NBA Best Bets of the Day (3/18)


Welcome to Hoops with Noops! Thank you for taking a few moments away from your March Madness brackets to read this piece! Even I, a staunch avoider of college hoops, get sucked in by the NCAA Tournament every year. The college kids have taken some of my attention, but fear not, I remain laser focused on the professionals. 


We are in the final stretch of the NBA season which can be a messy and murky time of the year, but there is value to be found in the lack of clarity. Let’s go through all eight games on tonight’s slate and see where we might find some good wagers. Of course, since it’s Monday, you can watch a video version of Hoops with Noops on the FTN Network YouTube channel. Please leave a comment there if you have any questions of your own and I’ll get back to you ASAP. Now, onto the hoops!

Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers

Current Line – Pacers -6.5, 225
My Projection – Pacers 113, Cavaliers 111
Key Injuries – Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley, Max Strus, and Bennedict Mathurin are out.

The Indiana Pacers have changed a lot over this season. They started as the fastest-paced team in the NBA which allowed them to create easy chances in transition and generate a barrage of three-point attempts every night. It took teams a while to adjust, but defenses found a way to slow them down and then the roster changed. Indiana, in a few trades, moved Bruce Brown, Buddy Hield and several picks to get Pascal Siakam. The former Raptor has improved the defense, is a good fit next to Myles Turner and works as a small-ball center, but Siakam slows the pace and brings less shooting ability. There have also been some issues with Tyrese Haliburton. He’s had hamstring and ankle injuries, and although he’s been playing, he doesn’t look like the same player. They are just 7-5 since the All-Star break but are still being rated as one of the better teams in the league by the betting markets. I continue to think the Pacers are being overrated and see value in betting against them.

That’s my plan tonight with a wager on the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are just 6-6 in their last 12 games, worse than the Pacers, but most of those losses were close and to good teams. Cleveland has struggled with injuries to Evan Mobley, who’s missed almost two weeks with an ankle sprain, and to Donovan Mitchell, who has missed games intermittently. Obviously, they would be much better with both of those players, but the Cavaliers are still pretty good with Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen. Their roster is built to handle injuries to key players, and I think the market has overreacted to Cleveland’s recent performances. They match up well with the new Pacers, and I make this just a two-point game despite the current spread of +6.5. Indiana could win this game by double digits if they recommit to pushing pace. They can tire out the Cavaliers, who are without their depth, but we haven’t seen that from the Pacers lately. Give me the points with Cleveland.


Cleveland Cavaliers +6.5 (-110, FanDuel Sportsbook)

Not For Noops

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

Detroit Pistons at Boston Celtics -15.5, 223 – Both teams are on the second night of a back-to-back and have questions about the availability of their best players. Cade Cunningham played over the weekend, but he was listed questionable for both games, and it would make sense to rest him after having to play at less than 100% last night. Kristaps Porzingis is out, Jaylen Brown has been listed questionable and Jrue Holiday has been getting rested occasionally over the last few weeks. A healthy Boston team, even one without Holiday, should thrash this Pistons team without Cunningham. At the same time, Detroit could keep this game close if Cunningham can play and a few of the starters for the Celtics miss tonight’s game. There are a lot of things that might change in this matchup, and I don’t see any value in the current odds given what we know. I’ll pass on this game.

Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers -2, 209 – The Heat are on the second night of a back-to-back, and the 76ers are just a hot mess lately. Miami continues to be without Tyler Herro, and Jimmy Butler missed yesterday’s game. Perhaps the Heat were resting Butler so he could play tonight, but he’s listed as questionable, and everyone else on the roster should have tired legs from playing big minutes on Sunday. Philadelphia is 8-16 since losing Joel Embiid to injury and has dropped like a rock in the standings. Tyrese Maxey is playing well, but he’s missed a few games himself and is missing key support players like De’Anthony Melton, Tobias Harris and Nicolas Batum. The 76ers need to win this game badly or they risk falling behind the Heat in the standings and not being able to get back to the sixth seed to avoid the Play-In Tournament. If Butler is out, this should be a good spot to back Philadelphia, but if Butler can play then I think things are dicey for the 76ers. We need to wait to see who is actually playing, but even then I’m not sure we’ll find any value betting this game. There’s certainly no value in betting it now.

Portland Trail Blazers at Chicago Bulls -8.5, 213.5 – These prices are close to what my model has. I make this game Bulls -6.5 with a total of 212. The Blazers are in shambles. Malcolm Brogdon and Shaedon Sharpe are out, and Jerami Grant is doubtful. That leaves Portland with almost no shooting and only one point guard, Scoot Henderson, but he’s a rookie and on a minute’s restriction. They are averaging just 101 points in their last four games with this roster. The Bulls have been great against bad teams in Chicago, but I don’t see any value in laying as many as eight points with them. I looked at the Portland team total, but the books posted a good number at 102.5. The market got this game right for the most part, which means we shouldn’t bet on it at these odds.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz +6.5, 223.5 – The injury report is a mess in this game. Rudy Gobert and Lauri Markkanen, among others, are listed as questionable. Gobert is the runaway leader for Defensive Player of the Year and is the key to Minnesota’s league-leading defense. Markkanen is the best player in Utah and unlocks everyone else by taking the attention of the opponent’s defense. If Gobert is in and Markkanen is out, this should be a good spot to bet under the total and back the Timberwolves to cover even a large spread. If Markkanen is in and Gobert is out, this should be a good spot to bet over the total and back the Jazz to cover even a small spread. There are just too many possible changes for each team to bet on this game before we know who is playing. If I do bet this game later, I’ll put those picks in the #nba-plays channel of the FTNBets Discord.

New York Knicks at Golden State Warriors -6.5, 211.5 – Well, I’ll be forthright and admit that I did bet this game earlier when I thought OG Anunoby was going to play. I grabbed Knicks +5.5 thinking Anunoby would play despite being listed as questionable. He’s played the last three games and had all day yesterday to rest, but the Knicks decided he needs to rest tonight. New York could still ugly this game up and keep it close, but I’m not betting on that anymore. Without Anunoby, I make this game Warriors -5 with a total of 213, which is close to the lines being offered right now. Golden State is healthy and looks comfortable with their new lineups, but New York is the type of physical team that has given them trouble. I still see some value in taking the points with the Knicks, but not enough value to advise that you bet them. I’m going to hope my bad ticket gets lucky and maybe you can just cheer for me, but you shouldn’t bet this game at these prices.

Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings -11, 221 – The Grizzlies finally have some talent back in their locker room. Desmond Bane returned Saturday after missing over three months of action. Jaren Jackson is finally off the injury report after missing games occasionally over the last few weeks. Overall, the roster is still pretty bad, but at least they have two very good players to play in place of G-League level replacements. The Kings are a much better team and are playing their sixth consecutive game at home. Teams on that long of a homestand generally see their shooting improve as players get more comfortable with the sight lines in familiar surroundings. That said, they shot 35% from the field in a loss to the Knicks on Saturday in Sacramento. Of course, things should be much better tonight with regression to their averages and an easier opponent to beat. With all the changes to the Memphis roster and the Kings’ struggles at home this season, this is a tough game to handicap, but I’m pretty close to the market. I make Sacramento eight-point favorites with a total of 224. My gut thinks the Grizzlies can surprise and keep this game close, but I don’t see any actual edges to attack, which means no bets.

Atlanta Hawks at Los Angeles Lakers -9, 225 – LeBron James is questionable as he always is, and Anthony Davis is questionable with an eye injury. I expect LeBron to play in front of the home crowd, but it would make sense to give Davis some more time to let his eye heal. The Lakers can win this game without one of their stars, but I’m not sure they can cover this spread without both of their best players. It’s the second night of a back-to-back for the Hawks, who beat the Clippers last night in Los Angeles. Atlanta didn’t have to travel, but it’s always tough to play without a day to rest and recover. If LeBron and AD both play, Los Angeles can cover this spread and I might bet it, but we can’t be sure who is playing until we get an official announcement. The Hawks are struggling, but they have just enough talent to keep this game interesting if LeBron is out there by himself. Keep an eye on the status of Davis and if he is going to play, and check the FTNBets Discord to see if I backed the Lakers, but nothing for now.

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