Sweet Spots in NBA Betting: Don't Break Bank after Break

Jay Pryce

Sunday, February 18, 2018 1:26 PM UTC

Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018 1:26 PM UTC

NBA teams return to action Thursday following the All-Star break. In honor, one of our top betting angles of the week features long-rested, short-priced favorites in February. We also explore the Kings against good takeaway teams, and the Lakers hosting the Mavericks.

NBA: Sweet Spots of the Week

Thursday: Thunder vs. Kings

The Kings play at the fifth-slowest pace in the NBA, tallying 95.2 possessions per 48 minutes. Each one is precious at such a rate. The first team is also young (De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, etc), still learning to manage the game, especially against intense defensive pressure. Class is still in session. The offense slumps badly against high-takeaway teams such as the Thunder.

Sacramento is just 2-20 SU and 7-14-1 ATS versus foes forcing 15 turnovers or more per game. Scoring is anemic in this spot, posting just 95.0 points per game on 44.8-percent shooting. The Kings put up 101.1 points on 45.7 percent in all other contests. The difference is in the giveaways; the turnover rate is 15.4 to 12.7 between the two situations. Oklahoma City leads the NBA with 16.1 forced turnovers per game. Lean the Thunder to cover the spread as they limit the Kings’ possessions and points.

Friday: Mavericks vs. Lakers

Injured Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball was practicing drills at full speed last week, close to participating in full-contact scrimmages. Great news for fans, as a return to the lineup is imminent. The current No. 2 overall pick hasn’t suited up since January 13, sustaining a grade 1 MCL strain in his left knee during a overtime win at Dallas. L.A. hosts the Mavericks on Friday, making it six weeks of recovery — unusually long for the strain’s severity.

The defense needs his return. Most tout Ball’s playmaking abilities, but his defensive rebounding and shot-stopping abilities are top tier. His 6-foot-6 frame is well suited for a scheme predicated on guards switching onto bigger players. All in all, the unit is suffering in his absence. In 21 games missed, L.A. is allowing 114.3 points per game on 48.0 percent shooting, as opposed to 107.8 and 44.6 with Ball suiting up. The pace of play is near identical with the rookie in or out of the lineup.

The Lakers do tighten up on D when expected to compete for a victory with Ball out. In seven games tipping off chalk or underdogs less then a trey, they surrender just 100.3 points per game on 44.5-percent shooting. Look for L.A. to tip off a 3- to 4-point favorite hosting Dallas. Ball or no Ball, a strong defensive effort sees the Lakers win and cover the spread. They’ve done so eight of the last nine times at Staples Center under the above-mentioned market parameters.

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Friday: Spurs vs. Nuggets

Look for the Nuggets to tip off as short-priced favorites hosting the Spurs on Friday. Although very limited in sample size, this is a spot where a well-rested chalk coming off a long All-Star break comes up big for bettors. In February, favorites of less than 4 points with more than five days rest are 12-5 SU and ATS versus opponents with as much time off.

Denver is the lean due to other factors, as well, namely Kawhi Leonard’s absence for the Spurs. The franchise player has suited up nine games all season due to an ankle and quadriceps injuries. Since January 17, the team has listed Leonard as “out indefinitely” and some believe the front office might shut him down for the year. This is bad news for San Antonio backers hoping for some road underdog magic. The Spurs are winless catching points away from home this season, going 0-11 SU and 4-7 ATS. Leonard has missed 10 overall, the offense putting up a meager 96.9 points per game on 43.5 percent from the floor.

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