Welcome to the Tuesday, Feb. 26 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 Leans/Picks: 43-31-1 (.581)
Moneyline: 25-8 (.758)
Over/Under: 17-11-1 (.607)
2/26/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Orlando Magic (28-33) vs. New York Knicks (12-48)
Every so often during a long season of NBA prognosticating, recent trends and going with the gut trump season-long tendencies. Such is the case Tuesday. A surging Magic squad arrives in the Big Apple to face the Knicks. Orlando headed into the All-Star break as one of the hottest teams in the league, winning seven of their last eight before the layoff. They did stumble in their first game since play resumed, dropping a one-point decision to the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. However, they were right back in the win column Sunday, impressively upending the Raptors on the road, albeit with Kawhi Leonard sitting out.
Meanwhile, the term “hot” and the Knicks have not been associated frequently this season. Yet there may be a glimmer of hope. New York comes into Tuesday’s contest having prevailed in two of its previous three games. Modest as that sample is, it’s fairly significant for a team that had dropped a franchise-worst 18 straight before defeating the Atlanta Hawks by a 106-91 score in their last game before the ASB. Then, a 130-118 victory over the Spurs on Sunday demonstrated two things: the Knicks are still capable of sneaking up on a quality team, and they may well be improving offensively.
Indeed, the Knicks have scored over 100 points in five straight, and they’re just one point shy of having reached that mark in seven consecutive contests. Once again, that’s not a stirring accomplishment for most teams. However, it does represent an improvement for New York. The Knicks have spent the majority of the season as one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league. Yet they’re averaging a solid 113.3 points over the last three games, a nice spike from their 105.7 seasonal figure. Accordingly, they’re also shooting 46.5 percent over that stretch, a significant improvement on the NBA-low 43.1 percent figure for the season.
The reasons for New York’s recent bump can mostly be traced to a pair of recent acquisitions and the emergence of several “home-grown” assets. First, the arrival of Dennis Smith, Jr. and Deandre Jordan from the Dallas Mavericks via a late-January trade has certainly helped. Smith has scored between 19 and 31 points in four of the six games in which he’s played at least 30 minutes since arriving in New York. Then, Jordan, who is questionable for Tuesday’s game with an ankle sprain that already cost him Sunday’s contest, has quickly racked up six double-doubles in a Knicks uniform.
Contributions from Damyean Dotson, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kevin Knox, and Mitchell Robinson are also reasons for optimism. Dotson has scored 20 and 27 points the last two games, respectively, while locking down the starting two-guard role. Mudiay has returned from a multi-game absence due to a shoulder strain to record 15 and 19 points off the bench in his first two games back. Knox is coming off a career-best 19-point, 10-rebound double-double Sunday, a performance that was preceded by an 18-point effort versus the Timberwolves. And all Robinson did as Jordan’s replacement Sunday was post 15 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks over 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Magic have certainly been impressive overall lately, but they still come up a bit short on scoring when traveling. Orlando is averaging the fourth-fewest points (104.3) of any team on the road. That’s partly the byproduct of the 44.1 percent shooting they’re generating in their away contests. The Magic have been able to offset those struggles with the stingiest road defense in the league (104.2 points allowed per away game). However, even considering that impressive figure, Orlando has given up its share of generous point totals on the road.
The Magic have allowed 110 points or more in 13 of their 29 road games. That includes four tallies of 120 points or more. And although they’ve scored some road wins against talented teams by impressive margins during February, there’s notably an asterisk next to each that certainly helped prop up Orlando’s defensive performance:
- Defeated the Raptors, 113-98, on Feb. 24, but Kawhi Leonard sat for rest.
- Defeated the Pelicans, 118-88, on Feb. 12, but Anthony Davis scored three points (1-9 FG) over 24 minutes while at the height of his dissatisfaction over not being traded.
- Defeated the Bucks, 103-83, on Feb. 9, but Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out due to knee soreness.
By The Numbers
The Magic are 17-12 (58.6 percent) against the spread as a road team, including 3-1 (75.0 percent) as a road favorite. Orlando is also 15-12 (55.6 percent) versus the number after a win.
The Knicks are 10-17-2 (37.0 percent) against the spread at home, including 8-13-2 (38.1 percent) versus the number as a home underdog. However, New York is 6-4-1 (60.0 percent) against the spread after a win.
The Final Word
The numbers above don’t paint a very pretty picture for the Knicks and their chances of beating the seven-point spread. However, the makeup of the team seems to be changing now that Smith has settled into his new squad and Mudiay is back healthy and contributing again. Then, even if Jordan is forced to miss a second straight contest, Robinson has proven highly capable of filling in as both a scorer and rebounder. Coupled with the improved play of other young pieces, I see this as a different New York squad than the one with which Orlando had their way in two November games. As such, I’m leaning toward the home team having enough to slide at least slightly under the elevated number.
The Lean: Knicks +7