Welcome to the Wednesday, Dec. 26, 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: 7-7-1 (.500)
Moneyline: 12-5 (.706)
Over/Under: 7-3 (.700)
12/26/18 NBA Betting Pick:
Sacramento Kings (18-15) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (19-14)
Over/Under Total: 237.5
As a whole, the Western Conference has a well-earned reputation for plenty of scoreboard-busting affairs. This season, both the Kings and Clippers are largely responsible for feeding that narrative in spades.
Each team holds a spot in the top five in the category of points per game. Los Angeles checks in tied for third with another Western Conference offensive powerhouse — the defending champion Warriors — with 115.6 points per contest. That includes an NBA-high 128 over their last three games. Naturally, one of the ways that the Clippers have piled up points is through superior shooting. Los Angeles’ 47.6 percent shooting percentage ties them for third in that category. That figure is partly comprised of the league’s third-highest three-point shooting percentage (38.6), including an NBA-high 54.0 percent over their last three.
Then, Sacramento checks right behind them in fourth with 115.1 points per game. That includes an NBA-high 117.0 points per road tilt. The latter number is largely the byproduct of the Kings generating an NBA-best 48.9 percent success rate from the field in their away matchups. That figure is partly comprised of a 38.9 percent figure from three-point range (second highest in NBA). The Kings currently have five regular members of their rotation, including four starters, shooting 47.3 percent or better.
Alas, both teams have prominent but less desirable spots in another category — points allowed per game. The Kings hold the “advantage” in this one, checking in surrendering the third most at 116.4 points allowed per contest, including 117.2 per away game. Their defensive issues can unsurprisingly and largely be traced to allowing teams plenty of easy looks — Sacramento is tied with several teams in allowing the fifth-highest shooting percentage overall (47.2). That figure rises slightly to 47.4 percent on the road. Meanwhile, the Clippers check into Wednesday’s game yielding the sixth-most points per contest (114.6). And that figure has notably risen to 120.3 points allowed over their last three outings.
Each team’s pace contributes greatly to their frequent participation in high-scoring games. On that front, it’s the Kings with the slight edge. Sacramento comes in churning out 107.5 possessions per game, second most in the NBA. The Clippers aren’t far behind at 105.8 per contest, including 106.2 per home game. The Kings have also been the most effective team in the league when in transition. They’re ranked tops with 22.3 fast-break points per game. Interestingly, the Clippers are allowing the fourth most points on fast breaks at 15.4 per contest.
Finally, the recent defensive performances of both clubs lend plenty of credence to the notion that this game could be an offensive slugfest. In their last seven games alone, the Kings have allowed totals of 130 twice (Timberwolves, Warriors), 132 twice (Timberwolves, Thunder) and 117 (Pelicans). Earlier in the campaign, they yielded totals of 149 (Pelicans), 120 (Thunder), 126 (Nuggets), 144 (Bucks) and 132 (Rockets) on the road. And perhaps most important, they allowed the same Clippers squad they’ll face Wednesday a whopping 133 in their one prior encounter Nov. 29.
In turn, the Clippers have essentially been in the same generous holiday spirit over their last seven. Los Angeles has surrendered point tallies of 123 (Raptors), 125 (Spurs), 131 (Trail Blazers), 121 (Mavericks) and 129 (Warriors) during that stretch. The games against Toronto, Portland and Dallas all came at Staples Center. Earlier in the campaign, they also yielded totals of 128 (Thunder), 122 (76ers), 126 (Bucks), 116 (Warriors), 119 twice (Hawks, Nets), 125 (Wizards), 126 (Pelicans), 121 (Heat) and 119 (Suns). And last but not least, they surrendered 121 to this same Kings squad in their one prior encounter Nov. 29.
By the Numbers
The Kings have gone over their projected total in 22 of their 33 games this season (66.7 percent). They’ve gone over in 14 of their 17 road games (NBA-high 82.3 percent), including in 11 of their 13 games as road underdogs (NBA-high 84.6 percent). They’ve also gone over their projected total in seven of the eight games they’ve played on either two or three days’ rest (87.5 percent) and in four of five division games (80.0 percent).
The Clippers have gone over their projected total in 20 of 33 games this season, with one push (62.5 percent). They’ve gone over in 10 of 15 home contests (66.7 percent), including seven of 11 games as home favorites (63.6 percent). Los Angeles has also gone over their projected total in four of five division games (80.0 percent).
The Final Word
There could hardly be more metrics supporting the notion that these two teams will light up the scoreboard Wednesday. The fact they’ll be both be well rested after a two-day break only enhances the probability of a shootout — the vital components of both attacks should have fresh legs with which to run up and down the floor. While the projected number is up there, I see the pace and defensive deficiencies of both teams allowing them to exceed that total by at least as slight margin. Moreover, given how closely matched both squads are, overtime is certainly a possibility.
The Pick: Over 237.5