NBA betting: Weekend insights and best value bets
Chris Sheridan finds the value in the NBA this weekend, including player props for Chris Paul and Steph Curry.
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You made it through Thanksgiving, you are making it through Black Friday today, and by tonight you should have some funds left over to plan your weekend gambling strategy.
We are here to try to help as the NBA gets back in business following a national day off yesterday as Americans ate turkey, guzzled gasoline (and other things) and watched two-and-a-half damn good football games while surviving their in-laws.
This particular NBA season has been difficult to predict for a lot of reasons, but there are a few known commodities out there, so that is where we are going to guide you today.
The Phoenix Suns will be in New York City tonight riding a 14-game winning streak and playing the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, The Hawks and Bucks will be on the road with a couple of nifty winning streaks, and LeBron James and the Lakers will be back at the Staples Center with less than a month left before it becomes the Crypto.com Center.
Golden State and Minnesota are also back in action tonight with both teams riding five-game winning streaks, and the situations regarding Kyrie Irving of Brooklyn and Ben Simmons of Philadelphia remain unchanged. Also, one of the best games of the night is Hornets-Wolves, and this is the first time in human history that sentence has been written.
What should we expect?
Well, the first thing to know is that only three teams, the Warriors, Cavaliers and Thunder, are defeating the spread at least two-thirds of the time. The Heat and Bulls are doing it at a 63.3 percent conversion rate, and only seven teams have a winning record on over/unders, with the Los Angeles Lakers leading the way at 12-8-0 and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks the worst at 5-14-0.
The Luke Walton era in Sacramento has ended, and no team in the league is playing worse basketball at the moment than Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs.
So let’s have a looksee at what’s coming up this weekend and give you our best predictive analysis.
TEAM TO WATCH: That would be the defending Western conference champion Phoenix Suns, who follow up their game at Madison Square Garden with one against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night on the other side of the East River. If they win ‘em both, the Suns will be one victory shy of the longest winning streak in franchise history. The latter of those two games will be against a well-rested Nets team riding a four-game winning streak, and the game will be televised on NBA-TV.
For the first time in several years, Chris Paul will be in New York and will not have to take care of Players Association matters as his term as head if the players’ union has ended. That should allow him to keep his head focused on basketball, and tonight the Suns will be playing a Knicks team that has lost half of its 10 home games. The Suns, meanwhile, are 7-1 on the road, which is the NBA’s best away record.
Paul has reached double figures in assists in four of his past five games, and his assists over/under has been set at 9.5 tonight, which seems about right. The line we are looking at is his made 3-pointers, which is 1.5 with a +180 line on the over. He hit two of ‘em last time he played at MSG last season, and he had a pair of them two nights ago at Cleveland. He runs fairly hot and cold from 3-point range and has made at least two 3s in consecutive games only once in 18 games.
The reading here is that he is due, in large part because of his MSG history. He was 4-for-6 from behind the arc two seasons ago when playing on the road against the Knicks, he sat out Houston’ road games at New York the three previous seasons, and in 2015-16 he was 2-for-4 from downtown at MSG. You have to go all the way back to March 25, 2015 to find a Garden game in which Paul (then with the Clippers) failed to make at least two 3s at MSG. So we like the over on that one.
KINGS AT LAKERS: Alvin Gentry is the new boss in Sacto, and tonight his team has to try to find a way to quiet down LeBron James, who has been all over the news after his altercation with Isaiah Stewart in Detroit, earning a one-game suspension, and then scoring a season-high 39 Wednesday night in an overtime victory at Indiana while he also had two fans ejected for chirping at him and getting a little too personal.
The Lakers went just 2-3 on their five-game road trip but will now be back in Cali for their next five games. At 24.6 ppg, James has his lowest scoring average since he was a rookie, and we can guarantee you that particular fact is eating at him. He attempted a season-high 29 shots against the Pacers, and he has played only nine of the Lakers’ 20 games because of the suspension and injuries. He is not a part of the NBA MVP conversation – yet, and we imagine that is not sitting too well with him either. Not that we counsel wagering on him at his current MVP odds of 50-1, but the guy has been defeating Father Time and opponents alike for 18-plus seasons. Our advice: Do NOT bet against this guy with the way he has been going lately. We expect a big night from him before his rematch with Stewart on Sunday night when the Pistons play at Staples/Crypto.
TIMBERWOLVES AT HORNETS: When was the last time you could say “the Timberwolves look pretty good”? They have not won a playoff series since 2004 and have missed the postseason in 15 of the past 16 seasons, but the five-game winning streak they are taking into tonight’s game at Charlotte is their longest since 2017-18, and most impressive is that all of the victories have been by double-digit margins.
Charlotte comes into this game having won seven of eight, so this looks like quite the epic tilt tonight. The Hornets are favored by 2 points, and the prop we want to point out first is Miles Bridges (second in Most Improved Player futures) to get a double-double priced at +250. He is coming off a pair of poor games but had double-doubles both times the Hornets played Minnesota last season. The risk there is not worth the reward, but check this out: Anthony Edwards of the Wolves is coming off a 33-point, 14-rebound performance against the Heat and is +400 to record another double-double. He played 43 minutes against the Heat, and he is creating a buzz around the ‘Wolves. We like that price, and we also like Edwards to go over on blocks (he has at least one in five of six games, yet his over/under for blocks is only 0.5.)
TRAIL BLAZERS AT WARRIORS: Golden State is on a 72-win pace without having had Klay Thompson or James Wiseman for a single game. Steph Curry is the runaway favorite for MVP, Draymond Green has the second-shortest odds (behind Rudy Gobert) for Defensive Player of the Year, Steve Kerr is the co-favorite for Coach of the Year and they are outscoring opponents by 13.5 points per game, an average margin that has been bettered only six times through 18 games in NBA history.
They are 6.5-point favorites against a Portland team that is coming off a bad loss to Sacramento, and this game features the second-highest point total over/under of the night at 225. The ‘Dubs are only 6-12-0 on over/unders, but Portland has gone over in three consecutive games. The plays we like here are Curry to post a double-double for the sixth time this season (odds are +360) and Kevon Looney to go over 0.5 blocks (he has at least one block in three straight games and four of five).
As always, if you dig deep enough in the props you can find a bunch of stuff that makes sense. We only counsel you to steer clear of the biggest basketball line on the board anywhere in the world, the 28-point spread in the Lebanon-Indonesia World Cup qualifier. That one looks like a push, and with that we beseech you to laugh off any and all problems you may encounter between now and the start of the workweek. OK? Good luck!