Welcome to the Wednesday, January 2, 2019 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: 20-14 (.588)
ATS Leans: 7-7-1 (.500)
Moneyline: 12-5 (.706)
Over/Under: 8-3 (.727)
1/2/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Miami Heat (17-18) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-29)
Over/Under Total: 202.0
As is often the case with rebuilding teams, the Cavaliers are in the midst of trying to forge an identity. A combination of inexperienced players and key injuries has conspired to make Cleveland look like the most inept team in the NBA on some nights and an up-and-coming unit with upside on others.
Predictably, the Cavs have been hard to trust on both sides of the ball. They’ve engaged in their fair share of low-scoring defensive struggles, holding teams to 100 points or fewer in seven games. But they’ve also been blown out of the water plenty, surrendering 115 points or more in 12 contests. On the offensive end, they’ve looked out of sorts at times, having scored 100 or fewer points in 17 games. Yet they’ve also proven capable of lighting up the scoreboard when they get hot. The Cavs have notably put up 113 points or more in seven games. Five of those instances have come on their home floor of Quicken Loans Arena.
Cleveland’s offensive efforts should also see a nice boost Wednesday with the return of Tristan Thompson. The 2011 first-round pick has missed the last 10 games with a foot sprain but has been confirmed as available to play versus the Heat. Despite his extended absence, Thompson’s 12.0 points per game still rank fifth on the Cavs. And his 11.6 rebounds checks in second only to the injured Kevin Love on the team. Moreover, Rodney Hood, who’s averaging 12.9 points per contest, also has a chance to return from a four-game absence Wednesday. He was able to participate in morning shootaround, furthering his chances of taking the court.
It’s also worth noting the Cavs’ home/road splits on both offense and defense lend credence to the notion of Wednesday’s game going over its projected total. Cleveland is scoring 104.7 points per game at home, just under five points more per contest than the 99.9 they average on the road. Then, they’re allowing a robust 111.4 points per contest at Quicken Loans Arena. That’s actually a tick higher than the 111.2 they yield when they travel. That figure is partly the byproduct of the Cavaliers allowing the highest shooting percentage (48.9) of any team on its home floor.
For their part, the Heat have also demonstrated a capacity for offensive fireworks. Miami has scored 113 points or more in 14 games. However, they’ve also proven vulnerable on the other side of the floor. The Heat come into Wednesday’s contest having allowed the same 113 points on 11 occasions. Four of those instances came away from American Airlines Arena. Miami is allowing 106.6 points per game on the road overall. But they counter by scoring a solid 108.5 points per away contest. Interestingly, the Heat are also a better shooting team outside of AA Arena. Their 44.5 percent success rate in road games trumps their 43.0 percent home figure.
Notably, Miami points leader Josh Richardson (18.4 PPG) is shooting 42.9 percent on the road, compared to 38.5 percent at home. That leads to a boost in scoring from 17.3 to 19.7 points when traveling. Then, de facto point guard Justise Winslow, another key piece, also finds the net a lot more often when traveling, especially from distance. Winslow is draining an impressive 41.5 percent of his 3.8 three-point attempts on the road. That blows away his 32.7 percent success rate from behind the arc at home. Even the sometimes ageless-seeming Dwyane Wade has a much better offensive profile outside of South Florida (15.1 PPG per road game, compared to 13.3 at home). That said, he’s currently listed as questionable for Wednesday due to illness.
Finally, it’s worth noting the Heat had no trouble piling up the points when facing the Cavs in Miami just five days ago. They put up 118 on the strength of seven double-digit scoring performances. The Heat also shot an impressive 52.7 percent overall in that game.
By the Numbers
The Heat have exceeded their projected total in 19 of 35 games (54.3 percent) overall this season. That includes going over their projected total in nine of 16 away contests (56.2 percent) and in three of five games as road favorites (60.0 percent). Miami has also exceeded its projected total in 14 of 21 conference games (66.7 percent) and in 11 of 17 games following a loss (64.7 percent).
The Cavaliers have exceeded their projected total in nine of 18 home games, with one push (52.9 percent). The one prior meeting between the teams this season also featured a combined 212.0 point total.
The Final Word
The Heat have a proven track record of going over their projected totals more often than not this season. That’s been especially true in both conference clashes and in games following a loss. While the Cavs have been less proficient by that metric, they’ve most consistently exceeded their projected totals when playing at Quicken Loans Arena.
Moreover, both teams will come in very well rested Wednesday. Miami last took the court Sunday while Cleveland most recently played Saturday. That should lead to much fresher legs than usual, which in turn ups the chances of sharper offense. Consequently, I look for this game to at least slightly exceed its modest total.
The Pick: Over 202.0