Welcome to the Tuesday, Dec. 25, 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: 19-13 (.594)
ATS Leans: 7-6-1 (.538)
Moneyline: 12-5 (.706)
Over/Under: 7-3 (.700)
12/25/18 NBA Betting Pick:
Portland Trail Blazers (19-14) vs. Utah Jazz (16-18)
Over/Under Total: 214.5
After yet another playoff appearance last season, the Jazz have endured a bit of a topsy-turvy campaign thus far. Some of the hallmarks of recent seasons — their stifling defense and their strong home record — have taken a hit in the current season. After posting a 28-13 record at Vivint Smart Home Arena in the 2017-18 season, Utah is just 6-7 on their home floor. They’ve uncharacteristically surrendered 119 points or more in four of their home contests.
Overall, the Jazz is surrendering 107.5 points per game on their home court. That’s a notable spike from the 97.1 per game they surrendered per game there last season, a figure that ranked as the second stingiest for any team on their home floor. Then Utah is allowing 46.9 percent shooting at Vivint — the seventh-highest shooting percentage any team allows on their home floor. Plus, the Jazz currently allows the third-highest three-point shooting percentage of any team at home as well (37.5). In turn, the Trail Blazers are draining 36.6 percent of their attempts from behind the arc on the road — that’s the ninth-highest figure of any team in away contests.
Granted, Portland has endured their share of struggles on the road this season. They sport just a 6-9 record outside of Moda Center. But, the Blazers did score an encouraging 131-127 win over the Clippers at Staples Center in their most recent road game. And, they’re averaging a solid 108.7 points per game in their away contests. Star point guard Damian Lillard is notably averaging four more points per game on the road than at home (29.3, compared to 25.3). The same nearly holds true for his backcourt mate C.J. McCollum (23.1 PPG on the road compared to 19.6 PPG at home). The Trail Blazers have also started hitting on all cylinders offensively with greater regularity in recent games. They’ll come into Tuesday’s contest having scored between 121 and 131 points in three of their last five contests.
Admittedly, the elephant in the room with respect to this matchup is a 120-90 win by the Jazz over Portland just two games ago at Moda. However, that game smacks of an outlier. Not only did the Blazers see Lillard, McCollum and Al-Farouq Aminu shoot a combined 31.7 percent (13-for-41), but Utah drained an uncharacteristically high 55.3 percent of their attempts. That’s a significant jump from their 45.6 percent seasonal figure on the road. Their scoring tally was also their second highest of the season outside of Vivint. Meanwhile, Portland’s was their lowest at home this season and represented their second-fewest points in any game thus far.
Finally, it’s worth noting that after several home wins with double-digit margins of victory, the Jazz have come back down to earth a bit on that front recently. To begin with, Utah has actually dropped two of its last three home contests. They were held to 89 points in one of those games by the Orlando Magic. Then, their one win in that sample was impressive in that it came against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. However, it was a five-point victory, checking in under Tuesday’s elevated spread.
By the Numbers
The Trail Blazers are 9-9 (50.0 percent) against the spread after a win this season.
The Jazz is 5-6 (45.5 percent) versus the spread as a home favorite. They’re also 11-11-1 versus the spread in conference games, 8-8-1 (50.0 percent) against the number following a loss and 2-4 (33.3 percent) against the spread when playing on two days’ rest.
The Final Word
The Trail Blazers are a better team than they’ve shown to be on the road this season. They also come into the contest at full health and looking to avenge their embarrassing 30-point loss at home to Utah two games ago. The Jazz have actually been a better road team this season, and as the numbers above indicate, they’ve failed more often than not to cover as a favorite at home. Portland’s track record versus the number on the road isn’t pretty either, but they’re starting to heat up again and have been very effective offensively in recent games. I’m leaning toward them having enough here come in under the elevated number in a closely contested game.
The Lean: Trail Blazers +6.5