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NBA Best Bets of the Day (3/1)

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Welcome to Hoops with Noops! We’ve got about 24 games per team left in the season, and the competition is heating up as teams fight to finish the season as best they can. Three teams are within 1.5 games of the top seed in the Western Conference, while the Bucks and Cavaliers duke it out for the Central Division title and the 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Lakers and Warriors are safely into the Play-In Tournament and are now focused on getting home games in that or even catching up to the Pelicans for the 6 seed and automatic postseason entry.

 

Every game is important for most teams in the league and the bad teams lost enough games to start the season to allow them to try to win without messing up their chances at the top draft pick. There are nine games Friday, and each will continue to shape the playoff picture. Let’s go through each to see what might happen and try to find some bets to make.

Of course, since it’s Friday, you can watch a video version of Hoops with Noops on the FTN Network YouTube channel. If you have any questions or comments to share, please put them in the comment section of the video and I’ll get back to you. Now, on to the hoops.

NBA Best Bets for Friday

Portland Trail Blazers at Memphis Grizzlies 

Current Line – Grizzlies -1.5, 208
My Projection – Grizzlies 102, Trail Blazers 99 
Key InjuriesJa Morant, Desmond Bane, Marcus Smart, Jaren Jackson, Malcolm Brogdon, Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe are out. Deandre Ayton is doubtful.

This might be the worst collection of players to be on the floor for an NBA game this season. Every single starter-quality player is out for the Grizzlies. Both point guards and the best center will be missing for Portland. We are going to see big minutes from Ashton Hagans, Dalano Banton, Duop Reath, Jabari Walker, Lamar Stevens, Yuta Watanabe and Jake LaRavia. With all due respect to those men, who are professional athletes, I am not excited to watch them play, and I don’t expect to see them playing big roles on good teams. This is a tough matchup to handicap because we have so little data on these players and even less data on how they fit together. Overall, I think the Grizzlies have a better roster and their homecourt advantage will matter more than normal, but I’m not betting either side in this game.

Instead, I love the under for this total. I know that 208 is already very low, but I think it’s still way too high. As I mentioned, this is a tough game to handicap and it’s even tougher for bookmakers that are more inclined to stick to a certain band of numbers. Said another way, this is an outlier game and books tend to not go far enough when setting lines for these games. There is a chance that this group of players tries to push pace to give themselves the most opportunities to show their potential, but neither of these teams has operated that way all season. They are two of the slower teams in the league and rely on limited possessions to help their defense and chances of winning. I expect this to be a very ugly game and I will not be watching it, but I will be betting it. Give me the under and let’s hope for a vintage ‘90s scoreline.

Bet

Portland Trail Blazers/Memphis Grizzlies Under 208 (-110, FanDuel Sportsbook)

Not For Noops

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

Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons +9, 221.5

The Cavaliers lost a tough, two-overtime game to the Bulls Wednesday. Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley each played at least 42 minutes. Mitchell is listed as questionable with a sore knee, and I’d bet he’s not going to play against a team Cleveland can beat without him. This will be the fourth game between these squads, and all three before this finished with a margin close to the closing spread. The Pistons have lost as many games as any team in the league, but they have been competitive and are not tanking. Detroit is not in danger of ruining their chances at the top draft pick, so they can push their players to try to win to build momentum for next season. The Pistons still aren’t winning, but they are keeping scores close and covering spreads. Despite that and the likely lack of Mitchell, I still make Cleveland an eight-point favorite, which is close to the market. I wouldn’t be surprised if Detroit covers this spread, but I’m not going to bet on it.

Charlotte Hornets at Philadelphia 76ers -11.5, 214

This is a bad spot to back the Hornets, but it’s also not a good spot to back the 76ers. Charlotte played at home Thursday and in Milwaukee Tuesday, which was the end of a four-game road trip. Brandon Miller and Miles Bridges, Charlotte’s two best players, were on the floor for 39-plus minutes Thursday. The Hornets should be fatigued and not at their best, and their best is already pretty bad. The 76ers have been a mess without Joel Embiid, but things have started to stabilize with some secondary players back healthy. Philadelphia should be better, but I don’t think they’re good enough to lay this many points even against Charlotte. At the same time, the Hornets are not getting enough points to bet on them. This is a great game to skip, so let’s skip it. 

Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors +3, 236.5

Playing two games on back-to-back nights is tough for any team, especially a veteran team like the Warriors, but Golden State has performed well this season on the second night of those. They are 8-4 straight up and 7-4-1 against the spread. Steve Kerr and the staff know how to manage playing time, so guys are fresh enough to play the second game. I make them 2.5-point favorites, which is a little less than the current spread, but not enough of an edge to back the Raptors. Toronto is 3-1 since the All-Star break and the starters are playing well together, but they have yet to beat a team of the same quality or better than Golden State. The Raptors have a nice core of 5-6 players, but the rest of the team is lacking in talent. The Warriors can win the minutes when their bench players are on the floor. I can’t see an edge in making any wagers on this game.

Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics -9.5, 237.5

Despite expectations that the Celtics would rest players as we end the season and save their best basketball for the postseason. That has not been the case as Boston continues to play their stars and beat teams by margin. Friday, they face the Mavericks, who have a lot of talent but have looked disjoined and played poorly on this road trip. To make things even tougher for the Mavericks, Luka Doncic may not play. Dallas has won games and played well without Luka, but they need their star player if they are going to compete with Celtics. If Luka can’t play, I make this game Celtics -11. If Luka can play, I make this game Celtics -6. It seems unlikely that Doncic will be on the court, but if he is and the spread doesn’t move more than a few points I might back the Mavericks. Keep an eye on the FTN Bets Discord #nba-plays channel which is where I will post any bets I do make later.

Sacramento Kings at Minnesota Timberwolves -6.5, 224

This could be a fun game between two teams that play contrasting styles, but we might be without the best guard on both teams. Anthony Edwards and De’Aaron Fox are listed as questionable. Edwards is the best player in Minnesota and raises the team to an elite level. Without him, the Timberwolves are still a great defensive team that can win games, but they need Edwards to be an elite team. Fox and Domantas Sabonis are the key to what makes the Sacramento Kings good. Without one of the two, the Kings offense lacks enough playmaking to be the great scoring team we have seen. There is too much about this game that changes with both Fox and Edwards out, both in, or one in and one out of the game. We have to wait to see who’s playing before we make a bet. If both are out, I think this is a good spot to play under on the total. If both are in, I don’t see much value on either side. If I make a bet once the injury report clears up, I’ll be sure to post it in the #nba-plays channel of the Discord.

Indiana Pacers at New Orleans Pelicans -5.5, 238.5

We have another fun game between two teams that play different styles. Indiana plays a faster pace, shoots more threes, and is less physical on defense. The Pelicans play slower, attack the rim with size, and play physical defense with great rebounding. They beat the Pacers by nine points in Indiana on Wednesday night. The Pacers won the possession battle but didn’t shoot well enough to overcome a 23-9 disparity at the free throw line. I make New Orleans a 6 point favorite which is basically the same as the current odds. The total looks a little low, but the Pacers have slowed down their pace a little since acquiring Pascal Siakam and their defense has improved as well. This will be a good game to watch, but not a good game to bet.

Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls +4, 221.5

The Bucks played in Charlotte Thursday, but their starters didn’t play a lot of minutes and could be fresh enough to play their best. Milwaukee has looked much different in their four games since the All-Star break. Their pace is down to 95 possessions per 48 minutes after averaging 101 for the season before those four games. This is their fourth time playing the Bulls and the Bucks were a favorite of 9.5 points or more in those games. The Bulls won one game outright and covered the spread in all three matchups. This is a division matchup and these teams know each other’s strengths which can make for a more competitive environment, especially if the pace is slow. My projections are within a point or two of the market for the spread and total. I’m curious to watch the game to see how the Bucks continue to evolve and if the Bulls are good enough to keep the game close, but I am not going to be placing any wagers.

Washington Wizards at Los Angeles Clippers -16, 238.5

The Wizards are on the second night of a Los Angeles back-to-back set of games. They lost to the Lakers last night in overtime and their best player, Deni Avdija, played 43 minutes in his first game back from injury. Washington is likely fatigued, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Avdija is rested. The Clippers lost to the Lakers too this week on Wednesday and were off Thursday night. Paul George and Ivica Zubac are listed as questionable after missing the last game, but even without them Los Angeles can win this game by a lot of points. The Clippers are one of the best teams in the league and should be able to control every aspect of this game tonight. I make it LA -14 without George and Zubac and LA -18 with both of them playing. Those are both fairly close to the current spread, which means I don’t see much value in better either side at this point. 

 
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