Welcome to the Thursday, March 14 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: 22-13-1 (.629)
3/14/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Oklahoma City Thunder (42-26) vs. Indiana Pacers (43-25)
A Thunder-Pacers interconference battle — their first of the year, no less — would be especially intriguing were both squads to be well rested and at full health. While Thursday’s matchup still holds plenty of appeal, neither one of those factors holds especially true. To begin with, OKC comes into the game as a team likely on the brink of exhaustion. Thursday’s contest will be their fifth in eight nights. Moreover, it will also serve as the second game of a back-to-back set, one they had to travel for late Wednesday after a victory over the Brooklyn Nets that saw them claw back from a first-half deficit.
Then, the home-court Pacers come in without a pair of key guards, with one absence particularly prominent. Victor Oladipo, Indiana’s do-it-all dynamo, was naturally lost for the season Jan. 23 due to a knee injury. The Pacers have fought hard in his absence and scuffled to an 11-10 record in the subsequent 21 games. Meanwhile, Tyreke Evans, a valued veteran depth piece in the backcourt, will also sit Thursday due to a personal matter. On the other side, it’s also worth noting the Thunder will be without versatile big man Markieff Morris (neck), who’s shown signs of serving as a viable source of second-unit scoring during his brief time with the team.
The aforementioned factors begin strongly supporting the notion of the Under hitting in Thursday’s game, especially since the total isn’t set particularly low. However, there are additional metrics that lend further credence. One is certainly the Pacers’ defensive reputation, especially at home and even without Oladipo. Indiana still allows the fewest overall points per game (103.9) in the NBA, including the fewest of any team on its home court (100.0). That directly correlates with the Pacers also allowing a league-low 43.1 percent success rate from the floor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, including the second-lowest three-point percentage (33.1). And on the offensive side, Indiana is in a bit of a slump — they’ve scored just 96.7 points per contest over their last three, compared to 108.2 for the season.
Then, the Thunder profiles as a less potent squad when hitting the road. OKC averages two points fewer per road game than at home (114.1, compared to 116.1). While that’s still a strong number, there are a couple of factors worth noting that could well be at play Thursday. One is that the Thunder also comes in struggling to score points recently. They’re averaging a relatively modest 105.3 points per game over the last three, compared to their 115.1 overall seasonal figure. OKC is shooting a pedestrian 42.6 percent over that stretch.
Then, there’s the aforementioned rest factor. Playing on back-to-back nights is never easy on a team’s legs. It’s appreciably more difficult when there’s travel involved the night before, and at this late juncture of the season. The Thunder doesn’t have a good track record of being involved in games that exceed the total on the second half of back-to-back sets this season, anyhow. As noted below, the Under has hit in six of nine such games they’ve played under those circumstances, not including one push.
By The Numbers
The Under is 35-31-2 (53.0 percent) in the Thunder’s games this season. That includes a 21-20 mark (51.2 percent) in games following an OKC win. The Under is also 42-39-2 (51.9 percent) in the Thunder’s non-conference games since the beginning of the 2016-17 season and 6-3-1 (66.7 percent) on their second game of back-to-back sets this season.
The Under is 39-29 (57.4) percent in the Pacers’ games this season. That includes a 24-11 mark (68.6 percent) in their home games, and a 21-8 tally (72.4 percent) tally in their games as home favorites. The Under is also 24-16 (60.0) in games Indiana has played with one day of rest, 25-17 (59.5 percent) in games following an Indiana win and 12-11 (52.2 percent) in the Pacers’ interconference games.
The Final Word
This is a scenario that has several factors pointing toward a lower-scoring affair, not the least of which is the two teams’ tendencies to be involved in games that hit the Under. Another major factor is simply fatigue, especially on the Thunder’s part, due to recent schedule. The Pacers defense is also legitimate, even without Oladipo. Considering the number actually still allows for a solid amount of scoring on the part of both clubs, I see this game hitting the Under.
The Pick: Under 219.5