Welcome to the Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for tonight I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Season to Date:
ATS Picks: 17-13 (.567)
ATS Leans: 6-5-1 (.545)
Moneyline: 11-4 (.733)
Over/Under: 5-2 (.714)
12/17/18 NBA Betting Pick:
Phoenix Suns (6-24) vs. New York Knicks (9-22)
Over/Under Total: 221.5
The Suns’ record is officially the ugliest in the NBA. However, Phoenix has been a veritable juggernaut on their home floor compared to their performances when they travel. The Suns own a 5-11 record at Talking Stick Resort Arena. In contrast, they’ve notched a sole victory on the road in 14 tries.
Phoenix is averaging the third-fewest points in away contests (101.4). Then, the 117.8 points per game they’re yielding on the road is the fourth-highest in the NBA. And, it’s nearly 9 points per game more than what they allow on their home court. Unsurprisingly, given those numbers, the Suns also check in allowing the second-highest shooting percentage (49.8) when they travel.
As all of those metrics also imply, when the Suns have lost on the road, they’ve often lost big. To begin with, the Suns are the third-lowest scoring road team (101.4 points per game). Plus, 10 of their 13 defeats on the road have come by double digits. Phoenix has scored under 100 points in seven of them. That includes four straight games, with the Suns having mustered just 86 apiece in their last two against the Spurs and Trail Blazers, respectively.
In turn, the Knicks have been a stronger team at Madison Square Garden. New York is averaging a solid 109.9 points per game (PPG) at home. They’ve also given up plenty of points there (113.4), but that’s still a near-three-point improvement over the 116.2 they yield on the road. The same applies to the 46.9 percent shooting they’re surrendering on their home court — it ranks in the bottom half of the league, but it’s still an improvement over the 48.1 percent they’re allowing outside the Big Apple.
New York has also started to garner some consistency on offense. The development of their young pieces has played an integral part. Point guard Emmanuel Mudiay has been especially impressive recently. The fourth-year guard just scored a career-high 34 points two games ago. He’s averaging career highs in points (13.1 points) on career-best 46.3 percent shooting. Then, 2018 first-round pick Kevin Knox has taken the reins of the starting small forward position with strong play. The 19-year-old has scored in double digits in four straight, taking no fewer than 15 shots in any of those games.
Power forward Noah Vonleh has also been solid in his first extended opportunity as a starter over his first four-plus seasons. Vonleh is currently averaging career highs in points (8.4), rebounds (8.2), assists (2.2), shot attempts (6.1) and minutes (26.3). He’s also equaling a career high in shooting percentage (48.1) and three-point percentage (40.6). And, veteran center Enes Kanter continues to be one of the better sources of both scoring and rebounding at his position. The 26-year-old is posting the second-highest scoring total of his career (15.2 PPG) while also establishing a new career-best with 11.5 rebounds per game (RPG).
Finally, it’s also worth noting some synergy that favors New York in Monday’s matchup when it comes to long-distance shooting. The Knicks have actually been one of the better teams in the NBA at three-point marksmanship, especially on their home court. New York is draining 37.8 percent of their attempts from distance at MSG. That’s the fourth-highest figure for any team on their home floor.
In turn, the Suns are allowing 38 percent of three-point tries against them on the road to find the net. That’s not only the seventh-highest away figure, it also represents a near seven-point increase from the 31.4 percent success rate they yield at home.
By the Numbers
The Suns are an NBA-worst 11-19 (36.7 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes an NBA-worst 3-11 (21.4 percent) mark versus the number as a road team. Phoenix is also 1-4 (20 percent) against the spread after a win, 4-6 (40 percent) versus the number in nonconference games and 8-12 (40 percent) against the spread when playing with one day of rest.
The Knicks are 15-14-2 (51.7 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 6-6-1 (50 percent) mark versus the number at home. New York is also 5-2 (71.4 percent) against the spread in nonconference games
The Final Word
The Suns have a modest two-game winning streak, but they’ve fallen apart with regularity on the road this season. They boast only one victory away from the Valley of the Sun. They also had to travel across two time zones Sunday. That’s likely to leave them at least a bit on the sluggish side. Granted, the Knicks have their potential fatigue issues to contend with coming off a three-game road trip. They’re also playing the second of back-to-back games.
Even considering the above, the spread isn’t a difficult one to overcome by any means. Nevertheless, I’m still classifying this one as a lean as opposed to a pick due to the unpredictable nature of both clubs.
The Lean: Knicks -1.5, Knicks moneyline