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I ended January on a mini-heater, winning four of my five NBA bets Monday and Tuesday. Hopefully, I can keep the momentum going into February.
Below, I’ll handicap and make bets for the Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, and Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs.
You can listen to the audio versions of these handicaps on my recently launched NBA Hoops At Lunch show on the OutKick Bets Podcast feed Monday-Friday.
(Word to the wise: It’s the “load management” era in the NBA and random injury news. NBA players are sitting out more games. It would behoove you to wait until the final injury reports before betting.)
Portland Trail Blazers (24-26) at Memphis Grizzlies (32-18), 7 p.m. ET
The Trail Blazers have covered three straight meetings with the Grizzlies including earlier this season in a 111-106 home loss as 5.5-point underdogs.
Portland was missing All-Star and leading scorer, Damian Lillard, and Memphis was without NBA Defensive Player of the Year favorite, PF Jaren Jackson Jr.
Lillard and Jackson are both active for this Trail Blazers-Grizzlies meeting but Memphis is missing big Steven Adams. His absence is a huge loss for the Grizzlies on the glass and in the paint.
Memphis’s offensive rebounding rate drops by 9.1% when Adams is out of the game and 4.5% defensively, according to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG).
To put that into context, Adams is in the 98% of all bigs in on/off offensive rebounding rate and 95% defensively. Sure, Jackson is a phenomenal help defender, rim protector and shot blocker.
But, Jackson not that good of a rebounder and gets into foul trouble often. He only averages 6.7 rebounds per game while Trail Blazers wing Josh Hart grabs 8.2 boards per game.
Also, Memphis’s defensive free-throw-attempt rate (FTr) improves by 3.6% when Jackson is off the floor, per CTG. On the other hand, the Grizzlies’ defensive FTr is 3.7% better when Adams is in the game.
Jackson’s on/off defensive FTr is in the 15% of bigs in the NBA and Adams’ is in the 89% of bigs, per CTG. This is important because Portland is 2nd in non-garbage time offensive FTr and has the 3rd-highest shot frequency at the rim.
I.e. the Trail Blazers attacks the rim and gets opponents into foul trouble. With Adams unavailable, the Grizzlies cannot afford to lose Jackson to foul trouble.
Despite his foul troubles, Jackson still has the best adjusted on/off net rating (nRTG) on the team at +10.6, per CTG. Grizzlies SG Desmond Bane has missed two consecutive games entering Wednesday and is “questionable” to play in this game.
Bane has a +4.9 adjusted nRTG and was the best player on the floor in the 1st Trail Blazers-Grizzlies game. The possible absence of Bane and definite absence of Adams is enough to nudge me toward Portland.
What fully gets me to the window on the Trail Blazers is this fishy line. The Grizzlies were -5.5 vs. the Trail Blazers in Portland without Dame Time in their 1st meeting this season on Nov. 2.
Memphis is 15-8-1 against the spread (ATS) at home with a +5.8 ATS margin. While the Trail Blazers are 0-8 ATS in their last eight road games. Yet it’s only Grizzlies -5.5 in Memphis? Hmmm.
NBA Best Bet #1: Trail Blazers +5.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +4.5
Golden State Warriors (26-24) at Minnesota Timberwolves (27-26), 8 p.m. ET
The Warriors-Timberwolves streak of Overs extended to eight games after Golden State smacked Minnesota 137-114 Nov. 27 on a 237-point total. Neither offense has been particularly good lately but I expect that to change Wednesday.
The Timberwolves are 25th in defensive wide-open 3-point-attempt rate (3PAr) and the Warriors are literally the worst team ever to give wide-open 3-pointers to.
Minnesota is 28th in offensive turnover rate (TOV%) and Golden State is 29th. The Warriors are 29th in points off of turnovers allowed per game Whereas the T-Wolves are 5th in defensive TOV% and 8th in points off of turnovers per game.
Also, Golden State plays at the fastest pace in the NBA and Minnesota is 5th in pace. Obviously, more possessions improves the chances an Over wager cashes.
The Warriors are 4th in effective field goal shooting, which adds in 3s, and the T-Wolves are 5th, but for different reasons. Golden State has the greatest 3-point shooters ever and Minnesota is 3rd in 2-point shooting rate.
Minnesota’s aggressiveness will help my Over bet because Golden State is 25th in defensive FTr. The Timberwolves are 20th in defensive FTr as well so there could be a bunch of easy points scored at the charity stripe.
T-Wolves big Rudy Gobert is “questionable” with a groin injury. Minnesota has a -7.7 adjusted defensive rating when Gobert is out of the game, per CTG. Even if Gobert plays, the Warriors are familiar with him and can pick-and-roll Gobert off the floor.
Lastly, Golden State’s offense comes to play on the road. The Warriors are 9-1-1 Over/Under (O/U) as road favorites this season with a +11.5 O/U margin.
NBA Best Bet #2: OVER 239.5 in Warriors-Timberwolves (-110) at DraftKings, up to 240.5
Sacramento Kings (28-21) at San Antonio Spurs (14-37), 8 p.m. ET
This is a good spot for the Kings who are just 2-3 straight up (SU) and ATS over their last five games. The Kings are used to life on the road since this is their 3rd of a 7-game road swing.
More importantly, Sacramento is 2-0 SU (+15.5 SU margin) and ATS vs. San Antonio this season. The Spurs have the worst nRTG in the NBA and the Kings crush bad teams.
Sactown is 15-5 SU vs. bottom-10 teams with the 2nd-best adjusted nRTG and 2nd-best ATS margin, per CTG. The Kings are 6-2 ATS as a road favorites (+4.3 ATS margin) and 7-1 ATS in away games vs. teams with a losing record.
Also, Sacramento looks motivated with a first-year, retread head coach and a roster full of guys who still need to prove themselves. The Kings are the 3-seed currently in the West and the Spurs are clearly tanking for Victor Wembanyama.
If Sacramento had a tough game next on the schedule or weren’t struggling perhaps it would overlook San Antonio. Instead, I think the Kings buzzsaw the Spurs Wednesday and use them as a get-right game.
NBA Best Bet #3: Kings -7.5 (-110) at DraftKings, up to -8
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