The 2019-20 NBA season returns tonight after a lengthy all-star break, and have a solid slate this Thursday.
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 February 20 Best Bets
Memphis Grizzlies (PK) at Sacramento Kings
Both of these young teams went into the break hot, although the Kings showed plenty of deficiencies in a blowout loss at Dallas last Wednesday. Sacramento is 4-4 with the seventh-worst defensive rating (115.4) over its last 8 games heading into the break and the Grizzlies are 6-2 with the best defensive rating (103.4) in the league during that span. Memphis has been dynamic offensively all year, but the rise of the Grizz defense has allowed them to cover in 4 of their last 5 and in 6 of their last 9 road games dating back to a January 4 blowout win at the Clippers.
Getting a superior Memphis team with no spread seems like an easy move, especially when you consider the Kings will have no bigs with Richaun Holmes (shoulder), Marvin Bagley (foot), and Alex Len (hip) all ruled out. Memphis leads the NBA in PPG (57) in the paint and APG (27.4) with Ja Morant breaking down defenses. They’re allowing a league-best 19.3 PPG in fourth quarters over their last 3 outings and Sacramento is coughing up 31 PPG in fourth quarters during that span. The Kings are also just 10-15-1 ATS at home this year.
Brooklyn Nets (+8.5) at Philadelphia 76ers
The Nets went into the ASB as arguably the hottest team in the league, with the best net rating (12) over an 8-game span and quality wins at Indiana and over a Toronto team that had won 15 straight. Will they stay hot enough to win in Philadelphia, where the Sixers are 25-2 on the year? Perhaps not, but they could certainly cover an 8-point spread.
Brooklyn has covered in 7 of its last 8 and is 4-1 with a ridiculous 14.9 net rating since Kyrie Irving (knee) left the lineup on February 1. The Nets struggled to score when Irving missed extended time with a shoulder injury earlier this season, but now Caris LeVert is fully healthy and humming with averages of 21 PPG and 4.5 APG on a 30.3% usage rate this month.
Spencer Dinwiddie is even hotter with a 116 offensive rating and +15.5 plus/minus rating over his last 6 games and cruised to 26 points and 8 assists when the Nets lost at Philly on January 15. Glance at the box score and you’ll notice Irving scored just 14 points with an unsightly -29 plus/minus rating in that contest, while LeVert was limited to just 22 minutes behind the malcontent. With DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen both playing well defensively, the Nets set up well to contain Joel Embiid and the big Sixers down low, while their re-energized back court exploits the slower Sixers on the perimeter.
Golden State Warriors (+10) vs Houston Rockets
The Rockets didn’t match up particularly well against the G-League Warriors before they made moves to go extremely small, and now they have even less of an advantage. Houston has only been favored three times with this new lineup and the results were a 36-point loss at Phoenix, a 1-point loss to Utah, and an 11-point win over against a tired Boston squad that was aided by somewhat iffy officiating. We have limited evidence on how effective Houston’s small ball will be, but we do know that the Rockets struggle with rust and are 6-12 ATS as road favorites this year.
The Warriors haven’t had much success in any situation this year, but did beat the Rockets handily on Christmas. Damion Lee was immense in that contest and helped hold James Harden to just 24 points. The Warriors are even better set up to play small ball now that the efficient Marquese Chriss is starting at center and they should get plenty of energy from Draymond Green at the start of this 4-game home stand. Since acquiring Andrew Wiggins, Golden State’s league-worst offense has jumped from 104.9 PPG to 111.8 PPG, so they should be able to keep pace with the run-and-gun Rockets.
NBA February 20 Picks Against The Spread
Miami Heat (-6.5) at Atlanta Hawks
The Heat players will still remember Trae Young disrespecting them by “calling game” on December 10 before they stormed back to win in OT. Expect more spirited play from Miami against a Hawks team that fell apart before the break.
Milwaukee Bucks (-13) at Detroit Pistons
Apparently this spread can’t get big enough to deter over 90% of action from coming in on the Bucks. With Reggie Jackson waived, the Pistons may be the worst team in the league and the Bucks are obviously posting the best net rating in history this season.
Charlotte Hornets (+5) at Chicago Bulls
The Hornets held the Bulls to a season-low 73 points in a December meeting at Chicago, so clearly they have a good game plan to contain Zach LaVine and watch the rest of the Bulls shoddy offense crumble.
The article was published Monday morning. Odds subject to change during the day.