The NBA has an action-packed nine-game slate on tap this evening. We have quite a few exciting matchups in store: the 3-0 Hornets will look to remain undefeated against the struggling Celtics, the 1-2 Nets will try to get back to .500 against the 3-0 Wizards, and the 0-2 Clippers will try to get their first win against the 1-1 Trail Blazers. Sounds fun, right? Sure, but I’m keeping those games off my betting card. You’ll find better value elsewhere.
Here are my top NBA betting picks for Monday’s action.
Written Picks YTD: 4-3-0 (+2.64u)
Total Picks YTD: 11-10-0 (+6.80u)*
*Follow me @is_sirois for any other plays.
1. Bulls -1.5 | -110 at DK Sportsbook
The Chicago Bulls made a ton of roster moves before last year’s trade deadline. They doubled down on their win-now strategy by acquiring DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso in the offseason. It’s worked for them so far — Chicago is off to a 3-0 start. They are also 3-0 ATS, which is a crucial part of why we’re targeting them here.
We’re also targeting this line because the books tend to overvalue the Raptors. Toronto went 30-40-1 ATS last season, which tied them with Oklahoma City for the fourth-worst such record in the NBA. They’re off to a 1-2 ATS start this year.
But the betting trends aren’t the only reasons to side with Chicago. Through three games, the Bulls rank 17th in offensive efficiency and third in defensive efficiency. Their strong defensive performance may have something to do with the fact that they’ve faced the Pistons twice and the Pelicans once, but the Raptors aren’t much better than those squads right now. They rank fifth-worst in offensive efficiency (one spot above New Orleans and four above Detroit) and sixth-best in defensive efficiency (15 spots above New Orleans but just one above Detroit).
Also, a worse Bulls team went 3-0 SU against a better Raptors team last season. Chicago won their meetings by 23, 9, and 12 points, which suggests they’ll cover tonight in Toronto. This line has fluctuated from -2.5 to -1 this morning because Nikola Vucevic is questionable with an illness, so make sure to shop around for the best line when placing your bet (I’ve included the best line as of publication, but these things change. Fast). His absence would hurt them defensively, but the star center has started the season slowly on offense, so I’m fine with rolling the dice on what’s close to a pick’em line.
2. Brandon Ingram o24.5 Points | -110 at FD Sportsbook
Take what the books give you. Brandon Ingram has had to step up for the Pelicans with Zion Williamson sidelined, and the man is delivering. He is averaging 27 points per game through three outings. He even dropped 30 on the Timberwolves last Saturday. New Orleans’ offense runs through him — Ingram has the fifth-highest usage rate among players with 100-plus minutes.
The matchup also points to some value here. The Timberwolves have allowed the most points per game to small forwards this season (23.52). This trend dates back to last season, too. Minnesota has given up the second-most points per game to the position (24.94) through the last 30 games.
The Timberwolves look decent this year, especially on defense. They held the Rockets to 106 and the Pelicans to 89. They even rank first in defensive efficiency at the moment. However, Ingram seems immune to their efficient play, proven by his 30-point showing on Saturday that accounted for 33.7% of New Orleans’ total.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo o1.5 Made Threes | +196 (.5u) at FD Sportsbook
I’ve recommended this play a few times already. Unfortunately for my bankroll, it hasn’t hit — yet. That said, there’s a big reason to target it tonight, and his name is Bobby Portis. The Bucks didn’t include him on the injury report on Sunday, and while it’s unclear whether he’ll suit up, I suspect the Bucks are desperate enough for depth and size to give him at least some minutes.
Portis’ return would let Antetokounmpo move back to his usual four spot. Through three games, Giannis has had to spend 82% of his minutes at the five, well above what that number looked like last season (12%). Moving back to the four will give Giannis more looks from the perimeter.
Although this line is yet to hit, Antetokounmpo has made a three-pointer in every game thus far. He has also attempted three of them per game despite spending so much time at the five. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finally gets a pair of threes against the Pacers; Indiana has allowed the tenth-most made threes to power forwards this year.
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