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After a brutal 0-3 effort Tuesday, I’m back with three more hopeful winners in the NBA’s nine-game Wednesday slate. My gambling looks are all sides in the Pacers-Thunder, Kings-Lakers, and Heat-Pelicans meetings.
You can listen to the audio versions of these handicaps on my recently launched NBA Hoops At Lunch show on the OutKick Bets Podcast feed Monday-Friday.
(Buyer beware: It’s the “load management” era in the NBA and random injury news. NBA players are sitting out more games. It would behoove you to wait until the final injury reports before betting.)
Indiana Pacers (23-22) at Oklahoma City Thunder (21-23)
First of all, the Thunder are currently on fire. They are 6-2 straight up (SU) over the last eight games and 7-1 against the spread (ATS). Whereas the Pacers are on a four-game losing skid and 1-3 ATS in those games.
There is sharp line movement toward OKC who opened at as 3-point favorites. The Thunder have been steamed up to the current number (-3.5 or -4). Pinnacle Sportsbook — the sharpest book in town — makes OKC’s spread pricier.
Pacers PG Tyrese Haliburton has been sidelined with an injury for the last three games. Indiana scores 5.2 fewer points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time when Haliburton is off the floor, per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG).
This gives the Thunder an epic edge over the Pacers in the backcourt. OKC PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is sixth in the NBA in PER and fifth in both Win Shares and points per game (30.7 PPG).
According to Basketball Reference’s SRS system, which accounts for point differential and strength of schedule, the Thunder are 1.95 points better than the Pacers.
Furthermore, OKC is 14-8 ATS at home this season with a +5.9 ATS margin and 5-3 ATS as home favorites with a +2.3 ATS margin.
Despite their winning record, the Pacers rank just 23rd in net rating (nRTG). Per CTG, the Thunder are 6-0 SU vs. bottom-10 teams with a +12.4 non-garbage time nRTG (ranked fourth) and +12.0 ATS margin (first).
Also, OKC’s last game was Sunday (two days ago) — a 112-102 road win over the Brooklyn Nets — and the Thunder are 5-2 ATS on 2-3 days of rest with a +8.5 ATS margin.
NBA Best Bet #1: Thunder -3.5 (-115) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -4.5
Sacramento Kings (24-18) at Los Angeles Lakers (20-24)
Sactown had its three-game winning streak (3-0 ATS) over LAL snapped Jan. 7 in a 136-34 loss at home. Otherwise, the Kings wax bad teams. Per CTG, Sacramento is 13-6 SU vs. bottom-10 teams with a +9.1 adjusted nRTG (sixth) and +3.1 ATS margin (eighth).
Also, the Kings are 5-1 ATS as road favorites this season with a +6.1 ATS margin and 7-2 ATS vs. divisional foes with a +4.4 ATS margin. The Lakers are an NBA-worst 1-7 ATS in division with a -3.9 ATS margin.
The most important aspect of the NBA nowadays is the 3-point shot. Sactown is fifth in wide-open 3-point-attempt rate (3PAr) and first in wide-open 3PAr allowed.
LAL is below-average in both. “Wide-open 3s” are defined by at least six feet of distance between the 3-points shooter and the nearest defender.
Finally, the Kings bludgeon bad defenses and the Lakers are 20th in defensive rating. Sacramento is 12-3 SU vs. bottom-10 defenses with a +9.0 adjusted nRTG (second) and +2.7 ATS margin (sixth), per CTG.
NBA Best Bet #2: Kings -2 (-115) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -3
Miami Heat (24-21) at New Orleans Pelicans (26-18)
If the Heat lose or don’t cover this game, I might have to add them to the ban-list. Miami has cost me so much effing money this year and I lost backing the Heat earlier this week vs. the Atlanta Hawks.
That said, Miami’s defense is one of the best in the NBA and New Orleans’ is down its two best offensive players in Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
Both teams are top-10 in defensive rating but the Heat are 7-5 SU vs. those teams and the Pelicans are 6-8 SU. Miami’s defense ranks sixth or better in points off of turnovers, paint PPG, fastbreak PPG and second-chance PPG allowed.
Also, this could be a bounce-back game for the Heat from behind the arc because the Pelicans allow the seventh-highest volume of wide-open 3PAr.
Finally, there are several pro-Heat betting splits. Miami is 4-0 ATS following its last four ATS losses and 4-0 ATS in the last four vs. teams with a winning record and NOLA is 0-6 ATS in the last six vs. winning teams.
NBA Best Bet #3: Heat -3 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook
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