There’s a 10-game slate in the NBA Wednesday highlighted by a primetime doubleheader, neither of which I’ll be gambling on. Instead, let’s focus on small matchups with more betting value such as Knicks-Nuggets, Bulls-Pelicans and Pacers-Hornets.
New York Knicks (7-7) at Denver Nuggets (9-4)
We are getting to the party late on this one because the Knicks were 9-point underdogs to the Nuggets in the look-ahead. The line has plummeted to Denver laying -3.5 at home after news broke that Nuggets big Nikola Jokic entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
However, there’s still value in NY +3.5, and down to +2.5, because Denver’s efficiency falls off a cliff when Jokic is out of the game and the Knicks are profitable in similar situations.
Denver’s injury report
Jokic is the reigning back-to-back (B2B) MVP and leads the NBA in on/off net rating (nRTG). Per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), Gordon has a +14.5 on/off adjusted nRTG, which ranks in the 88th percentile of forwards.
Denver’s defensive rebounding rate drops by 11.4% when Jokic is off the floor and NY crashes the glass. The Knicks are sixth in non-garbage time offensive rebounding rate and rank seventh in second-chance points per game (PPG).
Also, Nuggets starting PF Aaron Gordon is “questionable” to play with a non-COVID illness. Denver backup combo guard Bones Hyland is “doubtful” and still in health and safety protocols.
Jokic leads the Nuggets in points, rebounds and assists per game. Gordon is Denver’s best defensive wing and Hyland is microwave offense off the bench. They are three of the Nuggets five leading scorers.
When Jokic is off the floor, Denver takes less of the two most efficient shots in basketball: attempts at the rim and corner 3-pointers. Opposing defenses collapse on Jokic when he gets the ball in the paint, leading to open corner 3s.
Maybe the Nuggets sit Jokic, Gordon and Hyland Wednesday to prevent the sickness from spreading. Either way, Denver will definitely be without the best center in the league and …
It’s a ‘good spot’ for the Knicks
NY has been a feisty ‘dog under head coach Tom Thibodeau who was hired 2020. In the Thibs era, the Knicks are 36-26 against the spread (ATS) as road underdogs with a +3.1 ATS margin and 26-15 ATS as road ‘dogs vs. teams with a winning record (+4.0 ATS margin).
The Knicks beat the Jazz 118-111 in Utah last night (Tuesday). Thibs is known to run his starters into the ground and play them a lot so the bettors look to fade NY on the second of a B2B. But, the Knicks 18-9 ATS when playing on no rest with a +7.6 ATS margin.
Finally, NY is 5-2 ATS on the road vs. teams with a winning record when playing on no rest (+6.2 ATS margin).
NBA Best Bet #1: Knicks +3 (-105) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +2.5
Chicago Bulls (6-8) at New Orleans Pelicans (8-6)
The Pelicans wrap up their regular-season series with the Bulls Wednesday at the Smoothie King Center. NOLA beat Chicago on the road November 9th, 115-111, covering as 2-point favorites and cashing an Under on the 231-point total.
We are taking the Under in the second Bulls-Pelicans meeting this season. Both play to high rate of Unders in similar situations and have underrated defenses.
Mad UNDER-friendly trends
My basketball handicapping is mostly built on matchup analysis but here or there I’ll include trends into my betting breakdowns. And Bulls-Pelicans has too many Under-friendly trends to ignore.
For instance, NOLA has cashed four straight Unders including last week vs. Chicago. Since the start of last season, the Pelicans have the highest rate of Unders at 6-15 Over/Under (O/U) as a home favorite with a -5.1 O/U margin.
The Bulls have gone Under the total in four straight and six of their last seven games. Chicago is 10-19-1 O/U as road underdogs since 2021 with a -3.8 O/U margin.
The Pelicans are 17-31-1 O/U vs. teams with a losing record over the past two seasons while the Bulls are 20-27-2 O/U vs. teams with a winning record during that span.
Furthermore, New Orleans is 7-10 O/U on the second of a B2B with a -3.1 O/U margin since 2021. Chicago is 6-12-1 O/U vs. teams playing on no rest with a -4.3 O/U margin over that span.
All these trends kinda explain why this is a …
‘Pros (UNDER) vs. Joe’s (OVER) Game’
Per Pregame.com, more than 80% of the money is on the UNDER whereas nearly two-thirds of the bets placed are on the Over at the time of writing.
Typically, you want to follow the money when it’s counter to the public because sharps wager a lot more dough than your average Joe. Bulls-Pelicans last week had a 231-point total so casual NBA bettors think they are getting value in this spot.
But, NOLA All-Star Zion Williamson missed the last game with a foot injury and might miss Wednesday. Also, once you dig into the matchup, you’ll realize why the pros are betting the Under.
‘Styles make fights’
There’s a lot of offensive firepower between both teams. Chicago has two All-Star wings in Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan who can go for 30+ any night. New Orleans three All-Star scorers that get buckets on different parts of the floor.
That said, the Pelicans are seventh in non-garbage time defensive rating, per CTG, and the Bulls are right behind them at eighth. Also, NOLA has the second-lowest 3-point attempt rate in the NBA and Chicago has the third-lowest.
Lastly, the Pelicans are top-10 in both points off of turnovers per game and second-chance PPG. The Bulls are top-10 in points off of turnovers and second-chance points allowed per game.
NBA Best Bet #2: UNDER 226 in Bulls-Pelicans (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to 225
Indiana Pacers (6-6) at Charlotte Hornets (4-11)
It’s time to fade Indiana when it visits Charlotte at the Spectrum Center Wednesday for a 7 p.m. ET tip-off. We are getting a chap price on the Hornets even though their best player is back in the lineup because the Pacers have made backers a lot of money recently.
Buy-low spot for Charlotte
Indiana is 7-0 ATS in the last seven games and has won five of those games outright. The Hornets snapped an eight-game losing skid in their last game, beating the Orlando Magic 112-105 Monday and are 2-5-1 ATS in those contests.
The market is giving Charlotte a big enough boost after Hornets All-Star PG LaMelo Ball returned to action two games ago. First of all, Ball has torched Indiana in his career.
Ball is averaging 22.8 PPG on 67.7% true shooting (.560/.455/.870) with 8.7 rebounds, 8.2 assists and a +15 nRTG in six career games against the Pacers.
The Hornets are 6-1 SU and ATS in their last seven meetings with Indiana and the Pacers are 3-12 ATS in their last 15 visits to Charlotte.
On top of that …
Indiana allows too many easy buckets
Charlotte ranks third or better in points off of turnovers per game, fastbreak PPG and paint PPG. Indiana’s defense is bottom-10 in points off of turnovers, second-chance points, fastbreak points and paint PPG allowed.
Also, the Pacers have the worst defensive FT/FGA rate in the NBA and their defense ranks 24th in shot quality allowed, per CTG.
NBA Best Bet #3: Hornets -2.5 (-115) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -3
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