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This NBA Sunday slate mostly sucks with several All-Stars either injured or being given off days. You could build an NBA juggernaut with the players resting Sunday.
However, I cannot help myself and have gambling looks in Warriors-Raptors, Bulls-Timberwolves, and Wizards-Lakers.
(Buyer beware: The NBA’s “load management” stuff is bogus and players are sitting out more and more games. It would behoove you to wait until the final injury reports are released before betting).
Golden State Warriors (14-16) at Toronto Raptors (13-16)
The Warriors head north of the border to play the Raptors at the Scotiabank Arena with tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m. ET.
This is the fourth of Golden State’s six-game road stand and the Warriors have lost five of their last six games including three straight.
I expect Golden State’s losing ways to continue partially because …
The Warriors are a terrible road team
They are an NBA-worst 2-14 straight up (SU) on the road this season and 26th in non-garbage time net rating (nRTG), per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG).
Golden State is 3-13 against the spread (ATS) with an NBA-worst -9.0 ATS margin. Toronto on the other hand is 10-5 ATS at home.
Toronto has a couple of ‘strength-on-weakness’ edges
First of all, the Warriors have the second-worst offensive turnover rate (TOV%) and 29th in points off of turnovers per game allowed. The Raptors lead the NBA in defensive TOV% and points off of turnovers per game.
Toronto has a net +2.2 free-throw attempts per game with the eighth-highest offensive FT/FGA rate. Golden State has a net -7.3 free-throw attempts per game and the third-worst defensive FT/FGA rate in the Association.
Golden State is missing an MVP candidate
Steph Curry is going to be sidelined for the next couple of weeks with a shoulder injury. The Warriors score 18.6 more points per 100 possessions when Curry is in the game, which ranks seventh in the NBA, per CTG.
The Warriors are 0-4 SU and 2-2 ATS when Curry sits out and finished with the worst record in the Western Conference in 2019-20 when Steph played in just five games.
This seems like a simple handicapping angle but …
The Raptors are the ‘sharp’ side
According to VSIN, more than 60% of the action at DraftKings is on the Warriors at the time of publishing, making Golden State a public ‘dog.
It’s profitable to fade public ‘dogs because the public usually bets favorites and it’s rare for the sportsbooks to root for the better team.
And, make no mistake, Toronto is the better team when Golden State is missing Curry.
NBA Best Bet #1: Raptors (-5.5) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -6.5
Chicago Bulls (11-17) at Minnesota Timberwolves (14-15)
Minnesota hosts Chicago at the Target Center Sunday for a 7 p.m. ET tip-off in their first matchup of the season. The Bulls are riding into this game on a three-game losing skid.
While the T-Wolves just snapped a three-game losing streak with a 112-110 victory at the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday as 5-point underdogs.
The Timberwolves were +5 vs. the Thunder because Minnesota was missing starting PG D’Angelo Russell and big Rudy Gobert. Both of them are “questionable” to play vs. the Bulls.
Friday’s meeting with OKC was the last of a five-game road trip for the T-Wolves. My hunch is Russell and Gobert return to the lineup now the Timberwolves are home. However, I’d argue …
Russell and Gobert are ‘subtraction by addition’
I’ll say this until I’m blue in the face but Russell is a basketball-cancer. Russell has poor decision-making in crunch time and one of the lowest basketball IQs of any starting point guard.
I’m actually hoping Russell plays Sunday. Bulls starting PG Alex Caruso is one of the best backcourt defenders in the NBA and can capitalize on Russell’s consistent errors.
In fact, Chicago scores the third-most points off of turnovers per game whereas Minnesota is 27th in offensive TOV% and 28th in points off of turnovers per game allowed.
Per CTG, the Timberwolves score 8.6 more points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time when Russell is OFF the floor. Minnesota is 1.6 points per 100 possessions better when Gobert is OUT of the game as well.
The T-Wolves backup PG Jordan McLaughlin and backup forward Taurean Prince have already been ruled out. They are first and second, respectively, on the Timberwolves in on/off nRTG, per CTG.
Even if Gobert and Russell play and play well this is still a …
‘Good spot’ for the Bulls
Since the beginning of last season, Chicago is 9-2 SU and 6-4-1 ATS as road favorites of -3 or less. Minnesota is 5-8 SU and ATS with a -6.8 SU margin and -4.8 ATS margin as home ‘dogs of +3 or less over that span.
Lastly, I’m okay betting on the Bulls as a road favorite despite their poor SU record because …
Chicago doesn’t give up easy buckets
The Bulls are 27th in 3-point shooting defense and you run the risk of any team getting hot from behind the arc when you bet the NBA in 2022.
But, the T-Wolves are 24th in 3-point shooting and missing two good 3-point shooters: Prince and All-Star big Karl-Anthony Towns.
That said, Chicago does a good job of preventing easy scores. The Bulls rank 10th or better in second-chance PPG, fastbreak PPG and paint PPG allowed.
NBA Best Bet #2: Bulls (-125) ML at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -140 before laying up to -3 with Chicago
Washington Wizards (11-19) at Los Angeles Lakers (12-16)
The Lakers host the Wizards for a 9:30 p.m. ET tip-off at the Crypto.com Arena and LAL smashed D.C. 130-119 when these twos met two weeks ago.
Lakers big Anthony Davis erupted for a season-high 55 points on 73.3% shooting (22-of-30) with 17 rebounds and a +17 +/-. Also, Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal left the game after just 3:29 with an injury.
AD has already been ruled out of Sunday’s game against Washington with a right foot soreness and there is a chance Beal can make his return after being sidelined since Dec. 7.
Simply put, the Lakers shouldn’t be 4.5-point favorites over any team in the NBA if AD is out. LAL is 15-21 ATS as home favorites since the beginning of last season.
Finally, D.C. should win the battle of possessions, and more possessions lead to more points in basketball. The Wizards have a slightly better rebounding rate and a much better assist-to-turnover ratio.
NBA Best Bet #3: Wizards +4.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +4
- Word to the wise: Money is pouring in on the Lakers so wait closer to tip-off for a better number on Washington.
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