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The NBA Wednesday slate is headlined by a rematch of last season’s Western Conference play-in tourney and Luka Doncic facing off with one of the NBA’s best defenses in the Cleveland Cavaliers.
My favorite looks in Wednesday’s action are in the Timberwolves-Clippers, Warriors-Pacers, and Cavaliers-Mavericks, along with a player prop in Trail Blazers-Spurs. (The bets are broken down in order of most to least favorite looks).
Minnesota Timberwolves (13-14) at Los Angeles Clippers (16-13)
This is a quasi-Revenge Game for LAC who lost the first game of last season’s Western Conference postseason play-in game to Minnesota.
Aside from that game, Clippers All-Star Paul George is 5-0 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) vs. T-Wolves wing Anthony Edwards. PG is shooting 47.6% from the field, 42.9% from three, and 91.7% from the foul line in those games.
Also, LAC head coach Ty Lue played Minnesota big Rudy Gobert off the floor when the Clippers upset Gobert’s former team Utah Jazz in their 2021 Western Conference Semifinals postseason series. Lue’s small-ball lineups pulled Gobert out of the paint and exposed Utah’s defense.
The same can happen Wednesday. When Gobert is off the floor this season, Minnesota’s defense allows 8.7 more points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time, per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG). This ranks in the 94th percentile of bigs.
Finally, betting on the Clippers here is not recency bias for them upsetting the Celtics in their previous game on Monday. LAC All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and PG both balled out. This isn’t a fluke, obviously, but a sign of things to come.
Kawhi’s non-garbage time on/off net rating (nRTG) is +18.4, which grades in the 99th percentile of wings, according to CTG. PG’s adjusted on/off nRTG is +15.7 and that’s in the 97th percentile of wings.
NBA Best Bet #1: Clippers -6 (-115) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -7
Golden State Warriors (14-14) at Indiana Pacers (14-14)
Only one of these teams will have a winning record after Wednesday, which is something no one expected to hear. Golden State got boat-raced by the Milwaukee Bucks 128-111 last night. The Warriors fell to 2-12 SU on the road and 3-11 ATS.
Indiana on the other hand has been awful recently. Over the past two weeks, the Pacers are 2-6 SU with the second-worst adjusted nRTG at -7.9 and ATS with the 26th-ranked ATS margin at -4.9, per CTG.
It’s certainly a square bet but I’m on Golden State Wednesday because Indy upset the Warriors 112-104 in Golden State on Dec. 5. It’s tough to beat the same team twice in a short period of time.
The Pacers upset the Warriors due in part to a rare bad game from Steph Curry who shot just 17.6% from the field (2-of-10 from three). Indiana rookie SG Andrew Nembhard went off as well, scoring a career-high 31 points on 13-of-21 shooting. Neither should happen again Wednesday.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr pulled Curry and Draymond Green early last night so there shouldn’t be a rest day for the Warriors starters. Also, Golden State is better than its record indicates whereas Indiana is worse.
According to CTG, the Warriors have the worst luck factor at -2.1 based on net efficiency and the Pacers are sixth in luck factor at +1.3. I.e. Golden State should have two more wins and Indy should have one less.
Lastly, Splash Brother Klay Thompson has played better recently after a disappointing start to the season. Over his past 10 games, Klay is averaging 22.9 points per game (PPG) on 44.2% 3-point shooting.
(Buyer beware: The Warriors could opt to sit starters, I’m just gambling on them not doing that, and this could be a look-ahead spot for Golden State who has the Philadelphia 76ers up next).
NBA Best Bet #2: Warriors (-120) ML at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to Warriors -2
Trail Blazers SG Anfernee Simons OVER 21.5 points (-120) vs. Spurs
Simons has scored at least 22 points in 17 of his 25 games played this season. San Antonio has by far the worst defensive rating in the NBA and Simons lights up bad defenses.
Portland is another bottom-10 defense but Simons has scored 23 or more points in five of his seven games vs. the other bottom-10 defenses in the league.
He went Over 21.5 points in three of his five games in December. Simons is averaging 23.2 PPG this month on 64.5% true shooting (.512/.422/1.000). This is a substantial improvement from his 58.5% true shooting rate on the season.
NBA Best Bet #3: Portland SG Anfernee Simons OVER 21.5 points (-120) at DraftKings Sportsbook
Cleveland Cavaliers (17-11) at Dallas Mavericks (14-13)
Dallas ATS is the last wager to make my NBA Wednesday card because this is a sketchy line and the lack of line movement is suspicious. Generally, sportsbooks adjust the lines according to their liability.
According to VSIN, roughly three-fourths of the bets placed at DraftKings are on the Mavs and the line hasn’t budged off the opener. That said, Dallas has been awesome as a short favorite (-4 or less) since 2021.
The Mavericks are 11-0 SU with a +10.8 SU margin and 9-1-1 ATS with a +8.1 ATS margin in those spots. Conversely, the Cavaliers are 7-10 SU and ATS as underdogs of +4 or more since the beginning of last season.
Furthermore, Dallas is 5-1 SU and ATS in the last six meetings with Cleveland. Part of the reason for that is Mavs’ All-Star Luka Doncic lights up Cavs All-Star PG Darius Garland.
In their four career meetings, Luka is outscoring Garland 29.8-18.8 points per game (PPG). Luka is shooting 52.4% from the field and 54.3% from three in those games. Luka is averaging 10.0 rebounds and 13.0 assists as well.
Finally, Dallas has a significant edge in the half-court, which is important since both teams play at the slowest pace in the NBA. The Mavs have a better shot quality on both ends of the floor and more points scored per 100 half-court plays run, per CTG.
NBA Best Bet #4: Mavericks (-130) ML at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -140 before laying up to -3 with Dallas
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