The 2019-20 NBA season is back and we have a huge slate this Friday.
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 21 Best Bets
New Orleans Pelicans (-4.5) at Portland Blazers
We’re about to find just how valuable Damian Lillard is to this version of the Blazers. The MVP candidate will miss 3-5 games with his groin injury and while the Blazers have played .500 ball without him in recent seasons, they’re 0-2 without Lillard this year and took a blowout loss in New Orleans when he left that game.
The Pelicans have not been slouches offensively and Zion Williamson has helped them improve defensively to post the sixth-best net rating (6.1) over their last 8 games. Brandon Ingram (ankle) will be back at full speed for the Pels and that gives New Orleans even more options to deploy against Portland’s 27th-rated defense. Jrue Holiday is a fantastic facilitator and an underrated defender. If he contains C.J. McCollum, the Blazers will truly have no offense tonight.
Dallas Mavericks (-4.5) at Orlando Magic
The Mavs come out of the break with Luka Doncic (ankle) presumably back to full strength and Kristaps Porzingis as rested as he’s been all season. Dallas is 21-12 with the league’s best offensive rating when those players are healthy and is 9-3-1 ATS when listed as road favorites this season. The Mavs are 14-8 against the ECF this year and 23-7 against teams with losing records.
Orlando is 24-31 and headed into the ASB struggling with a -5.9 net rating and 113.3 defensive rating over their last 8 games. The Magic has gone a putrid 6-24 SU in games where they’re listed as underdog and 10-18-2 ATS in that situation. They’re also 7-12-2 against the WCF and 10-17-1 ATS at home.
Those numbers are great, but the big reason to back the Mavs is Orlando’s lack of a defensive stopper on the perimeter. Evan Fournier and Markelle Fultz aren’t capable of containing Doncic while keeping Orlando’s struggling offense afloat. Nikola Vucevic has struggled against good interior defenders this season and Porzingis certainly fits that bill. Steve Clifford can’t find lineups that work both offensively and defensively, while Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has a dearth of weapons to deploy around Doncic.
Toronto Raptors (-7.5) vs Phoenix Suns
The young Suns are deservedly looking disinterested some nights as they play out the string for a front office that seems to have no concrete plan for long-term success. Phoenix dropped 4 straight road games heading into the break, including a head-scratching defeat at Detroit and 20-plus point losses to the impressive Lakers, Nets, and Bucks. Now they face a Raptors team that only lost it’s 15-game win streak due to cumulative exhaustion, and comes out of the break refreshed and healthier.
Toronto is 17-11 ATS at home and 23-10 ATS with 1 day off between games. The Raptors are an incredible 31-3 against teams with records below .500 and beat losing teams by an average of 13.6 PPG during their recent streak. The Suns allow the second-most PPG (29.2) in fourth quarters and the Raptors are fifth in offensive efficiency at home. Even if those game is close initially, the champs can hit another gear to pull away.
NBA February 21 Picks Against The Spread
Indiana Pacers (-6.5) at New York Knicks
The Pacers had some bad luck heading into the break but things started to turn around when they beat the Bucks with Giannis on paternity leave.
San Antonio Spurs (+7) at Utah Jazz
The Spurs got some much needed rest over the break and should finish out their annual rodeo trip strong with a close loss or potentially another win in Utah.
Denver Nuggets (+1.5) at Oklahoma City Thunder
The Nuggets should get both Michael Porter Jr. and Will Barton back in the lineup and that makes them a dangerous team coming out of the break.
Boston Celtics (-6.5) vs Minnesota Wolves
The Wolves need Karl-Anthony Towns (hip) more than the Celtics need Kemba Walker (knee) and both stars will sit tonight.
Memphis Grizzlies (+11) at Los Angeles Lakers
The young Grizzlies are 5-2 ATS when playing on zero days rest and Ja Morant is sure to bring the energy at famous Staples Center.
Cleveland Cavaliers (+4.5) at Washington Wizards
We should expect at least an initial surge from the Cavs after they got Jon Beilein fired.