After an annual Thanksgiving day off, the NBA is back with a 14-game Friday. My favorite looks are the Pelicans-Grizzlies, Bulls-Thunder, and Lakers-Spurs matchups. (Games are hampered in order of my favorite to least favorite bets).
New Orleans Pelicans (11-7) at Memphis Grizzlies (10-8)
The Pelicans lost their first meeting of the year a few weeks ago in New Orleans with a 113-102 win over the Grizzlies in 3 games.
NOLA All Star Wings Brandon Ingram missed all three Pelicans-Grizzlies games last season. When Ingram plays, the Pelicans are one of the best teams in the NBA.
NOLA is the “hot” side
DraftKings Sportsbook reports on VSIN that at the time of writing, more than 70% of the money is in the Pelicans, while the majority of bets placed are in the Grizzlies.
Since professional bettors are betting a lot more money than you or I, it’s usually wise to follow the money, especially when it contradicts the public.
Pinnacle Sportsbook (Pinny) added more juice to the New Orleans line. Pinny is known as the the hottest place in town because it books the largest sports bets in the world. By making pelicans more expensive, Pinny tries to trick his whale wetters into stakeing the grizzlies.
According to Pregame.com, almost 90% of the cash bet is in the consensus market, but Memphis’ spread hasn’t budged from the 2.5 point opening game.
Basketball nerds love the pelicans
Basketball Reference gives NOLA the fourth best Adjusted Net Score (nRTG). CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG) says the Pelicans have the best non-trash time nRTG in the NBA at +7.6 points per 100 possessions.
NOLA is trending in a better direction
Over the past two weeks, the Pelicans have had by far the best non-garbage time nRTG in the association, at +18.0 points per 100 possessions per CTG. In fact, the team closest to NOLA is the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Celtics, with an adjusted nRTG of +10.0.
The same can be said of New Orleans’ ATS margin, which according to CTG is the best in the league at +11.3. While the Lakers’ +8.1 ATS lead is the second best in the league in the last 14 days.
The pelicans are healthier with more talent
The Grizzlies have to do without the second-best scorer SG Desmond Baneand most likely rotating large Sant Aldama listed as “doubtful” in the injury report.
Bane is second on Memphis for Adjusted On/Off nRTG at +15.9. The Grizzlies score 8.3 more points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time when Aldama is also down.
On the other hand, it looks like the Pelicans can do without PG CJ McCollum. But McCollum’s backup, PG Jose Alvaradoactually has better non-garbage time on/off nRTG.
Alvarado, alias Great Theft Alvaradointroduces a defensive tenacity that is useful for the Grizzlies Superstar’s defense Yes Morant. NOLA All Star Zion Williamson missed the previous Pelicans Grizzlies game.
Finally, New Orleans is 7-0 straight (SU) against Memphis, with both Ingram and play Morant.
NBA #1 Best Bet: Pelicans +2 (-110) on DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +1.5
Chicago Bulls (8-10) at Oklahoma City Thunder (10-8)
OKC hosts Chicago for the first meeting of the season at the Paycom Center, with the tip scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. The Bulls defeated the Thunder 2-0 SU last season but OKC was 1-0-1 ATS. But I am …
Buy stocks from Bulls
To be honest, I thought Chicago was a step backwards in the season because I was pessimistic about Bulls results Zach Lavine and DeMar DeRozan to play at the All-Star level for a second straight season.
I thought the breach of Bulls PG Lonzo ball would have a greater impact on the team. But Chicago’s roster has a nice mix of talent and glue. Ball’s substitutes also closed the gap.
Bull’s Point Guards Alex Caruso and Goran Dragic lead Chicago in customized on/off nRTG, per CTG. The Bulls are up 17.9 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time. Caruso is down and in play at Dragic +13.7.
Dragic is listed as “questionable” in Chicago’s injury report on Friday morning, but Caruso has to play more either way. Thunder PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander plays at All-NBA level and Caruso is one of the best ball defenders in the NBA.
The dumbest decision the Los Angeles Lakers front office has made in recent seasons was not to re-sign Caruso, who was instrumental in their bubble title run.
Likewise, Styles make fights and …
Chicago will crush OKC in midfield
Both LaVine and DeRozan enjoy taking inefficient mid-range shots that analysis nerds hate. The Bulls are attempting the fourth-highest volume of field goals at middle range, according to CTG.
But LaVine and DeRozan are making those shots and this is where OKC’s defense is vulnerable. The Thunder rank 23rd in defensive field goal percentage over all midrange jumpers, according to CTG.
Unlike OKC wings Lugenz there, the Thunder have no one to check on LaVine or DeRozan. The bulls can hunt down the entire defense of the Thunder. Chicago has the fourth most efficient offense in isolation sets and OKC has below average defensive efficiency versus Iso-Ball.
That LaVine and DeRozan can get theirs explains why the…
Line movement is going on with the Bulls
Early NBA Pro-Bulls action sharp S has dampened Chicago’s moneyline (ML) from the opening game -125 to the current number (-140).
This action is Spicy because odds makers rated Bulls-Thunder as a coin flip game to see how the market would react.
Well, the market has spoken and Chicago appears to be Spicy Side. The bulls’ range widened from -1 at the open to -2.5 currently. However, let us…
Spend more money on Chicago’s Moneyline
First off, I hate giving away picks that cost a lot more than -110. The bulls’ -140 ML is only 25 cents on the dollar higher than their current spread of -2.5 (-115). Chicago is 9-1 SU and 6-3-1 ATS as street favorites of -3 or less.
The reason I’m optimistic about winning Chicago’s ML at this point is a bet I won at the Bulls-Thunder meeting in OKC last year. I took the Thunder as a 1.5-point home underdog at this point, and he came in just under the money with a 111-110 win in Chicago.
How it got there was crazy. The Bulls outperformed the Thunder in three of the four quarters and held a 14-point lead as they entered the final frame. But OKC snuck in through the back door with a Thunder Big Mike Muscala made 3 hands when time ran out.
It was a big blow for someone and a glorious victory for me. While I’m confident the bulls are covering the range here, Chicago’s ML is spot on sharper play.
NBA #2 Best Bet: Bulls (-140) ML at DraftKings Sportsbook, place up to 4 points with Chicago if ML goes above -150
Los Angeles Lakers (5-11) at San Antonio Spurs (6-13)
Let’s hope the Lakers -5 line drop on the opener to their current price of -3 is due to this Lebron James tends to miss his sixth straight game.
The fact of the matter is LA has played a lot better this year with LeBron out of the game and Lakers big Anthony Davis going crazy lately.
LA scores 5.9 more points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time when LeBron is not down and 9.3 fewer points per 100 possessions when AD is out of the game, per CTG.
In the last six games that LeBron has missed, AD is averaging 31.2 points per game (PPG) on 59.1% shooting with 16.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 2.3 blocks per game. Eventually AD takes over.
The other reason for the line move toward San Antonio is that Lakers PG Patrick Beverly was banned for backstabbing Phoenix Sun’s tall Deandre Ayton on Wednesday.
However, Pat Bev sucks and i like the idea of Russell Westbrook get back in the starting XI. Especially if LeBron misses Friday because Westbrook and AD make sense in pick-and-roll (PnR) action. San Antonio has the fourth worst defensive efficiency in PnR action by the roller men.
Additionally, according to CTG, the Lakers have the best shot quality in the association and attempt the highest volume of field goals at the rim. The Spurs are 25th in defensive shot quality allowed and yield the third-most Paint PPG.
NBA #3 Best Bet: Lakers -3 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -3.5
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