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Well, after a 0-2 dumpster-fire effort in the NBA Thursday, Imma try to get some of that money back. Usually, I stick with sides when handicapping team sports but my three gambling looks Friday are for the totals in Knicks-Raptors, Nets-Pelicans, and Wizards-Thunder.
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.
New York Knicks (21-18) at Toronto Raptors (16-22)
The first Knicks-Raptors game squeaked Over the 216.5-point total with a Toronto 113-106 victory in New York on Dec. 21. However, “styles make fights” on the Knicks-Raptors matchup screams “UNDER”.
First, these are a couple of slow-paced teams. NYK is 23rd in possessions per 48 minutes and Toronto is 27th. Neither team turns the ball over much so Knicks-Raptors part II will feature long possessions.
New York is fourth in offensive turnover rate and Toronto has the fewest turnovers per game in the NBA. Turnovers lead to easy points. Since both protect the ball, each should be able to set up their half-court defenses.
Speaking of which, both are subpar in half-court offensive execution. The Knicks are 17th in points per 100 possessions added in the half-court and the Raptors are 29th, per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG).
Furthermore, Toronto’s size and athleticism on the wing should make it difficult for New York’s leading scorer Julius Randle to operate.
Raptors wings Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby are perfect foils for Randle. Also, both teams lay bricks: NYK is 23rd in true shooting rate and Toronto is 29th.
Lastly, the presumed sharp side of the market is backing the Under whereas the public is betting the Over. Per VSIN, a slight majority of the money at DraftKings is on the Under and nearly 75% of the bets placed are on the Over.
NBA Best Bet #1: UNDER 217 in Knicks-Raptors at DraftKings Sportsbook
Brooklyn Nets (25-13) at New Orleans Pelicans (24-14)
These teams met earlier in the season and the Pelicans pounded the Nets 130-108 in Brooklyn. Both teams were at full-strength and NOLA leading scorers Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson scored a combined 453 points.
Nets-Pelicans part I went Over the 232.5-point total. What stands out to me about their rematch is this total is only 1.5 points lower despite Ingram and Zion being sidelined with an injury.
Sportsbooks lowered the Nets-Pelicans opening total to 230 but the market has pushed it up despite NOLA’s missing All-Stars. That suggests the line movement is sharp.
On top of that, both teams get buckets vs. quality opponents. Each are in the top-seven of non-garbage time offensive rating vs. teams in the top-10 of net rating, per CTG.
The Nets are 4-1 Over/Under (O/U) in their last five games vs. teams with a winning record. While the Pelicans are 4-1 O/U in their last five games against teams with a 60% winning rate or higher.
Also, both teams tend to go Over the total when facing unfamiliar foes. Brooklyn is 8-4 O/U with a +9.0 O/U margin vs. Western Conference teams. New Orleans is 9-4 O/U against the East.
Nets-Pelicans have gone Over the total in 14 of their last 16 meetings as well. NOLA is 4-1 O/U as home ‘dogs with a +9.1 O/U margin.
Finally, the officiating crew assigned to the Nets-Pelicans has a 62% Over rate this season (57-34 O/U) and two of the referees have average totals of at least 231 points per game (PPG).
NBA Best Bet #2: OVER 231 in Nets-Pelicans at DraftKings Sportsbook
Washington Wizards (17-22) at Oklahoma City Thunder (16-22)
There is “addition by subtraction” for both offenses in Wizards-Thunder. Washington will be without All-Star Bradley Beal and OKC is without three bigs from its rotation. But, for as well as Beal can score, he can be a ball-stopper.
Without Beal on the floor, the ball moves better and more Wizards get looks. Speaking of which, Washington big Kristaps Porzingis was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week in the first week of 2023.
The Thunder are starting C Mike Muscala who’s a floor-spacing, outside shooting big. OKC scores 10.8 more points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time when Muscala is on the floor, per CTG.
Moreover, there are several O/U trends in Wizards-Thunder that point to this being a high-scoring affair. OKC is 13-7 O/U at home (+7.1 O/U margin) and the Thunder scores 5 more PPG at home.
Also, Washington’s offense improves when rested. The Wizards are 6-2 O/U when playing on a rest edge and 5-2 O/U on 2-3 days of rest with a +3.0 O/U margin.
Like Nets-Pelicans, both teams play more to the Over in cross-conference games. D.C. is 8-6-1 O/U against the West with a +4.4 O/U margin and OKC is 10-7 O/U vs. the East with a +11.3 O/U margin.
Finally, Wizards-Thunder part I soared Over the 230-point total by 11 points and both teams shot better than 50% from behind the arc. Considering each are in the bottom-10 of defensive 3-point shooting, both teams can get hot from 3 again Friday.
NBA Best Bet #3: OVER 231 in Wizards-Thunder at DraftKings Sportsbook
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