Defense may not be sexy, but it’s certainly winning a lot of games for the Celtics, who are now 24-1 when holding opponents under the century mark. It’s an impressive feat considering that scoring is on the rise around the league and that most teams (yes, even the Hawks) can score 100 points without even tying their laces. The Celtics held the Nets to a season-low 85 points on Saturday night and will have a chance to show off their defensive prowess again on Thursday when they hop across the pond to face the 76ers in London.
In this week’s betting tips, we’ll look at another team that’s taking the Eastern Conference by storm and 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!
Denver Nuggets vs Golden State Warriors (-9.5)
The Nuggets Are in for a Rocky Night
Monday night match-ups are generally hard to excited about, but tonight’s tilt between the Nuggets and Warriors is shaping up to be appointment viewing. Golden State has won 17 of its last 19 games and has been blowing opponents off the court with its signature blend of slick passing and lights-out shooting. Leading the attack has been Steph Curry, who had 45 points in 30 minutes against the Clippers on Saturday, and is averaging 35.3 points per game since returning from a sprained ankle.
The Nuggets haven’t been that hot, but they’ve done a phenomenal job of staying afloat despite injuries to key personnel. Denver sits sixth in the crowded West and has been receiving huge performances from its starting back court of Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, who are averaging 41 points per game since the calendar flipped over to January. Harris was especially dominant on Wednesday night, dropping 36 points on 14-17 shooting against the Suns.
Betting Advice: The Nuggets beat the Warriors 96-81 during their last meeting on December 23rd, but that low score was an aberration brought on by the absences of Curry, Zaza Pachulia, and Shaun Livingston, as well as a generally listless performance from the rest of the team. Golden State is averaging 127.7 points over its last five games and should have no problem winning tonight and surpassing the 226-point total available available at Bet365 as of January 8, 2018.
Detroit Pistons vs New Orleans Pelicans (-5.5)
Boban’s Last Stand
The Pelicans are just 19-19 this season and barely holding onto the no. 8 seed in the West, but they somehow turn into the 1995-96 Bulls whenever they face the Pistons. New Orleans has won nine of its last ten against Detroit and has a superb chance of improving that streak tonight thanks to the absence of Reggie Jackson, who’s sidelined with a sprained ankle, and Andre Drummond, who missed Saturday’s game against the Rockets with a rib contusion and is considered questionable.
Betting Advice: The potential loss of Drummond is especially damaging for the Pistons, who would have to send out Boban Marjanovic to battle the two-headed monster of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. The All-Star duo has combined for 51.5 points, 22.9 rebounds, and 3.6 blocks per game this season, and have made a habit of feasting on teams without established rim protectors. Take the Pelicans for the win and to cover the 5.5-point spread available at SportsInteraction. You’ll be glad you did.
Toronto Raptors (-7.5) vs Brooklyn Nets
True North Rising
It’s getting harder and harder to overlook the Raptors, who have won 16 of their last 19 games and sit second in the East. The key to their phenomenal play has been a decidedly more modern offense which emphasizes off-the-ball movement and cuts down on clock-killing iso plays. All five players on the court are now actively engaged in every possession, rather than standing idly by as Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan bail them out. The democratization of the offense was long overdue, and it has Toronto in position to pace its All-Star guards so they still have a little juice left for the playoffs.
Betting Advice: Toronto beat Brooklyn 120-87 during their first meeting of the season on December 15th and are primed to give them another smackdown tonight at the Barclays Center. The -7.5 spread available at Bovada seems like a safe bet in light of the Raptors’ hot streak as well as the fact that the Nets will be without DeMarre Carroll, Caris LeVert, Jeremy Lin, and D’Angelo Russell. The remaining Nets will put up a fight, but it won’t be enough to overpower their Northern rivals.
Sacramento Kings vs Los Angeles Lakers (no line yet)
The Kings are Dead. Long Live the Lakers
Put your hand up if you’re counting down the hours until the Kings play the Lakers. We didn’t think so. Tuesday’s tip-off at Staples Center should stink worse than a garbage scow in a heat wave, but that doesn’t mean you avoid wagering on it. The Lakers finally showed that they can still win the odd game on Sunday night with a resounding 19-point victory over the Hawks in which eight players scored in double figures. The key was Lonzo Ball, who had 13 points, ten rebounds, and six assists in his second game back from a shoulder injury. The Lakers run harder, cut sharper, and scrap a little bit more when their rookie point guard is in the line-up, and will finally have some momentum on their side when they play Sacramento on Tuesday.
Betting Advice: You couldn’t ask for a better team to face than the Kings if you’re trying to win back-to-back games for the first time in a month. Sacramento has the worst offensive rating and defensive rating in the NBA and has dropped five of its last seven games, including cupcakes against the Suns, Grizzlies, and Hornets. They play at the second slowest pace in the league, view three-pointers as a passing fad, and move with all the energy of a punch-drunk sloth. The Lakers aren’t a sure bet against most teams, but they’ll surely beat the Kings and continue Sacramento’s long journey towards irrelevance.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Golden State Warriors (no line yet)
The Clippers’ Chances Are Sinking
The NBA is full of classic rivalries, but L.A. vs Golden State is not one of them. The Warriors have blown the Clippers out of the water in each of their last 12 meetings, beating them so soundly that it’s amazing Doc Rivers hasn’t developed a case of PTSD. L.A. has been especially impotent against Golden State in their last five match-ups, giving up 132 points per game and losing by over 20 points per contest. If this rivalry were any more lopsided, it would have crashed to the ground months ago.
Betting Advice: The Warriors will be heavy favorites when they host the Clippers on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena. Not only do they have history on their side, but they also have a far healthier roster as L.A. will potentially be without Austin Rivers, Milos Teodosic, and Blake Griffin, all of whom are listed as day to day. You won’t make much money wagering on Golden State, but it’s absolutely the right call in what should be an easy, breezy wire-to-wire win.