The air is getting colder, stuffing is being displayed prominently in stores for the first time all year (seriously, when do you ever notice stuffing in the store except November) and NBA players are missing just about every other game.
Winter is here, folks. Or late fall, depending on where you live. And that means we can start having reasonable expectations for teams across the NBA.
Friday night gives us a full slate of games to bet and I’ve got a full slate of picks for them. Here’s where I’m putting my dough on Friday in the Association.
Charlotte Hornets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
The bottom has fallen out from the Hornets and the return of LaMelo Ball isn’t helping. The Hornets are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 and have failed to cover by a full six points.
The Cavaliers have some injuries; Dean Wade will miss this game and Jarrett Allen is questionable. Allen seems to be trending towards playing, being listed as questionable from out.
But I make this game significantly more than -9 at home. The Hornets are 28th in offense, 18th in defense, schedule-adjusted at Dunks And Threes. They’re bottom-three in halfcourt offense and trying to keep pace with Cleveland with that kind of firepower is tough.
At home, in a good rest spot, I’ll lay the double-digit spread.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Philadelphia 76ers
I make this game a pick‘em, but more importantly I make it an absolute rock fight, projected at 106-106. The Bucks’ offense continues to be terrible without Khris Middleton and there’s very little reason to think the Sixers will be the team that gets their shooting loose.
You can expect a lot of transition play here which leans to the over, but that’s how bad the halfcourt offenses for both teams are. This is the 23rd (Bucks) vs. the 29th (76ers) halfcourt offenses. Expect bricks and whichever team has a little more in the tank in transition (which obviously leans towards Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks) to get the win.
Also this matches up the Bucks, who are 28th in offensive length of possession, vs. Philadelphia who is 29th. There’s always the chance for a random shootout, but I’m expecting a slugfest. I bet this at 218.5, so the value is essentially gone with the market settling at 212.5.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies
I make this Grizzlies +4.5 before adjusting for the loss of Desmond Bane. Memphis is 3-6 straight up and against the spread without Bane since the start of last season, with a-3.8 ATS differential and -5.4 point differential. His loss is more significant than the line can adjust for given that he’s not a real star.
Even if this line was moved 1.5 for Bane, that makes this Grizzlies -8? That’s way too many for a Thunder team that is 10-4-1 ATS this season.
In fact, if we go back to when the Thunder started, ahem, focusing on draft position in 2020-21, in the first 41 games of the season, the Thunder are 58-35-2 ATS (62.4%, via GimmeTheDog.com).
Usually you’d be more worried about the Thunder facing an actual good team but they’re actually 6-5 straight up vs. teams over .500 this season. This likely won’t hold but it also means it’s not a reason to count them out in this spot.
It should be noted that Memphis is consistently underrated by my projections based on their transition-heavy style.
I’m willing to put a half-unit play on the ML. OKC is 8-7 as a dog on the ML this season with a 75% ROI.
Boston Celtics vs. New Orleans Pelicans
Say it with me: “I will not try and catch a falling knife (anymore).”
I bet the Hawks on Wednesday and they got waxed by Boston. That play went against my projections because I had been impressed with how the Hawks had played.
Boston is the best team in the NBA by a wide margin. The Pelicans are top-10 but the margin on neutral court is more than 10 points. I can’t get to this number for the Pels at all.
You may be thinking, “Boston’s gotta lose sometime.” No, that’s not how this works. Trying to guess when regression will hit in betting is too dangerous.
If the number was too sharp, I’d be amenable to ignoring how hot Boston’s been. But until they show that they’re anything but the best team in the league by margin, they need to be bet as such.
I like this at any number.
New York Knicks vs. Golden State Warriors
One one side, we have a pissed off Warriors team trying to find itself and has been just as great at home as it has been awful on the road. On the other, a Knicks team in the middle of a West Coast road trip that just beat the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets on a back-to-back, now playing its third game in four nights against the defending champs.
Sorry, New Yorkers, I’m going to go ahead and trust the four-time and defending champions who, again, have absolutely smashed at home.
Even with the Warriors’ road woes, they have a better schedule-adjusted offense, and are only one spot worse than the Knicks in schedule-adjusted defense (21st for the Dubs to 20th for the Knicks).
Pop quiz! Minimum 100 minutes played this season, what’s the best five-man lineup in Net Rating?
That’s right! It’s still the Warriors’ starting five!
I am telling you, this Warriors struggle stretch is a mix of their young guys underperforming, Klay Thompson with a bad shooting stretch, and randomness on the road.
This is the spot to trust the Dubs.