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Now that the NFL is done with Thursday Night Football for the season, the Association takes centerstage with an NBA On TNT doubleheader.
Below, I’ll break down and make picks for both the Boston Celtics visiting the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets hosting the Los Angeles Clippers.
(Buyer beware: It’s the “load management” era in the NBA and players are sitting out more games. It would behoove you to wait until the final injury reports before betting.)
Boston Celtics (26-12) at Dallas Mavericks (22-16)
Boston dump-trucked Dallas 125-112 when these teams met earlier this season on Nov. 23 and the Celtics out-performed the Mavs in all “four factors”.
However, Boston is a different team on the road, especially out West. This season, the Celtics are 2-5-1 against the spread (ATS) on the road vs. Western Conference teams with a -8.6 spread differential.
Furthermore, the Mavericks were playing like shit when visiting the Celtics in Boston during that stretch. That was Dallas’s second of a four-game losing skid.
The Mavs enter on a seven-game winning streak (3-4 ATS) with a +5.9 net rating (nRTG) over that span, albeit mostly against bad teams. More importantly, Dallas All-Star Luka Doncic balls out vs. the Celtics.
In seven career games against Boston, Luka is averaging 29.5 points per game (PPG) on 68.6% true shooting (.543/.507/.771) with 7.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists and a +10.0 nRTG.
This is more of a hunch, but Luka shows out in primetime games. Under the bright lights with Shaq and Charles Barkley watching and Mavs great Dirk Nowitzki probably in attendance, I think Luka gives the Celtics the business.
Also, based on my betting market analysis, Dallas feels like the sharp side. The Celtics are a public darling and the highest power-rated team in the NBA. Yet the Mavs’ vig is pricier at Pinnacle Sportsbook (Pinny).
Per Pregame.com, the bets in the consensus market are split but nearly 90% of the money is on Dallas. Pinny is one of the sharpest shops in the world, known for booking the largest sports bets.
NBA Best Bet #1: Mavericks +3 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +2
Los Angeles Clippers (21-18) at Denver Nuggets (24-13)
It’s is a quasi-revenge game for the Clippers who were eliminated in the Bubble Western Conference Semifinals by the Nuggets in 2020. This is the first time since both teams have been close to full strength.
I say “close” because LAC All-Star Paul George is “questionable” to play. But, PG was spotted at shoot-around by the Clippers’ beatwriter from The Athletic.
LAC is my No. 1 power-rated team in the NBA if PG and Kawhi Leonard are both playing and Kawhi isn’t on the Clippers’ injury report.
Per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), LAC scores 16.7 more points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time when Kawhi is on the floor. This ranks in the 98th percentile for all wings.
The Clippers have a +10.4 non-garbage time nRTG when PG is in the game as well, ranking in the 94th percentile of all wings.
Denver is terrible on defense and LAC beats up bad defenses. The Clippers are 15-5 SU vs. teams in the bottom-10 of defensive rating with a +4.6 non-garbage time nRTG and +1.1 ATS margin.
The NBA nowadays is mostly about making or missing 3s and LAC is much better from behind the arc. LAC is sixth in 3-point percentage and Denver is first. But, the Clippers are 3rd in defensive 3-point shooting and the Nuggets are 22nd.
Furthermore, LAC allows fewer wide-open 3-point attempts and shots more wide-open 3-pointers than Denver. “Wide-open” 3s are defined by a defender outside of six feet from the 3-point shooter.
Lastly, we can fade the public by taking the points with the Clippers. Nearly 75% of the money at DraftKings is on the Nuggets and we know three out of four sports bettors don’t win in this racket.
Plus the public might play more of a role in shaping the NBA betting markets in this primetime matchup since there’s no NFL games to distract casual bettors.
NBA Best Bet #2: Clippers +6 (-105) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +5
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