Sunday, December 16

Atlanta Hawks vs LA Lakers, 10 am
Lakers -11.5

The 23-3 Lakers travel to the 6-20 Hawks laying 11.5 points as a road favourite. While this is quite a substantial line, I still think this is a game the dominant Lakers should win and cover.

The main reason for this is the huge matchup advantage LA has on the interior. Atlanta has probably the worst frontcourt in the NBA and they’ve got to go against LeBron and AD.

They’ve gotten nothing from their bigs all year long, meaning AD should have a field day and continue his stellar season. Similarly, their youngsters on the wing just don’t have the necessary size to hang with LeBron. Things all look good from an injury standpoint and I can’t see elbow soreness keeping LeBron out of this one.

Home court isn’t much of a boon for Atlanta either, given that they’re only 3-9 at home this season. This veteran Lakers outfit are 13-1 on the road thus far and I think this line is giving Atlanta too much for home court.

Ultimately, this is a game the Lakers should comfortably win and cover if they play anywhere near their level. I love the matchups for them here and I’m expecting a huge win.

Golden State Warriors vs Sacramento Kings, 12:30 pm
Warriors +3.5

The 11-14 Kings travel to the 5-22 Warriors laying 3.5 points. I’m actually inclined to go with Golden State here, purely as a line value play.

In their last home game, Golden State were 5.5-point favourites over a dismal Knicks side. Likewise, the Kings opened as 8-point favourites against the same Knicks outfit in their last game.

With this in mind, you’d expect this line to be roughly even. Instead, we’re getting a full 3.5 points with Golden State, which I think is too many.

Punters are incredibly down on this side after losses to Memphis and New York, which could mean it’s the perfect time to jump back on. I expect a more motivated performance here, especially considering those two results.

Golden State are also much healthier than they’ve been all season, now having 13 healthy bodies on game day. Draymond Green and Eric Paschall are both likely to play here, bolstering their frontcourt depth.

While Sacramento have fought valiantly of late, they’re facing an uphill battle to make the playoffs this season. De’Aaron Fox remains out with an ankle injury, while backup Cory Joseph isn’t 100% with a back injury.

As such, I don’t think they’ve got enough talent offensively to run away with the game here. Especially through the key number of 3, I’ll take the undervalued Warriors in what is legitimately a coin flip game.

Sunday, December 15

Toronto Raptors vs Brooklyn Nets, 11:40 am
Raptors -7.5

The 16-8 Raptors open as 7.5-point home favourites against the 13-11 Nets and I’m inclined to back them here. Brooklyn has been in some strong form of late without Kyrie and I think the market is overvaluing them.

Toronto has one of the best home courts in the NBA and are looking quite healthy at this point, with only Fred VanVleet a game-time decision. While the Nets definitely look an improved side of late, most of their wins are against relatively poor East sides.

The Raptors have a ton of favourable matchups in this spot, particularly on defence. They’ve got several strong perimeter defenders, all of which should be able to contain new offensive hub Spencer Dinwiddie.

I also like the matchup for Toronto on the interior, with Ibaka and Gasol against Allen and Jordan. They should be able to win the battle on the boards as well as protect the rim effectively.

The contrarian angle is also solid here, with only 27% of bettors backing Toronto at this number. I think they’re the more talented side and their strong home court should propel them to a win and cover.

Denver Nuggets vs OKC Thunder, 1:10 pm
Nuggets -7

The 15-8 Nuggets are laying 7 at home to the 11-13 Thunder here and I like the matchup for the home side. They’ve faded a little bit of late, but I think Denver is a bit of a sleeping giant out West.

First and foremost, they’ve got an outstanding homecourt advantage. They’re 9-3 at home this season, compared to a pedestrian 4-8 record for OKC. They’re also essentially fully healthy here, with Paul Millsap looking likely to play.

Secondly, I have to think OKC are starting to become overvalued in this betting market. They’re 16-8 ATS, compared to just 10-11 for their opponents this season. Punters have been cashing tickets with OKC all year, but now looks like the right time to fade them.

I like the matchups for Denver in this one, particularly in the frontcourt. The trio of Jokic, Millsap, and Grant are as solid as you’ll find and I expect them to have their way with Gallinari and Adams.

The backcourt of Murray and Harris has also looked very promising and I give them a strong edge over CP3 and SGA. Denver is also the much deeper of these two sides, which becomes increasingly noticeable at high altitude.

7 points is a healthy spread here, but we’re quite devoid of options today. I’d expect a Denver win in this one, meaning them covering -7 is definitely +EV.

 

 

Saturday, December 14

Miami Heat vs LA Lakers, 11 am
Lakers -4.5

The Heat have had a strong start to the campaign, sitting 2nd in the East at 18-6. The Lakers have been even better, comfortably topping the West at 22-3.

LA open as 4.5-point road favourites in this one and I’m inclined to take them here. While this is a high spread, Miami are dealing with a few key injuries that could make this matchup very tough.

Both Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic have been officially ruled out here, making it much more difficult to score on a strong Lakers defence. Tyler Herro is questionable here, as are James Johnson and Derrick Jones Junior.

Although their record doesn’t necessarily show it, Miami have also been playing much worse of late. They’ve won 3 of their last 5 games via overtime, including consecutive games against the lowly Bulls and Hawks.

The Lakers are a completely different level of opponent and they’ve got a few matchup edges in this one. At the Center Spot lately, Miami has been giving a large chunk of minutes to the duo of Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk.

Neither of these guys can credibly stay on the floor against the Lakers, with LeBron and AD likely to ruthlessly hunt these mismatches. LA also have some very solid perimeter defenders that should contain the upstart backcourt of Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson.

This is only the second game of LA’s road trip and I don’t see fatigue playing an issue here. Miami’s starters have logged a ton of minutes lately and they should be the more fatigued side. With the two best players on the floor and a capable supporting cast, I’m banking on the Lake Show to get another win and cover here.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs LA Clippers, 1:30
Wolves +5.5

A mediocre season from the Timberwolves has them 10th in the West at just 10-14. The Clippers have been flying high, just behind the Lakers at 19-7.

Minnesota open as 5.5-point underdogs here, a number at which I think they’re decent value. The main reason for this is injuries, with LA set to be without several key players here.

Both members of their starting backcourt have been ruled out, significantly worsening their depth. Jerome Robinson probably gets the start here, but he hasn’t proven to be up to NBA standard thus far.

Similarly, I expect the Clippers to be fatigued as this is the 5th game of a 6-game road trip. They play tomorrow in Chicago and its always questionable which part of a B2B Kawhi will actually play on.

Minnesota enter this clash both rather healthy and well-rested. They are in the middle of a 3-game road trip without any key players expected to miss this game.

They’ve also got a very favourable matchup in the form of KAT going against Ivica Zubac. The interior is one of the few weaknesses of the Clippers, which Minny are built perfectly to exploit.

Without the quality backcourt minutes, I can see this game being one the Clippers will need to grind out. Minnesota has a chance in this one and I definitely like them through the key number of 5.

Friday, December 13

Detroit Pistons vs Dallas Mavericks, 1 pm
Pistons +5.5

This game will be played on a neutral court in Mexico City.

The Pistons have had a mediocre start to the season, just outside the East playoff places with a 10-14 record. Dallas have been one of the surprise packages in the league thus far, 3rd in the West at 16-7. Detroit have opened as 5.5-point underdogs on this neutral court and I’m inclined to take them here.

The altitude is typically a huge factor in Mexico City and I think this will somewhat negate Dallas’ talent advantage. This should make for a slower-paced game, which suits the interior-focused Pistons much more.

I think Detroit has a pretty noticeable edge in the frontcourt here, with Blake and Drummond against Porzingis and Powell. They should be able to win the rebounding battle and protect the rim against Luka.

I also like the production they’ve been getting from their backcourt, with Rose and Galloway providing excellent bench minutes. They’ve probably got the edge over Dallas’ second unit, which could come in handy given the altitude.

While this team tends to struggle on offence, the matchups are really in their favour here. They’ve also got some solid wing bodies to help contain Luka, which is why I can see this one being fairly close.

Games in Mexico City tend to be unpredictable and I often like to take the underdogs there. Especially over the key number of 5, the Pistons are very live dogs in this one.

Denver Nuggets vs Portland Trail Blazers, 2:30 pm
Nuggets -6

The Nuggets have been solid but unspectacular so far, sitting 5th in the West at 14-8. Portland have been a major disappointment, improving slightly to 11th place at 10-15. Denver open as 6-point home favourites here and I’m inclined to back them.

I especially like the revenge angle here, given what happened in the playoffs. Denver is a very tough place to play and they’re a solid 8-3 at home thus far.

While it isn’t an ideal travel spot, they should be motivated to return to form after 3 straight defeats. They match up very well with this Portland side, specifically on the interior.

I love their matchup in the frontcourt, with Jokic and Millsap likely to bully the duo of Carmelo and Whiteside. Portland are also incredibly weak on the wing, which negates what is typically one of Denver’s biggest weaknesses.

They enter this one relatively healthy, especially as Jamal Murray looks very likely to play. Portland have definitely gone through the ringer from a health standpoint, with starters in Collins and Hood both out indefinitely.

Overall, this is a high-profile spot where Denver can right the wrong from game 7 in the Conference Semis. I like the edge their frontcourt has here and I expect it to propel them to a win and cover.

Thursday, December 12

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Houston Rockets, 11 am
Cavs +11

The Cavs have been dreadful this season, only above the Knicks out East at 5-18. Houston have been solid yet unspectacular, now 5th in the West at 15-8.

The Rockets are rather strong 11-point favourites here, garnering 74% of the early action. I’m going to fade the public in this spot and look to take the Cavs with a generous home spread.

Market sentiment is overwhelmingly against Cleveland right now and I think this has undervalued them here. They’ve won just once and covered only twice in their last 10, meaning that this could well be their nadir in value.

They’ve dealt with a lot of injury problems so far, but appear to be quite healthy here, with only Dylan Windler remaining injured. They’re also relatively well-rested, staying on the East Coast for essentially the last month.

Houston are a side with inconsistent motivation and I’m not sure how they get up for this poor Cleveland side. They know they can just turn it on for a quarter and win, meaning this one could be fairly close until late.

They’ve looked rather vulnerable at times recently, actually falling at home to the Kings last time out. Their struggles have been primarily on the interior, which isn’t great news against a Love/Thompson frontcourt.

There have been some controversies about John Beilein, but I think the team has generally played hard for him. Getting 11 points at home is huge in the modern NBA and I’d expect them to at least keep this within double digits.

Golden State Warriors vs New York Knicks, 2:30 pm
Warriors -5

We’ve got a barnburner here between the two worst sides in the NBA thus far. Golden State are rooted to the bottom of the West at 5-20, while the Knicks are an even worse 4-19 out East.

Golden State are actually 5-point favourites here, getting a majority of the early action. I think they’ve got more to play for of these two sides and like them to get the win and cover here.

All things considered, it’s a pretty terrible spot for the Knicks. They’ve just come off a cross-country road trip and are playing on a back-to-back after a red-eye flight.

They looked better in the first game post Fizdale, but I expect that motivation to wane on a brutal West Coast trip. They’re getting hardly anything from their guards this season and the projected absence of Wayne Ellington doesn’t help.

Golden State were angry after a poor home loss to Memphis last time out and I’d expect a more motivated display here. They’ve got comfortably the two best players on the floor here, and I’d predict solid nights from both DLo and Draymond.

New York also seem more firmly committed to tanking here and I don’t see them matching the Warriors intensity on the road. They’re a league-worst 1-9 on the road, while Golden State have been largely frisky at home.

It’s quite a large spread for a 5-20 team to lay, but the Knicks are legitimately that bad. Combine the travel fatigue and Golden State’s motivation and I think we see a relatively big Warriors win.

Wednesday, December 11

Charlotte Hornets vs Washington Wizards, 11 am
Hornets +1.5

The Hornets have been better than expected thus far, sitting in 10th place with a 9-16 record. The Wizards are two places below them in 12th, currently sporting a 7-15 record.

Despite the difference in record, the Wizards have opened as narrow 1.5-point favourites here. I’m not sure the Wizards should be road favourites over anyone, and I’ll look to take Charlotte plus the points.

Charlotte enter this clash almost completely healthy, with no key rotation players expected to miss. This is the final game of a long 5-game homestand, meaning they should be as well-rested as possible.

Similarly, they’ve got a few solid matchup advantages that they can exploit here. The backcourt of Rozier and Graham has been a bright spot for this side, which should excel against an atrocious Washington perimeter defence.

While Charlotte don’t have a great home court advantage, Washington have been atrocious on the road this season. They are just 3-9 away from home, regularly getting outplayed in blowouts. They’re not all that healthy either, with rotation players in Thomas, Miles, and McCrae all expected to miss.

This game is a bit of a toss up in my opinion, but I’ve got practically no faith in the Wizards on the road. Charlotte have fared well in close games this season, and I expect them to win a tight one here, really helping out their futures backers.

Philadelphia 76ers vs Denver Nuggets, 12 pm
76ers -4

The Sixers have had quite a solid start to the season, sitting 4th in the East with a solid 17-7 record. Denver have been good but not great out West, now 5th in the Conference at 15-7.

Philly are 4-point home favourites here, garnering 56% of the early action. They’ve been a dynamite 12-0 at home this season, and I expect another win and cover here.

First and foremost, the strengths of this Sixers side match up very well with the weaknesses of Denver. The Nuggets lack reliable wing defenders and I can see both Simmons and Harris having big games here. All looks good from the Philly injury report, with Josh Richardson expected to return for this one.

Moreover, these are two sides with some of the biggest home court disparities in the league. Denver aren’t nearly as good without the altitude on the road, while Philly have been dynamite at home all year.

Much has also been made of Nikola Jokic’s physique and somewhat poor start to the season. An Embiid/Horford frontcourt is very tough to come up against and he could definitely be punished on both ends here.

As the 4th and final game of an East Coast road trip, I can also see fatigue catching up with the Nuggets here. Philly have been home and well-rested for 3 straight, which is another advantage in this spot.

Overall, I think Philly is the more talented team with an excellent home court and the rest advantage. The Nuggets will definitely compete, but I see Philly pushing away late to secure the win and cover.

Tuesday, December 10

Milwaukee Bucks vs Orlando Magic, 12 pm
Bucks -12

The Bucks have roared out to a very impressive start, sitting 20-3 to comfortably lead the East. Orlando have been getting better results of late, now .500 and in 8th position.

Milwaukee are 12-point home favourites in this clash, and I expect them to both win and cover. They have a bunch of matchup opportunities here, particularly on the defensive end.

Without Nik Vucevic in the fold, Orlando are one of the worst offences in the NBA. They really struggle from deep, where Milwaukee’s perimeter defence excels.

Almost all of the creation will fall onto Evan ‘Don’t Google Me’ Fournier, but Milwaukee have several quality options to put on him. These two sides played in Orlando just last month and the Magic could only muster a measly 91 points.

On the flipside, they’ve also struggled mightily to contain Milwaukee’s innovative offence. They conceded 123 points in that aforementioned game, allowing Giannis to drop 29 and 14.

Milwaukee have only improved since then, winning each of their last 14 games and sporting a 10-1 home record. Their new acquisitions are finally starting to gel and they’re winning home games against inferior sides with ruthless efficiency.

With a relatively big spread like this, I think Milwaukee’s defensive edge will loom large here. On offence, a favourable matchup for Giannis should lead to another solid outing and a blowout win.

Utah Jazz vs OKC Thunder, 1 pm
Jazz -8.5

The Jazz have been slightly disappointing this season, compiling a 13-10 record and sitting in 6th place. OKC appear pretty unlikely for the playoffs, although they currently occupy the 9th spot with a 9-12 record.

Utah find themselves 8.5-point favourites heading into this one and I’d expect them to win and cover here. Despite their somewhat middling record, they still possess one of the best home court advantages in the NBA.

They are 9-2 in the altitude of Utah, compared to just 4-8 on the road. OKC are also nothing special as a road side, going just 2-7 through their first 9 road games this season.

Utah are somewhat hindered by the absence of Conley, although their effort against Memphis showed the offence can function without him. While he isn’t an offensive force, the absence of Terrance Ferguson should hurt OKC here.

This forces more minutes for guys like Abdel Nader and Luguentz Dort, neither of whom has been all that impressive thus far. The strength of this Utah side is their quality on the wing and I think guys like Mitchell, Bogdanovic, and Ingles should have a field day here.

OKC should also be relatively fatigued here, playing their 3rd in 4 nights after two relatively competitive games. Utah are well adjusted to being back home after their East Coast trip and they’ve got a noticeable rest advantage here.

Overall, Utah has been a very strong home side this season, especially against inferior opponents. The matchup and rest advantages are obvious here and I think this pushes them over the line to a win and cover.

Monday, December 9

Charlotte Hornets vs Atlanta Hawks, 9 am
Hawks +3

The Hornets have actually exceeded expectations thus far, starting out 9-15 and sitting 10th in the East. Atlanta have had a disastrous start to the season, languishing in 14th with a 5-17 record.

Charlotte have opened as 3-point home favourites in this clash, getting a whopping 74% of the early action. I think this undervalues the Hawks and will look to take them as road underdogs here.

Although their record is certainly poor, a lot of it has been down to unforeseen injuries and suspensions. They project to be much healthier for this one, with both Kevin Huerter and Allen Crabbe expected to play.

Trae Young is obviously the shining light on this squad and I think getting his backcourt partner back will do wonders here. They’re also about as fresh as you could be at this point in the season, with this being their second game in the past 6 days.

With bettors losing a ton of money on Atlanta thus far, I can see why they may look to fade them going forward. In this particular matchup however, I don’t think the Hornets are a viable alternative.

They’ve grossly outperformed their point differential and are actually relatively lucky to be 9-15. They’re below .500 at home on the season and have struggled mightily to defend dynamic guards like Young.

I also like the reverse line movement here, with Atlanta moving from +3.5 to +3 despite only 25% of bettors liking them. This suggests that the big money bets are coming in on Atlanta, likely due to their matchup advantages here.

I think this is a coin-flip type game that could go either way, but I’ll gladly take 3 points with the more-rested side, who also have the best player on the court.

Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors, 10 am
76ers -3

Both of these sides have been quite impressive thus far, with Philly in 5th at 16-7 and Toronto 4th at 15-6. The Sixers are 3-point home favourites here, getting roughly 58% of the early action.

I like this as a revenge spot for Philly and will look to take them here at this relatively small line. Philly lost a relatively close one in Toronto a fortnight ago, after also losing in the Conference Semis in May. Even though they’re on a back-to-back, I’d expect a motivated performance against a team they’re more talented than.

It can’t be understated how important it is for Philly that this game is at home. They have a league-best 11-0 record in home games this season, going a pedestrian 5-7 on the road in contrast. This includes some very impressive wins over solid teams like Boston, Utah, Indiana, and Miami.

Although they also played last night, a huge blowout over the Cavs means they should be relatively well-rested here. I also project Embiid to return in this one, feeling fresh and looking to get the better of Marc Gasol.

Moreover, I like the defensive matchups for Philly in this one. They’ve got several defensive options to put on Siakam, while Lowry and VanVleet could struggle against some much bigger Guards.

Overall, I think Philly is the deeper and more talented of these two sides. I expect their defence to really show up here, while Embiid has a big game on offence to secure the win and cover.

Sunday, December 8

New York Knicks vs Indiana Pacers, 11:30 am
Knicks +6.5

The Knicks are now officially the worst team in the NBA, sporting an atrocious 4-18 record on the year. By contrast, the Pacers have been fairly competitive all along at 14-8.

Indiana find themselves as strong 6.5-point favourites here, getting a whopping 82% of the early action. Although it’s very tough to back the Knicks as currently constructed, I think this is a favourable spot for them.

First and foremost, teams typically come out with a lot more energy in the first game with a new coach. David Fizdale clearly wasn’t getting the most out of this squad and I’d expect a much better effort here.

Moreover, the Knicks enter this one after getting embarrassed by a combined 70+ points in their last two games. Especially at home on a Saturday night, all eyes will be on them to improve.

They enter this clash relatively well-rested, having played just once since Tuesday. They’re also relatively injury free, with Elfrid Payton the only rotation player expected to miss this clash.

As solid as Indiana have looked at times, they just aren’t the same team on the road. While they’re 9-2 at home, they’re a pedestrian 5-6 on the road against a relatively weak schedule. They also enter this clash relatively light on the wing, with Sumner and Sampson joining Oladipo on the injury list.

Overall, I love the contrarian and new coach angle with the Knicks as home dogs. They probably don’t get over the line, but 6.5 points is too strong to ignore here.

Utah Jazz vs Memphis Grizzlies, 2 pm
Under 218.5 Points

Neither of these sides has been particularly impressive this season. After a ton of fanfare during the off-season, Utah find themselves 6th in the West at just 12-10. Memphis continue to struggle, now 13th in the conference at 6-15.

Utah have opened as 12-point favourites in this one, but I won’t opt for a play on the spread here. Instead, I like the look of the total, which I deem a little too high at 218.5 points.

Utah remains one of the toughest places to play in the NBA, largely due to the altitude adjustment for road sides. This is particularly true for a young side like Memphis that typically looks to run wherever possible. As such, I’d expect somewhat of a slower game here, with less overall possessions and less points as a result.

Neither side is especially healthy here, with a ton of injury doubts heading into this one. On the Utah side, Mike Conley is a game-time decision and the team struggled mightily without him last time out.

Memphis are significantly more banged up, with Anderson, Brooks, and Clarke all expected to miss this clash. With both sides potentially trotting out weaker rotations, we could definitely see a less efficient game as a result.

Moreover, Utah’s strong interior defence should contain Memphis’ main strength, their frontcourt. This will force them to shoot more from outside, where they haven’t necessarily succeeded thus far.

Combine a slower paced game with a few injuries and strong defensive matchups and it’s tough to ignore the under at 218.5 here.

Saturday, December 7

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Orlando Magic, 11 am
Cavs +3.5

The Cavs find themselves 13th in the West, sporting a very poor 5-15 record on the season. Orlando have been slightly better, sitting in 8th place with a 10-11 record.

The Magic have opened as 3.5-point favourites here, getting almost 80% of the early action. Especially considering their injuries, I like the contrarian angle of taking Cleveland plus the points.

Despite their relatively poor record, Cleveland are still a fairly frisky home side. After getting blown out by Detroit last time out, I think they’ll be motivated to put things right here.

They’re about as rested as you can get in the NBA, playing their last of a whopping 6-game homestand. They don’t have any major injury doubts for this one, with Tristan Thompson expected to play here.

I also like this from a line value perspective when you consider some of Orlando’s recent spreads. A mere 5 days ago, they were 8.5-point favourites against an injury-ravaged Golden State side.

Assuming 3 points each way for home court, that would suggest Orlando would be a 9.5-point home favourite in this game. Especially considering the injuries to Golden State there and how close they played Orlando, I think this line should be shorter.

Cleveland has a noticeable edge on the interior, with Thompson and Love having the best of it against a frontcourt without Vucevic. They’re an ugly duckling team for sure, but the Cavs have every shot to win this and the 3.5-point spread is great insurance in case they can’t.

Chicago Bulls vs Golden State Warriors, 12 pm
Warriors +5.5

To top it all off, I’ve picked another excellent game for my 2nd tip here. In all seriousness, while the game may not be the best quality, I do see some value here.

Chicago have opened as relatively strong 5.5-point favourites, getting 82% of the early action. This team has become a public-darling of late and I just don’t understand why.

Golden State is finally as healthy as we can expect this season, with Green, Russell, and Looney all expected to play here. The return of Russell is especially important as they were essentially getting nothing from their other guards.

Although they’ve won their last couple, I still don’t have much faith in this Chicago side. I think they’re poorly coached and lack quality depth. They’re the ones dealing with a few key injuries here, with both Porter and Hutchison ruled out.

This really limits their depth on the wing, which is typically Golden State’s biggest weakness. Without this matchup disadvantage, their rotation really opens up and we can expect better games from Robinson and Burks here.

Chicago’s frontcourt has been very disappointing thus far and I think the finally healthy Warriors interior matches up well with them. They’ve struggled on the inside even in their recent wins and I’d expect more of the same here.

Especially nearing the end of a winless road trip, I can’t help but think we get a stronger effort from Golden State here. These two sides are fairly evenly matched and I’ll happily take the contrarian side getting 5.5 points.