The NFL may be getting all the attention today, but there is wall to wall NBA action, starting at 1 pm and lasting all the way past midnight. If the wagers aren’t going your way in one sport, hoops will have your back, as there are a few juicy opportunities on the board thanks to a couple teams being undervalued when they shouldn’t be.
Perhaps no slow early season start is more of a distant memory than the Dallas Mavericks’ 1-3 beginning to the 2020-21 campaign.
Since then, they’ve more than righted the ship, and the most obvious change has been the return of Kristaps Porzingis to the lineup. He’s struggles shooting overall in his two games back, hitting just 34 percent from the field, but his floor-spacing has also added the missing dynamic to their offense (he’s 6-for-16 from deep so far). Also providing more from the outside is Luka Doncic, who has hit 33 percent of his threes since starting the year 2-for-22
Of all the teams one might figure to give the Mavs a run for their money, the Chicago Bulls might be far down the list. Losers of four in a row, including a complete fourth quarter collapse on Friday in Oklahoma City, they are now 4-8 and own the 26th ranked net rating in the NBA.
But Chicago is also tops in the league at covering their spreads, making believing bettors happy eight times in 12 tries. They’ve also started to right the ship themselves, achieving a nearly dead even net rating over the last two weeks.
The Mavs are no bargain, but the Bulls find a way to keep games closer than they should, both for better and for worse.
The Pick: Chicago +7 @ -105
Joining the Bulls as one of the only two teams who are 8-4 against the spread are the Indiana Pacers. Unlike Chicago though, the Pacers are actually good, sporting an 8-4 record and a top-10 point differential.
Indiana is also now without the man who many still saw as nominally their best player heading into the season. Victor Oladipo is in Houston, and Caris LeVert - the man who the Pacers traded for to replace him – is out indefinitely after a growth was discovered on his kidney following mandatory post-trade physicals.
LeVert is expected to be fine, but for right now, Indy will be without his services. This might seem like a big deal until you consider the fact that when Oladipo hasn’t been on the court this season, the Pacers have been 3.6 points better per 100 possessions. That’s because Oladipo hasn’t really been Indiana’s best player in a while, and Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon are the true holders of that throne. It’s why the Pacers’ brass was so comfortable making this trade, and why they won’t skip a beat now.
Not that Sunday’s game against the Clippers will be easy. LA is 9-4 and while they’ve been uneven, they simply have too much talent on most nights, as their top-five net rating attests to.
But Indy is getting enough points here to make you feel comfortable in the investment. They’ve only lost one game this season by more than five (an eight-point defeat against the Suns that was close throughout). This won’t be the second.
The Pick: Indiana +5.5 @ -105
Other NBA Games
New York at Boston
The Knicks have lost five in a row while the Celtics have won five in a row. This one is in Boston, and they’re coming off a 27-point win versus Orlando. Don’t overthink it.
Philadelphia at Oklahoma City
The Sixers were tied for the second most wins in the NBA entering Saturday but they’ve been anything but special, sporting a barely top-10 net rating on the year. They’re also coming off a loss to Memphis in which Joel Embiid missed the game with a sore right knee. Oklahoma City has been punching above its weight class all season, and with Embiid’s status uncertain, they should keep it going here.
Utah at Denver
Two uneven teams that both are capable of looking unbeatable when they get rolling. In these cases, best to go with the hotter squad, and Utah has won four in a row.
New Orleans at Sacramento
The Kings have the better record but has a worse average point differential than all but one other team. This is the get well game the Pelicans need.
NBA Expert Picks
Chicago +7 @ -105
Indiana +5.5 @ -105
NBA Free Picks
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