Welcome to the Sunday, March 3 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: 46-32-1 (.590)
Moneyline: 25-9 (.735)
Over/Under: 17-12-1 (.586)
3/3/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Memphis Grizzlies (25-39) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (38-24)
As one of the Western Conference’s powerhouses, the Thunder aren’t exactly accustomed to multi-game losing streaks. However, OKC comes into Sunday’s contest in the midst of just such an unlikely scenario. The Thunder has lost four straight games. The injury absence of co-team MVP Paul George over the last two games has certainly had an impact. George’s career season includes team-leading figures in points (28.6) and steals (2.3). George is considered a game-time decision versus the Grizzlies, but he did reportedly put up shots in practice Saturday.
Sunday’s game will be the second meeting between the teams this season. The Thunder easily disposed of Memphis in the one prior meeting Feb.7. OKC scored a 117-95 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena, a game in which all five members of the Thunder’s starting five hit double digits in the scoring column. On the other side, it’s notable that the Grizzlies’ leading scorer in that contest, rookie Jaren Jackson, Jr., will not play Sunday. He remains out with a deep thigh bruise.
The Thunder has been running roughshod over the majority of opponents on their home floor this season. OKC boasts an impressive 21-9 home record. Of those 21 wins, nearly half (10) have been by more than Sunday’s 9.5-point spread. That includes eight victories versus teams with losing records, a description that applies to the Grizzlies as well. As their stellar home record would imply, the Thunder boasts impressive metrics on both sides of the ball at Chesapeake. OKC is scoring the fifth-most points per home game (117.0) on solid 46.4 percent shooting. Then, they’re allowing 110.4 points per home game, which still places them in the top half of the league.
For their part, the Grizzlies are mostly the diametric opposite. Memphis sports a 10-22 road record. In addition to the aforementioned 22-point loss they suffered versus the Thunder, the Grizzlies have dropped nine other road games this season by more than Sunday’s projected spread. Memphis has struggled to supplement their typically strong defense with consistent scoring when traveling. The Grizzlies average the fewest points per road game (100.9) in the NBA. That’s largely neutralized the impressive 105.8 points per road contest they allow, the second-lowest figure in the league.
However, it’s worth noting the Grizzlies have shown some offensive improvement in recent games following the additions of Avery Bradley and Jonas Valanciunas via trade. Memphis has scored over 100 points in seven straight games, their longest such stretch this season. While many of those games have been against teams with losing records, the effect of both of the aforementioned players has been legitimate. Bradley has hit double digits in six of his first eight games in Memphis. Then, Valanciunas has four double-doubles in six games since his arrival, as well as double-digit scoring totals in each contest.
Finally, veteran Joakim Noah has also been a rather unlikely positive influence on Memphis’ overall depth. The big man has formed a dynamic one-two punch with Valanciunas and has five straight double-digit scoring efforts. That sample includes a pair of double-doubles, and the oft-injured Noah seems to be holding up well while playing at least 20 minutes in the majority of contests thus far.
By The Numbers
The Grizzlies are 28-35-1 (44.4 percent) versus the spread overall this season. That includes a 12-19-1 (38.7 percent) mark versus the number as a road team, and a 10-17-1 tally (37.0 percent) as a road underdog specifically. Memphis also 12-12 (50.0 percent) against the spread in games following a win and 2-7 (22.2 percent) versus the number on the second game of back-to-back sets. Finally, the Grizzlies are also 20-19 (51.3 percent) against the spread in conference games.
The Thunder is 33-29 (53.2 percent) versus the spread overall this season. That includes a 16-14 mark (53.3 percent) against the number as a home team, and a 15-14 (51.7 percent) tally as a home favorite specifically. OKC is also 4-4 (50.0 percent) versus the number on the second game of back-to-back sets. However, the Thunder is also 19-21 (47.5 percent) against the spread in conference games and just 9-14 (39.1 percent) versus the number in games following a loss.
The Final Word
Neither team is an ideal situation rest-wise here, but at least they’re on even footing in that regard with both having played Saturday night and then having traveled. However, OKC is on its home court, where they’ve thrived all season. Moreover, they’ll have significantly more urgency, given their postseason aspirations and current four-game losing streak. As such, I see the Thunder stepping up in this spot for a win with or without George in the lineup against a team that they considerably outpace in talent. However, if George remains out, I’ll lean toward the Grizzlies managing to slide in under the elevated number.
The Lean: (if George in the starting lineup): Thunder -9.5
The Lean: (if George is out): Grizzlies +10
The Pick: Thunder moneyline