With the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday earlier in the week, the NBA schedule has been rather inconsistent this week, as we follow up a 10-game slate Wednesday with a three-game slate Thursday.
Because there are three games, I will run through a brief betting breakdown on where my preference lies in each game.
Los Angeles Lakers at Milwaukee Bucks (-1, 228 total, William Hill)
This may be the hardest game on the slate to bet in terms of sides, as this game is quite literally a toss-up. Because there isn’t a massive edge here, I’ll be turning my attention to the 228 total. While it’s common for early season games with superstar matchups to run at faster paces and run scores up, the under here feels juicy. In both meetings between these teams last season this under would’ve hit, as neither game ended with more than 116 points. While the Bucks are running a top-10 pace, they aren’t running as fast as they did last season. On top of this, both teams are top-12 in defensive rating, with the Lakers ranking No.1 overall.
New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz (-6.5, 217.5, William Hill)
This is the second leg of a back-to-back (in terms of opponent, not day of play), as the Jazz just beat the Pelicans 118-102 in Utah on Tuesday. What sticks out here is the total, as the previous game went for 220 total points. Both teams run a bit of a slower pace and excel more defensively than they do offensively, so it makes sense that the total is still a bit low. With that said, the spread implies that this contest should be closer than the last game. If that’s the case, there’s a higher likelihood for a back-and-forth game with more points, making the over enticing here up until 218.5.
New York Knicks at Golden State Warriors (no line at the time of writing)
With no line posted (Wednesday afternoon), the best we can do is forecast this game. The Knicks have embraced Tom Thibodeau’s game plan, ranking top-5 in defensive rating (106.4), while ranking dead last in pace (96.63). Contrary to the Knicks, the Warriors rank third in pace (104.5) and 17th in defensive rating (110.2). Only one of the Knicks’ last seven games ended with a total north of 220 points, while they’ve failed to crack 100 points as a team in five of those seven games. If this total is posted at or above 218.5, I would target the under with confidence.