Daily Odds for Friday, December 26

Tuesday: 7-6
Season: 32-41

Brooklyn (201 o/u) at Boston (-1.5)

Pick: Under 201 & Brooklyn +1.5

Cleveland (-5) @ Orlando (197 o/u)

A tough Christmas Day welcome back for LeBron James in South Beach yesterday. With Kyrie Irving questionable and LeBron listed as probable, coming off a tough back-to-back this line seems appropriate. Cleveland is a much better team than Orlando in almost any circumstance, who almost collapsed completely against my Celtics on Tuesday before holding on for the win. This game should be interesting to watch, as Cleveland needs to hit the gas, and I expect that they will.

Pick: Cleveland -5

Indiana (-2.5) @ Detroit (191.5 o/u) 

Pretty dreadful match-up here that borders on unwatchable. Detroit should be better by subtraction without Josh Smith, and I think that they can at least hang tight with Indiana, a horrible offensive team, at home and with some rest.

Pick: Detroit +2.5

Milwaukee (206 o/u) @ Atlanta (-9)

Atlanta has been the best team in basketball over the past two weeks, and that is not a typo. Their toughest competition over that span? The Chicago Bulls. Nice to see some Eastern Conference teams blitzing the league for once.

Over that same two week span Milwaukee has looked generally middle of the pack, which makes a lot of sense. This line is pretty big and could be biased against Milwaukee and in favor of Atlanta’s recent success, so I don’t like it a lot. I like the over, though, as these are two teams that play with pace and create fast break opportunities.

Pick: Over 206

Houston (194 o/u) @ Memphis (-2.5)

Josh Smith is likely to play for Houston tonight, while Zach Randolph is questionable. I think Houston matches up well here, even on the road. Both teams are well-rested.

Pick: Houston +2.5

San Antonio (201.5 o/u) @ New Orleans (-3.5)

Can’t pick against the Spurs here.

Pick: San Antonio +3.5

Charlotte (195.5 o/u) @ Oklahoma City (-6.5)

Pick: Charlotte +6.5

L.A. Lakers (213.5 o/u) @ Dallas (-12.5)

Pick: Over 213.5

Minnesota (211 o/u) @ Denver (-11)

Over the last two weeks these teams have been the worst teams in the NBA in terms of Net Rating. The Nuggets, sitting at an abysmal -9.7 points per 100 possessions in differential, haven’t been able to score the ball over this span. Most of that has to do with poor shooting, which might be remedied against the Wolves tonight. Over the same span, the Wolves are sitting at a -15.7 points per 100 possession differential while giving up a shocking 113.7 points per 100.

Even at home, with rest, I can’t take Denver here. Not even close with the way they’ve been playing lately. I’d have trouble at -8, honestly.

Pick: Minnesota +11

Philadelphia (199 o/u) @ Portland (-14.5)

Huge, fair line here. I don’t want to take either side, because while Philadelphia is still bad they’ve been better lately. Portland is just great always, and they have a great home court advantage. This should be a 14-18 point win for the Blazers that won’t be in much question.

The over is very tempting here, and I’ll take it. These teams play fast and Portland’s offense is excellent.

Pick: Over 199

Phoenix (-1.5) @ Sacramento (214 o/u)

Phoenix is such a hard team to figure out this year. If this was at home, I’d have them favored by 5 or 6, but I feel risky taking them at this line here. I don’t know. Screw it.

Pick: Under 214

Oddball Baskets is Back!

With the NBA season just in full-on weirdness mode now, I had to bring the blog back to get involved. I’m just enjoying basketball so much right now, and across the NBA there are so many fun teams and storylines I can’t keep them all straight. So, let’s take a look at tonight’s games and see what we can tease out, eh?

Boston (200 o/u) @ Orlando (-2)

These are two teams that are, as constructed, fairly terrible. They also have weird fluctuations in level of play, however, and both teams are bizarrely fun on offense despite having no elite scoring options (Sorry, Tobias Harris and Jeff Green). Orlando has a significant edge defensively, especially as Boston still figures out how to integrate their new guys.

I’m still fascinated to see how Boston’s offense functions for the rest of the season without Rondo. His value was so hard to gauge within this team and in the context of Brad Stevens’ offensive system, and all we can do is measure how effective Marcus Smart and Evan Turner are in filling the additional roles now given to them. We will learn a lot over the next few months about the pieces the Celtics have in place.

Pick: Orlando -2

Chicago (197.5 o/u) @ Washington (-3)

Chicago beat the Raptors in a very high scoring affair last night, 129-120, and now have the chance to make a statement two nights in a row against fellow East elite teams. Last night’s win was a good one, but I think that the Wizards are still a better team than the Raptors without DeRozan are. The Wizards are great at home, but the Bulls are also very good on the road – specifically defensively, per NBA.com/stats.

The back-to-back thing for a team like Chicago is an issue, though. Thibs rested some of his guys more than usual last night, but played Jimmy Butler to the bone as usual. That doesn’t bode well for Chicago – he has been their best all-around player this season, if you can believe it – against a dynamic team like Washington with multiple points of attack and a solid defense.

Pick: Washington -3 & Under 197.5 

New Orleans (-1) @ Indiana (193.5 o/u)

This line strikes me as immensely stupid – New Orleans is heads and shoulders better than Indiana, even on the road. I don’t know, I don’t get it.

The Pacers have surprised so far with their competency (especially on offense) but sometimes context is everything. These guys play in what might be one of the worst NBA conferences ever, and they play that type of opponent most nights. They are a halfway decent basketball team, while the Pelicans are a slightly more than decent basketball team. What’s more, Indiana lacks the offensive personnel to attack the Pelicans biggest weakness: their porous defense.

Pick: New Orleans -1

Minnesota (208.5 o/u) @ Cleveland (-13.5)

Minnesota is free-falling towards overall league-worst status in terms of recent play, on pace with both the Knicks and 76ers. A match-up with a Cavaliers team that just seems to be hitting their stride is not what they need right now.

Minnesota was always going to be bad – they were counting on Ricky Rubio, Thaddeus Young, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic to provide veteran leadership and be their core this season, which is crazy. The fact that they’ve been missing most of that quartet for the whole season hasn’t helped matters, even if it does make them more intriguing from a basketball development standpoint.

Cleveland is not going to be the juggernaut I predicted any time this season – that much is clear now. They still have a good basketball team, but Dave Blatt hasn’t figured out how to most effectively use his weapons and cover up for the roster’s weaknesses. That could come with time, or it could come with a different coach some day. It also has to do with the players learning from each other’s habits and skillsets.

Either way, these are two teams headed in very different directions. Cleveland should still contend for the Eastern Conference this year, while Minnesota will likely continue to get worse before they get any better.

Pick: Cleveland -13.5 & Over 208.5

Denver (199 o/u) @ Brooklyn (-2)

Last year I was extremely pessimistic about Denver and extremely optimistic about Brooklyn. I ended up being roughly 75% correct, as Brooklyn made the second round of the playoffs (but not in the way I even remotely expected) and Denver floundered badly due to injuries and Bryan Shaw’s coaching being incongruent with his personnel – an issue still facing the Nuggets today.

This season, my expectations flipped. While I didn’t pick the Nuggets to make the playoffs, I did say they should be a ~.500 basketball team – an accomplishment of significant merit in the West.  And while I picked Brooklyn to make the East Playoffs, I had them sneaking in as the 8-seed – and only because they would want a playoff spot more in theory than a team like Orlando, Milwaukee or Indiana would.

I’m following my own advice here and taking Denver on the road as underdogs against a Brooklyn team that has not impressed me even once this season.

Pick: Denver +2

Philadelphia (191 o/u) @ Miami (-8) 

Dwyane Wade is questionable and Chris Bosh is out for Miami, making this team a hodge-podge of veteran forwards and young guards without a clear alpha dog or defined roles for just about anyone. The good news for the Heat is that Erik Spoelstra is a strong enough coach to handle that kind of a roster implosion. The Heat’s offense works with varied personnel because the basic principles always stay the same: great spacing and quick ball movement.

Philadelphia has emerged as an actual NBA team in December, with Michael Carter-Williams, K.J. McDaniels and Robert Covington leading the way. Their defense has bordered on “pretty good” since Thanksgiving; a major feat for this roster.

I would have to take the under here if I’m going to take anything, but even that doesn’t feel great. Philly at +8 is tempting, but Miami with Dwyane Wade should blow that away.

Pick: Under 191

L.A. Clippers (207 o/u) @ Atlanta (-1.5)

This is my game of the night for sure. Both these teams played tough games last night, with the Clippers falling 125-118 to the Spurs and the Hawks holding on to beat Dallas 105-102 on the road.

The Hawks are on a crazy-hot run right now, having won 13 of their last 14 games and 4 in a row against Chicago, Cleveland, Houston and Dallas – a murderer’s row of opponents. They get another elite team tonight with the Clips.

It’s hard to pick against Atlanta the way they’ve been playing lately, and it’s hard to predict how either team with play coming off these back-to-backs and having traveled late last night. I’m going to take the Clippers as my pick because I think a regression for the Hawks at some point is likely, and why not tonight against an opponent that can actually force mistakes. For what’s worth, I think this game will actually tell us more about the Clippers, though – this is the kind of game this team is supposed to win.

Pick: Clippers +1.5

Portland (199.5 o/u) @ Oklahoma City (-6)

So no Kevin Durant for Oklahoma City, and LaMarcus Aldridge could very well miss his 2nd straight game for the Blazers. I’m still all-in on this game as a match-up between Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook, two psycho-competitive guards with flawed but interesting supporting casts around them.

I’m not sure I’m buying this line for OKC here without Durant, though. Portland no-showed last night, and it’s hard to imagine a team of this caliber doing that again. OKC isn’t on a back-to-back and Portland is, but I don’t hate the Blazers lineup without Aldridge – Lillard, Wes Matthews and Nic Batum are all very good players, and their bench is solid enough to give me pause on betting against them at -6.

Pick: Portland +6

Charlotte (197.5 o/u) @ Milwaukee (-5.5)

Charlotte has played drastically better in December than they did previously, and are starting to look like a likely contender for the 7/8 seed in the East. They have three convincing wins in a row, albeit against depleted and below-average opponents in Philadelphia, Denver and Utah.

Milwaukee is just recently back from a brutal Western Conference road trip that saw them play Phoenix, Portland and the LA Clippers tough while beating Sacramento and the LA Clippers in a second game played in Milwaukee over that same stretch. The Jabari Parker injury hasn’t really caught up to them yet, and I don’t really know how or why they’ve been as good as they’ve been. I felt the same way with how badly Charlotte played in the first month this season – there just isn’t much rhyme or reason to it.

For that reason, I like Charlotte at this line. They should be better than the evidence has suggested, while Milwaukee should be at least slightly worse. I’ll take what my expected outcome pre-season would have been.

Pick: Charlotte +5.5

Dallas (214.5 o/u) @ Phoenix (-1.5)

Dallas is coming off a tough loss to Atlanta at home last night, while Phoenix comes in with a day of rest after beating the Wizards in Washington on Sunday. It’s the Suns first game back after a week long, three-game road trip that got them three Eastern Conference wins.

The Mavericks continue the experiment of integrating Rajon Rondo to their lineup tonight, which is fun for every basketball fan out there. Phoenix won by 12 in their only meeting so far this season in Dallas behind a monster game from Goran Dragic.

I like Dallas here, as Phoenix really isn’t at too much of a home court advantage having just come home off a road trip. Dallas is on a back-to-back, but they can’t afford to drop back-to-back games if they want to contend at the level they’re hoping for. I bet they take this one tonight. If anything, I see it as a toss up, and I’ll take the side getting the points.

Pick: Dallas +1.5

Golden State (-8.5) @ L.A. Lakers (215.5 o/u)

I mean, what can you say here, really?

Pick: Golden State -8.5

Oddball Baskets is on Hiatus

Hello Hoopheads,

Due to time constraints, and a desire to focus more on my work for CelticFanChat, I have decided to put OBB on hiatus indefinitely. If you’re a fan of my stuff, then thank you – and please continue to follow me at CFC, where I’ll be writing with a focus on roster and player development and statistical analysis.

Thank you all for your support over the past year.

Cheers,

Andy

NBA Daily Odds for Wednesday, November 5

Yesterday: 5-7
Season: 20-26

Not a great day yesterday for me, but with a full slate of games tonight there is no rest for the weary. Getting right into it…

Orlando (-3) @ Philadelphia (195 o/u) 

…with one of the worst games of the season. Oof. Orlando is fun to watch for stretches, and the Sixers do play with some good pace, but if you like clean, fundamentally sound basketball you should probably flip over to Hawks-Spurs instead.

I think Orlando has more talent, but still not enough talent to be a clear favorite on the road, even against Philly. They are on night two of a road back-to-back, too. Just nothing really working in their favor except for the fact that, you know, they get to play the Sixers.

With all of that information, I’d still take Orlando at like, -6. I just don’t see Philly being able to compete.

Pick: Orlando -3

Miami (189.5 o/u) @ Charlotte (-1.5)

Both teams are on a back-to-back, but Miami’s on the road. Charlotte has looked ugly so far this season, and I think it’s pretty clear that Miami is further along in the process of being a 2014-15 NBA team than the Hornets are.

Even so, this line is fair. It’s hard to win on the road without rest in the NBA, and the Heat aren’t a juggernaut, just a solid team. I’ll take them here because I like any bet where the better team is the underdog.

Pick: Miami +1.5

Toronto (203.5 o/u) @ Boston (-1.5)

I’m going to this game, and I couldn’t be more excited. As you will know if you read this blog even semi-regularly, I love the Raptors. They are so much fun and I try to catch them whenever they come to Boston – Lowry, DeRozan, Ross and Johnson are all among my favorite NBA players.

I’m also a huge Celtics fan, though, and the comeback in Dallas on Monday was SO much fun. Seeing Smart and Bradley harass Devin Harris as he tried to bring the ball up the court was amazing, and exactly what every Celts fan wanted to see this season with that duo in the backcourt. Brad Stevens is a great coach and there is real hope for this team.

They are catching Toronto on a back-to-back, but again – I have this thing about betting against a better team when they are the underdogs. I’m going to take Toronto here, but I’ll be cheering for Boston at the Garden.

Pick: Toronto +1.5 

Minnesota (209.5 o/u) @ Brooklyn (-5)

This one has Stay Away written all over it for me. Both these teams have been all over the map so far this early season, and until I see more from them, I really don’t want to touch either one. Brooklyn currently registers as the #2 NBA offense, for instance, which I find hard to believe will be sustained. Are they even a top 10 offense in this league over a full season? I kind of doubt it.

Pass

New York (186 o/u) @ Detroit (-4)

Drummond should FEAST on the Knicks big man rotation tonight, and unless Melo goes off (which is totally a possibility, even though people forget how good Josh Smith can be defensively) then I think New York is in trouble. Detroit isn’t going to lose 60 games this season, and they have to start picking up some W’s at home soon.

I love this line for the Pistons. New York is on a back-to-back on the road, while the Pistons had yesterday off and are playing at home (and with the motivation of their first win still hanging out there).

Pick: Detroit -4

Indiana (187.5 o/u) @ Washington (-9.5)

This one is an easy go for Washington to me. They should absolutely win this game by double digits at home. If they want to be a true Eastern Conference contender then these are the kinds of wins they have to get decisively.

The Hibbert-Gortat match-up is interesting for me, and I can see Indiana hanging around for a while with their toughness and grind-it-out style, but you have to score points when it counts, and they just can’t do that with this active roster.

Pick: Washington -9.5 & Under 187.5

Chicago (-4.5) @ Milwaukee (190.5 o/u) 

I have to take the Bulls here, even with Rose questionable and Noah doubtful. I just think they’re still a much better team and the stakes are higher for them in games like this. The under also intrigues me with neither team having a dominant offensive option and having defensive anchors (Gibson for Chicago, Sanders for Milwuakee) that can really impact the game on that end.

Pick: Chicago -4.5 & Under 190.5

Atlanta (201 o/u) @ San Antonio (-8)

I hate betting against the Spurs, but the Hawks should hang in this game. The tough thing is that the Hawks could be right in it with four minutes to go and still lose by 12 because San Antonio is just so good at executing down the stretch.

I like the over more than I like the spread either way. These are two offensive-minded teams that shoot the ball well and often from deep. Budenholzer-Popovich is a fun coaching match-up, and I’m saving this game on my DVR for tomorrow morning.

Pick: Over 201

Memphis (193 o/u) @ Phoenix (-1.5)

This is a big test for the 3-1 Suns at home, hosting the undefeated Memphis Grizzlies. If Phoenix wants to compete for a playoff spot they are going to have to win quite a few games like this. They also played late last night in L.A., a fast-paced affair that was closer than it should have been.

Memphis had the day off, on the other hand, and should be well rested. This clash of contrasting styles can make for interesting basketball, and I think that it favors the better defensive team in this case.

Pick: Memphis +1.5

Cleveland (-5.5) @ Utah (204.5 o/u) 

Utah has been friskier than most predicted, while Cleveland has been the opposite. If we were going by the numbers and basketball so far this season, Utah would be an easy pick at +5.5. However LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love play for the Cavs, and just because they haven’t jelled yet doesn’t mean this team isn’t going to be awesome. I predict a BIG Cavs win tonight in Utah, their version of a statement game before everyone panics.

Pick: Cleveland -5.5

Denver (203 o/u) @ Sacramento (-4)

The Kings have been a surprise so far, outperforming expectations, while the Nuggets have been dreadful compared to projections. This collision of teams that are so far off what I expected them to be is interesting, but it’s also incredibly hard to pick. As a gauge, I’m going to pick the Nuggets, which is what I would have done with the knowledge I had prior to the last week of basketball. I want to see if I was really as far off as the first few games have indicated on these two squads, and this is a good way to test it.

Pick: Denver +4

LA Clippers (210 o/u) @ Golden State (-4.5)

One of the best rivalries in the sport reignites tonight by the Bay. This line has really inflated on Golden State’s side because of their early success and the Clipps early struggles, but I’m sticking with my theory that the early season trends have been more anomaly than reality and taking LA on this spread.

Pick: LAC +4.5 & Under 210

NBA Daily Odds for Tuesday, November 4

Yesterday: 3-5
Season: 15-19

Milwaukee (+4.5) @ Indiana (192.5 o/u) 

The under is definitely safe here. These are two lower tier teams that both specialize in defense, if anything. Larry Sanders and Roy Hibbert should protect the rim well at both ends, and neither team features a go-to scorer that really scares you at all. The Bucks play fast, but Indiana doesn’t at all, so I think 192.5 is very safe here.

Pick: Under 192.5 

Oklahoma City (194 o/u) @ Toronto (-11.5) 

I’m all about Toronto in this one. They look like a very good basketball team once again, and one that has a true identity. The Thunder right now have a reckless abandon about them, but that only gets you so far. On the road at a great arena, I have to think the Raptors win easily.

Pick: Toronto -11.5 & Over 194

Washington (-1) @ New York (191 o/u) 

I think this one should be over as well. The line is fun, as it’s basically choosing a winner, but it’s hard to defend either side. I have to say, I think Washington is a far better team at full strength, but New York has looked good so far offensively. I’m really close to talking myself into the Knicks here, which is terrifying. I’ve done a total 180 on Derek Fisher in the span of like, two games. The stuff they’ve run has actually looked like basketball.

Washington hasn’t impressed me, but they also are without a major contributor in Bradley Beal, and transitioning to life with Paul Pierce and without Trevor Ariza. I’ll take the Knicks tonight, but I don’t feel good about it (I never do).

Pick: New York +1 & Over 191

Houston (203 o/u) @ Miami (-1.5)

Houston here all the way, and I don’t feel the need to explain myself.

Pick: Houston +1.5

Orlando (190.5 o/u) @ Chicago (-11)

This is safe on two fronts for me – the under and Chicago.

Pick: Under 190.5 & Chicago -11

Charlotte (189.5 o/u) @ New Orleans (-4)

This one has me evaluating myself big time. Do I really think the Pelicans are a better team than the Hornets? I think I do. Yet I totally picked the Hornets to win 9 more games than the Pelicans this season. The Western Conference is a beast.

Pick: Under 189.5 & New Orleans -4

Cleveland (-2.5) @ Portland (204.5 o/u) 

Too early for me to bet on Cavs games. They scare me on both ends.

Pick: Over 204.5

Phoenix (-6.5) @ LA Lakers (213 o/u) 

This could be PHX -11.5 and it would still be good money.

Pick: Phoenix -6.5

NBA Daily Odds for Monday, November 3

Yesterday: 2-2
Season: 12-14

Not a bad day yesterday, but DeMarcus Cousins’ crazy explosion of a game totally blew my LA Clippers prediction out of the water. The Kings look legitimately decent, while the Clippers continue to under perform. The other major note of last night was the Knicks’ solid performance at home against the Hornets. I have been really impressed by what I’ve seen under new coach Derek Fisher so far.

Finally, Dwyane Wade had a monster game, using his veteran smarts and still elite athleticism to influence the game constantly in Miami. Really great performance by D-Wade yesterday.

Houston (-10.5) @ Philadelphia (202 o/u)

Our first action of Monday night brings us to Philly, where the Rockets roll into town with a questionable Dwight Howard. I don’t really think that matters, though – aren’t the Rockets 11 points better without him anyway? My only concern here is garbage time is likely to play a factor,

Even so, I love Houston and I love the over.

Pick: Houston -10.5 & Over 202

Oklahoma City (192 o/u) @ Brooklyn (-6.5)

I kind of really like OKC in this one. Quick, someone talk me out of it! But Reggie Jackson is coming back, Perry Jones looks like Kevin Durant, Jr. so far this season, and Brooklyn is playing a plodding, ugly style of basketball so far under Lionel Hollins that they don’t really have the personnel to make effective.

I also like the under, because Serge Ibaka is a defensive beast and the Nets just play so damn slow.

Pick: OKC +6.5 & Under 192

New Orleans (187.5 o/u) @ Memphis (-4)

The under is a really good bet here, as these teams have both been good defensively so far. I’m tempted by New Orleans, but I also acknowledge that Memphis is probably still the better team and are playing at home. I wouldn’t pick the spread either way, but the Under is for real.

Pick: Under 187.5

Boston (208.5 o/u) @ Dallas (-9.5) 

Great bet to go over, as the Celtics are #2 in the NBA in pace so far this season. While Dallas is far behind (27th), that is likely an anomaly, and they are still #1 so far in offensive rating by far (118.8 per 100 possessions, more than 5 points ahead of the second place Miami Heat). This game will likely be fast and feature a lot of scoring.

Pick: Over 208.5

Sacramento (201.5 o/u) @ Denver (-6)

So far this young season the Nuggets have been abysmal offensively but brilliant on defense. That’s not quite what people imagined when they looked at this roster and the tradition of Denver Nuggets basketball, but if that’s what helps them win, then so be it. Meanwhile, the Kings are currently sporting a top-10 defensive unit as well, if you can believe it.

This could all be due to a very small sample size – I would be willing to bet that at least one of these teams is below average defensively by year’s end – but it still makes this over/under look puzzling. Traditionally the Nuggets have loved to run at home and the Kings have been a pushover defensively, but so far this season that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I’ll take Denver here on the strength of their home court advantage and the fact that Sacramento is on a back-to-back.

Pick: Denver -6

Utah (205.5 o/u) @ LA Clippers (-9)

Oh man, come on! The Clippers on a back-to-back after a brutal loss at home against the Jazz?! Never mind that the Clippers have killed me so far early this season, but Utah has caught my eye early this season as a fun, intriguing young team. I like the way they look out there, even if the results will likely be poor-to-fair this season.

Do I trust in Doc, Blake and CP3 again, this time against a team I’m over-the-top excited about?!

Yes, yes I do. Because I still think the Clippers are just way, way better than the Jazz.

Pick: Clippers -9