Move over college football, there’s some money to be made in the NBA on Saturday. I’ve got betting looks in Celtics-Pistons, Trail Blazers-Mavericks, and Hawks-76ers. The games are broken down in order of my most to least favorite bets.
Boston Celtics (9-3) at Detroit Pistons (3-10)
Hopefully, we don’t jinx this but the Celtics going Over the total in the second of a back-to-back (B2B) has been a lock since the start of the last season.
Boston is 14-3 O/U on the second of a B2B with a +13.3 O/U margin over that span. The Celtics have scored 126 (at the Magic) and 133 (at the Knicks) in their two games with no rest this season.
There are a few other OVER-friendly trends for Celtics-Pistons as well. Boston is 8-5 O/U when favored on the road by -7 or more (three possessions) and 5-1 O/U in the last six games. Detroit is 12-8 O/U as +7 or greater home underdogs and these teams are 3-0-1 O/U in their last four meetings.
More importantly, the Pistons have the worst defensive rating (118.4) in the NBA. According to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), the Celtics are scoring 129.8 points per 100 possessions (ranked 2nd) in non-garbage time vs. teams with a bottom-10 defense.
Also, Boston wing Jayson Tatum has ascended to All-NBA caliber. Tatum is putting up 31.4 points per game (PPG) on 50.0% shooting (ranked fifth) with a 27.4 PER (sixth).
The second of a B2B is Tatum’s best rest split by offensive rating and true shooting percentage. His points prop isn’t available at the time of writing but I’d look hard at Tatum scoring 32 or more points vs. Detroit Saturday.
Finally, the assigned officiating crew for Celtics-Pistons has a 13-10 O/U record on the season and Detroit has the highest offensive FT/FGA rate in the Association.
NBA Best Bet #1: OVER 226.5 in Celtics-Pistons (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to 227.5
Portland Trail Blazers (9-3) at Dallas Mavericks (6-5)
This is a muscle memory bet. Few players in the NBA can keep up with Mavs’ Luka Doncic. However, Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard is one of them.
Dallas swept the season series with Portland last year (3-0 overall and ATS) but Lillard didn’t play in any of those games. When Lillard and Luka meet, the Trail Blazers are 6-5. Lillard is outscoring Luka 34.8-30.1 PPG with slightly better shooting and assist-to-turnover ratio.
Furthermore, Dallas’ offense revolves around Luka and Portland has several athletic wings to defend him including forwards Jerami Grant, Josh Hart, and Nassir Little.
I’m not saying Luka isn’t getting his, I’m just saying the Trail Blazers could slow Luka down. The Mavs on the other hand have no one for Lillard.
Also, Dame Time starts in the “clutch” and Luka struggles to win close games. “Clutch” time in the NBA is defined by games within a 5-point margin inside the final five minutes of regulation.
The Trail Blazers are 5-1 in “clutch” situations with a +23.5 net rating (nRTG) and Lillard has a +45.2 nRTG. The Mavs are 5-4 in the “clutch” but have a -29.9 nRTG and Luka has a -29.8 nRTG.
Lastly, the sharps see the Trail Blazers-Mavericks as I do. More money is on Portland ATS in the consensus market. Whereas more bets have been placed on Dallas ATS, according to Pregame.com.
Let’s follow the money for …
NBA Best Bet #2: Trail Blazers +5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook and “sprinkle” on Portland’s ML (+175)
Atlanta Hawks (8-4) at Philadelphia 76ers (5-7)
These are two teams who I was flat-out wrong about in my preseason projections. I bet the Sixers to win the Atlantic Division and liked them to be the East’s No. 1 overall seed entering the playoffs.
But, Philadelphia is playing awful and has shown no sense of urgency. The 76ers have the second-worst non-garbage time offensive rebounding rate and fifth-worst defensive FT/FGA rate, per CTG.
Basically, Philly doesn’t hustle or stay in front of ball handlers. This lack of effort might lead to the Sixers firing head coach Doc Rivers.
For the Hawks, I was skeptical that there was enough space in their backcourt for Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. But, Young and Murray have been a wonderful fit and Atlanta is a hungrier squad.
Trae and Murray are scoring a combined 49.1 PPG with 17.3 assists per game. Murray is still a menace defensively and he allows Young to do his thing in the half-court.
To be fair, this is a terrible spot for the Hawks who are an NBA-worst 6-22 ATS as a road underdog. Also, the Zig-Zag Theory is in effect because the Hawks beat the Sixers 104-95 at home Thursday.
But, this is already “baked into the line” and there’s “reverse line movement” in the betting market heading towards Atlanta.
Philly was a 4-point favorite on the look-ahead line but it’s down to -3 despite more than 70% of the money coming in on the Sixers, according to Pregame.com.
The oddsmakers have factored in Atlanta being terrible as a road ‘dog and the Zig-Zag Theory. They are still laying a trap by making Philadelphia cheaper.
NBA Best Bet #3: Hawks +3 (-110) DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +2
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