Welcome to the Saturday, Feb. 2 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: 20-16 (.555)
ATS Leans: 18-12-1 (.600)
Moneyline: 22-8 (.733)
Over/Under: 13-7 (.650)
2/2/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Brooklyn Nets (28-25) vs. Orlando Magic (21-31)
Over/Under Total: 219.5
The Nets and Magic appeared to be similarly talented coming into the season, with each team having strengths and weakness at different starting spots but matching up fairly closely from top to bottom. However, one team (Brooklyn) has exceeded expectations, while the other (Orlando) has largely disappointed. The records of each squad tells the tale, but the visiting Nets’ 28 wins — which match their total for all of last season — is particularly noteworthy considering the injuries they’ve suffered.
Brooklyn is currently missing valued guard Spencer Dinwiddie for multiple weeks due to thumb surgery. They’ve also been without the emerging Caris LeVert since mid-November due to a foot injury, and without the sharpshooting Allen Crabbe since mid-December because of right knee soreness. The Nets have nevertheless forged ahead, and after a rough start to the season on the road, they’ve made some strides in that respect as well.
Granted, Brooklyn has dropped its last two road tilts, but they’ve been narrow defeats against one of the better teams from each conference. The Nets just saw the Spurs nip them by a 117-114 margin Thursday night. They also dropped an eight-point decision to the Boston Celtics two games prior. But, they impressively toppled the Rockets at Toyota Center in OT on Jan. 16, and they also defeated this same Magic squad at Amway Center by a 117-115 score one game later. It’s also worth noting the Nets have been a better defense when traveling than on their home floor of Barclays Center. Brooklyn is allowing 110.5 points per game on the road, compared to 112.7 at home.
Then, the Magic have been unable to muster much offense this season, including on their home floor. They check into Saturday scoring the fourth-fewest points per game (104.3). That figure rises modestly to 106.6 at Amway Center, but it still lacks punch. Curiously, they’ve also been an appreciably more vulnerable defense at Amway. The Magic’s 110.9 points per home game allowed ranks them in the bottom half of the NBA in that category. And the 47.4 percent success rate they allow from the field on their home floor is the fourth-highest of any team. Notably, that figure is partly comprised of the second-highest home three-point percentage (38.5) allowed.
Given those numbers, it isn’t surprising to see that Orlando has a spotty body of work at home overall. They’ve admittedly surprised a few quality teams there, but they check into Saturday having dropped four of their last five contests at Amway, including the aforementioned January defeat at the hands of the Nets. Their one win during that span came in their most recent contest on Thursday. Yet it was a modest seven-point victory over a depleted Pacers squad missing Victor Oladipo (knee) and Tyreke Evans (back). In all, the Magic owns a 7-10 mark at home against teams that currently have a winning record.
Finally, the numbers of each team’s most explosive player against the opposing squad bear mentioning when making the case for a Nets cover Saturday. First, the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic is shooting only 40.0 percent over two games against Brooklyn this season on average of 20 shot attempts per contest. For perspective, that’s the All-Star’s third-lowest figure against any team, and he’s currently shooting an impressive 52.1 percent overall on the campaign.
Then, the Nets’ D’Angelo Russell, who’s a better shooter on the road overall, has eviscerated Orlando for averages of 32.5 points (on 54.3 percent shooting, including 55.0 percent from three-point range), 8.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals across 33.5 minutes over two games. The scoring figure is his highest versus any squad this season, while his three-point success rate is his best versus any team that he’s faced more than once.
By The Numbers
The Nets are 30-23 (56.6 percent) versus the spread overall this season. That includes a 16-10 mark (61.5 percent) against the number as a road team, and a 13-10 tally (56.5 percent) versus the spread as a road underdog. Brooklyn is also 18-13 (58.1 percent) against the spread in games they’ve played on one day’s rest, and 19-14 (57.6 percent) versus the number in conference games. Finally, the Nets have won both previous games versus the Magic this season.
Then, the Magic are 25-25-2 (50.0 percent) versus the spread overall this season. That includes a 12-14-1 mark (46.2 percent) against the number as a home team, and a 3-7 tally (30.0 percent) versus the spread as a home favorite.
The Final Word
The one thing that seems most certain here is that this will be a close game between two very evenly matched units. Their prior two meetings help bear that out. However, a spread in favor of the Magic is a bit of a surprise to say the least, and their track record versus the spread as a home favorite is less than impressive. Given the vast improvement the Nets have shown, I’m calling a cover at a minimum for Brooklyn here. Naturally, an outright victory is also within the realm of possibility, although I feel it’s best to steer clear of the moneyline altogether in this contest.
The Pick: Nets +2.5