NBA Tuesday Best Bets Include Warriors-Bucks, Celtics-Lakers

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The NBA is finally seizing one of the few non-football nights of the week. NBA on TNT‘s doubleheader includes a game between the last two NBA champions — Golden State Warriors at Milwaukee Bucks — followed by the Boston Celtics visiting the Los Angeles Lakers.

Below, I’ll handicap and make picks for Pelicans-Jazz, Celtics-Lakers, Warriors-Bucks, and a player prop in Suns-Rockets. (The games are broken down in order of most to least favorite bets).

New Orleans Pelicans (18-8) at Utah Jazz (15-14)

This is the first of a Pelicans-Jazz back-to-back in Utah with the other meeting scheduled for Thursday. The Jazz upset the Pelicans 122-121 as 8.5-point road underdogs in NOLA on Oct. 23.

But, I like the Pelicans to get revenge for that loss because …

New Orleans is humming right now

The Pelicans have won seven straight with a 5-2 against-the-spread (ATS) record. Over the past two weeks, NOLA is first in non-garbage time net rating (nRTG) at +11.7 and the second-best ATS margin at +8.8, per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG).

New Orleans Pelicans PF Zion Williamson dribbles the ball in the 3rd quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
New Orleans Pelicans PF Zion Williamson dribbles the ball in the 3rd quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

New Orleans All-Star Zion Williamson has stepped up since Pelicans All-Star Brandon Ingram has been sidelined with an injury on Nov. 28. In the last seven games, Zion is averaging 30.0 points per game (PPG) on 66.9% shooting.

Also …

Utah’s defense is atrocious

The Jazz are 26th in non-garbage time defensive rating, per CTG, and give up a ton of easy buckets. Their defense ranks 24th in points off of turnovers per game, 25th in second-chance PPG, and 28th in fastbreak PPG allowed.

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Furthermore, Zion and Pelicans big Jonas Valančiūnas will dominate Utah in the paint. The Jazz have the weakest frontcourt defense in the NBA and are dead-last in paint PPG allowed.

(Buyer beware: NOLA’s spread is fishy. Everyone and their grandmothers will bet on the Pelicans Tuesday. Honestly, the only way this line could be right is if New Orleans decides to give Zion an off day.)

NBA Best Bet #1: Pelicans -2 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -3

The New Orleans Pelicans' odds at the Utah Jazz from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Tuesday, December 13th at 10 a.m. ET.
The New Orleans Pelicans’ odds at the Utah Jazz from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Tuesday, December 13th at 10 a.m. ET.

Boston Celtics (21-7) at Los Angeles Lakers (11-15)

This is the final of a six-game road stand for Boston who won the first three but lost B2B games by double digits at the Golden State Warriors and the LA Clippers entering Tuesday.

Let’s fade the Celtics because they are playing their third game in the last four nights and have a banged-up frontcourt. Boston will be without C Robert Williams III and PF Al Horford Tuesday.

Blake Griffin — yes, that “Blake Griffin” — has been Boston’s starting center in the last three games. Lakers big Anthony Davis will crush the Celtics in the paint. Over the last month, AD is averaging 32.0 PPG on 65.2% shooting with 14.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 12 games.

Los Angeles Lakers big Anthony Davis dunks the ball during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Los Angeles Lakers big Anthony Davis dunks the ball during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

On top of that, the Lakers have the best shot quality in the NBA, per CTG, because LA attempts the highest volume of field goals at the rim.

This price suggests the oddsmakers understand it’s a lousy spot for Boston as well. The Celtics were -4 last night (Monday) vs. a Clippers team at full strength and 3.5-point favorites earlier this season at the Grizzlies with Ja Morant and Desmond Bane in the lineup.

Yet Boston opened as just 3.5-point favorites vs. a Lakers team that lost three straight from Dec. 6-9 and isn’t in the same tier as the Grizzlies and Clippers.

Boston’s spread rose to the current number because roughly 90% of the money at DraftKings is on the Celtics at the time of writing, per VSIN. So we have a “contrarian” angle in Celtics-Lakers too.

NBA Best Bet #2: Lakers +3.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +3

The Los Angeles Lakers' odds vs. the Boston Celtics from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Tuesday, December 13th at 11:15 a.m. ET.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ odds vs. the Boston Celtics from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Tuesday, December 13th at 11:15 a.m. ET.

Golden State Warriors (14-13) at Milwaukee Bucks (19-7)

Milwaukee has played well vs. top-tier teams while Golden State hasn’t

Per CTG, the Bucks are 6-0 SU vs. teams in the top 10 of non-garbage time nRTG. Milwaukee has a +11.8 adjusted nRTG (ranked first and +6.8 ATS margin (first) in those games.

However, the Warriors are 4-6 SU vs. top-10 teams with a -5.3 adjusted nRTG (16th) and a -7.6 ATS margin (28th), per CTG.

Plus …

The Warriors’ injury report is more concerning

Bucks PG Jrue Holiday is “questionable” to play and Warriors SF Andrew Wiggins has already been ruled out with a hip injury.

Both players are significant contributors but Wiggins’ absence is an issue because it leaves Draymond Green to deal with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton without much support.

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo plays defense on Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry at Chase Center in San Francisco.
Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo plays defense on Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry at Chase Center in San Francisco. (Jed Jacobsohn/NBAE via Getty Images)

Holiday is obviously important for slowing down Golden State’s backcourt. But, Milwaukee can make do without Holiday, and combo guard Jevon Carter is a great on-ball defender in his own right.

Lastly …

It’s a better spot for the Bucks

Milwaukee is 10-5 ATS as home favorites this season and the home team in Warriors-Bucks has won four straight dating back to Christmas 2020.

Also, the Warriors have been terrible on the road this season. Golden State is 2-11 SU with a -7.2 adjusted nRTG (25th), per CTG, and 3-10 ATS with a -9.2 ATS margin.

NBA Best Bet #3: Bucks -4 at DraftKings Sportsbook

The Milwaukee Bucks' odds vs. the Golden State Warriors from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Tuesday, December 13th at 11:10 a.m. ET.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ odds vs. the Golden State Warriors from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Tuesday, December 13th at 11:10 a.m. ET.

Rockets SG Jalen Green OVER 21.5 points (-115) vs. Suns

Houston hosts Phoenix at the Toyota Center for an 8 p.m. ET tip-off and Rockets SG Jalen Green‘s usage rate grades in the 95th percentile of combo guards in the NBA, per CTG.

Green scored only 15 points in his first game with the Suns this season on Oct. 30. Then Green dropped a 30-piece on Phoenix in their following meeting on Dec. 2.

He’s only shooting 31.0% from the field vs. the Suns this season but Green upped his free-throw attempts from four on Oct. 30 against Phoenix to 15 in their next head-to-head.

Sending opponents to the foul line has been a weakness for the Suns thus far. Phoenix is dead-last in the Association in non-garbage time defensive free-throw attempt rate, per CTG.

Houston Rockets SG Jalen Green sizes up Phoenix Suns SF Mikal Bridges at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Houston Rockets SG Jalen Green sizes up Phoenix Suns SF Mikal Bridges at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Rockets on the other hand are sixth in non-garbage time offensive free-throw attempt rate and have the third-most drives per game.

Green is a boom-or-bust player but has scored at least 27 points in three of five games in December. Also, Green plays much better at home.

His PPG increases from 19.4 on the road to 25.2 at home. Green’s offensive rating is 119 in Houston but just 97 in away games.

Finally, the Over has cashed in four straight Suns-Rockets contests and the crew chief of the referee crew is 12-6 to the Over this season. On the strength of his usage rate and aggressiveness …

NBA Best Bet #4: Rockets SG Jalen Green OVER 21.5 points (-115) at DraftKings Sportsbook

Houston Rockets SG Jalen Green's odds for his point prop at DraftKings Sportsbook as of Tuesday, December 13th at 12:20 p.m. ET.
Houston Rockets SG Jalen Green’s odds for his point prop at DraftKings Sportsbook as of Tuesday, December 13th at 12:20 p.m. ET.

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Written by Geoff Clark

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