NBA betting: Best value bets for Tuesday night
Chris Sheridan examines the NBA futures markets and picks out his best bets for Tuesday night's NBA-TV doubleheader.
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We are going to jump around a little bit today in looking at the NBA because…well, because we are jumpy here in New York, where this column originates. The kids are off from school for winter break and are becoming exceptional video game players and procrastinators, COVID craziness continues, and the amount of clarity being provided by NBA commissioner Adam Silver makes him the leading contender for the 2022 Jair Bolsonaro Award.
The number of NBA players and coaches in COVID protocols changes by the hour, and what may look like a great wager in the morning becomes a poor wager by the evening after the results of tests come in and untold numbers of players, coaches and staff quickly learn that they are now quarantine material.
But the games go on, and we have a couple tonight that we want to focus on.
First, however, some advice on the futures markets. As we have mentioned, these odds tend to not move as quickly as they often should. And taking advantage of that truism helps separate sharp bettors from public bettors.
So let’s have at it, beginning with the biggest individual award:
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: We can safely say you would be crazy to lay your money on anyone other than Steph Curry, even at his current short price of +130. The national media (the folks who cast the ballots) are too in love with this guy for anyone else to be a legit contender at this point, and the only thing that could change the equation is an injury to Curry that sidelines him for an extended time (like what we saw with Joel Embiid last year).
If that happens, the best flyer bet out there right now is DeMar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls at +6500. His team is second in the East, he is fifth in the league in scoring and his Bulls are 2-0 against Brooklyn with only one game remaining between the teams, which means Chicago has the tiebreaker.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Evan Mobley (+125), Cade Cunningham (+275) and Scottie Barnes (+300) are the three short-odds favorites, which is sensible because Mobley’s Cavs are outperforming preseason expectations, Cunningham is stringing together a bunch of nice stat lines for the Pistons, and Barnes is shooting nearly 50 percent in Toronto while averaging 15.6 points and 8.3 rebounds.
On the outside looking like perhaps the best longshot is Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey (+2400), who leads all rookies in assists with 6.1 per game. Still, he is scoring only 10.8 points per game for the Thunder, who are 12-18 and would need to be a playoff team for Giddey to get serious consideration. But in the weak West, that’s not impossible.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: Ja Morant, who was the favorite in this category before going down with COVID-19, dropped 33 points including the game-winning bucket on the Suns last night in a terrific road win for the Grizzlies, who are fourth in the West and thus also exceeding preseason expectations. He is not a bad bet at +300, especially with favored Miles Bridges (+200) of Charlotte out with COVID. Morant’s teammate, Desmond Bane, has his scoring average up 8 points to 17.2 and is at +4000. He bears watching.
SIXTH MAN AWARD: Tyler Herro of Miami has been in the driver’s seat here all season and is currently -170, and we will not waste any more of your time on this one.
COACH OF THE YEAR: I am becoming more and more convinced that this will either go to J.B. Bickerstaff of Cleveland (currently the +350 co-favorite along with Steve Kerr and Monty Williams) or Taylor Jenkins of Memphis, a +2000 outsider. Billy Donovan of Chicago at +900 is not a bad bet because the Bulls could get squeezed in voting for player awards, and voters (this author was an official NBA voter for more than a decade) like to spread the love around.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Draymond Green, because of his on-the-ball defensive skills and unselfish offensive game, is the +115 favorite in this category but just went into COVID protocols. Two of the three players leading the league in steals, Alex Caruso and Paul George, are both on the shelf, and league leader Gary Trent Jr. is not even on the board.
The player leading the league in blocks, Myles Turner of Indiana, is listed at +4500, which we like. But Turner needs to turn it up even more in the blocks and rebounding departments to make this more of a no-brainer for voters. He is averaging 2.8 blocks, 0.5 more than Ruby Gobert, the +230 second choice. But Turner is also grabbing only 5.8 defensive rebounds per game, roughly half of Gobert’s number. With Indiana looking to make trades, a change of scenery could boost Turner’s chances. Right now, he has the luxury of having Domantas Sabonis rebounding alongside him.
Onto tonight’s games.
There is no TNT doubleheader tonight because Turner Sports was probably under the belief that its staff would be overseas for the holidays, not anticipating how much the Omicron variant would impact travel. But there is a doubleheader on NBA-TV with Washington at Miami in the first game and Denver at Golden State in the second game. We recommend ignoring the first game and taking the Warriors -7 at home against the Nuggets. The Warriors are 13-4-1 as a home favorite, and sometimes you play the trends.
Speaking of which, Cleveland has the league’s best ATS record (25-6-2) and is a six-point favorite tonight at New Orleans. On the road, the Cavs are an NBA-best 12-3-1 against the spread. So we like the Cavs giving the points tonight (the Pelicans are especially banged up). There are no individual player props posted Tuesday morning that we like from that game (but keep an eye out for Kevin Love, who has been playing terrific and going “over” on his player props with regularity), so we recommend the following parlay: Cleveland -5.5, Warriors -7, the Houston Rockets +5 against the Lakers because Los Angeles is just 1-5-0 against the spread as a road favorite, and Oklahoma City +5 because the Thunder are 10-5-0 ATS as a road underdog.
Backatcha on Friday to help you close out 2021 strong and start 2022 on a winning note. The NBA schedule is packed on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1-2.