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Maybe you can fit NBA gambling into your NFL Super Wild Card weekend. If so, consider my handicaps below for Hawks-Raptors, Celtics-Hornets, and 76ers-Jazz.
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.
(Buyer beware: It’s the “load management” era in the NBA and players are sitting out more games. It would behoove you to wait until the final injury reports before betting.)
Atlanta Hawks (20-22) at Toronto Raptors (19-23)
These teams are tied 1-1 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) so far this season with the home teams winning and covering both. That Hawks-Raptors trend should continue Saturday because …
It’s a ‘tough spot’ for Atlanta
This is the second of a road back-to-back for the Hawks and they struggle in Toronto. Atlanta beat the Pacers 113-111 in Indiana Friday in a back and forth contest.
The Hawks are 0-4 ATS the game after playing their starters 160 or more minutes the game prior. Hawks-Pacers played at an above-average pace last night.
Atlanta is 1-5 SU and 2-4 ATS in Toronto since Trae’s rookie season (2018). The Hawks have a -9.1 SU margin and -4.7 ATS margin vs. the Raptors in those meetings.
Toronto stomped Atlanta 139-109 in its home building on Halloween. The Hawks were at full strength for that game and the Raptors were missing starting PG Fred VanVleet.
Most importantly, the Hawks are missing rim-protecting big Clint Capela. This is going to be a problem for Raptors All-Star Pascal Siakam who likes to attack the paint.
Siakam has been tearing it up lately. He’s averaging a 30-piece on 60.4% shooting, 53.8% from behind the arc and is attempting 10.7 free throws in the last three games.
The Raptors have a couple of strength-on-weakness edges
Toronto crashes the glass like maniacs and Atlanta is without its best rebounder and rim protector in Capela. The Raptors are fourth in offensive rebounding rate and the Hawks are 24th in defensive rebounding.
The Hawks are 27th in second-chance points per game (PPG) allowed while the Raptors are second in scoring second-chance points.
Also, Toronto likes to get out in transition off of turnovers and rebounds. The Raptors add the most fastbreak points per 100 possessions in the NBA. The Hawks are 22nd in fastbreak PPG allowed.
NBA Best Bet #1: Raptors -6.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -7
Boston Celtics (31-12) at Charlotte Hornets (11-32)
Boston crushed Charlotte 140-105 in their first meeting this season on Nov. 28. But, that snapped a three-game streak of Unders in Celtics-Hornets and caused a huge line move on the total for this matchup.
The total for the last five Celtics-Hornets meetings have been in the 222.5-225 range. This Celtics-Hornets contest has a 232-point total. Boston beats up on bad defenses and Charlotte has one of the worst defenses in the NBA.
But, I’m fading that noise and the all the money hammering the Over for Celtics-Hornets. Boston is 7-13-1 Over/Under (O/U) on the road this season and Charlotte is 5-8 O/U at home with a -4.7 O/U margin.
Close to 85% of the money and 70% of the bets placed in Celtics-Hornets at DraftKings Sportsbook is on the Over, per VSIN. Yet the total hasn’t budged off the opener. Usually, sportsbooks adjust lines according to the liability.
Furthermore, Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown has been ruled out with an injury. The Hornets will be without two offensive forwards in Gordon Hayward and Kelly Oubre Jr.
Also, Charlotte’s offense is worse than its defense. The Hornets are 29th in effective field goal shooting (eFG%) and 27th in offensive FT/FGA rate. The Celtics are seventh in defensive rating and second in defensive FT/FGA rate.
Finally, both teams are good at ball security. Charlotte is sixth in offensive turnover rate (TOV%) and Boston is seventh. The Celtics are 26th in defensive TOV% and first in defensive rebounding.
My takeaway is the Hornets will have longer possessions because they cannot force Celtics’ turnovers and will be inbounding the ball after Boston scores. But, those will be possessions will one-and-done closed out with defensive rebounds.
NBA Best Bet #2: UNDER 232 in Celtics-Hornets at DraftKings
- (Word to the wise: Wait until closer to tip-off before betting this since money is pouring in on the Over).
Philadelphia 76ers (25-16) and Utah Jazz (22-23)
This is the second and final regular-season 76ers-Jazz meeting. Philly won the first 105-98 at home on Nov. 13, covering as 3.5-point favorites and the Under cashed on a 218-point total.
DraftKings Sportsbook lists 76ers-Jazz part II with a 235-point total currently and we just faded a smaller line move in the Celtics-Hornets matchup above.
In this case, we’re going to follow the sportsbooks’ lead and go OVER 235 in 76ers-Jazz because of situational trends and fading the outcome of their previous matchup.
Sixers All-Star Joel Embiid scored 59 points vs. the Jazz earlier this season. If Philadelphia’s role players help out this time around, the 76ers should comfortably score in the mid-120s.
As road favorites this season, Philly is 9-1 O/U with a +10.9 O/U margin. The Sixers are 10-1 O/U in their last 11 games as well. The Jazz are 14-11 O/U as ‘dogs with a +4.3 O/U margin and 4-1 O/U in their last five games.
Moreover, both teams have an above-average 3-point-attempt rate and are top-10 in offensive eFG%. Philadelphia is third in offensive FT/FGA rate and 22nd on the other end of the floor.
The Sixers games are averaging 244.6 PPG this month and the Jazz are having their highest scoring month. Also, Utah averages nearly six more PPG at home compared to away games.
NBA Best Bet #3: OVER 235 (-110) in 76ers-Jazz at DraftKings, up to 236
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