NBA Best Bets of the Day (3/19)


Welcome to Hoops with Noops! Normally I would be writing here about how upset I am that this is not a TNT Tuesday night of NBA action, but looking at the slate, I understand that decision.


March NBA basketball is very fickle and not for the weak of spirit. Teams’ motivations are unclear and injury reports are even murkier. There is fatigue not only from some bad, short term schedule spots, but also from the 65-plus games everyone has had to play.

Now, I realize that might sound like a downer, but fear not, where there is uncertainty there is also value. If these games are hard to handicap, they are hard for both us and books to handicap. Luckily for us, we don’t have to bet every game and unluckily for the books, they have to post a number on every game.

Let’s see if that plays to our advantage Tuesday as we go through every matchup and try to hunt for some value to help pay our Easter candy bills.

NBA Best Bets for Tuesday

Houston Rockets at Washington Wizards

Current Line – Rockets -9.5, 228
My Projection – Rockets 119, Wizards 106
Key InjuriesAlperen Sengun, Cam Whitmore, Deni Avdija, Tyus Jones and Marvin Bagley are out. Kyle Kuzma is questionable.

The NBA season is long and teams change throughout it as they adapt to injuries, trades and other challenges. The Houston Rockets offense revolved around Alperen Sengun as a sort of “Nikola Jokic lite” until he sprained his ankle and bruised his knee over a week ago. The Rockets have struggled to score since then, but their defense has gotten better. As good as Sengun is on offense, he struggles defensively and Houston can play lineups with only one, or even zero, bad defenders. Houston is back to being one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. They have several players that can guard multiple positions and coach Ime Udoka does a great job teaching and holding players accountable to his system. They have held four of their last five opponents under 108 points. Now, the one team that did score over 108 points was the Washington Wizards who scored 119, but tonight’s version of the Wizards will be much different.

Deni Avidija and Tyus Jones are out. Kyle Kuzma might miss the game and if he’s out, then there are no good scorers left in Washington’s locker room. Jordan Poole once scored points in bunches, but that was a long time ago and in a much different situation. The Wizards might have the worst roster of any team in the NBA all season in this one. There’s not a single player I project to play (outside of Kuzma if he goes) who will be able to create good shots for himself or a teammate. The Rockets will have a taller, more athletic player at just about every position to makes thing even more difficult for players that are already limited in their offensive abilities. Maybe the pace gets out of control and there is simply a high enough volume of shots to push this over, but I just don’t see it. I think Washington will struggle to score the 106 points my model spit out let alone the 109.5 the market has set as their team total.


Washington Wizards Team Total Under 109.5 (-115, FanDuel Sportsbook)

Not For Noops

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

Charlotte Hornets at Orlando Magic -13, 203

This game is not going to be fun. It’s no surprise that we’re seeing one of the lowest totals of the year in this matchup. The Hornets have found an identity as a defensive team that slows games down and tries to win ugly. Brandon Miller and Miles Bridges have been good, but beyond them there’s little to no scoring on the roster. This team was built to revolve around LaMelo Ball and without him there is no creator or ball handler that unlock chances for the rest of the team. Orlando has been one of the best defensive squads in the NBA all season and should continue to be for years to come. They have a team full of athletic players who play aggressively and together when trying to stop their opponents. It should be very easy for the Magic to keep the Hornets from scoring and win this game with a 1990s-style score. My model makes this Magic -11 with a total of 204. Generally, spreads that large have value on the underdog with such a low total. Every point on the spread is worth more if we expect 204 points as opposed to 224 points. That said, I still don’t think 13 points is enough for me to back Charlotte. I’m going to pass on this game.

New Orleans Pelicans at Brooklyn Nets +7.5, 215

I hate betting games involving the Nets. Before the season, I thought this could be one of the best defensive teams in the league. Nic Claxton is a good rim protector who can cover players on the perimeter as well and the roster is full of long, athletic wings who have shown they can guard multiple positions. Well, I was very wrong about that. The Nets have been one of the worst rated defensive teams all season and just worse than average on offense. Brooklyn is comfortably out of the postseason which would normally set up a chance to tank, but they don’t have their own draft pick. That means they have no reason to try to win or even try to lose. Every game is a mystery. The Pelicans are quietly becoming one of the better teams in the NBA and could win this game by 20-plus points, but they haven’t been great closing games and have blown covers late. I make New Orleans 9.5-point favorites with a total of 217. Those are edges, but small ones, and certainly not big enough for me to wager on a game involving the Nets.

Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs +9, 234.5

These odds are very close to what my projections say. Both teams had the day off Monday, and the injury report is clear of any key players. The Mavericks have been playing great the two weeks and are growing into a scary team to face in the postseason. The Spurs have won a few games this month but are still a bad team. San Antonio is focused on finishing the season with one of the three worst records in the league to guarantee themselves the best odds possible for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. Luckily for them, the Charlotte Hornets seem to know they should be tanking and every game they win allows the Spurs to win a game without messing up their position. I think San Antonio will play hard, but if the game is close at the end look from some chicanery to ensure they lose. I make the Mavericks 10-point favorites with a total of 236. There’s no value that I can see in betting anything in this game.

Denver Nuggets at Minnesota Timberwolves +8, 213

It’s difficult to handicap the Timberwolves in this game. Monday night, Minnesota won a tight game over the Utah Jazz, but you probably already know that because it dominated social media. Anthony Edwards flew up and almost completely over John Collins for the dunk of the year but managed to dislocate his finger on the rim. He finished the game, but I have to think there was some swelling this morning and possible pain in his shooting hand. We don’t have an official injury report for them yet, but I won’t be surprised if Edwards is listed as questionable and I’m almost positive Rudy Gobert will be listed as questionable too. The Denver Nuggets should win this game, but the spread is pretty large for a team that generally doesn’t win games by a big margin. Denver has an average margin of +4.5 points per game and they have won 47 games. The Pelicans have won 41 games but have an average margin of +5.1 points per game. Other teams close to +4.5 are teams with 41-43 wins. The Nuggets win often, but rarely by a lot. I don’t know who’s playing for Minnesota and I can’t trust Denver to cover eight points if either Edwards or Gobert plays. That means I can’t bet this game right now.

Previous Mike Randle’s Full 2024 NCAA Tournament Bracket Next Best MLB Bets Today – Free (Wednesday 3/20)