It might be a good thing few people cared the NBA played Saturday since I went 0-2 after a 3-0 Friday. But, I’ve dusted myself off and there’s money to be made in the NBA’s soft four-game Sunday slate.
Below, I’ll make arguments for the Los Angeles Clippers covering as home favorites vs. the Utah Jazz and the Chicago Bulls stealing one at the Toronto Raptors.
(The games are in order of my favorite to least favorite bets).
Utah Jazz (7-3) at Los Angeles Clippers (5-4)
This has to be a buy-low spot for the Clippers and a sell-high spot for the Jazz. LA was/is a favorite to win the Western Conference whereas Utah was considered a tank team preseason.
Three weeks later, the Clippers are only a two-possession favorite vs. the Jazz? At home, no less. I get LA lost four straight, two vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder. But, the Clippers still have the best player on the floor, Paul George, and a proven coach in Ty Lue.
They have a weird injury/load management situation with Kawhi Leonard otherwise the Clippers will be fine. LA is on a 3-game winning streak and I’m not rearranging my power rankings based on the aforementioned skid.
The Clippers got thumped in LA by the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 23, who won 64 games last season and are currently in 1st-place in the West.
Then the Clippers lost back-to-back to the Thunder. That’s not ideal but OKC’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is top-five in PER and points per game (PPG) and is a matchup nightmare for the Clippers.
Last Sunday, the Pelicans blew the doors off the Clippers 112-91 because LA was missing Kawhi, and PG had an off-night.
However, PG is heating up: George is scoring 31.7 PPG on 58.1% shooting (50.0% from three) with 6.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 steals in LA’s current 3-game winning streak.
Finally, the public is overreacting to Utah’s and LA’s starts. According to VSIN, two-thirds of the money and bets at DraftKings Sportsbook are on the Jazz at the time of writing.
Let’s get on the same side as the oddsmakers and …
NBA Best Bet #1: Clippers -3.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -5
Chicago Bulls (5-5) at Toronto Raptors (5-4)
Typically, I’m betting on the Raptors because I’m an early stockholder of Toronto head coach Nick Nurse and All-Star Pascal Siakam.
But, Siakam tweaked his knee in the Raptors’ 111-110 loss at the Dallas Mavericks Friday (which we got lucky to cash) and will be sidelined for a week or so.
Toronto is scoring 10.5 fewer points per 100 possessions with Siakam on the floor and he leads the Raptors in PPG, assists, and rebounds.
Also, Toronto’s defensive free-throw rate increases when Siakam is off the floor, according to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG). Siakam’s length and athleticism are important for defending Bulls wing DeMar DeRozan who should feast Sunday.
DeRozan played in Toronto for his 1st nine seasons and is familiar with Scotiabank Arena. There are no hard feelings between DeRozan and the Raptors fans. Since leaving, DeRozan is scoring 24.2 PPG on 49.8% shooting with a +3.6 box +/- in five return visits to Toronto.
He is a major reason the Bulls are 1st in offensive free-throw rate (per CTG) this season. DeRozan likes to operate in the mid-range; 77% of his field goal attempts are in the mid-range.
Lastly, when Siakam is off the floor the Raptors’ defensive field goal rate vs. mid-range shots worsens by 16.5%, per CTG. This is in the 99th percentile of all wings. I.e. Toronto gives up mid-range buckets when Siakam isn’t in the game.
NBA Best Bet #2: Bulls +2 (-105) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to pick ’em
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.