Transition offense in the Warriors at Cavaliers, 3-point prowess in the Spurs at Nets, and a James Harden-less Rockets hosting the Timberwolves each feature in our top NBA handicapping angles headed into the week. Picks, explanations, and more here.
Monday, January 15Warriors at Cavaliers
Golden State hits teams on the break on 19.3 percent of possessions. Whether a pop-up trey by Steph Curry or an easy Kevin Durant lay up, the team leads the NBA with a 68.3 effective field goal rate on the run.
When facing poor transition defenses, the betting market’s game total often can’t keep up. The ‘over’ is 15-8-1 when the Warriors square off against opponents surrendering more than the median 10.6 fast break points per game, the combined score sailing 6.4 points beyond a 222.6 over/under. Golden State posts 119.8 points per game on 51.5 percent shooting in this spot. Cleveland enters yielding slightly more than average at 11.1 points per game. Lean ‘over’ in a high-scoring contest that will see Cleveland keep close and challenge at home.
Tuesday, January 16Timberwolves at Magic
The Magic have dropped seven of their last eight at Amway Center, sporting the second worst record (12-31 SU) in the league. Plagued by injuries, consistency is an afterthought for the team’s always-changing lineup. The offense is particularly enigmatic. It actually posts fewer points per game (101.9) at home to defenses allowing greater than the NBA average field goal rate of 46.0 percent than versus those yielding less (103.9). If there is a flaw with the Timberwolves it’s their shooting defense, ranking 29th at 47.5 percent. It will not come into play here. Pick Minny and the points.
Wednesday, January 17Spurs at Nets
The Nets own the best ATS record in the NBA going 27-14-2 as of publication. You can expect this number to turn around moving forward, but maybe not until after hosting the Spurs. Where Brooklyn is best at covering is versus good 3-point shooting defenses. The team is relentless firing from deep, attempting the second most 3-pointers per game (34.2) in the league. The shots success rate is one of those that hasn’t changed over time. Teams will hit close to 35 percent no matter how strong the opposing perimeter defense. All day, baby:
Joe Harris is 2/2 from deep so far ?? pic.twitter.com/VcNGT9iRcv— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 13, 2018
The added chances add up, and are proving profitable for Brooklyn backers. It is 12-1-1 ATS when facing a defense surrendering 35.5 percent or less from behind the arc, covering a 4.9 line by 6.9 points per game. The Nets drain 11.3 treys, only 0.8 fewer than against units with a weaker rate. San Antonio ranks fifth in the NBA with a 34.8 opponent 3-point percentage. The constant Brooklyn barrage will pay off here. Take the points with the Nets.
Thursday, January 18Timberwolves at Rockets
Rockets superstar James Harden suffered a Grade 2 left hamstring strain almost three weeks ago, already missing the most time ever in his professional career. The Beard is taking part in light practice and shooting drills, some suggesting a return this week. You can bet the medical staff and front office will side with caution on this one. Expect Harden on the shelf at least another seven days. Here’s why: the highly efficient Houston offense is still rolling in his absence. Since 2014, the team averages 112.4 points per game with Harden sidelined; 113.3 in this current stretch.
The Timberwolves are just 6-14-1 ATS when allowing opponents to put up 106 points or more this season. The ‘over’ is 17-4 and 6-1 tipping off underdogs, a 222.3 final score going past an average 213.6 game total under these conditions. Expect a similar number from oddsmakers here with Harden out. Lean the ‘over.’ The Rockets will still soar.