Hi guys, we got another winner last night with the Lakers beating the Pistons easily, despite most people betting Detroit. There are 12 games in the NBA tonight, and I’ve got plenty of things to let you know about.
PICK #1: Atlanta Hawks +8.5 at Philadelphia 76ers (rated 4 stars)
Let’s start with a strong argument: the Hawks have won the past 7 meetings with the Sixers (including 4 in Philly), winning all of them against the spread (ATS) too!
Things are not going so well for Atlanta thus far this season. After winning their opening game at Dallas, they went on to drop their following six games. Granted, notice how the Hawks have only played two home games in the 2017-2018 season.
Meanwhile, the 76ers are coming off a big 115-107 upset in Houston, which is why I expect a bit of a letdown tonight.
From an injury standpoint, I deducted 5% to the Hawks’ win probability for the absence of Ilyasova and Plumlee, while I added 5% to take into account the fact that Reddick is questionable and Fultz is out for Philadelphia.
PICK #2: Miami Heat -9.5 vs Chicago Bulls (rated 4 stars)
I pick underdogs more often than not, but this time I’m backing a huge favorite. Tonight’s matchup will feature the 6th straight home game for Miami before they leave for a 6-game road trip. They have lost their last three games and I firmly believe they will give an all-out effort to provide their fans with a nice convincing win before going on the road. Playing a weak team like the Bulls is usually not very motivating for their opponents, but under such circumstances I don’t see it happening at all. The Heat will be hungry and will want to destroy Chicago.
The Bulls are coming off a very embarrassing 101-69 loss against the Thunder. As a contrarian, I tend to go against recent tendencies, but not this time. Chicago is 1-6 ATS over the past seven meetings with the Heat.
Miami’s two leading scorers, Dragic and Whiteside, are listed as probable and questionable to play, but from what I’ve read it looks like they will both be in the lineup. Meanwhile, the Bulls will be missing Mirotic, Portis and LaVine.
PICK #3: Cleveland Cavaliers -3.5 first quarter vs Indiana Pacers (rated 3 stars)
A few days ago I suggested a play on the first quarter, but I didn’t make it an official pick. I should have done it. So this time I’m making my first official call on a first quarter spread. We have all heard of the Cavaliers’ recent struggles. After opening the season by beating Boston and Milwaukee, they have dropped four of their last five matches, where the only win occurred against a very weak Bulls team. The Cavs held a team meeting yesterday, and trust me they did not discuss Christmas plans. They will come out firing tonight.
Cleveland benefited from two full days of rest, while the Pacers are playing the second of back-to-back games. Indiana has surprised many people with a 4-3 record. They are riding a two-game winning streak after defeating the Spurs and the Kings. Unlike the Cavs, they won’t feel like they absolutely need this game. Also remember how bad the Pacers were on the road last year: they posted a 13-28 record, compared to 29-12 at home. I’ve loving this play, but since I have never paid too much attention to first quarter lines before, I’ll be conservative and grade it as a 3-star bet.
PICK #4: Houston Rockets -5.5 at New York Knicks (rated 1 star)
I hope I won’t regret this pick. I very rarely take a team when my projected lines are telling me to bet the opposing team. The spread is 5.5, while my statistical models estimated the line at 4.6. And yet, I’ll be siding with the Rockets because of many arguments favoring them. First, they will be firing on all cylinders following two straight losses, including a home loss to the Sixers. In contrast, the Knicks have surprised many experts with three consecutive wins (Brooklyn, Cleveland and Denver). They won’t feel the urgency to win nearly as much as the Rockets will.
Recent meetings are also pleading us to bet Houston. The Rockets have won 22 of the last 24 matchups! They are riding a seven-game winning streak in New York; they have beaten the spread on all seven occasions.
PICK #5: Milwaukee Bucks +3.5 at Charlotte Hornets (rated 1 star)
The Bucks are playing the second leg of back-to-back games, which is not good for them. However, they will be looking to avenge a 110-91 loss at home against the Thunder last night, while the Hornets could let their guard down a little bit following a big road win at Memphis.
Milwaukee has beaten the Hornets in the past three meetings, both straight up and ATS. Greg Monroe will be out for the Bucks, while Charlotte will still be missing Nicolas Batum.
A few notes about other games for which I am staying away:
• I’ve found conflicting arguments about the Kings-Celtics game. My projected lines are Kings +10.8 vs Celtics -10.8, while the actual spread is 13 so I was leaning towards Sacramento. However, the Kings are 1-4 against the spread over the past five meetings with Boston, and we are observing a reverse line movement on Boston (the majority of gamblers are taking the Kings, but the line moved from 12.5 to 13). Clear sandwich game for Boston as they are coming off games against three strong teams (San Antonio, Miami and Milwaukee) and are playing the Thunder next. The Kings will be looking to rebound following two straight blowout losses, while the Celtics are coming five straight victories. Based on all this information, I’m still leaning towards Sacramento but no official pick here.
• I’d like to take the Clippers because I expect them to rebound strong following a bad 141-113 loss against the Warriors, and a 95-87 setback once again at home versus the Pistons. They won’t take this game lightly, despite Dallas being a bottom tier team. The only problem is my statistical models view the Clippers as 8.5-point favorites, while the line is set at 9.5. I’ll stay disciplined and won’t bet this game.
• One more game where I’m aching to bet a certain team, but my projections disagree: I believe the Timberwolves should be 2-point favorites, but instead they are 2-point underdgs. According to this information, I should be jumping on Minnesota, but I’m staying away for many reasons. First, New Orleans is 10-2 over the past 12 meetings with the T-Wolves. If you look at records against the spread, the Pelicans are 7-3 over the last 10 meetings, including three straight wins ATS. Some situational factors also come into play in favor of the Pelicans. This will be their third straight game at home, so they are well-rested. They are coming off a loss against Orlando and will push hard to rebound, while Minnesota might letdown after beating OKC and Miami.
Enjoy the games, but most importantly best of luck on your bets!