NBA New Year’s Eve Gambling Looks In Pelicans-Grizzlies, Knicks-Rockets

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The NBA has nine-game card for New Year’s Eve featuring the Grizzlies hosting the Pelicans. Not only do I have analysis and a pick in New Orleans-Memphis but I’m also looking at the total in the Knicks-Rockets.

(Buyer beware: The NBA’s “load management” stuff is bogus and players are sitting out more games. It would behoove you to wait until the final injury reports before betting. Especially on a holiday.)

New York Knicks (18-18) at Houston Rockets (10-25)

NYK enters New Year’s Eve on a slump, losing five straight — 1-4 against the spread (ATS) — mostly due to their poor defense. They have gone Over the total in six straight games and four consecutive games have gone Over the total by at least 9.5 points.

Over the past two weeks, the Knicks are 26th in adjusted defensive rating, according to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG). Their offensive rating is third in the NBA over that span.

New York is most likely missing PG Jalen Brunson and SF R.J. Barrett has already been ruled out. Both absences actually hurt NYK’s offense and help the defense.

New York Knicks SF RJ Barrett high-fives PG Jalen Brunson against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden.
New York Knicks SF RJ Barrett high-fives PG Jalen Brunson against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

But, the Knicks-Rockets total has dropped from a 227 opener down to the current total (223.5). Obviously, I feel better about the Over if Brunson, who’s “questionable” on the injury report, can play. 

Houston is 4-2 Over/Under (O/U) in the past six games. The Rockets have cashed Overs in five straight games following double-digit losses. So after getting embarrassed, Houston typically comes out motivated.

NYK is 10-7 O/U after a loss as well with a +3.4 margin on the total. Knicks-Rockets have a combined 19-10 O/U record when the total is 225 or lower.

Also, the Rockets are third in drives per game and the Knicks are second. They each attempt an above-average rate of field goals at the rim, CTG.

Houston Rockets SG Jalen Green drives to the basket during the game against the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden in Boston.
Houston Rockets SG Jalen Green drives to the basket during the game against the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden in Boston. (Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Both teams are top-three in offensive rebounding rate with a below-average defensive rebounding rate. So there could be a ton of putbacks and second-chance points.

Rockets’ opponents have the highest rate of “wide-open 3s,” defined by the closest defender being at least six feet away. Each has a below-average 3-point percentage on wide-open 3s and that’s due for progression back up to the mean.

Finally, the average total score of the three referees assigned to Knicks-Rockets are 225.3, 229.0, and 230.4.

NBA Best Bet #1: OVER 223.5 Knicks-Rockets at DraftKings Sportsbook

Odds for the Over in the New York Knicks at Houston Rockets from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Saturday, Dec. 31st at 2:45 p.m. ET.
Odds for the Over in the New York Knicks at Houston Rockets from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Saturday, Dec. 31st at 2:45 p.m. ET.

New Orleans Pelicans (23-12) at Memphis Grizzlies (21-13)

Memphis bounced back from back-to-back (B2B) ass kickings delivered by Golden State Christmas and Phoenix Tuesday by waxing the Raptors 119-106 in Toronto Thursday.

New Orleans is on a five-game winning streak (4-1 ATS) and are the best team in the Western Conference by both record and net rating.

That said, the Grizzlies appear to be the sharp play for their New Year’s Eve showdown with the Pelicans. Per VSIN, nearly two-thirds of the bets at DraftKings are on the Grizzlies, which makes sense.

NOLA just handled the Philadelphia 76ers Friday so the public is reacting to what they just saw, Also, +6.5 is certainly a big number for a Pelicans team that has the best record in the West.

But, 75% of the money at DraftKings is on the Pelicans. Typically, the cash column is the sharp side of the betting splits because professionals place bigger wagers. A similar discrepancy between the money and bets placed is seen in the consensus betting market, per Pregame.com.

Memphis’ spread has more juice at Pinnacle Sportsbooks (Pinny), which is one of the sharpest shops, known for booking the largest sports bets in the world. Pinny is trying to push its whale bettors into taking the Grizzlies.

Furthermore, when you combine his size, length, and athleticism, Grizzlies PF Jaren Jackson Jr. is the perfect dude to guard Pelicans All-Star Zion Williamson.

In their two career head-to-head meetings, Zion is scoring 18.5 points per game (PPG) on 45.5% shooting and Jackson has 5 blocks.

New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson is blocked Memphis Grizzlies' bigs Brandon Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr. at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson is blocked Memphis Grizzlies’ bigs Brandon Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr. at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Ashley Landis – Pool/Getty Images)

Earlier this season, Memphis and Jackson held Zion to just 14 points in the Grizzlies’ 132-111 whooping of the Pelicans on Nov. 25.

These teams are 1-1 straight up (SU) and ATS vs. each other this season. But, the Grizzlies have scored 132 points on the Pelicans in their last three meetings in Memphis.

The Suns stomped the Grizzlies 125-108 in Memphis Tuesday but the Grizzlies are still 8-3 ATS at home vs. teams with a winning record. The Pelicans are 1-4 ATS on the road vs. winning teams. 

Lastly, Memphis is at full strength while NOLA is without All-Star wing Brandon Ingram. Ingram has been sidelined since spraining his toe in the last Pelicans-Grizzlies meeting (Nov. 25).

NBA Best Bet #2: Memphis Grizzlies -6.5 (-105) at DraftKings

The Memphis Grizzlies' odds vs. the New Orleans Pelicans from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Saturday, Dec. 31st at 2:50 p.m. ET.
The Memphis Grizzlies’ odds vs. the New Orleans Pelicans from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Saturday, Dec. 31st at 2:50 p.m. ET.

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Written by Geoff Clark

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