The 2019-20 NBA season is rolling and we have a huge slate this Monday.
On every big slate this season, PlayPicks is providing our top bets against the spread and against point totals for all the NBA games.
Injuries can always play a factor into the point spreads listed by US sportsbooks like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook in the NBA. Keep an eye on the status of star players with any sort of nagging injury or “load management” concerns as well.
In this column, we will list three of our best bets against the spread with data to support our picks. Then, we will list the following games on the NBA slate in order of our confidence in analyzing the matchup.
Keep in mind that lines can often shift when players are announced out due to rest or injury.
NBA December 9 Best Bets
Oklahoma City Thunder (+8.5) at Utah Jazz
What reason do we have to feel confident about the Jazz covering a big spread against any capable opponent? Utah is 1-3 with a -9.3 rating over its last four games and has not defeated a quality opponent since its 103-100 win over Milwaukee on November 8. The Thunder, meanwhile, continues to battle in close games with the second-best defensive rating (99.1) in fourth quarters this season. OKC is 6-3 ATS as a road underdog this season and the disappointing Jazz are just 5-6 ATS at home. This spread has somehow jumped up considerably after opening at +1 on some books, so capitalize on that line movement.
Mike Conley (hamstring) will remain out tonight and while he’s been a big part of Utah’s disappointing start, he’s still a serious upgrade over inconsistent backup PG Emmanuel Mudiay. Donovan Mitchell will see more usage as a combo PG/SG and he shot just 39.3% from the field with a 97 offensive rating against the Thunder last year – his third-worst mark against a WCF foe. Now OKC has an athletic wing defender in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to help contain Mitchell and Steven Adams is more than capable of banging with Rudy Gobert. Stop Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic from hitting open threes, and OKC could even pull out a road win. That’s not out of the question consider their defenses rank third in 3PTM (10.6) this season.
Houston Rockets (-12.5) vs Sacramento Kings
The Rockets absolutely dominated this matchup last season with four wins by an average of 20.5 PPG. When playing at home, they’ve been doing people bad lately with a 120.6 offensive rating and 4-1 record over their last five in Houston. James Harden is averaging 38.3 PPG and 7.2 APG since the start of November and he enjoyed tremendous success with averages of 39 PPG and 7.3 APG on .717% true shooting over those four meetings against Sacramento.
With De’Aaron Fox (ankle) and Marvin Bagley (thumb) still out, the Kings may lack the athleticism necessary to contain Harden and prevent the Rockets from bombing threes on them all night. Sacramento ranks 25th in opponent’s FG shooting (.472%) and commits the most PF (18.7) per game, which is a recipe for disaster against the FT master in Harden. The Rockets are finally getting consistent outside shooting from Ben McLemore, who will have revenge on his mind tonight against his former team.
The Kings have managed just 91.5 PPG in two appearances on zero days rest this season and are coming off a hard-fought win over the Mavericks. Houston is 16-13 ATS with a rest advantage since the start of last season and 30-22-2 ATS as a home favorite during that span.
Orlando Magic (+12.5) at Milwaukee Bucks
Betting against Milwaukee is a terrifying prospect right now, as the Bucks ride a 14-game win streak into this home matchup. There is some recency bias after the Bucks handled the highly touted Clippers in their last game, which has led to a bigger line. Milwaukee has not been ultra-consistent in terms of covering huge spreads at home with a 6-5 record ATS in home games this season.
Orlando is playing great basketball even without Nikola Vucevic (ankle) available. The Magic has won four straight with an excellent 106.6 defensive rating during that span. An extremely athletic and defensive-minded team, Orlando may actually have the personnel necessary to contain Giannis Antetokounmpo with Jonathan Isaac leading the charge. Giannis averaged a modest 23 PPG over two meetings with Orlando last season and averages just 18.1 PPG in his career against that franchise.
The Magic allows the third-fewest FTA (19.4) and sixth-fewest 3PTM (11) per game this season, which is the key to defending Milwaukee and keeping things moderately close. This is a contrarian bet, but one with value since the line has already moved a point from opening at Bucks (+11.5).
NBA December 9 Picks Against The Spread
Toronto Raptors (-5.5) at Chicago Bulls
The Bulls rank 28th in offensive rating and won’t be able to score down the stretch against the elite Raptors defense.
Phoenix Suns (-4) vs Minnesota Wolves
Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl-Anthony Towns are all banged up, while the Suns continue to get healthier. If Aron Baynes (calf) can suit up, Phoenix should contain KAT and pull out a comfortable win at home.
Boston Celtics (-13) vs Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs always seem to give the Celtics trouble and Tristan Thompson is a problem for an undersized team, but Cleveland is basically quitting on new HC Jon Beilein and the Celtics have been unbelievable at home.
Detroit Pistons (+2) at New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans has dropped eight straight games while the surging Pistons own the fourth-best net rating in the NBA over the past two weeks.
Golden State Warriors (-3) vs Memphis Grizzlies
As long as Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell suit up, the Warriors will have enough talent to inspire the rich crowd at Chase Center and run past a young Grizzlies squad.
Los Angeles Clippers (-2.5) at Indiana Pacers
It’s time for Kawhi Leonard to stop slow-playing things and get the Clippers in position for a top seed in the loaded WCF. He can’t take it easy tonight in preparation for Wednesday’s trip to Toronto.