Welcome to the Tuesday, March 12 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: 48-35-1 (.578)
Moneyline: 26-9 (.750)
Over/Under: 20-13-1 (.606)
3/12/19 NBA Betting Pick:
New York Knicks (13-54) vs. Indiana Pacers (42-25)
If there was an “Offensive Expectation Meter” for NBA games, Tuesday’s Knicks–Pacers matchup would likely reside waaay at the low end, alongside other gems such as Grizzlies-Magic. In other words, New York and Indiana aren’t exactly the type of clubs that will light up a scoreboard. The pace at which Tuesday’s game might unfold could well rival molasses.
The Knicks come in averaging the fourth-fewest points per game (105.4) overall on the season. That figure has actually been much lower of late. New York is averaging a meager 94.0 points over their last three games. That’s the lowest figure in the NBA over that span. They’re also a tick below their seasonal figure when traveling. New York averages 104.8 points per contest outside of their home floor of Madison Square Garden, also the fourth-fewest points in that category. The source of all that futility? They have the lowest team shooting percentage in the league (43.2), including the lowest on the road (42.8).
The Knicks’ pace of play doesn’t quite bring up the rear like their scoring and shooting metrics do. However, it’s still a relatively pedestrian one at 103.9 possessions per game (103.8 on the road). And that’s also seen a downturn in recent games. New York is averaging 101.6 possessions per contest over the last three. When considering how the Pacers really slow games down — their 101.3 possessions per game rank as the third-fewest in the league — the scoring upside of Tuesday’s contest is truly compromised. Plus, the Knicks’ pace could be even slower than usual independent of Indiana’s influence. New York will be playing its third game in four nights. That’s certainly a recipe for tired legs at this stage of the season.
It’s not as if New York is devoid of offensive talent on its roster. However, those players haven’t exactly been the most efficient this season. Current scoring leader Dennis Smith, Jr. is averaging a solid 15.1 points per game (12.9 PPG as a Knick). Yet he’s shooting an abysmal 41.8 percent, including 28.3 percent from three-point range, for the season. Rookie first-round pick Kevin Knox is averaging a solid 12.2 points per contest. However, he’s draining his attempts at a 35.9 percent clip, including 33.0 percent from three. Even the promising Damyean Dotson, who’s coming off a 26-point explosion against the Timberwolves on Sunday, is shooting just 42.1 percent overall. With the exception of big men DeAndre Jordan and Mitchell Robinson, who do almost all of their scoring in the paint on high-percentage shots, no regular member of the Knicks’ rotation has a PER (Player Efficiency Rating) higher than Smith’s mediocre 15.2.
Then, the Pacers present as possibly the worst defensive matchup for New York’s struggling offense. No team allows fewer points on its home floor. They’re yielding just 100.1 per contest at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Unsurprising given those numbers, opposing squads have often found their shooting goes into a proverbial black hole upon entering the Hoosier State. The Pacers allow the lowest shooting percentage (43.0) of any team on its home floor. Indiana has notably held 20 of its 34 home opponents to under 100 points. That includes this same Knicks squad in a 110-99 victory on Dec. 16.
Finally, the Pacers’ own offensive shortcomings must be considered when making an argument for the Under in Tuesday’s game. Indiana isn’t exactly a scoreboard powerhouse, either. In addition to their aforementioned deliberate pace of play, the Pacers check in ranked in the bottom 10 in points per game (108.2). They’ve also failed to hit the century mark in their last two games. Moreover, they’re averaging just 97.3 points per contest in the last three. That’s better than only New York’s own 94.0 during that span.
Naturally, one of the reasons for an offensive downturn in Indiana is the season-ending knee injury sustained by Victor Oladipo back on Jan. 23. The Pacers have tread water in the 20 games since, going 10-10. And they’ve scored 105 or less in 12 of those contests, failing to hit 100 points in half of them.
By The Numbers
The Under is 36-31 (53.7 percent) in the Knicks’ games this season. That includes a 27-26 mark (50.9 percent) in their games following a loss, a 24-19 tally (55.8 percent) in their conference games, and a 21-15 record (58.3 percent) in games they’ve played with one day of rest.
The Under is 38-29 (56.7 percent) in the Pacers’ games this season. That includes a 23-11 mark (67.7 percent) in their home games and 20-8 (71.4 percent) in their games as home favorites. The Under is also 26-18 (59.1 percent) in Indiana’s conference games and 24-16 (60.0 percent) in games they’ve played with one day of rest.
Finally, two of the three prior games between the teams have come in under Tuesday’s projected total.
The Final Word
Everything seems to point in favor of the under hitting in this spot. As mentioned earlier, the Knicks are a tired team and already own the worst road shooting percentage in the NBA. Then, Indiana has the stingiest home defense. After back-to-back poor road showings, this is a get-right spot for them in their homecoming. With New York just playing out the string and the Pacers still jockeying for playoff positioning, I see the game coming in under its projected total.
The Pick: Under 209.5