team averaging at least 106 PPG (Lakers average 114.2). The Lakers are 3-1 Over as underdogs this season. 8* Over Lakers/Nuggets
|11-26-18||Magic v. Warriors OVER 216||Top||110-116||Win||100||13 h 29 m||Show|
10* Over Magic/Warriors (10:35 ET): Golden State seems to have righted the ship, although a one-point win over Sacramento on Saturday was hardly inspiring. The Dubs have now covered only one of their last eight games as they continue to try to overcome the absences of both Steph Curry and Draymond Green. Tonight they face an Orlando team that is much improved this year, evident by the fact the Magic come in on a 5-1 ATS hot streak (4-2 straight up). As has been the case w/ most recent Warriors' lines, this one looks short, but you obviously have to factor in the Curry and Green injuries. I also happen to think the O/U line here is too low and that's where the value is in on Monday night's matchup. Take the Over.
Orlando played yesterday and pulled out an upset in LA, beating the Lakers 108-104 as 7.5-pt underdogs. The Magic had two 30+ point quarters in the win, though they by no means shot the ball particularly well. We do have to be cognizant here of the fact that Orlando only shoots 43.5% from the floor on the road. But the Over is 3-1 this season when the team is playing the second night of a back to back. Defensively, I expect them to struggle tonight. Golden State is still #2 in the league in offensive efficiency w/ both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both guaranteed to play. There's also a chance Green could return (listed as "day to day").
Even with Curry and Green missing time, the Warriors are still shooting nearly 50% for the season and average 116 PPG. Durant has caught fire in the last two games, scoring 76 pts on 55% overall shooting. Thompson went for 62 points, making nine three-pointers total. Both, particularly Durant, had really struggled from three-point range during the first and only four-game losing streak of the Steve Kerr era. Something not really talked about is the Warriors have regressed defensively this year. Hidden in the midst of all the scoring the last several years is the fact they usually rank near the top of the league in defensive efficiency. This year, they've slipped to 15th, one spot ahead of Orlando. 10* Over Magic/Warriors
|11-25-18||Suns v. Pistons OVER 219||Top||107-118||Win||100||8 h 53 m||Show|
10* Over Suns/Pistons (4:05 ET): I've had quite a bit of success playing the Over in Suns games this week. I'm 2-0 w/ winners on Monday (in Philly) and Wednesday (in Chicago). Monday's game in Philly saw them lose 119-114 (total was 219.5) and Wednesday in Chicago was another loss (124-116) where the game flew past the O/U line (217.5). I did not play the game Friday as the team picked up a shocking 116-114 win in Milwaukee, as 13.5-pt underdogs. That game did not go Over either, just falling short of the 232.5 pt total. But it certainly still featured plenty of scoring. Phoenix will wrap up its four-game road trip against the Eastern Conference Sunday afternoon in Detroit and the O/U line is back where I like it. Take the Over on this one.
The Pistons are coming off a home and home w/ the Rockets where the team playing host won both games. Detroit covered the game in Houston, losing by only two, then pulled an upset on Friday. The game in the Motor City went into overtime, which I'm still a little "sore" about as that cost me what would have been an easy winner on the Under. The game was tied 98-98 at the end of regulation (total closed 216.5), but the teams combined to score 31 points in the extra five minutes. For the Pistons, that upset was right in line w/ other recent performances as the team is now 5-2 SU over its L7 games. They're 6-1 ATS in that same stretch, covering four straight.
When making the case for the Over in Phoenix games earlier this week, I noted the Suns were dead last in the league in defensive efficiency. They've since moved up a spot, to 29th, passing Cleveland. But they are still obviously very bad at that end of the floor. They've allowed an average of 119 PPG on the current road trip. Detroit has little trouble scoring anyway (111.2 PPG), so they should put up a lot of points tonight. At the same time, they're not so great defensively either, giving up an average of over 110 PPG. The Suns came into this season on a 27-8 Over run when scoring 115+ points their previous games. All three games on this road trip have seen at least 230 points scored while Detroit games are averaging 222.3 PPG. 10* Over Suns/Pistons
|11-23-18||Jazz v. Lakers UNDER 220||Top||83-90||Win||100||23 h 41 m||Show|
8* Under Jazz/Lakers (10:35 ET): What in the world has gone wrong w/ Utah? This is a troubled team right now. Wednesday night saw them lose outright at home (as 9.5-pt favorites) to Sacramento. That loss comes on the heels of a 2-3 SU road trip where they twice got their doors blown off, once by 27 at Indiana and the other time by 50 (!) at Dallas. In no way does this currently resemble the squad many thought would emerge as the #2 team in the Western Conference (behind Golden State) this year. Currently, they're 8-10 SU and giving up over 109 PPG on the season. On offense, they've averaged just 95.4 points over the last five games.
The Lakers are off somewhat of an emotional win as LeBron returned to Cleveland and led his new team to a 109-105 victory. They didn't cover, which made me happy as I was on the Cavs. In fact, Cleveland (a 9.5-pt dog) led outright most of the way, not conceding the lead until there was just over a minute left in the game. The Lakers haven't been a great team to bet on (just 6-11 ATS), which isn't surprising as you had to figure they've be overvalued due to the expectations of James coming on boad. I thought the expectation that the Lakers would be an automatic playoff team in the loaded West was a bit premature. But this team is playing pretty well right now, having won six of its last seven.
These teams are tied in defensive efficiency, ranking 19th. That's not all that impressive, but I look for this to be a bit of a low-scoring game. Eight of the Lakers last 10 games have stayed Under the total. Oddsmakers are still scrambling some after the scoring "explosion" we saw league-wide early in the season. So we're still able to get some O/U lines higher than they ought to be. This is one of them. The Lakers' defense has actually been much better of late, plus Utah has failed to score even 100 pts in four of its last six games. Utah was a top defensive team LY and I suspect we'll start to see their numbers at that end of the floor start to improve as well. 8* Under Jazz/Lakers
|11-23-18||Rockets v. Pistons UNDER 218||Top||111-116||Loss||-115||19 h 11 m||Show|
10* Under Rockets/Pistons (7:05 ET): These teams just played Wednesday in Houston. The Rockets won 126-124, shooting 55.6 percent from the field. Though it ended up being a two-point game, Houston actually led by much more w/ just five minutes to go. The lead was 14 pts to be exact. The key to Detroit's ultimately failed comeback was top Rockets' defender P.J. Tucker getting ejected (two techs). With Tucker gone from the game, Blake Griffin went off, making five three-pointers. Overall, the Pistons scored 41 pts in the 4th quarter. I don't see that happening again nor do I see Houston shooting as well on the road. Tucker should play the full game this time and thus I see this second game of a home & home staying Under.
To the shock of no one, Houston has improved dramatically since ridding itself of Carmelo Anthony. Melo is still on the roster, but not playing and things have taken a positive turn since that decision was made. Wednesday was the Rockets' fifth win in a row and eighth in the L10 games. After shockingly getting held under 100 pts six times in the first 11 games, the team has averaged 117.8 points over its last five games. That number coming on better than 50% shooting. While an offensive uptick was to expected, especially w/o Anthony, I don't think the Rockets will be able to sustain the production of the L5 games. They also only average 103.4 PPG on the road.
Detroit should bounce back defensively in this one as the Under is 21-8 for them the L3 seasons if they allowed 115+ points the L3 games. This is a top 10 team in the league in defensive efficiency right now. As far as Houston's overall shooting percentage for the year, it's just 43.9%. The Pistons aren't exactly a great shooting team either at 43.3% for the year. Over the L3 seasons, the team is also 20-9 Under after scoring 115+ points. The teams combined to make 29 of 72 three-point attempts on Wednesday, which is a high percentage. Not surprisingly, the O/U line has been set a few points higher for tonight. That leads to some value and like I said, I'm on the Under. 10* Under Rockets/Pistons
|11-21-18||Suns v. Bulls OVER 213||Top||116-124||Win||100||10 h 48 m||Show|
10* Over Suns/Bulls (8:05 ET): We have two very bad teams playing here, the night before Thanksgiving, so I look for defense to be optional in this one. Offensively, the Bulls (30th) and Suns (28th) might both rank in the bottom three in the league in efficiency. But they also both rank near the bottom in defensive efficiency w/ the Suns coming in dead last in that department. Certainly, Chicago is going to do better offensively in this game than they did Saturday vs. Toronto when they scored only 83 points on 34.9% shooting. Both numbers were season-lows. If you recall, my last NBA O/U play was an Over on Phoenix (at Philadelphia) and that game saw 233 total pts scored. More of the same tonight. Play on the Over.
That Over play w/ Phoenix was their last game. It was also the fifth time in the last six games they allowed 110 or more points. Philly had 62 pts after halftime. The Suns are one of three teams in the league yet to win a road game (Cleveland and Minnesota are the others) and I don't think that there's any denying that this is the worst team in the entire Western Conference. Their record is just 3-13 overall and in their seven road losses they've given up an average of 118.9 points per game. Chicago might be coming off its worst offensive game of the season, but this could end up being one of the best.
The Bulls have not shot the ball well of late. Their field goal percentages in the last four games are: 39.3%, 39.3%, 43.6% and 34.9%. Incredibly, they've scored more than 100 points only once in the last six games. But tonight could be a breakout performance of sorts. They just got done with a stretch of facing the three top teams in East - Milwaukee, Boston and Toronto - all in a row. Those three are all top five in the league in defensive efficiency. They go from that to facing the league's worst defensive team. Key here is that leading scorer Zach LaVine (25.3 PPG) is set to return to the lineup after missing the Toronto game w/ an illness. LaVine's absence at least partially explains the offensive ineptitude in that game. The Bulls are 7-3 Over the L3 seasons after scoring 85 pts or less the previous game. 10* Over Suns/Bulls
|11-19-18||Suns v. 76ers OVER 223.5||Top||114-119||Win||100||10 h 54 m||Show|
10* Over Suns/76ers (7:05 ET): Jimmy Butler's first game in a Philadelphia uniform probably should have been a win, but the Sixers gave it away late to Orlando and lost 111-106. But they're 2-0 since including a 122-119 OT win over Charlotte on Saturday that saw Butler hit the game-winner (a 33 foot three-pointer). Despite scoring 122 points, the Sixers didn't shoot the ball all that well, making only 42% of their field goal attempts. But they should no problem scoring tonight against a Suns team that ranks dead last in the league in defensive efficiency. The potential for a blowout is definitely there tonight, but I think Over is the better call here as BOTH teams should score plenty.
Since winning their season opener by 21 points (over Dallas), Phoenix has lost 12 of 14 in what promises to be another long season for this troubled franchise. Last Wednesday, they did pull an upset over San Antonio, 116-96, but followed that up by losing by 10 to Oklahoma City two days later. Those last two games have seen the Suns give up fewer points than usual (96, 110), but both were also at home. On the road, they are giving up 118.8 PPG, a big reason why they've yet to win a game outside of Phoenix. Here, they're facing a team that's unbeaten at home (8-0) and averaging 117.2 PPG in this building.
Butler obviously gives the 76ers the "go-to" scorer that they previous lacked. In the three games since coming over from Minnesota, he's averaged just 19.0 PPG, but I certainly expect that average to go up moving forward. He's shot 57.9% from the floor as a Sixer. As I've hit on multiple times already, the Sixers should have no problems scoring in this game. The Suns have allowed at least 117 points in every road game this season. The only issue here is whether or not Phoenix will be able to score enough to help this one get Over. The one time Philadelphia was a double digit home favorite this year, the game easily went Over. The Over is also 5-1 in the L6 meetings between these two and 5-1 in the Sixers' last six games overall. 10* Over Suns/76ers
|11-16-18||Nets v. Wizards OVER 223||Top||115-104||Loss||-105||10 h 26 m||Show|
10* Over Nets/Wizards (7:05 ET): We saw just how much Brooklyn is going to miss leading scorer Caris LaVert (out indefinitely) in their 120-107 loss to Miami on Tuesday. For a second straight game, the team struggled to shoot (40.2 FG%) and reserve Spencer Dinwiddie actually ended up being their leading scorer w/ 18 points in 29 minutes. However, defense has been the bigger concern for the Nets lately as they've allowed three straight teams to shoot 52.4% or better from the floor and given up 116, 120 and 120 points. I see the struggles on that end of the floor continuing tonight against a Washington side that has averaged 117.3 PPG during a three-game win streak. Take the Over in this one.
The Wizards started the season out very poorly by losing 9 of their first 11 games. But they've rebounded over the six days to go 3-0, including what was - easily - their best performance to date on Wednesday. Granted, it was against lowly Cleveland (who was in a back to back), but they won by 24. Thanks to a 41-point 1st quarter, the Wiz never trailed. Getting 29 points off 24 Cavaliers turnovers certainly helped as did making 13 of 40 three-point attempts. If there is one area where I expect Washington to regress though, it's defensively. Cleveland's 95 points tied a season-low for a Wizards' opponent and it can't be understated just how undermanned the Cavs were in the second night of a back to back (off a rare win no less).
Though Wednesday marked Washington's highest scoring half of the season (73 points), they didn't receive much from John Wall, who finished the game w/ a season-low eight points in 21 minutes. He was just 3 of 10 shooting. I would expect Wall to play better tonight and thus we won't see much dropoff from the Wizards offensively. The key here is can Brooklyn find scoring options w/o LaVert? Considering Washington isn't very good defensively (26th in efficiency), they should have their chances. Six Nets players did finish in double figures in the loss to Miami. Brooklyn is 24th in defensive efficiency, so this very much could turn into an "up and down" type game. 10* Over Nets/Wizards
|11-12-18||Spurs v. Kings UNDER 216.5||Top||99-104||Win||101||12 h 21 m||Show|
10* Under Spurs/Kings (10:05 ET): The Western Conference is just LOADED this season w/ only a handful of teams aware that they are not playoff contenders. Sacramento was supposed to be among those "building for the future," but even they have surprisingly started 7-6 SU despite being an underdog in all but one game. Meanwhile, it's an interesting year in San Antonio as this is the first time in about 20 seasons where the Spurs are NOT projected to be Conference Title contenders (hence the short line for this matchup). Thanks to a lot of high totals, the Kings have been going Under with more regularity of late. This O/U line isn't quite as high, but I believe the trend will continue against a Spurs team that still knows how to play defense.
Case in point; the Spurs just held the Rockets to 89 points in a key win Saturday night. Now the Rockets may not be what they were a season ago, but that's still a pretty impressive number to hold ANY opponent to, in this day and age. The Spurs held Miami to just 95 pts last Wednesday, but the only thing there is they lost that game by six points. With virtually the entire core of the last several seasons gone, San Antonio is probably going to struggle to score this season. They also continue to play at a very slow pace (tied for 26th) under HC Greg Popovich. But they'll continue to lean on that defensive play which has limited four of the last five points to 95 pts or fewer.
Sacramento has had no luck through the years against San Antonio, losing the last 14 meetings. What's pretty remarkable about that is they have NEVER once topped 105 pts in the 14-game losing skid. It's certainly not a good sign that they scored only 85 pts Saturday night against a Lakers team not exactly known for its defense and shot just 34.8% from the floor. I don't think for a second that the Kings will be able to maintain a .500 record for very long, but if there is one positive development it's them ranking middle of the pack in defensive efficiency after spending years near the bottom of the league in that category. They have held five of their last nine opponents below 42% shooting. The Under is 5-1 so far in Sacramento home games. 10* Under Spurs/Kings.
|11-09-18||Nets v. Nuggets OVER 212||Top||112-110||Win||100||12 h 56 m||Show|
8* Over Nets/Nuggets (9:05 ET): Denver is back home, off just its second loss of the season. It was a shockingly low-scoring game, even w/ Memphis being involved, as they fell 89-87 Wednesday night. As you can tell from that final score, it was not a good shooting night, but especially for Denver as they finished w/ a 39.0 FG%. That was their lowest percentage for any game since the season opener and it was obviously their lowest scoring game to date. But upon this return home, we should see an automatic increase in scoring from their side as they average 113 PPG on 47% shooting. It also helps that the team they're facing tonight isn't exactly known as a defensive stalwart. Take the Over.
Now Brooklyn is off B2B strong defensive performances, which is why they won both games. They held Philadelphia to just 97 points and then Phoenix to only 82 on 34.6% shooting. But the latter performance in particular will be almost impossible to duplicate as it came against such a bad team. In fact, the their two best defensive performances of the season came against possibly the two worst teams in the league (Cleveland, Phoenix). This opponent is probably a top five team in the league. The Nets are still allowing over 108 PPG for the year while scoring over 109 per game themselves. They have scored 120 or more in two of the past four games.
This will actually be the first time in over a year that these teams have played as both meetings last year came quite early in the season. Interestingly enough, despite the "explosion" of scoring we've seen in the NBA this year, the O/U lines for LY's games were far higher than where this one is set at. Denver scored only 17 points in the 4Q vs. Memphis and Nikola Jokic took just ONE shot the entire game. Neither of those things will happen again here, I assure you. It's pretty surprising that the Nuggets are near the bottom of the league in number of possessions per game, but that shouldn't continue. The Over is 6-2 for Brooklyn the L3 seasons after holding their previous opponent under 90 points. The Over is 46-24 for Denver when facing a team that both scores and allows more than 106 PPG. 8* Over Nets/Nuggets
|11-07-18||76ers v. Pacers OVER 216||Top||100-94||Loss||-108||12 h 31 m||Show|
10* Over Sixers/Pacers (8:05 ET): In the Eastern Conference right now, you obviously have two very hot teams in Toronto and Milwaukee. Boston will obviously be a contender for the top spot as well. Then there are these two teams, probably the only other potential candidates for a top four spot. Philadelphia is having some major problems on the road however, as they're 0-5 SU away from home after taking a 25-point loss to Brooklyn in their last game. Indiana is also off a loss, by just four points at home, to Houston. But what I'm focused on here is the poor offensive performance each team had in their previous games. I look for those to be rectified this evening and for this nationally televised affair to go Over the total.
The Sixers were just dreadful Sunday in Brooklyn, turning it over 28 times (a league-high for the season) and shooting just 20% from three-point range. There's virtually no way we see anything close to a duplication of those numbers tonight. Note it was Philly's second lowest scoring game of the season, the benchmark still being the season opener in Boston. They've scored at least 105 pts in every other game. You would have to go all the way back to October 23rd to find the ONLY time the Sixers have shot 50% in a game this seaosn. But you also have to factor in just how bad this team has been defensively on the road. Earlier I mentioned that they are still winless (0-5 SU) away from home. Well, a big reason for that is they are giving up 122.4 PPG in those five losses.
Indiana has gone Under in five straight games and was held under 100 pts for just the third time this season its last time out. Certainly, few would have expected a final score of 98-94 for a matchup with Houston. The Pacers have been good defensively (7th in efficiency), especially at home where they are giving up just 99.4 PPG. But I look for a bit of different story to unfold tonight, obviously. Indiana missed 10 FT's in the four-point loss to Houston Monday. This was one of the league's better FT shooting teams last year, so they definitely "left some points" at the line. In their last five games, the Pacers are averaging only 100.6 PPG, but I look for that number to go way up after tonight's matchup. 10* Over Sixers/Pacers
|11-04-18||Kings v. Bucks UNDER 236||Top||109-144||Loss||-110||7 h 49 m||Show|
8* Under Kings/Bucks (3:30 ET): I almost had to do a "double take" when I looked at the matchup, but these teams have gone Over in the L11 meetings against one another. But that trend comes w/ a pretty important caveat as none of those eleven O/U lines have been higher than 213.5 points. A lot has changed - for both teams - in the last year, but we were looking at a pair of sub-200 pt totals for the two 2017-18 meetings. Here, we've got one of the highest totals set so far this season and I think it provides an excellent opportunity to play the Under. Scoring in Sacramento games has been pretty crazy this season, but it's due to subside some moving forward.
Kings' games are averaging an insane 236.4 PPG so far, but it would seem that number can only come DOWN. Perhaps more shocking is the fact the team has won and covered five straight games. Win streaks such as this are quite uncommon in California's capital city. Note that I don't expect the Kings to come anywhere close to the 146 points they scored Thursday in Atlanta. They shot 54.1% for the game, a percentage that will be difficult to match. Something akin to the 46-pt third quarter they delivered against the Hawks is almost a lock not to be repeated as Sacramento had been averaging "just" 110.8 PPG during the first four wins of the current streak. They had that through three quarters Thursday. It's an offensive performance that's simply unlikely to be repeated.
Meanwhile, the Bucks are due for some defensive improvement after suffering their 1st loss of the year Thursday in Boston. They allowed the Celtics to make 24 three-pointers, a stunning departure from the kind of defense we'd seen Mike Budenholzer's team play during its 7-0 SU start. They still rank second in the league in defensive 3-point percentage (31.5%) as well as overall defensive efficiency. Here at home, Milwaukee is limiting teams to 40% shooting overall, including just 27% from three-point range. This being an afternoon game, don't be surprised by a somewhat "sleepy" start from both teams offensively (even though we just set the clocks back!). 8* Under Kings/Bucks
|11-02-18||Knicks v. Mavs OVER 218||Top||118-106||Win||100||12 h 49 m||Show|
10* Over Knicks/Mavs (8:35 ET): The O/U line itself has been huge in determining whether or not Mavericks games have Over or Under this year. Obviously, that's the case for any team and basically why an O/U line exists! But looking at the O/U lines for Mavs' games, a pretty clear pattern emerges. The Under is 3-0 when the O/U line is 229 pts or higher. But the Over is 4-0 at 220.5 or lower. Here, we find them coming off an Under and a failed comeback attempt against the Lakers Wednesday night. They lost 114-113, still a pretty high scoring game by an objective standard, but not high enough to top the huge 234-pt total that was set. So far, only one Mavs game has seen less than 221 total pts scored. I'll go w/ the Over here.
The Knicks have seen five of their last seven games stay Under the total, but more concerning to them is the fact they've dropped six of those seven games. Their most recent loss came Wednesday night, 107-101 to Indiana, a game where they blew a 4th quarter lead. Lucky for them that Dallas is on a five-game losing streak, so somebody is going to have to pick up a win here. My guess is that we see a high-scoring game, which is often the case when two bad teams meet up. Neither team is playing much defense in the early going, especially Dallas, who is giving up 116.6 PPG on nearly 50% shooting. They've allowed five different opponents to shoot 51% or better. The Knicks just let the Pacers shoot 54.2% from the field and they are giving up 110.2 PPG on the year.
Now neither team has shot the ball particularly well itself, but Dallas has averaged 119.7 points in three home games. The Knicks have yet to win on the road (0-3) but still average a respectable 106 PPG, a number they should top tonight. One bad offensive performance (87 pts at Miami) is still heavily skewing their overall numbers. Other than that one game, both teams have scored at least 100 in every game. The fewest number of points Dallas has given up in any game this year is 109. 10* Over Knicks/Mavs
|11-01-18||Nuggets v. Cavs UNDER 222||Top||110-91||Win||100||8 h 14 m||Show|
10* Under Nuggets/Cavs (7:05 ET): This is a terrible spot for Denver, who had to go to overtime last night to beat Chicago. They're 6-1 SU and looking every bit the Western Conference contender I thought they'd be, but last night showed that they can struggle against the league's weaker teams. So - by no means - will tonight's game in Cleveland be easy. However, what I'm looking at here is the total. Even though last night's game went to overtime, the Under still cashed. The Under is now 5-2 in all Nuggets' games this season, so while Cleveland is pretty terrible defensively, I think this number is simply too high Thursday night. Take the Under.
The Cavs scored a season-high 136 points Tuesday in their first win of the season. They shot 50% from the field, their first time doing so all year. But it was against the lowly Hawks. Defense continues to be an issue for the Cavs, who are still trying to figure things out under an interim coach (Larry Drew) as Ty Lue was fired on Sunday. Fortunately for the Cavs, Denver is going to come in tired tonight and likely not be at their most prolific offensively. Last night, the Nuggets didn't even score 100 pts in regulation and that was when rested and facing a Bulls team that was off an all-time bad defensive performance vs. Golden State.
Quietly, Denver is 4th in the league in points allowed at just 103.9 per game. So that's why we can't write their chances off completely tonight, despite being in this terrible spot. That defense should not be challenged much by a Cleveland team that is w/o Kevin Love and thus lacks a true "go-to" scorer. Yes, seven Cavaliers reached double figures in the win over Atlanta, but I would not look for that to happen again as the Nuggets are highly unlikely to commit 22 turnovers like the Hawks did. The Cavs are 26th in the league in assists per game and like I said earlier; they hadn't shot 50% or better in any game until Tuesday. 10* Under Nuggets/Cavs
|10-30-18||Hawks v. Cavs UNDER 226||Top||114-136||Loss||-117||12 h 44 m||Show|
8* Under Hawks/Cavaliers (7:05 ET): The last time these teams played was October 21st. It was also the first sign Cleveland was potentially headed for a second post-LeBron disaster. They lost the game 133-111 (to the Hawks!) and remain winless on the season as they're 0-6 SU entering tonight's rematch. Over the weekend, they fired HC Ty Lue, a sign that management may not have a clue as to how bad this team truly is. Now they are looking at being w/o Kevin Love for the next month. The Cavs' defense has been beyond horrendous so far, not only in conceding 133 pts to the Hawks in the last meeting, but also allowing Indiana to shoot 64% from the field in a 119-107 loss on Saturday. Despite that, I'm looking for this game to stay Under the total.
Atlanta may have torched Cleveland for 133 nine days ago, but they've scored just 177 pts total the L2 games. One of those saw me fade them, that being Saturday night's outright loss to Chicago. There, they shot a woeful 32.1% from the field. They weren't much better last night in a 113-92 loss at Philadelphia, shooting only 37.2%. That game was basically decided in the 3Q when the Sixers outscored them 31-13. The Hawks also didn't help themselves by going just 8 of 37 from three-point range and missing seven of 21 free throw attempts. If there has been one shining light of late for this team, it's been the defense as they've held three straight opponents below 44.0% from the field. All three games have gone Under. The Under is 25-11 for Atlanta when coming off 3+ consecutive Unders.
Now the Over has cashed the last NINE times these teams have met. Interestingly enough, the O/U line here is lower than what it was for the first matchup. While the Over did cash there, Atlanta is 11-5 Under the L16x its played a game w/ a OU line north of 220. That includes a 3-1 mark this season, the 1st game vs. the Cavs being the exception. I obviously don't see the Hawks being as prolific offensively tonight as they were in that first visit when they made a franchise record 22 three-pointers. At the same time, without Love (and really any viable scoring options), Cleveland is really going to struggle to put the ball in the basket the next several games. 8* Under Hawks/Cavaliers
|10-25-18||Blazers v. Magic UNDER 216||Top||128-114||Loss||-110||11 h 50 m||Show|
10* Under Blazers/Magic (7:05 ET): Last night may have been the "tipping point" I spoke of in my NBA analysis for yesterday. I had an Under (Pacers/Spurs) and was sure to note how the incredible amount of scoring we'd seen in the early part of the NBA season was eventually due to subside. The result of my Under play might vary for some, but the bottom line is that 8 of the 11 games stayed Under. I'm not saying that to abandon the Over strategy entirely moving forward, but blindly betting Overs is probably already a thing of the past. Tonight, I've found another game I like to stay Under the total.
Portland is one of those teams that has seen every game go Over thus far. Even after last night's run of Unders, there are still three others (Lakers, Milwaukee, Washington) that have yet to experience an Under. No team has been able to make it to 5 straight Overs to open the year yet. I don't think the Blazers will either as their scoring average of 124.3 PPG is bound to subside and their defensive numbers (117.3 PPG allowed) are bound to improve. Believe it or not, but they've actually held their last two opponents to a field goal percentage below 42%. They only shot 39.8% themselves Monday vs. Washington, which speaks to the number of possessions in that game. Also, when looking at that final score (125-124), note the game went into overtime. Tonight also marks the first time Portland has had to play on the road. Last year, their scoring average did dip some on the road, which is really not a surprise.
Orlando is a team that hasn't been any good since Dwight Howard left town in 2012. With LeBron James taking his talents to the Western Conference for the first time, the Magic are hoping they can break though this season in a pretty weak Eastern Conference. So far, they are 2-2 SU and hold a shocking 93-90 win in Boston as 11-pt underdogs. That's the kind of final score I'd love to see here tonight, though it may not be realistic. But, Orlando has topped 105 pts in only one of its four games so far, which I'd say is pretty significant. Both meetings w/ the Blazers LY stayed Under w/ neither side scoring 100 points either time. 10* Under Blazers/Magic
|10-24-18||Pacers v. Spurs UNDER 212||Top||116-96||Push||0||11 h 49 m||Show|
10* Under Pacers/Spurs (8:35 ET): At some point, we will reach a "tipping point" of sorts w/ the scoring explosion that is currently ongoing in the NBA. Perhaps it was last night when the Clippers-Pelicans game (where the total was bet as high as 238.5) stayed comfortably Under w/ a final score of 116-109. That was bad news for me as I chose the Over. While I'll certainly be looking to go Over in many more future games this season, tonight I've found a game where it's likely that that Under will cash. Ironically, it features a team that was a part of my only previous Under bet this season, Indiana. I had the Under in their season opener vs. Memphis, a game where they allowed only 83 points. Tonight they play the Spurs and I expect a (relatively) low-scoring affair.
San Antonio came into this season with more question marks than any other season in the past 20 years. Many do NOT even consider this a likely playoff team in the Western Conference as the core of the team was gutted in the offseason. They still have Greg Popovich coaching though and have started 2-1. That includes a wild 143-142 win over the Lakers Monday night that went to overtime. The Spurs were actually down six in the final minute of OT before rallying and then getting a gift when LeBron James missed two free throws. Obviously, I'm not looking for anywhere near that kind of offensive performance - from either side - here tonight. Note the Spurs shot just 42.5% from the floor in their first two games. The Under is 10-4 for the Spurs following a 130+ pt effort the previous game.
Indiana scored only 91 pts in its last game, which was a loss at Minnesota. That was after a 132-point effort against Brooklyn on Saturday. But while the Pacers are averaging 121.5 points in their two home games, they are averaging just 96 in the two road games. The respective shooting percentages are drastically different as well. Both coaches were critical of their team's defense in the last game, so I expect that to be the point of emphasis for tonight. Both meetings last year between these teams were very low-scoring w/ just 191 and 180 total points scored. 10* Under Pacers/Spurs
|10-23-18||Clippers v. Pelicans OVER 237||Top||109-116||Loss||-110||21 h 1 m||Show|
8* Over Clippers/Pelicans (8:05 ET): I'll look for the NBA's scoring explosion to continue Tuesday night w/ one of the teams most responsible for it. New Orleans has scored 131 and 149 points in two blowout wins. As a result, we have the highest posted total yet for any NBA game this season. They are hosting the Clippers, whose own scoring has increased w/ each passing game. They scored a season-high 115 in an upset win over the Rockets Sunday night. That moved them to 2-1 SU, though all three games were played at home. I'm not about to jump in front of this Pelicans' scoring train, so Over is the play.
The Pelicans wasted no time turning heads as they rocked Houston 131-112 in the season opener. That was in Houston, by the way. New Orleans scored 30 or more points in every quarter and was led by Anthony Davis' 32 points and 16 rebounds. Nikola Mirotic added 30 and the team shot 53% overall. It was even more of an offensive onslaught against Sacramento where they scored 149 pts, the highest scoring effort by any team this season. The Pelicans shot almost 59% in that win, including 16 of 31 from three-point range. All five starters were in double figures, led by Mirotic's 36. But lost in that impressive offensive performance was them allowing 129 points. The Clippers will get theirs too here.
While this O/U line is high, it's not too much higher than previous Pelicans' totals. The numbers closed north of 230 for both previous games. Now for the Clippers, it is high. Their first two games, against Denver and Oklahoma City, saw them hold the opponent below 38 percent shooting. That certainly is unlikely to happen tonight. In those same two games, the Clippers didn't shoot that well either. As discussed earlier, the Pelicans defense has been such that the Clippers will score plenty in this game. Don't be afraid to bet the Over in this one as it should be a wildly exciting contest. 8* Over Clippers/Pelicans
|10-22-18||Knicks v. Bucks OVER 226.5||Top||113-124||Win||100||11 h 32 m||Show|
10* Over Knicks/Bucks (8:05 ET): Half of the teams in the NBA have gone Over in all of their games so far. But the Knicks have been an exception to the "rule' w/ two of their three games staying Under. It's not that they have been terribly low-scoring affairs, though they have averaged only 103 PPG in back to back losses to Brooklyn and Boston. On the bright side, they are 3-0 ATS and getting double digits tonight in Milwaukee. But to stay perfect against the spread, they'll need to improve upon their shooting (42.4%) to keep pace w/ a Bucks team that has come firing out of the gates to average 115.5 points in two games. I had the Over in their last game, a 118-101 win over Indiana, and am going to play this one the same way. The Bucks are among the half of the league not have played a single Under so far.
Milwaukee is using the three-pointer to its full advantage under HC Mike Budenholzer and it's paying off. They went 17 of 46 from three-point range against the Pacers, certainly high volume, but it paid off. Last year, the team ranked in the bottom third from behind the arc, so this is most definitely a welcome change. I don't think it's going to subside anytime soon either as Giannis Antetokounmpo was 0 for 7 from behind the arc vs. Indiana and that's unlikely to happen again. Note the Bucks have been fast starters in their two games, scoring more than 60 pts in the first half each time. Friday vs. the Pacers, they scored 30 or more in each of the first three quarters. Speaking of fast starters, the Over is 44-23 in the first half of the season for the Bucks the L2+ seasons.
The Knicks did score 126 pts in their season opener, a win over the Hawks, so they are capable of putting points on the board. And Milwaukee definitely is susceptible on defense. The Bucks allowed Charlotte to come back from a 20-point deficit in their first game (still won by 1 pt). The Knicks are a little short-handed right now w/o their best player (Kristaps Porzingis) and top draft pick (Kevin Knox), but still look for this team to be better offensively in 2018-19 as they have not only rid themselves of Carmelo Anthony before last season but are now free from the foolishness of Phil Jackson trying to make them play a triangle offense. 10* Over Knicks/Bucks
|10-22-18||Hornets v. Raptors OVER 224||Top||106-127||Win||100||10 h 27 m||Show|
8* Over Hornets/Raptors (7:35 ET): Half the teams in the NBA have gone Over in all of their games thus far. You can count Toronto among them as the Raptors are 3-0 Over, in addition to also being 3-0 straight up. They've been remarkably consistent in the scoring department, finishing w/ 116, 113 and 117 points the L3 games. And they've done so despite not even really shooting the lights out (46.7 FG%). I was impressed w/ how there was no hangover the night after beating Boston as the Raptors went to Washington and scored a season-high 117 points despite playing w/o Kwahi Leonard (rest). I see no reason why the Raptors won't continue contributing to the league-wide scoring explosion tonight as they're back at home to take on the Hornets. Toronto was 3rd in the league in offensive efficiency last season while averaging 112.5 PPG and that w/o Leonard.
Charlotte has gone Over in two of its three games thus far. Ironically, both Overs finished w/ identical 113-112 final scores, however the Hornets lost one and won one. Their only game to go Under was against Memphis, one of the worst offensive teams in the league (held them to 88 points). The Hornets are off a rare close win (they have the worst record in games decided by 3 pts or less the L2 seasons), beating Miami by one on Saturday night. They are also now 3-0 ATS. Like Toronto, they too are averaging 115 PPG, having scored 112 or more in all three games. And they've done that despite relatively modest shooting (45.1 FG%). The key has been the three-point shot as they are 41.5% from behind the arc so far. They aren't going to be able to sustain that as their 49 three-pointers made through three games is a new NBA record.
But even as the percentage drops, I expect the sheer number of three-point attempts to keep Charlotte's amount of scoring strong. They attempted 42 three-pointers against the Heat, whom they led by as many as 26 on Saturday night. The Hornets could also stand to improve their FT shooting, which currently stands at only 70%. Meanwhile, this Toronto team is deep as they have seven players in double figures w/o Leonard against Washington. The Over is 8-4 in Raptors' home games the L3 seasons when the total is 220 points or higher. The Over cashed in three of the four Charlotte-Toronto matchups last season and I don't see how this one doesn't follow suit. 8* Over Hornets/Raptors
|10-19-18||Pacers v. Bucks OVER 216.5||Top||101-118||Win||100||13 h 40 m||Show|
8* Over Pacers/Bucks (8:35 ET): Both of these teams won their respective season openers, but the margins of victory were much different. Indiana rolled Memphis at home, winning 111-83. I had the Under in that game, which was a double-digit winner despite the Pacers shooting a blistering 56.6% from the field. Those concerned w/ me now looking to go Over w/ them should also consider that they held Memphis, a bad offensive team, to just 29.8% shooting. So while Indiana isn't likely to shoot the ball well as they did two nights ago, they're defensive numbers will almost certainly regress at the same time. So this one boils down to the opponent, Milwaukee, who beat Charlotte 113-112 in their season opener. Take the Over.
While the Bucks won by just one point Wednesday night, things should have been more comfortable considering they led Charlotte by as many as 20 at one point. But 21 turnovers did them no favors and allowed the Hornets to get back in the game. After scoring 93 points through three quarters, Milwaukee scored only 20 in the final 12 minutes. Led by the all-World Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks should do plenty of scoring this year. I have them projected to finish in the top four in the East, behind the obvious three of Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia. Last year's squad averaged 106.5 PPG despite getting little else beyond "The Greek Freak." They were 7th overall in offensive efficiency.
Tonight is the opening of the Bucks' new arena, the Fiserv Forum, so it should be a strong atmosphere for a team playing under a new HC (Mike Budenholzer) as well. But the Bucks will certainly be tested more here over the course of 48 minutes than they were by Charlotte. It doesn't bode particularly well that they let the Hornets shoot 42 percent from behind the three-point arc. Also, Indiana has a strong bench, one that scored 58 points against Memphis. I look at this matchup and see a lot of points being scored. 8* Over Pacers/Bucks
|10-18-18||Bulls v. 76ers OVER 216||Top||108-127||Win||100||12 h 44 m||Show|
10* Over Bulls/76ers (8:05 ET): Chicago is one of the last teams to open its season, doing so on Thursday against a Philly team that lost to Boston on Opening Night. The Sixers had yday off to recover from that disappointing defeat and should be ready to go here in a game they'll be heavily favored to win. I certainly expect the Sixers to score more than the 87 points they finished w/ against the Celtics, who are one of the top defensive teams in this league. The Bulls used to be one of the league's premier defensive teams, but not anymore as they finished 28th in efficiency a season ago. I'm on the Over in this one.
The Sixers shot just 39.1% from the field Tuesday night in Boston. You're not going to win many games on the road shooting that poorly, especially against one of the league's top teams. The overall shooting was bad enough, but the Sixers specifically struggled from three-point range where they missed 21 of 26 attempts. They also didn't help themselves from the FT line, going 14 of 24. I expect across the board improvement tonight from a team that averaged 109.8 points per game last season. In three games vs. the Bulls, they were remarkably consistent, scoring 115, 115 and 116 points. I expect a number in that neighborhood tonight.
The Bulls won just 27 games last year, their fewest in any season in over a decade. They should improve some in 2018-19, but don't kid yourself; this is NOT a playoff-caliber team. They were not good on either end of the floor last season, ranking bottom three in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Defensively, they figure to be bad again. They allowed 112 PPG on the road last season. Offensively though is where the improvement might come as Zach LaVine (acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade) is healthy and consider Chicago native Jabari Parker to be the X-factor. 10* Over Bulls/76ers
|10-17-18||Grizzlies v. Pacers UNDER 207||Top||83-111||Win||100||12 h 25 m||Show|
8* Under Grizzlies/Pacers (7:05 ET): Memphis was not a good team last year. They lost 60 games and were outscored by 6.2 PPG. Now they weren't very healthy and that played a role in their significant decline. With upgrades at the wing and at the defensive end, I expect the Grizz to win more games this year. I don't think they'll make the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference, mind you, but an increase of 10 or so wins seems reasonable. Their problem lies at the offensive end.
Indiana won 48 games LY and was the #5 seed in the Eastern Conference. Most project them to be in the top five in the Eastern Conference again this year, but I say don't be surprised if they win fewer games. That's because they were an extraordinarily fortunate 11-2 SU in games decided by three points or less last season (3-0 in overtime). That won't be repeated and the Pacers are largely bringing the same roster back. I believe regression is inevitable, even in a weak Eastern Conference.
For this season opener, I expect a relatively low-scoring game. Memphis was one of only two teams in the entire league NOT to average 100 PPG last year (Sacramento was the other). The Grizzlies do have Mike Conley back at PG, which is the most important "addition" from last year, but the new pieces - such as Summer League star Jaren Jackson Jr - will take time to gel. Both times these teams played last season, the game went Over. But those two games saw excellent shooting that won't be repeated here. The total is also higher than either of LY's matchups. 8* Under Grizzlies/Pacers
|05-31-18||Cavs v. Warriors OVER 214||Top||114-124||Win||100||24 h 10 m||Show|
10* Over Cavaliers/Warriors (9:05 ET): For the fourth consecutive year, we have the same two teams meeting in the NBA Finals. Over the year four year span of 1984-1987, the Celtics and Lakers met three times (not '86 as the Celtics met the Rockets instead), but that's the only comparable thing (in my lifetime) to what we're seeing here. Golden State has beaten Cleveland twice over the previous three Finals, winning in six games in '15 and just five last year. The Cavs won their lone NBA Title in 2016, stunning the Warriors by rallying back from a 3-1 series deficit to win in seven games. Were they to win it all this year, it would be considered an even bigger upset than two years ago, both by the odds and logic. Cleveland no longer has Kyrie Irving while GSW now has Kevin Durant. Still, it is pretty remarkable that a team w/ the best player in the world on its roster (that being LeBron James) would be this prohibitive an underdog.
Unders reigned supreme in the Conference Finals, going 11-3 overall. Breaking it down, that was 6-1 in the Warriors' series vs. the Rockets and 5-2 for the Cavs vs. Celtics. The low-scoring games in the Western Conference Finals were particularly surprising as those were the top two offensive teams in the league matched up. Oddsmakers continued to drop the O/U line throughout the series, all the way down to 208 for Game 7 (after the O/U line was 227.5 for Gm 4!), but it still didn't matter. Incredibly, the Dubs held Houston to an average of only 91.2 points on 39.2% shooting over the last five games. The Warriors did exceed their own YTD scoring average of 112.7 PPG three times over the course of the series.
It was a similar story in the Eastern Conference Finals w/ Game 7 closing w/ the lowest O/U line of the series and it also being - by far - the lowest scoring game. Oddsmakers had dropped the number by a full 10 pts from a series high of 207 (Gm 3), but to no avail. I see the NBA Finals, at least Game 1, changing this trend. While both regular season matchups between these teams stayed Under, one had a total of 234.0 and the other was an ugly shooting X-Mas Day game (GSW won both). Though they've improved somewhat dramatically in the postseason, Cleveland was a terrible defensive team in the regular season, ranking 28th in efficiency. Both teams were in the top five in offensive efficiency, however, and I simply cannot see two teams w/ this much firepower continuing to stay Under the number so consistently. The final four games of LY's Finals all went Over and the totals were much higher. 10* Over Cavaliers/Warriors
|05-28-18||Warriors v. Rockets OVER 208||Top||101-92||Loss||-105||21 h 49 m||Show|
10* Over Warriors/Rockets (9:05ET): So it's all come down to this. Golden State clobbered the Chris Paul-less Rockets in Game 6, 115-86, as 12-pt favorites. But, despite that final score, it actually wasn't as easy as it seemed. The Warriors actually trailed by as many as 17 in the first quarter before a second-half barrage was far too much for Houston to overcome. After scoring 39 pts in the 1Q, the Rockets were held to only 47 the rest of the way. That included a disastrous nine-point 4Q. As a result, for a fourth straight game, the Under hit. Obviously, with a NBA Finals berth on the line Monday night, all other storylines seem secondary. But to me, how far the oddsmakers have had to reduce the O/U line is quite notable. I'm on the Over in Game 7 as the total is now almost 20 pts lower than what it was for Game 4!
The Rockets have now been held under 100 pts in four straight games. Just how unprecedented is that? In the regular season, there was never an instance of them failing to score at least 100 pts in consecutive games! They've averaged just 91 PPG these L4 contests, which is just stunning. But as we saw in that 1Q Saturday night, this team is more than capable of still scoring, Paul or not. Consider that despite shooting 8 for 12 from three-point range in that 1Q of Game 6, the Rockets finished the game just 31 of 77 from the field overall (40.3%) and would go onto miss 20 of their final 27 attempts from behind the arc. James Harden in particular has really struggled from distance, going a combined 4 of 23 the L2 games. But, now the Rockets are back home and I just don't see any way we don't see across the board improvement offensively here. Four straight games of 40% shooting or worse is pretty unprecedented for any team in this league, especially this one.
Golden State did not get off to a good start in Game 6, but turned in a 33-pt 2Q, which was their 1st 30+ pt quarter since the third of Game 4. They went into halftime at just 4 of 18 from three-point range, but went 12 of 20 in the second half. Over the final three quarters, the Dubs scored 93 points, which is what we're used to seeing from them. They won going away despite a subpar (by his standard) effort from Kevin Durant, who was just 6 of 17 from the field. Also, neither team shot well from the FT line. On 36 total attempts, there were 14 misses. 10* Over Warriors/Rockets
|05-26-18||Rockets v. Warriors OVER 212||Top||86-115||Loss||-110||27 h 4 m||Show|
10* Over Rockets/Warriors (9:05 ET): It sure is shocking to see two straight Rockets-Warriors games where the winner wasn't even required to score 100 points. In fact, Houston has averaged just 92.7 points over the L3 games! Not only is this the first time all season that they've been held below 100 pts in three consecutive games, it's the first time they've been held below 100 in B2B games. Now, the big story for Game 6 is going to be the absence of Chris Paul. This has made the Rockets big underdogs in a spot Golden State already had to win to stay alive. But even w/o Paul, look for Houston's offense to increase tonight. I'll say the same for a Warriors team that has also been held below 100 pts in B2B games, a rarity in its own right. I'm on the Over.
Just as rare as these two teams getting held below the century mark in consecutive games is the fact the Dubs have lost B2B games. When at (or close to) full strength, that simply does not happen. Now, I know Andre Iguodala has been out the last two games and his absence was a big reason why I took the Rockets in both of those games (went 2-0 ATS!). He's listed as questionable for tonight, but as HC Steve Kerr put it, "he's gotten incrementally better each day." Golden State is 6-3 Over this season coming off three or more consecutive Unders (Under is 7-1 their L8 games). When off a SU loss, they average 117.3 PPG. When off B2B losses (has happened only five times all season, including one three-game losing streak), they have scored no fewer than 107 in every game in that situation and are averaging 114.8 PPG. Bottom line is they'll "get theirs" tonight.
With Paul out, expect plenty of Harden in this game for the Rockets. Though I ultimately expect this series to go to a seventh game, a Harden-led offense is still plenty to "write home about" obviously. Consider that the team went 15-9 SU w/o Paul in the regular season. Now none of those games were against the Warriors, but the point still stands that I can't see this offense being held under 100 pts for a fourth straight time. I should also mention just how much this O/U line has dropped from the first four games. It's a near 15-point drop from Game 4, which is more than "pretty substantial" and will be one of the lowest totals for either team all season. There's plenty of value to be had here. 10* Over Rockets/Warriors
|05-24-18||Warriors v. Rockets OVER 219.5||Top||94-98||Loss||-108||27 h 44 m||Show|
10* Over Warriors/Rockets (9:05 ET): While the Eastern Conference Finals is being controlled by homecourt advantage, over in the West, the zig-zag theory has held firm as the loser of the previous game has stormed back to win each of the last three games. It was Houston's turn in Game 4 as they pulled the upset in Oakland, 95-92 as nine-point underdogs. I'm proud to say that I was on the dog there as the Rockets essentially "saved" their season following an embarrassing 45-point loss in Game 3 just two nights earlier. The zig-zag theory indicates tonight would be the Warriors' time to shine, however, the series has now shifted back to Houston. Looking at tonight's total, it's significantly lower than any previous O/U line in the series and certainly lower than what it was for any of the regular season matchups. I'm on the Over in Game 5.
We're certainly not accustomed to seeing final scores in the 90's from either the Warriors or Rockets, so the fact that Tuesday's game ended up 95-92 is definitely quite shocking. These are, after all, the two top offensive teams in the league (both in efficiency and points per game). The fact that the Rockets averaged just 90 PPG in the two games at Golden State and were still able to come away w/ a split should actually have them feeling quite well about themselves. Because they average 113.9 points per game at home and should be considered a virtual lock to improve upon the shooting of the last two games, each of which saw them shoot just 39 percent from the floor. In particular, we should see them improve from three-point range where they were just 23 of 72 the L2 games. In the two home games in this series, Houston scored 106 and 127 pts.
Golden State is obviously no slouch on offense either. They shot better than 50% each of the first three games of the series before dipping down to 39% themselves in Game 4. This is a team that averages 113.0 PPG on the year w/ almost no dip on the road. Coming off an outright loss as a favorite, they are 13-8 Over this season. Their 14 assists in Gm 4 marked a series low and - shockingly - their assist percentage in the series is below that of the Rockets. That should start to change. Only Kevin Durant and Steph Curry scored more than 11 pts Tuesday and that's not likely to be the case again tonight. Both teams having two sub-20 pt quarters in Game 4 is something that certainly isn't likely to repeat itself again here. I'm taking advantage of this "low" number. 10* Over Warriors/Rockets
|05-21-18||Celtics v. Cavs OVER 206.5||Top||102-111||Win||100||13 h 50 m||Show|
10* Over Celtics/Cavaliers (8:35 ET): Cleveland got a much needed win in Game 3, finally providing LeBron James w/ some support. In addition to James' 27 points and 12 assists, all other Cavs' starters scored in double figures and the team finished w/ 116 points and made 17 three-pointers. That's a big change from the first two games in Boston where they scored just 179 pts total and shot very poorly (particularly from three-point range). While the home team is now 3-0 in this series, so too is the Under as the losing side has yet to score more than 94 points in any of the three games. Boston was very bad shooting the ball on Saturday, making only 39.2% from the field, including 6 of 22 on three-pointers. My guess is they'll be a lot better here offensively (remember, Cleveland ranked 28th in defensive efficiency during the regular season) and the Cavs will be pretty close to their Game 3 performance as well. Take the Over.
Each team has been pretty dismal from three-point range in two of the three games in this series. For Cleveland, it was obviously Games 1 and 2 as they went a combined 14 of 57 (24.5%). Therefore, Game 3 was a much-needed and welcome refresher. James made all three attempts from distance, but the real key was the rest of the team going 14 of 31, led by Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith going a combined 7 of 8. Remember - role players typically perform better at home. Obviously, I'm not anticipating much of a dropoff for Game 4. For the year, the Cavs are averaging 110.5 PPG at home on 48.2% shooting. This is also a team that averages 12 three-pointers made per game for the year.
Boston does not need to win another road game to advance to the NBA Finals (they have homecourt advantage in this series), but they need to at least start playing better on the road. Saturday's loss dropped them to 1-5 SU on the road in these playoffs and they have not scored more than 102 pts in any of those games. Four times, they've been held to 92 or fewer. But Cleveland is giving up 108.7 PPG for the year and isn't a good defensive team. It's hard to imagine the Celtics shooting as poorly as they did in Game 3 or for that matter, the last two games. They are just 69 of 166 the L2 games, 41.5 FG%, including 16 of 53 from three-point range. James defended like a monster in Game 3, but given his offensive burden, I'm not sure a repeat of that can be reasonably expected. 10* Over Celtics/Cavaliers
|05-19-18||Celtics v. Cavs UNDER 206||Top||86-116||Win||100||17 h 41 m||Show|
10* Under Celtics/Cavaliers (8:35 ET): It has not been a good first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals for Cleveland, who has been held to just 177 pts on 40.9% shooting by the team that finished #1 in the league in defensive efficiency during the regular season. For Boston, they couldn't have asked for a better start as they still undefeated at home this postseason (9-0 SU/ATS) w/ this "rag tag" group of well-coached players exceeding all expectations. But I wouldn't bet against Cleveland in this spot. Nor would I bet against a Celtics team that is now 23-8 ATS when taking points this season. What I would bet on for Game 3 is another Under as the Cavs are back to getting next to nothing outside of LeBron while Boston should see its own scoring (from the first two games) decrease, now that they're on the road.
Game 2 was especially frustrating for Cavs' fans as LeBron had another triple double, this one coming w/ 42 points. But the rest of the team contributed just 52 and Kevin Love had 22 of those. The rest of the team combined for an odious 30 points on 12 of 33 shooting. That's how you blow a double-digit lead (which the Cavs had in Game 2). My guess is that at least one "role player" will step up and contribute tonight. But the lack of depth remains glaring here. Cleveland's overall scoring average in the playoffs (101.2 points per game) is way down from what it was in the regular season. This is also a bad free throw shooting team, which has cost them at times. The Under is 3-0 this postseason for the Cavs when trailing in a playoff series and 4-0 this season when playing w/ three or more days rest.
Boston didn't exactly shoot well either in Game 2, going just 43.2% overall, including 10 of 31 from three-point range (Cleveland was an identical 10 for 31 from distance). But they had 12 more FG attempts and turned it over far less. Jaylen Brown has scored 23 pts in both games in this series and he + Terry Rozier have outscored Cleveland's starting backcourt 72-12 in the two games. But, key here is that the Celtics are just 1-4 SU on the road in the playoffs w/ significant drops in almost all major statistical categories. They have yet to top 102 pts in any of those five playoff road games and are averaging just 97 PPG overall. 10* Under Celtics/Cavs
|05-08-18||Jazz v. Rockets UNDER 208||Top||102-112||Loss||-115||13 h 44 m||Show|
10* Under Jazz/Rockets (8:05 ET): It certainly would appear as if we're destined for a Rockets-Warriors Western Conference Finals. Both teams enter Tuesday up three games to one in their respective series and are at home tonight. Houston was able to take both games in Utah, which is pretty impressive considering the Jazz came into this series sporting a 31-13 SU home record. Plus, both wins were by double digits (21 and 13 pts). That means of the eight head to head meetings between these two, the seven Rockets wins have all been by double digits. I'd like to think that w/ their season on the line, the Jazz will be more competitive. But I'm not willing to go on a limb and bet on oit. Instead, the total is more appealing as I'm 2 for 2 w/ the Under in this series already. Let's make it 3 for 3.
Over their last six games, Utah has failed to score 100 pts five times. The exception would be their Game 2 victory in Houston, which was a 116-108 final. You would have thought that they'd shoot better at home, but they finished Game 3 at 41.7% from the floor (despite going 11 of 29 from three-point range) and they were 38.6% from the floor in Game 4. They were 7 of 29 from three-point range this time and scored just 39 second-half points. It's not just playing in Houston that makes tonight a tall order for the Jazz offensively. They'll be short-handed as well. Ricky Rubio has not played a single game in this series after injuring his left hamstring in the close-out game vs. OKC. Apparently left hamstring injuries are contagious in the Jazz locker room as Dante Exum now has one as well and he'll miss tonight's game too. The Rubio injury has forced Donovan Mitchell into starting PG duties and that simply hasn't gone well as the rookie is shooting just 32.5% overall in the series.
If they are to have any chance in Game 5, Utah will have to rely on its defense, which has been their calling card much of this season. They finished the regular season ranked #2 in the league (behind only Boston) in defensive efficiency. Frustrating for Jazz fans in this series is that Houston has not shot the three well, yet still is in position to advance. Following a Game 1 performance where they were 17 of 32 from behind the arc, the Rockets are just 31 of 111 (that's 28%!). Only one time in the series has Houston hit its season scoring average of 112 PPG and that was Game 3 when they scored 113. They have been relying on a lot of Chris Paul mid-range jumpers so far. The Rockets are already 5-2 Under this season after allowing 90 pts or less the previous game. 10* Under Jazz/Rockets
|05-07-18||Celtics v. 76ers UNDER 205||Top||92-103||Win||100||18 h 37 m||Show|
10* Under Celtics/76ers (6:05 ET): While Philadelphia pretty clearly was overpriced coming into this second round series (were -400 favorites on the ML!), no one anticipated them being on the brink of elimination going into Game 4. Not after they'd won 20 of 21 games previously. Now that winning percentage was unsustainable, a point I harped on when I took the Celtics in Game 1. But in the last two games, one in Boston and the other here in Philly, we've seen the Sixers blow significant leads. Here at home, they lost in overtime after blowing a five-point lead in the extra session. That came after Game 2 in Boston where they blew a 20-point lead. My "gut" tells me the Sixers stay alive here, but I have no interest in laying the points. Therefore, I'll be playing Game 4 the same way I did Game 3 - Under.
The Game 3 Under cashed in spite of OT. There were only 178 total pts in regulation scored, well below the oddsmakers posted O/U line. That's the kind of defense I was expecting from two teams that finished the regular season ranked in the top five in efficiency. Boston was of course #1 in that department and has held the young Sixers in check in this series. In the three games, Philly has shot 42.2%, 43.5% and 39.2% from the floor. I'm just not sure the Sixers are going to have an answer offensively. They've been bad from three-point range in two of the three games, including Game 3 where they were 10 of 38. Turnovers were an issue for them in the regular season and have certainly reared their ugly head again in this series. Ben Simmons has certainly looked nothing like a Rookie of the Year contender in the L2 games.
Boston's Brad Stevens is pretty clearly outcoaching Brett Brown in this series or perhaps its a case of the latter's young team failing to execute. Whatever the reason, the Sixers margin for error is now nil. I'm still confident that they can defend here though as they hold visiting teams to 42.5% shooting for the season. Boston's defense doesn't take a hit on the road, but on offense they do average about 4.2 points per game less. The first two games in Boston saw the Celtics go a combined 32 of 72 from three-point range. That was well above the team's season-long average of 37.7% from behind the arc. Sure enough, they regressed down to below 30% in Game 3. 10* Under Celtics/76ers
|05-05-18||Celtics v. 76ers UNDER 206.5||Top||101-98||Win||100||10 h 1 m||Show|
10* Under Celtics/Sixers (5:05 ET): Perhaps we were all too quick to "crown" the Sixers as they lost both games in Boston (as favorites) and now face an 0-2 series deficit. Coming into the second round, they had won 20 of their previous 21 games, an unsustainable run that was due to come back "down to Earth." I, for one, am not all that surprised that they are in the predicament they are in currently. I actually played against them in Game 1, the end result being a 117-101 loss. Game 2 saw them lead by as many as 22 in the first half, but Boston quickly erased that and was able to take the lead by midway through the 3Q and only give it back briefly. For me, it was a tough loss on the Under, which didn't officially become a loser until eight seconds were left in the game.
At home, I suspect that we'll see a strong bounce back performance from Philadelphia here as their backs are definitely against the wall (no team has ever recovered from a 3-0 series deficit). However, I don't dare bet against a Boston team that is 22-7 ATS in the underdog role this season (and 13-2 ATS off a SU win as a dog). So, I'll go back to the well w/ the Under again. I figure we can always count on the Celtics defensively as they've held the Sixers to 42.2% and 43.5% shooting in the first two games. They were also the #1 ranked team in defensive efficiency during the regular season.There is basically no change in the number of points per game allowed on the road compared to at home. They do however average about 4.2 PPG fewer themselves.
Ben Simmons isn't going to be held scoreless again for Philly (was in Gm 2), but any individual gains he makes here likely come at the expense of the other scorers. The Sixers were terrible shooting the ball in Game 1, most notably from three-point range where they went 5 for 26. They improved to 13 of 33, a solid percentage, in Game 2. I expect that number to come back down for Game 3. At the same time, on the road, I expect Boston's three-point shooting to fall off tonight. In the first two games, the Celtics were 32 of 72 from behind the arc, which is almost 45 percent. That's well above the team's normal average of 37.7% for the year. Something not talked about enough is Philadelphia's defense. This was also a top five team in efficiency during the regular season and they hold opponents to just 42.4% shooting here for the year. 10* Under Celtics/Sixers
|05-04-18||Rockets v. Jazz UNDER 207.5||Top||113-92||Win||100||30 h 57 m||Show|
10* Under Rockets/Jazz (10:35 ET): Utah surprised a lot of people (not me!) by winning Game 2, 116-108 as a double digit dog. After taking a big early lead (by as many as 19 points), they had to thwart a Houston comeback, one that even saw the Jazz trail briefly in the third quarter. But led by Donovan Mitchell (17 pts, 11 assists) and Joe Ingles (career-high 27 pts), the Jazz were able to battle back and in the end, win comfortably. Game 2 was a stark contrast to Game 1 when Utah fell behind big early (trailed by as many as 25 pts) and never really recovered. Now the series shifts to Utah for the next two games where the Jazz have gone 31-13 SU this season and only allow 96.7 PPG. I had the Under in Game 1 and that's how I'm playing Game 3 as well.
Game 1 did see the Under cash (barely), but Game 2 went Over pretty easily as the Jazz shot 51.8% from the field and made 15 three-pointers. One area that the Jazz struggled in both games was free throw shooting as they're a combined 28 of 47 in the series. But an area where there were no struggles, at least in Game 2, was the defensive end. They limited the Rockets to 40% shooting overall, including 10 of 37 from three-point range. That's very different from Game 1 when Houston went 17 of 32 from behind the arc. Of course, in taking the Jazz plus the points in Game 2, I anticipated that Rockets drop-off. Some of that was natural, the rest probably can be traced back to the fact Utah finished the regular season ranked #2 in defensive efficiency. Something that may surprise you is that in the first two games, Houston is only 48 of 108 on two-point FG attempts. That's just 44%.
While Houston might very well shoot better in Game 3, Utah probably won't shoot as well here compared to the last game, even though it is at home. Ingles probably isn't scoring 27 pts again. Something else to keep in mind is that the Jazz play at one of the slowest paces in the entire league. They were tied for 25th in adjusted tempo, second slowest among all playoff teams (San Antonio). Defensively, they are a lot better at home (96.7 PPG allowed) than on the road (103.4 PPG allowed) and that probably helps explain why the Under is 26-18 in Salt Lake this season. Similarly, the Under is 25-17 in Rockets' road games this season. They score about 3.5 PPG less on the road than they do at home. They also give up fewer points. 10* Under Rockets/Jazz
|05-03-18||76ers v. Celtics UNDER 206||Top||103-108||Loss||-105||23 h 59 m||Show|
8* Under Sixers/Celtics (8:35 ET): Well, I "struck gold" in Game 1 of this series, cashing the Celtics as home underdogs. They won 117-101 (closed +4.5), holding the previously red hot Sixers to just 42.2% shooting. Head coach Brad Stevens rightly deserves all the accolades heaped upon him, especially considering all the personnel Boston was w/o in Game 1. Kyrie Irving is of course out for the entire postseason and Jaylen Brown didn't play either. Of course, this team's calling card all season long has been its defense as they ranked #1 in efficiency on that end of the floor during the regular season. The loss of Irving really doesn't hurt them at all in that regard. But it obviously hampers them offensively and while Boston has found ways to have some big scoring nights in this postseason, I don't think Game 2 will be one of them. Take the Under.
Brown had been upgraded to probable for Game 2, but has since been downgraded to doubtful on Wednesday afternoon. Keep an eye on his status. Regardless, this Under play will stand. If Brown does play, expect some rust and him not to be all that effective on the offensive end. Given that the swingman is averaging 17.9 PPG this postseason, his loss will be felt. But then again, that average is heavily skewed by a 34-point effort in Game 4 of the last series. This Celtics team did not shoot particularly well vs. the Bucks in Round 1 (only two games above 42.0 FG%), so needless to say I don't see a repeat of their 48% shooting from Game 1 of this series. I especially don't see them shooting 17 of 36 again from three-point range or 18 of 19 from the FT line. The Over is 10-2 the Celtics' last 12 games overall, but that's a trend I see reversing itself moving forward.
While Boston should certainly be commended for its Game 1 performance, the truth of the matter is that Philadelphia was highly unlikely to continue its torrid pace, which had seen them win 18 of 19 games. The cold reality is they've shot below 43% from the field in four of the past five games anyway. As stated above, they are now dealing with the #1 team in defensive efficiency during the regular season. In five meetings w/ the Celtics this season, the Sixers have yet to top 103 pts in any of them. They've also shot 42.2% of worse in four of them. Joel Embiid was quick to tout Game 1 as not being "representative" of what the team is capable of, and while that might be true against most teams, I'm not sure it applies to facing the Celtics. Embiid himself struggled in Game 1 as he continues to get used to the new offense the team is playing. The Under is 10-4 this season for Philadelphia if they allowed 115+ pts the previous game. 8* Under Sixers/Celtics
|05-03-18||Cavs v. Raptors OVER 212||Top||128-110||Win||100||20 h 29 m||Show|
10* Over Cavaliers/Raptors (6:05 ET): It was a familiar story for Toronto in Game 1 as they once again failed to beat LeBron James, this time doing so in one of the most excruciating ways possible. That is, they lost in overtime (by a single point) after never trailing in regulation. To add insult to injury, James didn't even perform that well (though he did have a triple double). By his own admission, it was "probably one of my worst games of the season." James shot just 12 for 30 from the field, including 1 for 8 from three-point range, and additionally went 1 for 6 from the FT line. He was only 3 for 15 in the fourth quarter & overtime, his most misses from the field in a 4Q/OT in his entire career. And Cleveland still won the game. The key was an epic collapse from the Raptors as down the stretch they missed 16 of 17 shots at one point. Neither team shot better than 43% for the game.
For the first time in these playoffs, Game 1 saw a James' teammate score at least 20 pts in a game. It was J.R. Smith of all people, who like most Cavs not named LeBron had been having a poor playoffs so far. Overall, five Cavaliers scored in double figures, led by James' 23. One of them was NOT Kevin Love, who continues to shoot poorly (was 3 for 13 in Gm 1). It would be easy to dismiss the Smith contribution as unlikely to repeat itself in Game 2, but the fact of the matter is that LeBron's supporting cast has been so poor thus far in the playoffs that you can't help but think the collective effort WILL improve. As a team, Cleveland averaged 110.9 PPG in the regular season (2nd in the East, only to Toronto) and was 5th in offensive efficiency. James is also very likely to see his own shooting percentage improve for Game 2.
If there is hope for Toronto, it's that Cleveland also ranked 28th in defensive efficiency during the regular season. They were ahead of only Sacramento and Phoenix. I wrote about this a lot in the first round series vs. Indiana where the Cavs somewhat shockingly allowed more than 101 pts only once. But in Game 1 Tuesday, there were signs of regression despite the Raptors inability to hit a shot late. What was so frustrating from the Toronto perspective is that so many of the missed shots were wide-open. At home, it's difficult to envision them missing those same opportunities again. After all, this is a team that averages 112.5 PPG at home and ranked third in the league in offensive efficiency (behind only Houston and Golden State) in the regular season. I see both teams shooting better here in Game 2 than they did in Game 1 when they each finished w/ 105 pts at the end of regulation anyway. For the season, Cleveland still allows 109.2 PPG. 10* Over Cavaliers/Raptors
|04-29-18||Jazz v. Rockets UNDER 207.5||Top||96-110||Win||100||20 h 25 m||Show|
10* Under Jazz/Rockets (3:30 ET): It's a quick turnaround between series for Utah, who just eliminated Oklahoma City Friday night. It took them six games in what should NOT be considered an upset as they had the better point differential and net efficiency rating in the regular season. This Jazz team must be taken seriously as their record since MLK day is a remarkable 33-8 SU. Now a second round tilt w/ Houston will be a far greater challenge than what they faced vs. the poorly constructed Thunder, yet the same could be said for Houston as the Jazz will be a much stiffer challenge than the defensively challenged Timberwolves. In fact, Utah was #2 in the league in defensive efficiency during the regular season. That's a big reason why I am on the Under in Game 1.
It only took five games for the Rockets to eliminate the T'wolves. Offensively, they got off to a slow start in that series, failing to hit their season average in scoring in each of the first three games. Consider that Minnesota was only 22nd in defensive efficiency. The Rockets scored 119 and 122 pts in the final two games, but it didn't come easy in Game 4 as they shot only 43.5%. Minnesota may have actually provided a "blueprint" of sorts for Utah to defend likely MVP James Harden. The T'wolves dropped Karl-Anthony Towns back in the pain in a "rim protection strategy" that seemed to work most of the time. Utah employing something similar w/ Rudy Gobert, a much better defender than Towns, would likely be even more effective. The Jazz were one only two teams (Spurs) in the regular season that allowed fewer than 100 PPG. Three times, they held OKC under the century mark and over the last five games, they allowed an average of only 98.2 PPG.
But not all the news is good for Utah coming into this series. Starting point guard Ricky Rubio could be out for as many as 10 days and will definitely miss Game 1. That's a killer on the offensive end as Rubio was having a career year. Also, the Jazz were swept by the Rockets in the regular season series, losing the four games by an average of 17.5 points per game. The Jazz scored 101 pts or fewer in three of the four games and actually saw their scoring decrease w/ each passing game. They also failed to score 100 pts in the last two games vs. Oklahoma City. 10* Under Jazz/Rockets
|04-28-18||Bucks v. Celtics OVER 195||Top||96-112||Win||100||13 h 59 m||Show|
8* Over Bucks/Celtics (8:05 ET): The home team has won all six games of this best of seven series, so here we are in Boston for Game 7 Saturday. Quite frankly, I was not crazy about either of these teams coming into the postseason as Milwaukee was the lone team in the field to be outscored during the regular season while Boston is injury-riddled, most notably being w/o Kyrie Irving. There was a string of shockingly good shooting performances, from either one side or both, in the first four games (all Overs). But that has quickly changed w/ B2B Unders in the L2 games, both of which saw 183 or less total pts scored. Thus, the O/U line is way down here compared to where it's been previously in this series. Though the Celtics' calling card is defense, I'll call for Game 7 to go Over the low number.
Boston finished the regular season #1 in the NBA in defensive efficiency. However, Milwaukee is shooting better than 50% from the field in this series. Really, the Bucks have had only one bad shooting night in the entire series and that was the last game here in Boston, Game 5 on Tuesday. They bounced back and stayed alive by shooting 50.7% in a 97-86 Game 6 win, which also doubled as their best defensive effort of the series as well. Looking strictly at shooting percentages in this series, one would think Milwaukee should have already advanced. Boston is shooting only 42.7% in the six games and that number would be even lower if not for shooting 53.3% in Game 2. In all other games, they've been 42% or lower. Looking through all the numbers from this series, something else that sticks out is how bad the three-point shooting has been the past two games. The teams have combined to go just 37 of 126, which is an ugly 29.3%
That three-point shooting can only improve here and at home, I certainly think Boston will shoot better tonight. The Bucks do allow 107.8 PPG on the road for the season. While Game 5 was a bit of an "ugly win," the Celtics did score 113 and 120 pts respectively in Game 1 and 2 victories here at home. Bucks' games average more than 212 PPG for the year, so this total is really low from their perspective. In fact, it is very likely to close as the lowest O/U line for any of their games this season! For the record, the Over is 3-0 in Milwaukee games this season when the O/U line is 197.0 or lower. Two of the three games even saw at least 217 pts scored. Even from Boston's perspective, this O/U line is low. You just don't see many NBA totals at 195 pts or lower anymore. 8* Over Bucks/Celtics
|04-27-18||Cavs v. Pacers OVER 204||Top||87-121||Win||100||12 h 25 m||Show|
10* Over Cavaliers/Pacers (8:05 ET): To quote Whitesnake, "Here I go again, on my own." The low-scoring nature of this series (Under is 5-0!) has flat out stunned me given Cleveland's poor defensive marks during the regular season. They ranked 28th in the league in efficiency, ahead of only the Kings and Suns (you're probably sick of me saying that at this point). Coming into this series, had you told me that the Cavs would hold Indiana to 100 pts or less in five straight games, I might have guessed the series would be over at this point. But it's not and LeBron James had to (again!) bail his team out w/ an incredible block & then three-pointer in the closing seconds Wednesday. (Goaltend or not, the Cavs still would have won). As for Indiana, we're starting to see their record in close games regress, which is something I would have predicted coming into the playoffs.
The Cavs were shockingly blown out on their home floor in Game 1, losing 98-80. Since then, they've come back to take the series lead w/ all four games decided by four points or less. Now, they try and close out the Pacers on the road. Again, I'm not shocked to see Indiana losing close games here. They were a league-best 11-2 SU in games decided by three points or less during the regular season, which is obviously extraordinarily fortunate. While they did win Game 3 at home, 92-90, note they were down by 17 at halftime. Really, Cleveland dominated much of the way in Games 2-4. Game 5 was a back and forth affair w/ the Cavs rallying this time behind an incredible James performance that saw him go for 44 pts (15-15 FT's!), 10 rebounds and 8 assists.
What has surprised me in this series is how low-scoring it has been. The Cavs still are averaging 109.9 PPG for the year, even though they haven't hit that average once in this series. The same can be said for the Pacers and their YTD scoring average of 105.0 PPG (which jumps to 106.4 at home). Both teams finished ranked inside the top 12 in offensive efficiency during the regular season w/ Cleveland 5th. Of course, the Cavs also allow 109.1 PPG, second most among playoff teams (New Orleans). Three-point shooting has generally been poor (from both teams) in this series and really we've gone three straight games w/o either team shooting the ball particularly well overall. I'll call for that streak to come to an end here in Game 6. It's not like the teams aren't scoring. All five games have seen the team w/ the halftime lead score at least 55 pts. The current Under streak (now at six games) is the longest for Cleveland all season. 10* Over Cavaliers/Pacers
|04-25-18||Pacers v. Cavs OVER 204.5||Top||95-98||Loss||-110||11 h 14 m||Show|
10* Over Pacers/Cavaliers (7:05 ET): Let's try this yet again, shall we? While most in the national media remain focused on whether or not this series might end up being the first time LeBron James loses in the first round, to me, the most shocking thing about this series has been all four games staying Under the total. Our Over play in Game 4 suffered a brutal fate as the Cavs' Jeff Green missed a free throw in the closing seconds, costing us a win. Given Cleveland's defensive ineptitude during the regular season, I'm not sure what is more surprising: the fact they've held Indiana to 100 pts or less in all four games or the fact that they're just 2-2 in the series despite doing so. I think we're finally in store for an Over here in Game 5 (I realize I've said that before!), and that's the way I'm playing this one.
As I've stated numerous times before, Cleveland ranked 28th in the league in defensive efficiency during the regular season. They finished ahead of only Sacramento and Phoenix. No team has ever made an NBA Finals w/ a defensive efficiency rating that low. Heck, only two playoff teams finished lower than 20th (them and soon to be eliminated Minnesota). So it's definitely a surprise to see the Pacers getting held to 100 pts or less in all four games. Indiana averages 105.2 PPG on 47.2% shooting for the year. Meanwhile, Cleveland averages 110.1 PPG for the year on an almost identical shooting percentage. We've seen some good shooting nights so far in this series (not Game 4), but it simply hasn't translated into a lot of points. It's also hurt that the number of free throws attempted in each game hasn't been that large.
In every game of the series, at least one of the teams has scored 55 pts in the first half. After Cleveland infamously "nose-dived" in the second half of Game 3 (blew 57-40 halftime edge), they very nearly did the same again in Game 4, but this time were able to hold on for the 104-100 victory. A big reason they were able to hold on was that Pacers' leading scorer Victor Oladipo had himself an "off-night" as he finished the game at just 5 for 20 shooting. I expect him to improve upon that percentage and overall scoring tonight. In fact, Oladipo is just 19 for 53 from the field the L3 games after scoring 32 pts in Game 1. So, he's definitely due to improve. As for the Cavaliers, LeBron continues to carry the rest of the team "kicking and screaming," but tonight at home, I expect the "role players" to perform better than they have in the previous two games. 10* Over Pacers/Cavaliers
|04-24-18||Spurs v. Warriors UNDER 205||Top||91-99||Win||100||15 h 14 m||Show|
8* Under Spurs/Warriors (10:35 ET): San Antonio was able to "circle the wagons" in Game 4 and thus delay the inevitable (that being elimination) by winning 103-90 as home underdogs. They did so w/ HC Greg Popovich missing a second straight game due to the death of his wife. An emotional a win as that might have been, I don't think many are looking for the Spurs to last much longer (no Kwhai Leonard remember) and tonight's probably the night that their season ends. However, I don't think for a second that they won't go down w/o a fight. Golden State, who trailed by as many as 17 pts in Game 4, is w/o Steph Curry and thus has its own set of issues right now. I realize it was only "one bad shooting night" in Game 4, but I like this potential close out game to stay Under the total.
The Warriors missed 21 of 28 three-point attempts Sunday and shot just 37.8% overall from the field. In each of their three victories in the series, they were north of 50% overall. But they are just 14 of 61 from three-point range the L2 games. That's where they obviously miss Curry, but let's also not forget that San Antonio is one of the best defensive teams in the league. Only them and Utah allowed fewer than 100 PPG during the regular season and the Spurs also finished fourth in defensive efficiency. Game 4 snapped a seven-game Over streak for the Spurs' in the postseason when trailing in a series. But remember that this particular iteration doesn't really have the "horses" past ones did and I sincerely doubt we're going to see the same type of production we saw from Manu Ginobili, in particular, here that we did on Sunday.
Lost in this great four-year run the Dubs have had is that they are a good defensive team. It was another top 10 finish in efficiency this year and they're holding San Antonio to just 98.2 PPG (on 42.3% shooting) in the series. In their last six games (includes last two reg season games), the Spurs have not scored more than 103 pts. They were fortunate to make 15 of 28 three-point attempts in Game 4, but that was after going a somewhat horrific 11 of 61 from behind the arc the previous two games. I realize that this is a low total from Golden State's perspective, but I think they'll hold the Spurs in severe "check" offensively tonight and won't need anywhere close to their "usual" amount of scoring to close out the series. 8* Under Spurs/Warriors
|04-24-18||Bucks v. Celtics UNDER 205||Top||87-92||Win||100||12 h 44 m||Show|
10* Under Bucks/Celtics (7:30 ET): Have the oddsmakers simply underestimated these teams ability to score? Through the first four games of this best of seven series, it would certainly appear that they have. The Over is a perfect 4-0, though Game 4 just barely snuck Over after Giannis Antetokounmpo's game winning putback gave the Bucks a 104-102 win on Sunday. We're all knotted at two games a piece in this series w/ the other trend (besides the Over) being that the home team has won every game. The scene now shifts back to Boston where the Celtics won the first two games, but they remain undermanned and have been outshot in every game in the series. The Celtics managed only 35 1st half points in each game at Milwaukee and while there might be a natural "jump" in scoring w/ them being back home, I believe it to be minimal at best and it will be defense that carries them, if they are to win here. Take the Under.
You have to remember that the strength of this Celtics team in the regular season was defense. They ranked #1 in the league in defensive efficiency and allowed just 100.4 PPG, which was third fewest in the entire league (fewest in the Eastern Conference). However, that defense has been under fire in this series as the Bucks have shot a stunning 54.2% in the four games, averaging 108.2 PPG. While the loss of Kyrie Irving is huge for the Celtics, that should not be having an adverse effect on the team defensively. Yet going back to the end of the regular season, Boston has gone Over in eight straight games. Totals have generally been low during this time, but note Celtics' games are still only averaging 205 PPG for the season.
I can't see Milwaukee continuing to shoot the ball as well as they have moving forward. In that regard, look for Celtics' HC Brad Stevens to make adjustments. I have little faith in a Bucks team that was actually outscored during the regular season, beyond Antetokounmpo. They were one of the top Over teams in the league during the regular season, but I've been really surprised as to how well they're shooting in this series. The Bucks' bench also scored 31 pts in Game 4, a number that should decrease significantly tonight. As for Boston offensively, that's where they do miss Irving and the "next man up" mentality isn't always going to work. Jaylen Brown did have 34 points Sunday (career-high), but note that Game 1 "hero" Terry Rozier had only 10. Looking at this roster, I just don't see a "reliable" scoring option on a night to night basis. The Celtics have shot below 42% in three of the four games in this series. 10* Under Bucks/Celtics
|04-22-18||Cavs v. Pacers OVER 204.5||Top||104-100||Loss||-105||23 h 1 m||Show|
10* Over Cavs/Pacers (8:35 ET): Cleveland is in some real trouble here. Yes, they dominated virtually all of Games 2 & 3 except for "the end." That last little tidbit ended up costing them Game 3 Friday night as they blew all of a 17-pt halftime lead and ended up losing 92-90. What's really scary if you're a Cavs fan is that your team, which finished 28th in the regular season in defensive efficiency (ahead of only Sacramento & Phoenix), has given up less than 100 pts in all three games and yet is down 2-1 in the series as well as 0-3 against the spread. They're now just 4-13 ATS head to head vs. Indiana the L3 seasons despite being 12-5 straight up. I don't really want to bet against the Cavs off a loss, but what I will do here is go w/ the Over as all three games in the series staying Under may be the biggest surprise of all!
Because the Under is a perfect 3-0 in this series, the O/U line has come down somewhat significantly since Game 1. Totals for the first two games were 212.5 and 213. Both Unders cashed by double digits, so the oddsmakers dipped the number for Game 3 and even that one was an easy winner for Under bettors. So now it's been another noticeable dip for Game 4. I know I wrote this prior to Friday, but I think we've reached a "tipping point" of sorts when it comes to the current O/U line. I already mentioned how bad Cleveland was defensively in the regular season. They continue to give up an average of 109.4 PPG for the year. They also average 110.1 PPG for the year, themselves. So this is a really low number from their perspective.
Indiana is no slouch offensively either, at least in the regular season they weren't, as despite failing to break 100 pts in any of the three games here they average 105.2 PPG. At home, that average jumps to 106.6. Three-point shooting has been pretty woeful in this series - from both sides - and the number of free throw attempts hasn't been what it should be (this despite a LOT of fouls being called in Game 3). I've got to imagine those numbers go up here. Cleveland was held to just 33 second half pts on Friday, an unconscionably low number, after scoring 57 by halftime. They had only 12 pts in the third quarter. With George Hill's back giving him trouble, Cavs HC Ty Lue is reportedly set to start Jose Calderon at point guard. I actually think that's an upgrade based on necessity. Following three or more consecutive Unders this season, the Cavs are 8-4 Over. 10* Over Cavs/Pacers
|04-22-18||Raptors v. Wizards UNDER 219||Top||98-106||Win||100||10 h 19 m||Show|
8* Under Raptors/Wizards (6:05 ET): The first three games of this series have all gone Over the total, most of them comfortably so. I was actually on the Over in Game 1. After a ridiculously high-scoring Game 2 (Raptors won 130-119 to take a 2-0 series lead), oddsmakers adjusted the O/U line for Game 3 by several points, but even that wasn't high enough as the teams combined for another 225 pts. But this time it was the Wizards prevailing, 122-103, as a slight favorite at home. That was obviously a must-win for Washington as no team in NBA history has ever overcome an 0-3 series deficit. But note for Game 4, the line has shifted to where Toronto is now a slight favorite. I'm leaving that alone, but I do think that we're in store for an Under here tonight. I just don't see the two teams keeping up the ridiculous shooting we've seen in the first three games.
Washington shot 55.3% from the floor in Game 3 and has shot above 50% for the series. They've scored the exact number of points that Toronto has. A large key for them so far has been three-point shooting where they've gone 28 of 66 for the series, or 42.4%. While a good shooting team in the regular season, these playoff numbers are higher than normal for the Wiz. They had 69 pts by halftime in Game 3 and the starting backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 56 pts (w/ 28 each). Marcin Gortat also came up w/ his best performance of the series w/ 16 pts at a time when many thought he might get dropped from the starting lineup. Do not expect Washington to be as prolific offensively tonight as Game 3 was certainly one of those "once in a series" type efforts.
Toronto is also shooting better than 50% for the series, though they were at only 45.1% in Game 3. Now this team is not nearly as effective on the road compared to North of the Border. They are #1 in the league in home scoring differential. Like Washington, the Raptors have been lights out from three-point range in this series as they have gone 41 of 93, which is 44%. Again, that's a percentage one would think almost HAS to come down. Free throw shooting has also been ridiculous for both times. My dad often calls me to lament FT shooting in this league, but I've received no correspondence from him on this series and for good reason. The two teams are combining to hit well over 80% from the charity stripe, missing only 19 of 138 attempts. Again, that's a percentage I don't view as being sustainable. The Raptors had an uncharacteristic 19 turnovers, which led to 28 Wizards' points in Game 3. I don't see that happening again either. 8* Under Raptors/Wizards