Three NBA Games Worth Gambling On Monday, December 19

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The Monday Night Football game in Week 15 is a bit of a dud so what’s wrong with getting some action down on the NBA? My favorite gambling looks in the Association Monday are in Spurs-Rockets, Bucks-Pelicans, and Jazz-Cavaliers.

(Buyer beware: The NBA’s “load management” stuff is bogus and players are sitting out more and more games. It would behoove you to wait until the final injury reports are released before betting).

San Antonio Spurs (9-20) at Houston Rockets (9-20)

Both of these teams have lost back-to-back games to the exact same opponents. The Rockets lost to the Heat 111-108 Thursday and to the Trail Blazers 107-95 Saturday. While the Spurs lost to the Trail Blazers 128-112 Wednesday and to the Heat 111-101 Saturday. 

But, Houston at least has an outline for a plan with recent No. 2 draft picks SG Jalen Green and PF Jabari Smith Jr. whereas San Antonio is in the midst of tanking. 

Furthermore, each has a bottom-five net rating (nRTG) but the Rockets have exceeded the market’s expectations and the Spurs haven’t. Houston has a +2.1 against the spread (ATS) margin this season (ranked ninth) and San Antonio has a -3.8 ATS margin (29th). 

Houston Rockets PF Jabari Smith Jr. and SG Jalen Green celebrate during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Houston Rockets PF Jabari Smith Jr. and SG Jalen Green celebrate during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. (Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images)

However, per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), the Rockets have a +2.2 non-garbage time nRTG vs. bottom-10 teams and a +4.5 ATS margin (fifth).

The Spurs have a -4.8 non-garbage time nRTG vs. bottom-10 teams and a -1.5 ATS margin. San Antonio is 1-7 ATS in its last eight games vs. teams with a losing record as well.

Also, there’s been sharp line movement toward Houston. This game opened with the Rockets -3.5 (-110) and climbed to Houston -4. Finally, the Rockets have a much better shot quality on both ends of the floor than the Spurs, per CTG.

Houston averages the third-most drives per game and is sixth in offensive FT/FGA rate and San Antonio is 29th in paint points per game (PPG) allowed. 

NBA Best Bet #1: Rockets -4 at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -5

The Houston Rockets' odds vs. the San Antonio Spurs from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Monday, December 19th at 12:20 p.m. ET.
The Houston Rockets’ odds vs. the San Antonio Spurs from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Monday, December 19th at 12:20 p.m. ET.

Milwaukee Bucks (21-8) at New Orleans Pelicans (18-11)

NOLA got swept 0-3 SU and ATS in its three-game road stand entering Monday. Milwaukee has alternated between winning and losing over the past five games (2-2-1 ATS).

But, the Bucks beat the brakes off of the Jazz 123-97 without All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Giannis is available Monday while Middleton has already been ruled out.

The Pelicans lost a back-to-back vs. the Jazz Tuesday and Thursday in Utah. That said, Milwaukee is the right side in this one because it’s profitable in these spots and built perfectly to defend New Orleans.

Milwaukee Bucks PF Giannis Antetokounmpo defends New Orleans PF Zion Williamson at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.
Milwaukee Bucks PF Giannis Antetokounmpo defends New Orleans PF Zion Williamson at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. (Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)

The Bucks are 8-1 SU with a +9.8 SU margin as favorites of -3 or less this season and 11-4-2 ATS vs. teams with a winning record. Milwaukee is 23-13-2 ATS as road favorites since the beginning of last season. More importantly, the Bucks have the second-best defensive rating in the NBA.

Milwaukee big Brook Lopez is the odds-on favorite to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) at DraftKings. Bucks PG Jrue Holiday is one of the best backcourt defenders in the league and Giannis is a former DPOY winner and the most versatile defender in NBA history.

New Orleans attempts the third-highest volume of field goals at the rim, per CTG. Milwaukee is fifth in defensive field goal shooting vs. attempts at the rim and sixth in paint PPG allowed.

NBA Best Bet #2: Bucks (-115) ML at DraftKings Sportsbook

The Milwaukee Bucks' odds at the New Orleans Pelicans from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Monday, December 19th at 12:30 p.m. ET.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ odds at the New Orleans Pelicans from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Monday, December 19th at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Utah Jazz (17-15) at Cleveland Cavaliers (20-11)

The motivational factor of Cavs SG Donovan Mitchell facing his former team is the biggest factor in Jazz-Cavaliers. Even though Mitchell is probably happy to be out of Utah, he’s definitely going to be amped for this game.

In his first season in Cleveland, Mitchell is averaging a team-high 29.5 PPG on career highs in both field goal percentage (50.3%) and 3-point shooting (42.4%). The Cavaliers are 11-4-1 ATS at home with a +4.1 ATS margin this season.

Cleveland Cavaliers SG Donovan Mitchell celebrates against the Los Angeles Lakers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio.
Cleveland Cavaliers SG Donovan Mitchell celebrates against the Los Angeles Lakers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Utah has been a profitable ‘dog this season, which explains why the public is nearly split in at DraftKings at the time of writing, per VSIN. However, more than 80% of the money is on the Cavs so the sharps are backing Cleveland.

Also, Jazz starting big Kelly Olynyk has been ruled out for this game and he’s integral to their offensive gameplan. Olynyk is a floor-spacing big who leads Utah’s starting 5 in 3-point percentage.

With Olynyk out of the lineup, the Cavs can have their bigs camp in the paint and guards extend their perimeter defense. Cleveland leads the NBA in defensive rating, paint PPG allowed and second-chance PPG allowed.

NBA Best Bet #3: Cavaliers -6.5 (-105) ML at DraftKings Sportsbook

The Cleveland Cavaliers' odds vs. the Utah Jazz from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Monday, December 19 at 1:35 p.m. ET.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ odds vs. the Utah Jazz from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Monday, December 19 at 1:35 p.m. ET.

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Written by Geoff Clark

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