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After taking a bruising in the NBA last week and collecting myself, I’m back to recoup my lost units. My excuse is I got NBA’d, which is when you bet a team early in the day then that team randomly sits their best player.
That said, I’m a glutton for punishment and there are intriguing matchups on the NBA’s Wednesday slate. My favorite looks are for the Philadelphia 76ers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics vs. Minnesota Timberwolves.
(BUYER BEWARE: We are in the NBA’s “load management” and “tanking” eras. It’s best to wait until the final injury reports come out before placing a bet).
Philadelphia 76ers (45-22) at Cleveland Cavaliers (44-27), 7:30 p.m. ET
The Sixers have a 5-game win streak with the best net rating in the NBA. The Cavaliers are 4th in net rating over that span. But, Philly has been better in three of the “four factors” including rebounding, effective field goal shooting, and turnover rate.
More importantly, Joel Embiid is ballin’ this month. Embiid is averaging 36.7 points per game (PPG) on 69.8% true shooting (.598/.500/.815) with a 136 offensive rating in March.
Cleveland has one of the best defensive frontcourts in the NBA with bigs Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. My read is Embiid will try and send a message to NBA MVP voters by lighting up the Cavs.
These teams are tied 1-1 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) in the season series with the home team winning and covering both. The Cavaliers smacked the Sixers 113-85 in November.
James Harden sat out that game and Harden is having a bounce-back season in Philly. Harden is leading the NBA in assists per game (10.8). His offensive rating and true shooting is higher in March than any other month this season.
The bottom line is the Sixers have the best frontcourt and backcourt players on the floor and the Cavaliers are just 3-12 SU and 5-10 ATS as an underdog this season with a -5.5 SU margin.
NBA Best Bet #1: 76ers (-145) moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -150 before laying up to -3 with Philadelphia
- Betting strategy: Wait until Donovan Mitchell‘s official game status is announced. Mitchell has missed Cleveland’s game vs. the Hornets Tuesday. If he’s available, Philadelphia could shrink to -2 or lower.
Boston Celtics (47-22) at Minnesota Timberwolves (35-34), 8 p.m. ET
Boston won and covered vs. Minnesota 121-109 as 8.5-point favorites in their 1st meeting this season back in December. But, the T-Wolves made a brilliant move at the trade deadline by acquiring PG Mike Conley.
Per CleaningTheGlass.com, Minnesota is scoring 10.7 more points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time when Conley is on the floor. Conley is more of a floor-general point guard and allows Anthony Edwards to run the offense.
Conley operates a good pick-and-roll with Timberwolves big Rudy Gobert and Minnesota’s defense has been a lot better recently. The Celtics are 3rd in the NBA in 3-point-attempt rate (3PAr).
Since the All-Star break, the T-Wolves are 3rd in defensive wide-open 3PAr. “Wide-open 3s” are when the shooter having at least six feet worth of distance from the nearest defender.
Furthermore, the Timberwolves are profitbale as home underdogs this season. Minnesota is 10-4 SU and ATS in those spots with a +6.1 spread differential.
Finally, per VSIN, nearly 90% of the action at DraftKings is on the Celtics but this line hasn’t budged off the opener. It seems as if the sportsbooks are comfortable with taking more pro-Boston bets. That’s suspicious to say the least.
NBA Best Bet #2: Timberwolves +5 (-110) and ‘sprinkle’ on the +175 moneyline at DraftKings
You can listen to the audio versions of these handicaps on my NBA Hoops At Lunch show on the OutKick Bets Podcast feed Monday-Friday.
FOLLOW GEOFF ON TWITTER: @Geoffery_Clark
Listen to the ‘OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark’ podcast HERE.
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