I’m sure no one cares since there’s an insane college football slate Saturday however I’ll be over here gambling on the NBA. Granted, the Association has a bit of a dull card but there’s money to win. Below, I’ll go through my favorite looks in Saturday’s NBA action.
New Orleans Pelicans (5-3) at Atlanta Hawks (5-3)
This is a good sell-high spot for Atlanta and a buy-low spot for New Orleans. The Hawks hammered the New York Knicks 112-99 in the Garden as 2.5-point underdogs.
Hand-up: I was on the wrong side of this game. But, NY had a 65-57 lead at halftime and shit the bed in the 2nd half. In fact, the Knicks had 10 points and 10 turnovers in the 3rd quarter.
The Pelicans beat the Golden State Warriors 114-105 last night (Friday) without four starters including Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins.
NOLA failed to cover as 11-point home favorites and the game was a lot closer than the final score indicated. I know because I gave out the Pelicans earlier that day at -3.5 as part of my 3-0 Friday.
However, I’m not overreacting to that result and New Orleans matches up well with Atlanta. The Pelicans have more size and length and will punish the Hawks in the paint.
New Orleans attempts the 4th-highest volume of field goals at the rim, per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), and scores the 3rd-most paint points per game (PPG). Atlanta is 21st in paint PPG allowed.
Also, the Hawks run a ton of pick-and-roll (PnR) action through their guards. Trae Young exited his last game early with an eye contusion and is listed as “questionable” on the injury report. As I was writing this, the line dropped from Hawks -2 to -1 presumably based on Trae’s availability.
Either way, the Pelicans have the 3rd-best defensive efficiency vs. PnR action through ball handlers. We’ll see a lot of New Orleans backup PG Jose Alverado, an aggressive on-ball defender.
Many of those PnR plays lead to mid-range field goals for the Hawks and the Pelicans have the 9th-best defensive field goal percentage vs. mid-range attempts, per CTG.
Finally, New Orleans is better than its record. The Pelicans were missing All-Star wing Brandon Ingram for four games prior to Ingram’s return Saturday. NOLA is +24.3 points per 100 possessions when Ingram is on the floor, per CTG.
NBA Best Bet #1: Pelicans +1 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook
Portland Trail Blazers (6-2) at Phoenix Suns (6-2)
This could be a “trap spot” because Portland is 2-0 vs. Phoenix thus far. The Trail Blazers beat the Suns Friday 108-106 and last month, 113-111, in overtime. Yet Phoenix is a 10-point favorite?!
But, I was high on Portland coming into the season and like the moves the front office made this offseason. The Trail Blazers have outperformed the Suns in three of the “four factors” in their earlier meetings (net rebounding rate, net turnover rate, and net free-throw attempt rate).
Furthermore, Portland matches up well with Phoenix. The Trail Blazers have the 4th-highest offensive FT/FGA rate and 4th-highest offense rebounding rate. The Suns are 26th in defensive FT/FGA rate and 21st in defensive rebounding rate.
Also, Phoenix All-Star Devin Booker loves to operate in the mid-range and Portland plays good defense on that area of the floor. Per CTG, the Trail Blazers have the 2nd-best defensive field goal percentage vs. mid-range jumpers.
Lastly, I’ll happily fade the Suns vs. good teams, and when laying big numbers while Chris Paul is playing this way. CP3 is averaging a career-worst 9.8 PPG and has fallen off a cliff.
Paul is shooting 35.3% from the field (47.3% career FG%) and 24.1% from three (36.8% 3P%). CP3 playing at a Hall-of-Fame-caliber is what made the Suns a title contender over the last two seasons.
NBA Best Bet #2: Trail Blazers +11 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook
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