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Most of the eyeballs watching the NBA Tuesday will be focused on LeBron James’ pursuit of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record. LeBron is just 36 points away from making history.
Not only will I be betting Over/Under LeBron’s points prop but I’ll also take stabs at the Hawks-Pelicans and Timberwolves-Nuggets matchups.
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.)
Atlanta Hawks (27-27) at New Orleans Pelicans (28-27), 7:30 p.m. ET
Atlanta beat New Orleans 124-121 in overtime at home on Nov. 5 in their 1st meeting this season. But, the Pelicans were on the second of a back-to-back (B2B) and the Hawks had two days of rest.
However, since beating NOLA earlier this season, Atlanta is 0-6 against the spread (ATS) in its last six games with at least two days off.
Also, this is the final of the Hawks’ 5-game West Coast road trip and teams tend to struggle in the NBA for the final game of their road trips.
The Pelicans have a strength-on-weakness edge in rebounding, in transition and in the paint. NOLA is 9th in both offensive rebounding rate and fastbreak points per game (PPG) and 5th in paint PPG.
The Hawks on the other hand are 21st in 2nd-chance PPG allowed, 23rd in fastbreak PPG allowed and 26th in paint PPG allowed.
I’m buying low on New Orleans who just snapped a 10-game losing skid Saturday and has won B2B games entering Tuesday. Pelicans wing Brandon Ingram missed 29 games from Nov. 28 to Jan. 24.
Ingram has played five games since returning to the lineup and has knocked off the ring rust. He scored a season-high 35 points vs. the Lakers Saturday on 53.6% shooting.
Finally, NOLA has been profitable as short home favorites since the beginning of last season. The Pelicans are 8-2 straight up (SU) and ATS as home favorites of -3 or less with a +5.5 ATS margin.
NBA Best Bet #1: Pelicans moneyline (-115) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -125 before laying up to -2.5 with New Orleans
Minnesota Timberwolves (29-27) at Denver Nuggets (37-17), 9 p.m. ET
This is the second of the Timberwolves-Nuggets home-and-away B2B, this time in Denver. The T-Wolves clobbered the Nuggets 128-98 in the frontend of this B2B in Minnesota Sunday.
Denver rest four starters including reigning 2-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, All-Star PG Jamal Murray, PF Aaron Gordan and SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
According to Pregame.com, more than 80% of the action is on the Nuggets presumably based on the zig-zag theory, which is when you bet the team that just lost in a rematch.
However, Murray’s game status was downgraded to “questionable” Tuesday afternoon and if Murray misses, Denver will close as an 8-point favorite or less.
The Nuggets score 9.3 fewer points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time when Murray is off the floor, according to CleaningTheGlass.com.
Denver’s bench is one of the worst in the NBA. In fact, the Nuggets have the 2nd-worst bench +/- in the NBA at -2.7. Denver just doesn’t have the depth to be laying 9 points without Murray.
More importantly, the T-Wolves are 5-2 SU and 6-1 ATS vs. the Nuggets since the beginning of last season. Minnesota has a +10.7 SU margin and +11.9 ATS margin in those meetings.
NBA Best Bet #2: Timberwolves +9 (-115) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +8
Lakers LeBron James 32.5 points vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 10 p.m. ET
LeBron is just 36 points away from breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time NBA scoring record. LAL’s next game is Thursday vs. the Milwaukee Bucks on NBA on TNT.
Not only can LeBron break Kareem’s record vs. his old team but he can also do so against one of the world’s best active players, 2-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The bottom line is there will be a bigger spotlight on the Bucks-Lakers game Thursday than this Thunder-Lakers game Tuesday.
Furthermore, there is some basketball logic to LeBron scoring less than 32.5 points vs. OKC. Anthony Davis returned to action Jan. 25 after a month-long absence.
In the five games since AD returned, LeBron has scored more than 28 points just once and he’s listed as “questionable” with an ankle injury.
James can use the excuse of “deferring to AD” to lighten his workload for health purposes and procrastinate on breaking Kareem’s record until Thursday.
NBA Best Bet #3: Lakers LeBron James UNDER 32.5 points (-105) at DraftKings Sportsbook
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