There are five games on the docket today including some matchups between East and West playoff contenders. We have the Celtics vs. Warriors and the 76ers vs. Nuggets as the marque games of the day as well as some really bad games like the Pacers vs. Grizzlies, so it’s important to focus on the core parts of the slate to find our action. I dug in to find my favorites bits and pieces to bet on so take a look at my five favorite spots below!
Spurs: 2.5-point favorites vs. Pelicans
SPURS (-112)This game features a bevy of injuries between both teams — including star players from both sides in DeMar DeRozan and Anthony Davis, as well as important bench pieces — and the injuries are contributing to a soft spread. LaMarcus Aldridge is questionable as well with a wrist issue, but he said it wasn’t anything serious and has had some time to heal and with DeRozan and Bertans already out it should be assumed he will play. The Spurs have covered the spread 59.2% of the time while the Pelicans have covered a miniscule 44.9%; meanwhile, Pelicans are on their third game in five days while the Spurs have hit the floor just one in the same span, giving the rest advantage to San Antonio as well. Lastly, we love to attack spots where a team has a strength against the opposition’s biggest weakness, and the Pelicans have been a bottom five team against opposing bigs (PF and C) for the entire year while Aldridge should shoulder the majority of the usage today with DeRozan out. The spread is just too close to pass up here.
Ben Simmons: 20.5 Points
OVER (-110)In Simmons’ past five games he has scored 20-plus points three times and has done so six times over his past 10. Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler both could be out tonight (Butler is doubtful, Embiid out for rest) leaving Simmons and J.J. Redick to take all the shots against a weak Nuggets backcourt. The Nuggets are a good team, but have deteriorated on the defensive side of things and have the sixth-worst defensive rating in the league over the past 10 games at 113.3, and that issue is exasperated when it comes to primary ball handlers as they allow 6 percent better efficiency than league average to point guards. It will also be seen how well Jamal Murray can defend Simmons due to not only the size difference but also the ankle injury that Murray sustained last night. Given the weaknesses that the Nuggets have shown recently along with the usage bump offered by Embiid and Butler being out of action, this prop seems soft and should be included as a core piece of your action for the night.
Pacers: 5-point favorites vs. Grizzlies
OVER (-110)With Victor Oladipo out for the season with a brutal leg injury, it’ll be interesting to see how the Pacers respond coming off of a feel good victory against the Raptors. They’ve scored at least 110 points in four of their past five games and that’s at a relatively slow pace of just 98.97, while the Grizzlies have failed to score more than 100 points in four of their past five at an even slower pace of 97.35. Furthermore, the Grizzlies’ net rating of -11 (101.6 offensive rating and 112.6 defensive rating) is fourth worst in the league over the past 10 games and they have failed to cover the spread in their past nine games against Eastern Conference opponents. They have also lost each of their past nine games following a home loss. Basically everything in this spot points to the Pacers in a position to win and cover easily against what has become one of the worse teams in the league.
Related Bet: Thaddeus Young – 13.5 points
OVER (-108)When Oladipo misses time, Thaddeus Young becomes the leader of the Pacers. With Oladipo out for the rest of the season, we can expect Young to pick up the slack and take more shots as well as facilitate more. He scored 23 points in his last game and has two games in his past five with 20-plus points. When it comes to his stats based per 36, he averages 17 points with Oladipo out of the picture. The only concern here is that the Grizzlies may not give much of a fight leading to a blowout, and because of his veteran status Young will get pulled quick and in games that he hasn’t played 30 minutes he has scored 15-plus points exactly twice this season. Still, the extra usage and facilitation that should occur with Oladipo out should offer plenty of opportunity for Thad to surpass his modest prop.
PARLAY OF THE DAY:
DeMarcus Cousins 8.5 rebounds; Spurs 2-point favorites vs. Pelicans; Ben Simmons 20.5 points
DeMarcus Cousins Over, Spurs Spread, Ben Simmons Over (+644)Two of the pieces to this parlay have already been discussed in this article, but they are such solid spots to have action that I would feel wrong ignoring them with the added EV of the third prop. The Spurs line started at -1.5 on the spread and have since moved to -2 in the hour or so that this article has been in production, and I assume it keeps moving in the Spurs’ favor as the day goes on. Simmons should take upward of 20 shots against a bottom 10 defense in the league that is allowing 15.7% more efficiency to those that score the majority of their points in the paint, and as I mentioned should be a core piece of your action. The final piece to this +644 parlay is Cousins and what appears to be a solid number of 8.5 rebounds against the Celtics. In the three games he has played, Cousins has six, nine and six rebounds, but the Celtics have offered the most rebounds to PFs and Cs over the past ten games at 29.3 per game and Cousins should see another bump to his playing time today which may be up to 30 minutes at this point. People may get worried at what he has done so far but you have to take advantage of the matchup and project ahead. Take a couple bucks and put together this parlay for a great chance at a 6x payout.
LONGSHOT OF THE DAY: 76ers vs. Nuggets 217 alternate point total
Under (+265)Now I absolutely believe that the Nuggets are bad enough on defense that the 76ers can score points, and the Nuggets are good enough offensively to outpace them the entire game (Nuggets have a 119 offensive rating over the past 10 games) but I think there is plenty of merit to taking the under on the 217 alternate point total of this game. The Nuggets play at a snail’s pace lately of 97, which is third slowest in the league as well as the sixth-lowest turnover percentage at just 12.7%. They aren’t going to make a lot of mistakes and they play so slowly that other teams have few opportunities to score cheap breakaways. The biggest part of this longshot is the 76ers essentially running out Simmons with a bunch of bench and role player type guys that aren’t necessarily fire starters from the field. The 76ers’ bench unit is 19th in the league in the past 10 in efficiency stats and will now be asked to have a bigger role against a full-strength Nuggets squad. It’s entirely plausible that the Nuggets blow the 76ers out of the water and this game ends with a score of 115 to 90 securing a longshot under on the alternate.
Odds and lines subject to change. See website for actual odds.
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