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The NBA takes a backseat Saturday for college football’s rivalry week. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be made betting professional hoops. Below, I’ll handicap the Mavericks-Raptors, Lakers-Spurs and Thunder-Rockets matchups with a best bet in all three.
Dallas Mavericks (9-8) at Toronto Raptors (9-9)
The Mavericks head north of the border for a 5 p.m. ET game against a banged-up Raptors team at Scotiabank Arena. Both teams have lost back-to-back (B2B) games entering Saturday and are playing on two days of rest.
Dallas has struggled to cover the spread against Toronto in recent seasons but …
The Mavs play more efficient basketball
Since the NBA is mostly about dunks and 3s, it’s good to find teams that take a ton of shots in those areas on offense and prevent field goal attempts from those areas.
Per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), Dallas has the sixth-best shot quality in the league with the third-highest volume of 3-point attempt rate (3PAr) and the highest volume of corner 3s. Toronto is 18th in shot quality and 22nd in 3PAr.
The Mavs are fifth in defensive shot quality allowed, per CTG. They are 10th in the rate of attempts at the rim allowed and third in defensive 3PAr. The Raptors are 28th in shot quality allowed, 22nd in rate rim attempts allowed, and 23rd in defensive 3PAr.
Toronto has cluster injuries
The Raptors will be without major rotation pieces Saturday afternoon. In fact, Toronto is missing its leaders in non-garbage time on/off net rating (nRTG) in wings Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam.
Not to mention the Raptors’ third-leading scorer, PG Fred VanVleet, is “questionable” to play with a non-COVID illness.
I don’t expect Dallas to feel sorry for Toronto considering the Raptors have had the Mavericks’ number in recent seasons. Despite this, it’s still a …
Better spot for Dallas
There are some scary pro-Toronto against-the-spread (ATS) trends worth noting. Such as the Raptors covering five of their last six meetings with the Mavs and performing better on 2-3 days’ rest. Toronto is 12-6 ATS with a +2.4 ATS margin in those spots since 2021 whereas Dallas is 9-15 ATS.
That said, Toronto’s cover as 4-point road underdogs in a 111-110 loss to the Mavericks in Dallas Nov. 4 was misleading. Raptors SF OG Anunoby hit a meaningless three with time expiring for a backdoor cover. Yet the Mavs outscored the Raptors in three of four quarters that game.
But, since 2021, Dallas is 8-4 ATS as short road favorites (-4 or less) with a +6.1 ATS margin. The Mavericks have lost B2B games but are 30-14-1 ATS following a loss over that span with a +5.7 ATS margin.
NBA Best Bet #1: Mavericks -2.5 (-115) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -3.5
Los Angeles Lakers (6-11) at San Antonio Spurs (6-14)
LA finishes off a B2B at San Antonio, winning the first last night (Friday) 105-94. Let’s run it back with the Lakers even though the Zig–Zag theory is a profitable betting strategy in the NBA.
However, the Lakers beat the Spurs by double digits despite LA being outrebounded 50-49 and losing the turnover battle 22-16. LeBron James threw nine turnovers and Russell Westbrook scored just 3 points off the bench on 1-for-7 shooting.
The same analysis for Friday’s Lakers-Spurs game applies to Saturday’s meeting. LA is eighth in offensive shot quality and first in defensive shot quality.
Lakers big Anthony Davis is playing at an MVP level over the past two weeks. AD is averaging 33.4 points per game (PPG) on 64.4% shooting with 17.6 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 2.6 blocks per game in his last five games.
Davis is averaging just 0.6 3-point attempts per game but 13.0 paint touches in those contests. The Spurs give up the third-most paint PPG. They are 22nd in defensive field goal percentage at the rim, per CTG.
NBA Best Bet #2: Lakers -3.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -4
Oklahoma City Thunder (8-11) at Houston Rockets (4-14)
This is the second of a B2B for each team, both coming off of wins. The Thunder upset the Chicago Bulls 123-119 in overtime at home Friday. The Rockets upset the Atlanta Hawks at home Friday 128-122.
Saturday is the first Thunder-Rockets game of the season. Typically, their meetings are low-scoring relative to expectation: 3-7 Over/Under (O/U) in the last 10 Thunder-Rockets games. But, styles make fights and this matchup gives me Over vibes.
Houston runs the 11th-fastest pace and OKC is sixth in pace. The Rockets are tied for first in second-chance PPG and the Thunder give up the second-most second-chance PPG.
OKC is fifth in points off of turnovers per game and Houston allows the most points off of turnovers per game. The Thunder are 25th in defensive FT/FGA rate and the Rockets are fourth in offensive FT/FGA rate.
Since the beginning of last season, these teams are a combined 21-10 O/U in the second of a B2B. In 2022-23, these teams are a combined 22-10-1 O/U when the total is 233 or lower. OKC is 7-0 O/U after a win with a +14.8 O/U margin this season.
NBA Best Bet #3: OVER 231.5 Thunder-Rockets (-105) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to 233
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