Welcome to the Friday, January 4, 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: 8-7-1 (.533)
Moneyline: 12-5 (.706)
Over/Under: 9-3 (.750)
1/4/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Brooklyn Nets (18-21) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (18-19)
Over/Under Total: 204
Early in the season, it seemed that Mike Conley was a cure-all for the Grizzlies. Memphis limped to an atrocious 22-60 record during a 2017-18 campaign in which Conley was limited to 12 games due to a heel injury. However, they got their star guard back at full health for the start of the current season. That helped lead to a solid 12-5 start. Then, the losing came. The Grizz are just 6-14 over their subsequent 20 contests.
As has been the case in past seasons — even when Memphis has been a playoff team — the team’s strength tilts decidedly in favor of the defense. True to past form, the Grizzlies are allowing the second-fewest points per game (102.3). That includes an even more miserly 99.9 at home. But they’re also scoring the second-fewest points per contest (101.5). That includes 99.3 over the last three games. Memphis has tallied no more than 103 points in any of their last four games. That span includes three losses. The Grizzlies have scored under 100 points in seven of their last eight games at FedEx Forum overall.
Given those types of metrics, it’s not surprising that shooting has at times been a problem. What is eye-opening is that the team’s two stars have been among the biggest culprits. For his part, Conley is draining just 41.3 percent of what is a career-high 16.3 attempts per game. Then, Marc Gasol‘s 44.3 percent success rate from the floor qualifies as the second poorest of his storied NBA tenure. Key complementary piece Dillon Brooks is also finding the net on just 40.2 percent of his attempts. That’s a notable drop from his rookie figure of 44.0 percent.
Then, the Nets are the diametric opposite statistically. Brooklyn hasn’t had too much trouble lighting up the scoreboard. They are scoring a solid 111.0 points per game. And they’ve been even more prolific lately. Brooklyn has scored between 111 and 134 points in four of its last five games. That sample includes a pair of tallies of over 120. Earlier in the season, the Nets also racked up totals of 120 (vs. Pistons), 122 (vs. Sixers), 115 (vs. Wizards), 119 (vs. Clippers), 125 (vs. Sixers), 127 (vs. Sixers), 125 (vs. Wizards), and 144 (vs. Hawks).
Last but certainly not least, they also generated 125 versus this same Memphis squad in one prior meeting. Double overtime did help with the inflated total. Yet it’s worth noting the Nets compiled their season average of 111 points in regulation. As that prior encounter demonstrated, Brooklyn presents some matchup problems for the Grizzlies. This, despite Memphis’ typically formidable defense. D’Angelo Russell — whose accelerated development has been integral to the Nets’ success — tallied 26 points, while six Brooklyn players posted double-digit scoring overall.
And for all their defensive success, the Grizzlies do have an Achilles’ heel — three-point shooting. Memphis is tied with multiple teams for seventh-highest three-point percentage allowed (36.2). That figure has spiked to 42.7 percent over the last three, third-highest figure in that span. Then, Brooklyn checks in with the sixth-highest success rate from behind the arc in the NBA (36.4 percent). The Nets can throw out a dizzying array of long-distance marksmen versus Memphis, too. Joe Harris (48.9 percent), Shabazz Napier (40.0 percent), Spencer Dinwiddie (37.7 percent), and Russell (35.2 percent) are all capable of doing serious three-point damage.
Finally, a quick note on key injuries. Conley is actually listed as questionable with a shoulder issue. An absence on his part would lower the Grizzlies’ prospects significantly. Then, Memphis did trade for Justin Holiday earlier this week. But it’s unlikely he suits up due to the timing of the transaction. For its part, Brooklyn will be without Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. However, with a deep bench that includes savvy vet DeMarre Carroll as a likely fill-in at RHJ’s power forward spot, the Nets seem equipped to handle it.
By the Numbers
The Nets are 20-19 (51.3 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 10-8 mark (55.6 percent) versus the number as a road team and an 8-8 tally (50.0 percent) as road underdogs. Brooklyn is also 10-7 (58.8 percent) against the spread after a win.
The Grizzlies are 17-20 (46.0 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 9-9 mark (50.0 percent) versus the number at home. Memphis is also 5-8 (38.5 percent) against the spread in non-conference matchups and 8-10 (44.4 percent) versus the number after a loss.
The Final Word
The Nets seem to be gaining confidence on the offensive end as the season unfolds. They’ve put together some solid point totals on the road this season as well. Memphis is a stingy defensive team for the most part. However, their oft-anemic offense likely leaves them unable to exploit some of the defensive vulnerabilities the Nets have displayed. As such, I see a tightly contested battle where the Grizzlies will have trouble pulling away to cover the number.
The Lean: Nets +4