Most people will either be traveling or partying for Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve. But I’ll be grinding on this NBA slate. My best bets in the Association for Wednesday are in the Mavericks-Celtics, Pelicans-Spurs, Nuggets-Thunder and Kings-Hawks.
(The games are handicapped in the order of my favorite to least favorite bets).
Dallas Mavericks (9-7) at Boston Celtics (13-4)
Both teams are trying to bounce back from a loss when the Celtics host the Mavericks at TD Garden for a 7:30 p.m. ET tip-off that airs on ESPN.
Dallas lost the second of a back-to-back with the Nikola Jokic-less Denver Nuggets 98-97 Sunday. Boston had its nine-game winning streak snapped Monday in a 121-107 loss at the Chicago Bulls.
This is the first Mavericks-Celtics game of the season but Dallas is 3-1 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) in the last four meetings with Boston.
A better spot for the Mavericks
Dallas is 12-6 ATS on the road vs. teams with a winning record since the beginning of last season. The Mavs are 25-10-1 ATS following a loss with a +6.0 ATS margin over that span.
Boston is the best non-garbage time offensive rating in the NBA, per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG). Dallas has the second-best non-garbage time net rating vs. top-10 offenses (+12.6) and the fifth-best ATS margin (+5.6), per CTG.
Dallas is the better half-court team
According to CTG, both teams rank 20th or worse in the frequency of transition offense run and top three in points per 100 half-court plays run.
However, Boston’s defense is 21st in points per 100 half-court plays run allowed and Dallas’s defense is fifth in points per 100 half-court plays run allowed.
The Mavericks play by far the highest rate of iso-ball in the NBA and are sixth in iso-ball efficiency whereas the Celtics have the sixth-worst defensive efficiency vs. iso-ball.
Dallas has the best offensive efficiency in pick-and-roll (PnR) action through ball handlers. Boston has a below-average defensive efficiency vs. PnR action through ball handlers.
‘Sharp’ line movement headed toward Dallas
Boston was a 6-point favorite on the look-ahead but has been quickly steamed down to the current number (-4). The most likely reason for this line movement is Boston’s leading scorer — Jayson Tatum — is listed on the injury report as “questionable” with a sprained ankle.
Per VSIN, more than 60% of the cash is on the Mavs at DraftKings Sportsbook while a majority of the bets placed are on the Celtics at the time of writing. Typically, it’s wise to follow the money when it’s counter to the public since professional bettors wager a lot more than the public.
NBA Best Bet #1: Mavericks +4.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook
New Orleans Pelicans (10-7) at San Antonio Spurs (6-12)
These teams are trending in the opposite direction over the past two weeks. San Antonio is 1-6 SU and 3-4 ATS in the last 14 days while NOLA is 5-2 SU and ATS. Most of the market seems to think New Orleans -7 is too big of a number but the sharps don’t.
Pelicans are the ‘sharp’ side
Per Pregame.com, a slight majority of the cash is on NOLA in the consensus market at the time of writing. But, more than 60% of the bets placed are on San Antonio.
Since professional bettors put up a lot more dough than you or I, it’s generally wise to follow the money when it’s counter to the public.
Pinnacle Sportsbook (Pinny) is one of the sharpest shops in the world because it books the largest sports bets. Pinny lists the Pelicans as a 7.5-point favorite currently.
The rationale behind the pros backing New Orleans isn’t rocket science. San Antonio has been god-awful recently.
Spurs are entering ‘tank mode’
It was clear to anyone who paid attention to San Antonio’s offseason moves it’s tanking for Victor Wembanyama. The Spurs started off hot (5-2 SU in the first seven games) but have come back down to earth.
Over the past two weeks, the Spurs are last in both net rating (-15.5) and ATS margin (-8.0). The next closest team to San Antonio in non-garbage time net rating (nRTG) in the last 14 days is the Pistons at -7.6, per CTG.
The Pelicans are third in both non-garbage time nRTG (+10.3) and ATS margin (+5.3) over that span. The bottom line is both teams are starting to perform up to preseason expectations. NOLA looks like a quasi-contender and San Antonio is destined for the lottery.
NBA Best Bet #2: Pelicans -7 (-115) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -8
Denver Nuggets (10-7) at Oklahoma City Thunder (7-10)
OKC hosts Denver for their third meeting of the season. The Nuggets are 2-0 SU and 1-1 ATS in those contests. Denver’s ATS win over OKC in their previous meeting snapped the Nuggets five-game ATS losing skid to the Thunder.
The Thunder’s recent track record vs. the Nuggets explains the market’s love for OKC but …
‘Public ‘dogs get slaughtered’
Sports bettors typically want to get on the same side as the “House” because a vast majority of people lose money betting sports. The expression above is another way of saying the market is backing an underdog.
It’s rare when sportsbooks need the better team to win since the public usually bets favorites. In this case, roughly two-thirds of the action is on the Thunder ATS in the consensus market at the time of writing, per Pregame.com.
OKC is getting love from the market because it’s 10-7 ATS and Thunder PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the best five players on the planet through the first month of the season.
But, on paper, Denver is far superior to OKC and …
Denver blasts bad defenses
The Thunder’s adjusted defensive rating is 21st in the league, according to CTG. Last season, Denver was 22-4 SU with the fifth-best adjusted nRTG (+10.2) and the second-best ATS margin (+5.1) vs. bottom-10 defenses. This year, the Nuggets have a +5.8 adjusted nRTG vs. bottom-10 defenses.
OKC covered as 9-point road underdogs in its first meeting with Denver on Oct. 22 but got dump-trucked 122-110 as 6.5-poing home underdogs earlier this month.
I’m going to excuse the Nuggets’ first performance vs. the Thunder because Denver PG Jamal Murray and SF Michael Porter Jr. were knocking off the rust from both being injured most of last season.
Also, this is a …
Good buy-low spot for the Nuggets
Denver is 1-3 SU and ATS in the last four games but Nikola Jokic missed three of those games with a sickness. The Nuggets are 6-1 ATS following their last seven losses.
NBA Best Bet #3: Nuggets -3 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -4
Sacramento Kings (10-6) at Atlanta Hawks (10-7)
Buyer beware: This is a heat-check bet and the Hawks have performed well at home in recent seasons. Atlanta has won and covered both meetings with Sactown last season. But, the Kings keep cashing tickets for me and are playing well under first-year head coach Mike Brown.
Sacramento leads the NBA in both non-garbage time nRTG (+11.7) and ATS margin (+10.1) over the past two weeks, per CTG. The Hawks are 23rd in non-garbage time nRTG (-4.4) and 25th in ATS margin (-4.4) in the last 14 days.
Furthermore, the presumed sharp side of the market is betting the Kings whereas the public is backing the Hawks. Oddsmakers are following the money though and have lowered Sactown from a 5-point underdog on the opener down to the current number.
Finally, the Kings have the second-best non-garbage time offensive rating in the NBA (per CTG) and the Hawks has been terrible against good offenses. Atlanta is 1-3 SU vs. top-10 offenses with a -10.4 adjusted nRTG (ranked 28th) and a -11.1 ATS margin (28th).
NBA Best Bet #4: Kings +4.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +4
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