Sweet Spots in NBA: Lonzo-Led Lakers Having a Ball

Jay Pryce

Sunday, March 4, 2018 4:06 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 4, 2018 4:06 PM UTC

In our NBA Sweet Spots of the Week we're backing Lonzo Ball and the red-hot Lakers offense, the Trail Blazers versus a poor Knicks road team, the "over" when a shoddy Bulls defense clashes against a low-scoring team, and the "under" when the Hawks face an elite 3-point defense.

NBA: Sweet Spots of the WeekMonday, March 5: Trail Blazers vs. Lakers

As of Sunday, the Lakers had won and covered their past eight games with rookie sensation Lonzo Ball starting. The No. 2 overall pick ranks sixth among point guards with 7.1 assists per game. Ball’s playmaking abilities are baffling even the best team defenses. L.A. is 12-5 ATS when squaring off against units yielding fewer than .56 assists per field goals made, putting up 110.2 points a night. It is covering a 3.7 average line by 5.2 points per game. Portland, owning the fifth-best scoring defense in the league, enters ranked second with a .523 opponent assists per field goals made rate. Look for the Lakers offense to execute better than projected. Play them against the spread.

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Tuesday, March 6: Knicks vs. Trail Blazers

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The Knicks are winless on the road versus teams with a positive point differential, going 0-15 SU and 5-10 ATS overall. Portland owns a plus-1.8 average scoring margin. Most of the games haven’t even been close. New York is losing by 14.8 points per game, dropping 12 by double digits. The defense is particularly bad in this spot, yielding 109.3 points per game on 51.7-percent shooting. Don't flinch at the point spread. Lay the points with Portland.

Friday, March 9: Bulls vs. Pistons

The betting market tends to undervalue how porous the Bulls defense is on the road against low-scoring teams. Chicago gifts 113.1 points per game on 47.7-percent shooting outside of United Center, making even the weakest offenses shine. When facing opponents that combine for fewer than 213 points per game, the "over" is a profitable 13-4 on the season. It’s hitting by a healthy margin, too, a 219.9 final score sailing past a 207.6 average total. The Bulls put up 106.5, but surrender 113.4 overall in this spot. Ouch. The Pistons, meanwhile, have seen their final tally increase from a 205.9 average to 211.5 since the Blake Griffin deal. Points scored (102.8 to 104.2) and allowed (103.1 to 107.3) have jumped. Pick "over" here.

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Friday, March 9: Hawks vs. Pacers

Atlanta, averaging 103.6 points per game, has few scoring options in the frontcourt. Its three top points-getters are perimeter players: point guard Dennis Schroder (19.4 ppg), shooting guard Kent Bazemore (13.1 ppg) and small forward Taurean Prince (12.5 ppg). The offense, therefore, tends to perform poorly in the betting market when up against those better defending the perimeter than the rim. Facing opponents yielding greater than 43 points per game in the paint, Atlanta averages 101.9 points as opposed to 105.5 versus less. The "under" is 23-12-1 in this spot. Atlanta’s 3-point shooting sinks under these conditions, averaging 34.4 percent from long range. The Pacers own the fifth-best opponent 3-point rate in the NBA at 34.8 percent. The Hawks have not reached the century mark in their last three games in this situation. Lean "under" when handicapping the matchup.

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