Welcome to the Friday, Jan. 18 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: 20-15 (.571)
ATS Leans: 12-10-1 (.545)
Moneyline: 14-8 (.636)
Over/Under: 10-4 (.714)
1/18/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Brooklyn Nets (23-23) vs. Orlando Magic (19-25)
Over/Under Total: 217.5
In a year changing a multi-season narrative of futility surrounding their franchise, the Nets are now slowly but surely starting to develop some traction on the road. Following a surprising 145-142 upset of the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on Wednesday night — a game in which they overcame an eight-point deficit in the closing minute-plus of regulation to force overtime — Brooklyn is now 11-12 as a road team. And they’re a solid 6-4 over their last 10 games outside of Barclays Center.
Granted, the next step is more wins against quality teams when traveling, as those are still a work in progress for the young Brooklyn squad. For example, the Nets dropped a 17-point decision to the Raptors and suffered a 21-point defeat at the hands of the Celtics in their two road contests prior to the win over Houston. But in a good sign for their chances of a cover and modest upset Friday, they’re facing a Magic squad that’s well under .500.
Orlando checks in scoring the fourth-fewest points per game (103.6) in the NBA, including the fifth fewest (106.3) of any team on its home floor. In turn, they’ve also been a much more giving defense in their home arena of Amway Center. The Magic have yielded 110.9 points per game at home. That qualifies as the 12th-highest figure for any team on its home floor. It’s also a notable uptick from the much more modest 104.3 they’re allowing per road contest.
Shooting has also been a liability for the Magic this season. They’ve drained just 44.5 percent of their attempts overall (fifth-lowest shooting percentage in NBA), with that number only slightly improving to 45.5 percent on their home floor. Yet they’ve allowed opponents a 47.0 percent success rate at Amway. That’s the sixth-highest home figure in the NBA and a jump from the 44.8 they’ve yielded on the road. That number is partly the byproduct of allowing the second-highest three-point percentage (37.8) of any team on its home court. It’s a weakness that could spell trouble against a Brooklyn unit that boasts the NBA’s third-best three-point shooter (percentage-wise) in Joe Harris (47.4 percent) and three other healthy regulars with success rates from distance of 36.2 percent or greater (D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Shabazz Napier).
In turn, the Nets have started to hit their stride offensively. They’re even inching their previously sub-par road numbers in many categories upward. Brooklyn is scoring 119.7 points per game over its last three, a nice jump over their 111.4 seasonal figure. Notably, they’re also a much better defensive team when traveling. The Nets allow 109.9 points per road tilt while yielding a more robust 114.0 on their home floor. Brooklyn is also ranked in the top half of the NBA in road shooting percentage allowed (46.1) and in the top 10 in three-point percentage surrendered (34.5).
A couple of other miscellaneous notes in conclusion: one, both teams come in at essentially full health (not factoring in the extended absences of Caris LeVert and Allen Crabbe for the Nets, which have been the norm for multiple weeks) and on essentially equal rest. Second, Orlando has actually notched some impressive wins at Amway in recent games. They’ve knocked off the Celtics (by two) and the Rockets (by seven) in their last two home tilts. Both victories did require second-half rallies on the part of Orlando. However, the spread here is as thin as it gets, and the Nets’ work on both ends of the floor on the road has been on the upswing.
By the Numbers
The Nets are 25-21 (54.3 percent) versus the spread overall this season. That includes a 13-10 (56.5 percent) mark against the number as a road team. Brooklyn is also 16-12 (57.1 percent) versus the spread in conference games, 15-12 (55.6 percent) against the number when playing on one day’s rest, and 13-9 (59.1 percent) versus the spread after a win.
The Magic are 21-22-1 (48.8 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes an 11-11 mark (50.0 percent) versus the number as a home team. Orlando is also 11-12-1 (47.8 percent) versus the number after a loss.
The Final Word
This has the makings of a four-quarter, wire-to-wire battle. Orlando has proven capable of defending its home court well lately and has toppled some quality teams. However, Brooklyn is seemingly gaining confidence with each game and has the offensive firepower to put up points versus a Magic team that’s been a bit more vulnerable defensively at home. In a virtual toss-up, I lean slightly toward the Nets covering the paper-thin number.
The Lean: Nets +1, Nets moneyline