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NBA Best Bets of the Day (2/27)

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Welcome to Hoops with Noops! We have a jam-packed slate of games on a TNT Tuesday. Unfortunately, Joel Embiid’s knee injury has taken most of the excitement out of the first game, but the second national TV is a must watch. The Houston Rockets go to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder in a game that features a lot of good, young players pushing to be even better than they already are.

 

It should be a great night of basketball, but remember, we are at the end of the marathon that is the NBA regular season. Motivations are questionable, fatigue is likely, and we must be cautious.

There are 11 games, but that doesn’t mean we need to find 11 bets. Now is the time to practice caution and watch with a careful eye in preparation of the postseason. We have several games to cover, so let’s get to it.

NBA Best Bets for Tuesday

Utah Jazz at Atlanta Hawks

Current Line – Hawks -1.5, 236.5
My Projection – Hawks 119, Jazz 121 
Key InjuriesTrae Young and Onyeka Okongwu are out.

The Hawks are going to look different the next few weeks. Trae Young is out at least a month after requiring surgery on his non-shooting hand. Atlanta has played six games without Young this season. They were 3-3 in those games with a two-point drop in offensive rating and effectively no change in defensive rating. The former is no surprise, but the latter is odd to me. Without Young, the Hawks should have a better defender and more size on the floor, but you don’t see the bear out in the results. De’Andre Hunter has taken a big step backward in his defensive ability and the players behind Young are not great defenders either. That’s something to keep an eye on going forward, but ultimately, Atlanta should continue to be a below average team that scores as many points as they want and give up even more points to their opponents. 

Although the Jazz lost some depth at the trade deadline and are a little worse as a team, they can still score points in bunches. They are a high-volume three-shooting team and face a Hawks team that is among the worst teams in the NBA in opponent’s three-point shot attempts and make percentage. The Jazz are generally better at home, but their road splits are still good and I think Utah can score at will against Atlanta’s defense. I have the Jazz favored to win, but the spread is close. I also show a little bit of value on the over and most of that is due to my projection for Utah. I have the Jazz scoring 121 and their team total is only 117.5. That’s a bet for me. I’d rather rely on Utah scoring points than worry about whether or not they can win the game.

Bet

Utah Jazz Team Total Over 117.5 (-118, FanDuel Sportsbook)

Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder

Current Line – Thunder -10, 235
My Projection – Thunder 120, Rockets 109 
Key Injuries – None  

After a good start to the season, the Rockets have fallen back to earth. They are 8-of-17 over their last 25 games and things are unlikely to get any better. The Thunder are a brutal matchup for the Rockets. OKC is more talented and deeper at just about every position. The Thunder are a young team that plays aggressively and are in the top five in the NBA in both offensive and defensive rating. They are favored by 10 points, and I agree with the market for the most part. Not only is OKC very good they are also great at beating bad teams. Now Houston is not a bad team in the way the San Antonio Spurs are, but the Rockets certainly are not a good team. I have no questions about the Thunder’s motivation and they’ve covered numbers like this all season, but I can’t tell you there’s value in laying the 10 points.

I will, however, tell you there is value in betting the under in this game. These two teams played just two days ago and combined to score 233 points which was exactly the closing total. Houston shot almost 40% on 41 three-point attempts which is one of their highest number of three point attempts this season. The Thunder shot 47% from the field and almost 49% from beyond the arc on 35 attempts. The pace of the game was 104 possessions when both teams average a pace of 100 or less. Even with all of those outlier events, the game didn’t go over the total. Both teams are top 10 in defensive rating and I expect a return to that form tonight. If the pace slows from the last game or the efficiency regresses to the mean then this games go under the total. If both of those things happen this game will go under by several points. Let’s bet on it.

Bet

Houston Rockets/Oklahoma City Under 234.5 (-110, BetMGM)

Not For Noops

Games I’m not betting and why I’m not betting them.

Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic -9.5, 213.5

Monday night in Memphis, the Nets played their best game since Kevin Ollie took over as head coach. After losing their first two games after the break badly, the Nets took an early lead, won three of four quarters and won the game 25 points. So, does that mean that Brooklyn is back or that Memphis is really bad? I’m not sure. The Magic match up well against the Nets and are better than Brooklyn at almost every position when healthy, but that’s not the case for them here. Paolo Banchero is questionable with an illness. He played last Thursday and Saturday but missed Sunday’s game. Without Banchero, the Magic are still good and certainly good enough to beat the Nets, but I’m not sure they can cover this spread. With Banchero, I make this game Magic -10.5 and without Banchero I make this game Magic -6.5. We’ll have to wait until we know Banchero’s official status before we make any wagers and even then, it’s unlikely the spread will move into a bettable range.

Dallas Mavericks at Cleveland Cavaliers -4.5, 232.5

This is going to be a great game, probably the best of the night. The Mavericks have more star power, but they have been less consistent than the Cavaliers this season. Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland are smaller than Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, but can keep up with the Mavericks guards and even beat them. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen are better than P.J. Washington and Dereck Lively, but Washington provides better shooting and Lively can be devastating around the rim. I think there’s a little value on Dallas here, I make the spread 3, but they haven’t played well on the road this year and looked listless losing to the Indiana Pacers Sunday. I’m going to watch this game closely, but I can’t advise any bets on it.

Golden State Warriors at Washington Wizards +11, 240.5

The Warriors have been playing great basketball since the return of Draymond Green and look even better since establishing Brandin Podziemski as a starter and asking Klay Thompson to go to the bench. Everything is falling into place for them to be a scary opponent in the first round of the playoffs and they deserve to be big favorites over a team like the Wizards. I’ve been bullish on Washington the last few weeks as they’ve been getting 13+ points and covering spreads despite losing. Unfortunately, they might be without their best player, Deni Avdija. Without him Washington has to play Jordan Poole and Johnny Davis more minutes and that’s not good. The current spread and total are close to my projections, and I don’t see a good matchup angle to attack, so no bets for me here.

Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics -12.5, 230.5

The 76ers are still without Joel Embiid, but everyone else on the roster is finally healthy. That should help them improve over their dismal play the last few weeks, but I’m not sure that it means they are good enough to contend with a team like the Celtics. Boston has the best roster in the NBA and despite having all but locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference they are still playing their best guys and pushing to win games. Few teams matchup well with Boston, but Philadelphia without Embiid is a particularly ill suited to face them. The Celtics have more size and length at every position. Tyrese Maxey will struggle against Jrue Holiday and Derrick White while Kristaps Porzingis can comfortably shoot over any 76ers defender. I make this game Celtics -13.5 with a total of 228.5 That’s pretty close to what we see at sportsbooks. I’m not betting anything here, but as a final thought, if you are betting either side of this spread look into alternate spreads. The Celtics can win this game by 20-plus if their shots are falling. Conversely the 76ers can keep this game close if they play their best basketball. There’s just too many scenarios in between those for me to make a wager.

New Orleans Pelicans at New York Knicks +2, 219

The Knicks beat the Detroit Pistons by two points Monday thanks to a messy final play and maybe even a break from the referees. New York has struggled on the second night of a back-to-back, even at home, all season and they are still without OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson. This should be a good spot to bet against them, but we don’t know if Zion Williamson or CJ McCollum are playing for the Pelicans. Both are listed as questionable and I’m going to wait to see which of the two, if either, play tonight. With both players on the court, I make New Orleans a 5.5, almost 6-point favorite. With both players unable to play, I make this game a pick ‘em aka a spread of 0. Make sure you’re in the FTN Bets Discord because I’ll post any plays I do make in this game in the #nba-plays channel. I think I’ll end up with a bet on the Pelicans, but I’m not making any moves until I know who is playing and who is not.

San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwolves -13.5, 225.5

The Spurs are playing their ninth consecutive road game spanning over the All-Star break in Minnesota before heading back home to play the Thunder Thursday. This is a rough spot for a young team, especially one not focused on winning basketball games. Minnesota is the best defensive team in the league and has generally beaten bad teams thoroughly, covering spreads as big as this one and larger. The Timberwolves play at home and again Wednesday against Memphis. Rudy Gobert is listed as questionable, and it would make perfect sense for Minnesota to rest him. With Gobert, they can cover this spread easily, but without him the game is a lot closer. He also has a big impact on the total as the leader of the defense. If Gobert can play, I might bet a Spurs team total under, but if he can’t play, I might play an over, team total or full game. Be sure to check the FTN Bets Discord to see if I make either of those bets once we know the official status of Rudy Gobert.

Detroit Pistons at Chicago Bulls -11, 225

So, do you want to lay 12 points with a Bulls team that hasn’t been a favorite of 9-plus points all season? Your other option is to take just 12 points with a Pistons team on the second night of a road back-to-back and a devastating loss in New York Monday night? This is a classic situation where the two options we have are both pretty bad. I make this game Bulls -10 with a total of 228, but I don’t think I have a good number on the Pistons even before considering the situation. Detroit is bad, one of the worst rosters in the league, but they are still trying to compete every night and have been covering spreads. The Pistons have been so bad all season that they can afford to win a few games for the culture without jeopardizing they’re chances at getting the first pick in next year’s draft. My gut says the Pistons cover this number, but my model doesn’t show much value and I’m really not sure how Detroit responds after Monday. I’ll pass on this game.

Charlotte Hornets at Milwaukee Bucks -15, 224

This is a huge number for the Bucks to cover, but a really bad schedule spot for the Hornets. Milwaukee has played well in their two games since the All-Star break. They beat the Timberwolves by five points in Minnesota and the 76ers by 21 points in Philadelphia. Beating Minnesota shows the Bucks might be as good of a team as we expected before the season and crushing Philadelphia shows they are capable of beating teams much worse than them by margin. The Hornets have won five of their last six — not just covered, won outright. Maybe it’s appropriate for Charlotte to screw up something as easy as losing games to ensure the best possible draft pick, but here we are. Tre Mann has been a great fit and filled in nicely for LaMelo Ball who is out for his 15th consecutive game. The defense has been great for the Hornets who have the athletes to excel on that end of the court although they struggle to score on the other end. This is the last game of a four game road trip for Charlotte and they play the Bucks again, at home, Thursday. I still the Hornets can cover this spread which is at least two points too high, but it’s a small edge and not one big enough to bet given all the uncertainty. 

Miami Heat at Portland Trail Blazers +6.5, 214

This is a tough schedule spot for Miami. The Heat won by 11 points in Sacramento against the Kings Monday night. Their starting five all played 35-plus minutes, which mean they should be fatigued, but Miami should also get a boost from the return of Jimmy Butler after his one game suspension. Should they be laying over two baskets on the road after a tough game and before a game in Denver against the Nuggets Thursday on TNT? Maybe not, but they are playing a team in Portland that is even worse than they have been all season. Malcolm Brogdon and Scoot Henderson are out which leaves the Trail Blazers with no point guards and without one of their few good three-point shooters. So, should we bet on the stoppable force or the moveable object? I’m not interested in backing either team in this game and will not be wagering on either team or even the total.

 
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