Welcome to the Tuesday, Dec. 18, 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: 6-6-1 (.500)
Moneyline: 11-5 (.688)
Over/Under: 5-2 (.714)
12/18/18 NBA Betting Pick:
Cleveland Cavaliers (7-23) vs. Indiana Pacers (20-10)
Over/Under Total: 206.5
The Cavaliers haven’t caught any breaks when it comes to injuries this season. First off, their prospects weren’t bright coming into the year in the wake of LeBron James’ departure. Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson at least remained on the roster to help give Cleveland a fighting chance. However, Love has been absent since late October with his foot injury. He won’t be back until mid-January, at the earliest. Then, Thompson, succumbed to a foot sprain three games ago. He’ll miss multiple weeks.
That’s left an already offensively challenged squad even weaker. Veteran George Hill was also recently traded to the Bucks to give rookie Collin Sexton full reign over the starting point guard job. While he packs plenty of potential, Sexton naturally brings some of the inconsistency inherent in a first-year player’s profile. The remainder of the current starting five — Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, and Larry Nance Jr. — is certainly serviceable, but some of the pieces are miscast as first-unit players.
Cleveland’s offensive shortcomings have particularly been noticeable on the road. They check in with the second-lowest scoring average in away contests (100.7). That’s partly the byproduct of a 44.1 percent team success rate from the field on the road. Then, their matchup Tuesday will do them no favors in terms of facilitating improvement. The Pacers come in ranked tops in the NBA in points allowed per game (101.2). That includes an even stingier 97.7 points yielded per home contest, also the best in the league.
Indiana checks in playing at one of the more deliberate paces in the league as well: 101.5 possessions per game, fifth fewest in the NBA. When combined with the Cavs’ even slower 99.9 per contest (second slowest in the league), the stage is set for a grind-it-out, low-scoring battle. It’s also worth noting the Pacers are a middling offensive team in their own right, often relying on their stellar defense to keep things close enough to pull out wins.
Indiana scores a modest 106.7 points per contest, ranking them in the bottom 10 in that category. What’s more, they’ve been less prolific at home than on the road. The Pacers come in averaging 105.2 points per contest at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That’s not only the fourth-lowest home figure in the NBA but also three points per game fewer than what they tally on the road.
By the Numbers
The Cavaliers have come in under their projected total in 16 of 30 games this season, with one push (55.2 percent). That includes coming in under their projected total in eight of 13 games as a road underdog (61.5 percent), as well as in 55 percent of their 21 conference games (one push).
The Pacers have come in under their projected total in 19 of 30 games this season (63.3 percent). That includes 12 of 15 home games (NBA-high 80 percent), including 10 of the 12 games in which they’ve been a home favorite (83.3 percent). Indiana has also come in under their total in 11 of 17 conference games (64.7 percent).
The Final Word
The loss of Thompson has further weakened the Cavaliers, and they’re facing an elite defensive squad in the Pacers. Cleveland is a big underdog as well, and their last eight losses have all been by double digits. They don’t figure to force an Indiana squad that already plays slow to keep their foot on the gas much in the second half. All this has me targeting the under despite the relatively modest total.
The Pick: Under 206.5