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If everything pans out with the projected starting 5s, Sunday will be the best day of the NBA regular season to date. There are wall-to-wall nationally televised games featuring playoff teams and title contenders.
I’m opening up a 4-pack of NBA best bets for the following games: Lakers-Mavericks, Wizards-Bulls, Raptors-Cavaliers, and Clippers-Nuggets.
BUYER BEWARE: We are in the NBA’s “load management” era. It might be best to wait until the final injury reports are released before placing a bet.
Los Angeles Lakers (28-32) at Dallas Mavericks (32-29), 3:30 p.m. ET
By time we get to tip-off in Lakers-Mavericks my guess is most of the public will back LAL. They just waxed the Warriors 124-111 despite LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and D’Angelo Russell combining for 27 points.
People will think: “Well, LeBron and AD won’t play that bad again vs. this poor Dallas defense and +4 is too many points.” Frankly, that was my initial reaction to the Lakers-Mavericks spread.
However, the Mavs will win by margin Sunday because the Lakers’ backcourt defense will get torched by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. the Mavs shoot it much better from 3 at home so they should get a boost from role players.
Since acquiring Kyrie, Dallas is 2nd in wide-open 3-point-attempt rate (3PAr) over the last seven games. Over that span, the Lakers are 26th in wide-open 3PAr allowed on defense.
Everyone is waiting for Kyrie to blowup, and he probably will. But, Irving has been ballin’ since joining the Mavericks. Kyrie takes a ton of pressure off of Luka to create for others.
According to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), Dallas is scoring 23.0 more points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time when Irving is on the floor.
The Mavs are 2-0 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) vs. the Lakers this season. Since the beginning of last season, Dallas is 4-1 SU (+6.6 SU margin) and 5-0 ATS vs. LAL.
NBA Best Bet #1: Mavericks -4 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -5
- Betting strategy: Don’t rush to bet Dallas ATS because my hunch is money comes in on LAL all day. Wait until closer to tip-off before laying the points with the Mavs in hopes of getting a cheaper spread.
Washington Wizards (28-31) at Chicago Bulls (27-33), 3:30 p.m. ET
This is the Wizards-Bulls regular-season finale. Washington is 2-1 SU and 2-0-1 ATS vs. Chicago this season. The Wizards already ruled out PF Kristaps Porzingis with knee soreness, which nudges me toward the Bulls.
Porzingis has a +3.9 adjusted on/off net rating (nRTG), per CTG, and Chicago C Nikola Vucevic becomes the best big in this game with KP on the sidelines.
Furthermore, in an NBA Jam game, gimme Bulls scoring wings DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine over Wizards scorers Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma.
No Porzingis makes the Wizards much easier to defend. The Bulls are low-key 6th in non-garbage time defensive rating this season, per CTG. D.C. on the other hand is 21st in adjusted defensive rating.
Chicago is 11-6 SU (+7.5 SU margin) and 10-7 ATS as home favorites. According to CTG, the Bulls are 9-1 SU vs. teams with bottom-10 defenses, 6th in adjusted nRTG (+11.7) and 2nd in ATS margin (+6.8).
Finally, Chicago needs this game like blood. The Bulls are 1.5 games behind the Wizards for the 10th and final play-in seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
NBA Best Bet #2: Bulls -4 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -5
Toronto Raptors (30-31) at Cleveland Cavaliers (38-25), 3 p.m. ET
The Raptors are 3-0 SU (+8.7 SU margin) and ATS (+7.7 ATS margin) vs. the Cavs heading into their regular-season series finale. Toronto has out-performed Cleveland in three of the “four factors”.
More than 70% of the money is on the Cavaliers at DraftKings Sportsbook, per VSIN. But, Cleveland is a fake sharp bet in my opinion. People are backing the Cavs because Toronto is playing on no rest.
The Raptors eked past the Detroit Pistons Saturday 95-91, failing to cover as 8-point road favorites. Toronto’s rest disadvantage is already baked into the line. Fatigue shouldn’t be a major factor since the All-Star break was last weekend.
Toronto is loaded with wings and the Cavaliers don’t have a true wing. In fact, Raptors All-Star Pascal Siakam is the best player on the floor and forwards OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes are defensive menaces.
Cleveland All-Star Donovan Mitchell is a great 1-on-1 scorer but he cannot play defense. And there’s too much pressure on PF Evan Mobley to stop Toronto’s forwards.
Lastly, this is a “great spot” for the Raptors. They are 5-1 ATS in the last six games with no rest and 5-1 ATS vs. teams with a winning rate of 60% or better.
NBA Best Bet #3: Raptors +7 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +5.5
Los Angeles Clippers (33-29) at Denver Nuggets (42-19), 10 p.m. ET
My Clippers pick has nothing to do with the Nuggets getting destroyed by the Memphis Grizzlies 112-94 Saturday after I bet them. Was I pissed? Yes. Am I carrying that with me here? No.
What’s more concerning is my addiction to betting on the Clippers. I’ve bet LAC to win the NBA title at three different price-points. Also, I’m a Russell Westbrook apologist and think he could help the Clippers.
Another concern is the Nuggets own the Clippers. Denver is 3-0 SU and ATS vs. LAC this season. This Nuggets ownership dates back to the Orlando Bubble when Denver came back from down 3-1 to knock the Clippers out of the playoffs.
However, here is my Clippers-Nuggets handicap in a nutshell: LAC has their best players in the projected starting 5 and I power rank the Clippers higher than Denver.
NBA Best Bet #3: Clippers +2.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +1.5
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