Today’s slate of games has a couple really fun games as well as some with serious blowout concerns as we have a mix of playoff contenders and tanking squads facing off. The Thunder vs. Rockets game is sure to attract the most attention, but there are always spots to look for props and totals if you just dig a little deeper. Let’s focus on the less popular games and take a good look at some worthwhile bets:
Jazz: 7-point favorites vs. Spurs
Jazz (-112)At first glance, this spread seems really weird. This is a game between the current No. 6 and No. 7 seeds in the Western Conference, so a spread this wide would generally assume a significant injury or something of the ilk. After further inspection it seems these are two teams showing who they really are going into the All-Star break. The Jazz have significant home-court advantage — sitting at 10-2 at home over their last 12 — and go up against a Spurs team that has started an eight-game road trip with three straight losses and 395 points conceded in the same span. The Spurs’ woes extend farther than their past three as well, with a net rating over their past 10 of -4.1, sixth worst in the entire league and just above the tanking Hawks. Moreover, while the Jazz are fantastic at home the Spurs are awful on the road with just a 10-18 record on the year. A couple weeks ago this line would be a snap-shove for the Spurs, but with their current form the Jazz have a much larger advantage than the standings suggest.
Related Bet: Jazz vs. Spurs total points – 219.5 points
OVER (-112)Although we are going to roll with the Jazz as the overall better team in this contest, it should still be a competitive game between two very able squads. What we are banking on here is a rested Spurs team being able to score points at a somewhat relative pace to what they have been giving up recently. The Jazz have a good defensive rating right now of 108, but the competition they have faced recently has been subpar (Wolves twice, Suns and Hawks in their past five) and when up against a competitive opponent they tend to give more up — the Rockets and the Trail Blazers have each scored 120-plus against them. Finally, of the past five games between these teams the over has hit three times, including a 139-105 Jazz win at home. This could also be a nice hedge if you are feeling queasy about the Jazz spread as this game doesn’t have the makings of a low-scoring affair if it stays close.
Aaron Gordon: 16.5 Points
OVER (-129)Hey look we have another situation where an offensive gifted power forward is set to face off against the Bucks, which is essentially starting the game with 10 points. The Bucks are by far the worst team in the league in terms of efficiency allowed to opposing power forwards, allowing 19.2% efficiency above average to the position. For reference, the second-worst team is Detroit at 14.4% above (which is also incredibly bad) and then Orlando at 9.9% above. Over the past 20 games, when Gordon plays 35 or more minutes, he exceeds his current points prop of 16.5 at a 66% clip, or eight out of the 12 times it has happened. With that being said, the only thing that makes this prop less likely to happen is a blowout, which the spread indicates is a very plausible scenario (the Bucks are currently 11.5-point favorites). Still, with Gordon’s regular averages and the given efficiency boost that the Bucks allow, this is a very lucrative position to hold and something worth considering in your bucket of bets for the day.
Grizzlies: 3.5-point favorites vs. Pelicans
Pelicans Moneyline (+128)So let me get this straight: The Grizzlies, who just traded Marc Gasol at the deadline and have lost four of their past six games are somehow favorites against a Pelicans squad that has been competitive in every game without Anthony Davis (average finishing total within six points in their past six) and are retaining their superstar through the end of the season? The Pelicans are about neutral in their past 10 games according to net rating (109.4 offensive rating, 109.1 defensive) while the Grizzlies are the fourth-worst team in the league with a -5 net rating. The Grizzlies’ only real hope of beating this Pelicans team is if Mike Conley can carry the offensive load, but the Pelicans only allow 19.7 points per 51.3 minutes to opposing point guards. Forget the spread here, just take the Pelicans straight up.
PARLAY OF THE DAY:
Aaron Gordon 16.5 points; Grizzlies 3-point favorites vs. Pelicans; Pacers 14-point favorites vs. Cavaliers
Aaron Gordon Over, Pelicans Moneyline, Cavaliers Spread (+648)Two of these bets have already been talked through in this article, but they are both such nice positions that I felt they needed to be included in this parlay that looks to pay out over 6-to-1 if it hits. Third leg of the parlay relies on a significant road dog covering the spread when the Cavaliers travel to face the Pacers. Now, I absolutely believe that the Pacers should win this game, it just doesn’t scream blowout. The Cavs are a terrible team, but they have been competitive lately with their worst loss coming last night against the Wizards, 119-106, and otherwise being within seven points in four of their past six, including a 103-96 loss to the Celtics. There’s also an interesting trend in their favor in that they have covered the spread in seven of their past eight games against Eastern Conference opponents while on a back-to-back. We are, of course, talking about one of the absolute worst teams in the league on a road back-to-back against a playoff contender, and there is a good reason this parlay pays out over 6x. However, there is enough leeway here that we can take advantage of it with at least some confidence.
LONGSHOT OF THE DAY: Raptors vs. Knicks total points alternate – 206 points
UNDER (+250)In this game we have a matchup between an Eastern Conference powerhouse and an Eastern Conference cellar dweller, or if you want to get a bit more contextual, a matchup between a top 10 defense in the league and the actual worst offensive in the league. The Raptors come into this game with a streak of four games that have gone under the point total and now get to travel to New York to face a Knicks team on a back-to-back. This sets up a situation where the Knicks, who are already atrocious offensively, will be gassed and perform even worse. The Raptors are absolutely blowing the Knicks out, and I would think it possible that the end score is something like 110-85, which would safely secure the alternate point prop for this game.
Odds and lines subject to change. See website for actual odds.
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