Busy night in the NBA with 11 games on the menu; I’ve got 4 value plays for you, and a slight lean on a specific team. Let’s dive right in!

PICK #1: Sacramento Kings +4.5 at Atlanta Hawks (rated 4 stars)

Before the season began, Vegas’ lines implied that the Kings would finish the year with a .341 record compared to .311 for Atlanta. Based on each team’s start to the season, do we have STRONG indication that those numbers were wrong? My personal answer is “no” (though some people may want to argue with that).

Sacramento is 3-10, while Atlanta is 2-12. Both teams have played many more games on the road than at home. Some may argue that the Kings have done worse against the spread (ATS) by going 4-8, versus 6-7 for the Hawks. To me, the numbers are not strong enough to make me deviate from the initial win percentage projections.

So the Kings might be a slightly stronger team, and you’ve got Atlanta that will be a little more tired tonight since they will be playing a fourth game in six nights. And from an injury standpoint, the Hawks are slightly more banged up too (Muscala is doubtful to play and Ilyasova should be back but on a limited basis, while Vince Carter doesn’t have an important role as shown by his 2.6 points per game average and his 12.0 minutes per game).

If you add that all up, my statistical models are claiming the Hawks should be 0.8-point favorites. With a spread of 4.5, I’m definitely taking the Kings. I am basically challenging a 2-12 team to win by 5 points or more. I would even be tempted to buy a half point to force them to win by 6 points or more in order for my bet to lose.

PICK #2: Charlotte Hornets +2.5 vs Cleveland Cavaliers (rated 3 stars)

At the time of this writing, most bookies have a line of 2, but Bovada and Sports Interaction are still posting 2.5 (the latter even has Charlotte +2.5 at -105, which is great!).

The status of Derrick Rose seems unclear at the moment, but the team said that he will be back when feeling 100% so I feel like he is more likely to wait at least one more game. Meanwhile, the Hornets will welcome Nicolas Batum back, who will make his season debut. He was their second-leading scorer last season, but he should get limited minutes in his first start. That might still be a good emotional lift for a team that is going through a four-game losing skid (all four on the road at San Antonio, Minnesota, New York and Boston).

The Cavs will be playing a fourth road game in a row. I’m a bit worried about the fact that Cleveland has defeated the Hornets on the previous six meetings (5-0-1 ATS in those games).

The rest factor plays in favor of Charlotte since they got four complete days off since returning from their most recent four-game road trip. Their legs should be fresh tonight!

PICK #3: San Antonio Spurs +5.5 at Minnesota Timberwolves (rated 2 stars)

My main concern is the Spurs coming off a couple of games against weak opponents (Chicago and Dallas).

However, San Antonio has beaten the T-Wolves on 14 consecutive occasions. They are feeling comfortable playing in Minnesota; not only have they won their previous six trips over there, but they have beaten the spread every single time (6-0).

I have penalized the Spurs for playing the second of back-to-back games by multiplying their estimated win percentage by 0.84. It went from 44% to 37% following this adjustment, which corresponds to a 4.1 spread. Since the line is 5.5 and they have owned the Timberwolves, I’m backing the Spurs.

PICK #4: Portland Trail Blazers -5 vs Orlando Magic (rated 1 star)

This matchup features a team playing a fourth consecutive road game against a well-rested team that has been hosting their last six matches (that’s right, 6!!). That’s a big advantage.

The Magic might letdown a little bit after playing the top team in the league, the Golden State Warriors. After storming out of the gate with a 6-2 record, they have now gone 2-4 since then (which was to be expected considering they were projected to finish the season with a .402 record). They are starting to drop more and more in the standings.

Orlando is going to play a fourth game in six nights.

LEAN (unofficial pick): New Orleans Pelicans -3.5 vs Toronto Raptors

My projected lines are in according with the spread, but I’m tempted to bet the Pelicans for a few reasons. First, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Raptors letdown following a big road win in Houston last night. Secondly, Toronto is playing a third straight road game, while New Orleans will be at home for a third consecutive time. The Pelicans will be looking to avenge a 122-118 loss in Toronto six days ago. However, the team from Canada has defeated the Pelicans on the past five meetings (going 3-2 ATS in those games).

Good luck on your plays and have a great evening!

Professor MJ