There are a couple of crosstown battles that highlight the NBA’s Wednesday card. The New York Knicks head to Barclays Center to play the Brooklyn Nets. Then the Los Angeles Clippers face the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena.
But for tonight, my betting card is actually going to revolve around some less marquee matchups. That’s where we can find the real value.
Dallas Mavericks (6-3) at Orlando Magic (2-9)
Orlando has flown Over the total in each of the past five games by an average of 20.8 points but this total has ticked down from the opener.
Mavericks-Magic opened at 217 and is down to the current number, 215, despite DraftKings reporting via VSIN that more than 80% of the action is on the Over.
There are a few reasons for the reverse line movement in the total of Mavericks-Magic such as Dallas’ snail-like pace and injury report. Also, Orlando doesn’t have a true point guard and keeps opponents off the foul line.
The Mavericks have the slowest pace in the NBA. The Magic will be okay slowing it down given their backcourt situation. Orlando scores the fewest fastbreak points per game in the league and Dallas scores the fourth-fewest.
The Magic’s lack of ball handlers is a big reason they are 26th in offensive turnover rate (TOV%). The Mavs are seventh in defensive TOV% so they’ll take advantage of Orlando’s bad ball security.
Dallas will be missing their second-leading scorer and 3-point shooter in big man Christian Wood who has a sprained knee.
Magic leading scorer and No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Paolo Banchero, is questionable to play with an ankle sprain.
The Mavs score 6.4 more points per 100 possessions when Wood is on the floor, while the Magic score 3.9 more points per 100 possessions with Banchero in the game, per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG).
Also, Mavs All-Star Luka Doncic is one of the best at getting to the charity stripe; Dallas ranks 2nd in adjusted offensive free-throw rate, according to CTG.
But, Orlando is 9th in adjusted defensive free-throw rate (CTG). The assigned officiating crew for Mavericks-Magic has a combined 7-11 Over/Under record on the season.
Finally, the Magic’s size and length are going to be a factor against a slow-paced Mavs team that mostly operates in half-court sets.
NBA Best Bet #1: UNDER 215 Mavericks-Magic at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to 214
Portland Trail Blazers (7-3) at Charlotte Hornets (3-8)
We are gambling on Portland’s health luck since the Trail Blazers have four starters listed as “probable” on their injury report. But, Damian Lillard returned Monday in the Blazers’ 110-107 road win over the Miami Heat.
Dame Time missed the Trail Blazers’ previous four games with an injury. Portland scores 7.5 more points per 100 possessions when Lillard is on the floor, per CTG.
Furthermore, Charlotte All-Star LaMelo Ball is still sidelined with an injury, giving Portland an overwhelming edge in the backcourt. Lillard and Blazers combo guard Anfernee Simons should have their way vs. Hornets guards Dennis Smith Jr. and Terry Rozier.
Also, the Hornets have the third-worst adjusted offensive rating and the Trail Blazers have owned bad offensive teams — albeit in a small sample size.
According to CTG, the Trail Blazers are 3-0 straight up (SU) vs. bottom-10 offenses with the fifth-best spread differential at +8.5.
Portland can build margin over Charlotte at the free-throw line. The Trail Blazers rank fifth in both offensive and defensive free-throw rate, per CTG. Whereas the Hornets are 28th in offensive free-throw rate and 23rd defensively.
Lastly, Portland has covered seven of its last 10 meetings with Charlotte.
NBA Best Bet #2: Trail Blazers -4.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -5
Cleveland Cavaliers (8-2) at Sacramento Kings (3-6)
This feels like a “trap line” because the Cavs have the best net rating in the NBA and the Kings are 21st. Perhaps the market is enamored with Sacramento’s 6-3 against the spread (ATS) record, but Cleveland is even better at 8-2 ATS.
Bettors were backing the Kings to go Over their regular-season win total and to be a Western Conference playoff contender. However, I think Sactown sucks and has a rotted core.
Sacramento’s two best players by PER, PG De’Aaron Fox and PF Domantas Sabonis, wouldn’t be crunch-time players for a good team and are significantly overrated.
The Kings covered as 5-point underdogs in a 109-108 loss to the Cavs in Sacramento last season. But, the Kings’ top-two scorers from that game were traded last season for Sabonis (Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield).
Additionally, the Cavs were only 4-point favorites at the Clippers Monday. LA is sub-.500 thus far and upset Cleveland 119-117. The Cavs were on the second of a back-to-back and the Clippers are more than a half-point better than the Kings.
Maybe my view of Cavaliers-Kings is too simplistic but I’ll happily lay the points here with Cleveland.
NBA Best Bet #3: Cavaliers -4.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -5
FOLLOW GEOFF ON TWITTER: @Geoffery_Clark
Listen to the ‘OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark’ podcast HERE.
PointsBet Sportsbook users can make their first bets risk-free up to $2,000. If the bet loses, PointsBet will refund you in site credit. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.
First-time DraftKings users can get up to a $1,000 deposit bonus and receive a 20% first deposit match up to $1,000 when they sign up. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.