Weekly NBA Betting Tips (Jan. 4, 2018)

If you’re looking for the real culprit behind global warming, look no further than Toronto, where DeMar DeRozan has gone into thermal nuclear mode lately. The three-time All-Star is averaging 28.9 points over his last ten games and exploded for 52 points on New Year’s Day against the Bucks. DeRozan’s prolific offense isn’t surprising per se, but the way he’s expanded his range this season is downright shocking. The 28-year-old gunner has been connecting on a staggering 46.7-percent of his threes over the past two weeks. That’s nearly 18-percent higher than his career clip, and it has the Raptors in pursuit of their fourth Atlantic Division title in the last five years.

In this week’s betting tips, we’ll look at another shooting guard who has been lighting the league on fire and we’ll share some analytical oddities that have caught our attention. We’ll also provide you with essential insights and context to help you make informed wagers on daily games and props. Onto the numbers!

Golden State Warriors (-5)
vs
Houston Rockets

The Rockets Are Reeling

The red-hot Rockets are so 2017. The New Year belongs to the Golden State Warriors, who showed just how dangerous they can be last night as they hit 40-percent of their threes and hung 125 points on Dallas. It was the Warriors’ 15th win in their last 17 games, and they’re only getting warmed up thanks to the long-awaited return of Steph Curry.

The reeling Rockets, on the other hand, have lost five of their last seven games and are without MVP candidate James Harden, who will miss the next two weeks with a strained hamstring. As good as Chris Paul is, this team is built around the Beard and his unique ability to initiate contact and finish at the hoop. Until he returns, the Rockets will be a middling squad that will struggle against the NBA’s elite.

Betting Advice: Bet365 has the Warriors as five-point favorites (as of January 4, 2018) when they visit Houston tonight, and they should have little trouble covering that spread despite the fact that Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala are both a little banged up. The real intrigue will be in seeing just how many points these two teams can score. Golden State has averaged a preposterous 133 points in the two games since Curry has returned, while the Rockets have averaged 132 in the two games since Harden went down. Sports Interaction has clearly been tracking these trends and has set the over/under at 230 points. We’re personally taking the over and preparing ourselves for one seriously wild ride.

Charlotte Hornets
vs
Los Angeles Lakers (no line yet)

Score, Score, and Score Some More

Don’t be surprised if the score-keeper for Thursday night’s matchup between the Lakers and Hornets comes down with a case of repetitive stress disorder. The two teams combined for 209 points during their first meeting of the season on December 9th and have been on an absolute tear ever since. Charlotte is averaging 108.4 points over its last five games and is coming off of impressive victories over Milwaukee, Golden State, and Sacramento. The Lakers are averaging 109.4 points over their last five games and are likely to continue to hemorrhage points as players struggle to get on the same page and focus on the task at hand.

Betting Advice: Sportsbooks have yet to establish a total for this game, but if it’s in the neighborhood of 210 points, you should absolutely pounce on it and take the over. Both teams play at a top-ten pace and appear to be picking up steam as the season progresses. If Dwight Howard can hang 29 points, 13 boards, and seven assists on the Warriors, there’s no telling how much damage he can inflict against Ivica Zubac and the lowly Lakers.

Clippers guard Lou Williams
Lou Williams has had plenty of reasons to smile this season. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

Oklahoma City Thunder (-1.5)
vs
Los Angeles Clippers

Where There’s a Williams, There’s a Way

The Clippers and Thunder have been two of the hardest teams to peg all season long, but one thing bettors have been able to count on is the production of Lou Williams. The slippery 6’1” reserve is averaging 30.4 points over his last five games and has emerged as the frontrunner for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Sweet Lou isn’t doing anything new this year, he’s just doing more of it. The 31-year-old is taking a career-high 15.3 shots per game and getting to the line 5.9 times per contest. And, unlike other aging gunners around the league, he’s actually been remarkably efficient, as evidenced by his 44-percent field-goal percentage and 40-percent three-point percentage.

Betting Advice: OKC is listed at -1.5 at BetOnline and will likely win tonight’s game, but we’re betting big that Williams will continue to shine. The Thunder don’t have anyone on their second unit capable of shutting him down, and the Georgia native should get to heave up shots until his arms fall off thanks to the absence of Austin Rivers, who is nursing a sore Achilles tendon. We’re penciling Williams in for 20-24 points and expecting him to keep the game competitive until the final quarter.

Toronto Raptors
vs
Milwaukee Bucks (no line yet)

The Bucks Stop Here

The Raptors needed a career night from DeRozan and 17 points in overtime to defeat the Bucks on Monday night. It will be a totally different story when the two teams tangle again on Friday in Milwaukee.

For starters, the Dinos are a different beast on the road, where they’re just 11-9 and score 7.5 fewer points per game. As good as DeRozan has been lately, his production drops like a stone when he steps away from the friendly confines of the ACC. The former Olympian averages 4.6 fewer points on the road and his field-goal percentage drops by five percent. If he were a stock, you’d unload him in a heartbeat, his 35-point effort in Chicago last night notwithstanding.

The Bucks, meanwhile, have won four of their last five games at home, and looked dominant in their 21-point victory over the Pacers on Wednesday night.

Betting Advice: The Raptors will likely be favored when they play the Bucks on Friday, but they shouldn’t be. Disregard their superior record and latest head-to-head result and take the Bucks instead. You’ll be glad you did.

Chicago Bulls
vs
Indiana Pacers (no line yet)

It’s Time to Get Bullish on Chicago

It would have been laughable to call Pacers vs Bulls must-see TV heading into the year, but these two Central Division rivals have been shockingly entertaining this season. The Pacers have the eighth-best offensive rating in the NBA and are furiously holding onto the final playoff seed in the East.

The Bulls, meanwhile, have been a juggernaut since Nikola Mirotic’s face (and feelings) healed and he reluctantly returned to the team. Chicago went 10-6 in December and recorded huge victories over Boston, Utah, and New York. One of the things that’s made the Bulls so good is the sheer unpredictability of their offense. Three different players have led the team in scoring over their last three games and the ball consistently finds the hottest hand on any given night. Their aggregate stats are still a mess because of their 3-20 start, but the Bulls have become the kind of tenacious, scrappy team that nobody wants to face.

Betting Advice: This game all comes down to the status of Victor Oladipo, who has been sidelined with a sore right knee since December 27th. Indiana has lost four games without their star shooting guard, and have failed to top the century mark in two of them. If Oladipo plays, the Pacers should win, and the game total should exceed 209 points. If Oladipo sits, expect Kris Dunn to benefit, the Bulls to win, and the score to top out at 206 points.

Darren Myers

Darren Myers can list all 35 members of the Miracle Mets, knows every word to Casey at the Bat, and remembers exactly where he was when Michael Jordan scored 63 points against the Celtics in the Boston Garden. Unfortunately, he has no idea where he left his house keys. If you happen to find them please contact him immediately as it's starting to get dark and he's pretty sure he just heard something howl.