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 bets that offer instant gratification. 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.
We’ve got an eight-game slate tonight, with a doubleheader on ESPN. But tonight’s bets won’t be coming from the two most notable games on the schedule. Instead, we’re going off the beaten path and looking at two League Pass matchups featuring a pair of teams that stand out at home.
Here’s a look at Wednesday’s first to 15 NBA odds and picks.
Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Wizards
|First to 15 Odds||Bulls: -111 | Wizards: -115|
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
The Wizards played a brutal stretch that featured 10 road matchups in 12 games from mid-December through the end of last week, so a game at Capitol One Arena is a welcome sight.
They won’t have Bradley Beal in this game, he’s been in and out of the lineup and is expected to miss more time with a hamstring injury. Kristaps Porzingis is listed as questionable (though he’s been surprisingly durable this season) along with Corey Kispert and Daniel Gafford. On the Bulls’ side of things, DeMar DeRozan is also questionable with a quad strain.
Overall, these two teams have been similarly inconsistent this season and when it comes to first quarters, they are both tied for 12th in scoring. But a look at the Race to 15 standings shows how differently these team start games.
The Bulls, especially on the road, are not strong in this area, they rank 19th, tied with the Atlanta Hawks, among road teams in cover rate this season. The Wizards are one of the top teams in the NBA in Race to 15 markets with a 61% cover rate this season.
They are even better at home (72%) and they’ve played the second-fewest home games this season, tied with the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets. Wizards games haven’t typically ended well this season, but they jump on teams early, hitting 15 points at the second-fastest rate in the league.
At -115, I think oddsmakers are seriously discounting the Wizards here and I’ll happily bet them up to -125.
Houston Rockets vs. Sacramento Kings
|First to 15 Odds||Rockets: +135 | Kings: -175|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
I’m obligated to start this section with three words: Light the Beam!
The Kings are such a fun team; they love to get up and down and rank fourth in Pace (102.11), Offensive Rating (115.9) and True Shooting Percentage (60.3%). In first quarters, the Kings average 29.6 points and that number jumps to 30.7 when they play at home.
I’ve mentioned this about the Kings in the past, but their early success is tied to their starting lineup — De’Aaron Fox, Kevin Huerter, Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes, Domantas Sabonis — which has played the second-most minutes together in the first quarter this season. It just so happens that Kings lineup will face the five-man lineup that has played the most first quarter minutes together in the NBA this season.
The lineup of Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Eric Gordon, Jabari Smith Jr. and Alperen Sengun has been painful to watch this season. In the first quarter, that lineup has a 120.5 Defensive Rating, a -6.6 Net Rating and has the third-lowest Assist Percentage among lineups that have played at least 65 first quarter minutes. The Kings are among the elite home teams in Race to 15 standings with a 71% cover rate at Golden 1 Center.
Conversely, the Rockets rank 25th on the road. DraftKings has a slightly better line on this bet than the rest of the market (it also offers the option that neither team will reach 15 points at 100-1, which would be the shock of the night). I wouldn’t bet it past -185.