As we move into the middle of the first week of December, let’s look at the state of the union in the NBA and then the sports betting odds for two mid-week games; one from each conference.
NBA State of the Union
We are roughly a quarter of the way and the Milwaukee Bucks are still standing on top of the Eastern Conference.
The surprise team is the Miami Heat, just a half-game behind the Toronto Raptors, who are a bit of a surprise themselves.
I don’t think anyone outside of Toronto thought the Raptors would be holding strong in second place in the East sans Kawhi.
But, as their POBO stated, Leonard taught them how to climb the mountain; he taught them how to win.
Out West, the LA Lakers are starting to stand out as the dominant team in the battle of Los Angeles and the Denver Nuggets, along with their top-tier defense, are looking hard to beat.
Meanwhile, perennial contenders, such as the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs have nearly fallen off the map and are already on the outside of the playoff bubble, looking in.
Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers are just outside of the top eight, crowded on the bubble with the Sacramento Kings and Oklahoma City Thunder, all sitting with eight wins – at the time of writing on Tuesday.
The Kings are a much-improved team, but playing at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon is not an easy task.
That’s why the Blazers are five-point favorites at 10 PM ET on Wednesday night.
The Trail Blazers have scored an average of 113.6 per game this season. And at home, they are a tres better, putting up 116.57 per affair.
The Kings have struggled a bit offensively on the road – and just overall on offense– putting up 103 points per game, as the visiting team, and a little more than 104 per game on any given night.
Where the Kings are significantly better than Rip City is on defense. Overall, they allow 107.84 points per game and just a smidge worse, 108.30 as visitors.
Portland actually plays around one point worse on defense at home than they do overall, they allow a not-so-stellar 115 points per game.
So, we end up with a seven-point defensive advantage going towards the Kings, but a 13-point offensive advantage pointing towards the Blazers.
So, now that five-point spread makes sense. When you split the difference, the Blazers are, statistically speaking, six points better in this situation.
I think the Vegas oddsmakers are right on the money, though. If I were to throw cash at this game, I would be lean on the Trail Blazers to cover the five points, but I think it will end up being really close to that number.
Probably, a 106 to 112 type of game. So, if you are into that, proceed with caution here. That said, take the Trail Blazers to win at home.
Miami Heat vs. Toronto Raptors
Oddly enough, we have another five-point spread that favors the home team. The Raptors and the Heat are duking it out, jockeying for that No. 2 seed in the East.
The No. 9 home defense and No. 9 road defense will go head to head at 7:30 PM ET. The Raptors allow 105 per game at home, while the Heat allow 108 on the road.
The biggest difference here is the potency of offenses. The Heat score 106 per game on the road, but the Raptors gouge teams for 120 per game inside of Scotia Bank arena.
It is not often that I feel strongly about a clear favorite to cover the number, but since you can find Toronto at -4.5, they hold a ton of value. This could be the pick of the day.
Take the Raptors to smash the Heat in Toronto on Wednesday night. They have covered the point spread in six of their last seven games and are on a seven-game winning streak. This team is out to prove that they don’t need Kawhi to win.
On top of that, the Raptors have beaten the Heat in Toronto in eight of the last nine meetings there. This one is a no-brainer.