First to 15 NBA Odds & Picks: Bet Cavaliers vs. 76ers, Mavericks vs. Nuggets

Action Network Senior Editor Malik Smith details his First to 15 betting picks for two games on Wednesday's slate: Cavaliers vs. 76ers and Mavericks vs. Nuggets.

There are so many ways to bet an NBA game, but for those bettors who can’t bear to sweat the full 48 minutes, there are other markets that offer more instant satisfaction. One of those markets is the Race to 15 Points. It’s as simple as the name suggests: The first team to hit 15 points cashes the bet.

With just two days to go before the All-Star break, Wednesday is the last time we’ll have a massive slate of games to bet for at least week. Among tonight’s 11 games are two matchups between conference foes that have value.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s First to 15 odds and picks.

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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Philadelphia 76ers

First to 15 Odds Cavaliers: -110 | 76ers: -115
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
SportsBook DraftKings

The Cavaliers take their seven-game win streak to Philadelphia in a matchup with the 76ers Wednesday. This game is an important one for both teams — just one game separates them in the Eastern Conference standings as we near All-Star Weekend.

The Cavaliers are not typically a high-scoring team to open games. They average 28.4 points in the first quarter this season, which is tied with the San Antonio Spurs for 19th in the league. In their past 10 games, however, the Cavaliers have amped things up on both sides of the ball, leading the NBA in first quarter point differential over that span (+7.4), according to NBA Advanced Stats.

The Cavs have been the first to 15 in seven of those matchups, including all three road games, and they are actually tied with the Brooklyn Nets for the third-best cover rate in the Race to 15 standings. The 76ers are the top road team in this regard, but their home games leave much to be desired when it comes to getting of to fast starts — 18th in home cover rate in the Race to 15 standings.

DraftKings essentially has these odds at a pick’em, but I think the Cavaliers are the right side here.

Dallas Mavericks vs. Denver Nuggets

First to 15 Odds Mavericks: +105 | Nuggets: -130
Time | TV 9 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass
SportsBook DraftKings

It’s unlikely this matchup will impact the standings in the West the way the game above could in the East, but Mavericks vs Nuggets will be one to watch after Dallas added Kyrie Irving to the fold.

The Nuggets are the preeminent team in the NBA when it comes to the Race to 15 market. They have the best cover rate (65.5%) and are absolutely dominant at home hitting 15 points first in 23 of their 30 home games (76.7%). They lead the NBA in first quarter points (32.0), field goal percentage (55.9%) and point differential (+5.2) at home.

The Nuggets don’t play particularly fast for the whole game, ranking 18th in Pace (99.26), but in first quarters, their Pace ranks 12th in league (102.55). The Mavericks, however, like to play slow no matter the quarter with the second-slowest Pace in first quarters (98.31) and full games (96.37). This also helps explain why the Mavs aren’t a strong team in the Race to 15 standings — they rank 16th in cover rate (50.8%) and 15th in Average Time to 15 Points (6:24).

There’s also the two-time NBA MVP that the Mavericks need guard and they’ve became a worse defensive team in the Irving trade. The Nuggets have a huge advantage here despite the odds giving them an implied probability of just 53% to cover.