The unders have been the story of the NBA (betting) season so far, and a few teams that are expected to fight or make big jumps this year have yet to make it.
We tackle these two angles with our favorite bets on Saturday.
Saturday NBA odds and predictions
Utah Jazz @ Miami Heat
Rahim Palmer: The NBA unders continue to strike at a breakneck pace, going 85-45 (65.4%) this season. What’s even more impressive is that the non-overtime games are 83-40 (67.5%).
While I thought the sub was coming to an end as we saw bettors drop those totals this week, the NBA subs fell to 8-1 on Friday night.
Trends aside, if there’s a good place to take it’s tonight’s game between the Utah Jazz and the Miami Heat, both of whom will likely miss their starting pointers at Donovan Mitchell and Kyle Lowry. Losing Lowry really does have an impact on that total as the Heat are playing 103.35 with him on the ground and the pace he brings to the game really helps this offense. Overall, the Heat are only 25th in pace (98.47), so they are not a fast team, while the Jazz are only 16th in pace (99.75)
The Heat and Jazz are two of the best defensive teams in the league, with the Heat second in the defensive standings (99.6) and the Jazz third (101.2). You combine slow-paced play with two top defensive teams missing their starting pointers and you’ve got the recipe for low-scoring play.
My model makes this game 209 so at 211.5 there is a little advantage here. I will play the sub at this price.
Celtics at Mavericks
Brandon Anderson: If you just keep an eye on the standings, you’d think everything is on the right track for the Mavericks.
Dallas is 5-3 and sits third in the Western Conference, ahead of the scrum and behind only the dominant Jazz and Warriors. At first glance, you’d think this Jason Kidd thing has to work, Luka Doncic has to be one of the early MVP favorites, and it’s the jump we’ve all been waiting for.
Yeah, not so much. Dallas ranks 25th in net scoring, by basketball benchmark, a horrific -5.3 to reflect their record in a not-so-beautiful way. The Mavs have been pretty decent on defense, but the offense has been incredibly poor, 25th in the offensive standings, nowhere near the unit that literally set the all-time record just a few years ago.
Doncic’s production is down across the board, and he’s been freezing to start the year with terrible fire and efficiency. And that’s pretty much Dallas history. It’s not a particularly talented roster, so if Luka doesn’t wear them, they’re in trouble.
Maxi Kleber was good, but he came out. Kristaps Porzingis was absolutely awful, and he’s questionable anyway. Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock can’t shoot. Jalen Brunson was a spark, but he’s not enough and will likely have to fight Marcus Smart anyway. This offense seems stuck in the mud, as if they have no idea what they are trying to accomplish. They rank 28th in the NBA in actual field goal percentage. It’s ugly.
Boston has had a lot of ugly moments as well, sure, but you have to be wondering if the Celtics could make it. They played a brilliant second half defensively in a win over the Magic, then enjoyed their best game of the season against the scorching Heat, stopping them en route to a dominant 17 point victory. Boston’s defense has been teeming and synchronized over the past two games, and that, along with Dallas’ offensive woes, could mean a continuation on Saturday night.
Jaylen Brown is out for Boston, so the Celtics are underdogs on the road, but I’m not convinced Dallas is very good. The truth is, we never know which Boston team we’ll have, but there’s a pretty good version in there and I’m just not sure Dallas is right now. Even if it’s just an average Celtics night, it might be enough against the Mavs.
I need to shoot the Boston silver line at +140. It involves less than a 42% chance of winning, and I think that’s at least a draw for the Celtics, and maybe slightly in our favor. They have the defenders to keep Doncic cold and that will give them a chance. I will play at +115.
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