Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:00 AM

Total Talk - MLK Day

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The NBA picks up the pace Monday for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with 11 games, which begins at 12:00 p.m. ET. NBATV will provide a nationally televised double-header early before TNT closes the night with a triple-header. Instead of focusing on the sides, listed below is my quick handicap on every total.

If you're looking for all the details on side wagers, then check out Tony Mejia's MLK Day Essentials.

(Over/Under Results in Parenthesis)

Oklahoma City (21-23-1) at New York (23-21): Oklahoma City enters this game on a 5-1 ‘over’ run behind an offense averaging 126.1 points per game. If the Thunder hit that number again Monday, you’ll need the Knicks to bust the century mark and that’s easier said than done for this squad. New York is only averaging 101.4 PPG in its last five and that’s led to a 4-1 ‘under’ record. The pair played in Oklahoma City on Nov. 14 and the Thunder blasted the Knicks 128-103 and the ‘over’ was never in doubt. Even though OKC has been leaning to the high side recently, the club has watched the ‘under’ go 16-8 (67%) away from home.

Chicago (19-26-1) at Cleveland (25-22): The total certainly looks like the better investment since both teams have been atrocious this season. The pair went ‘over’ (201 ½) in their recent meeting on Dec. 23 from Cleveland as the Bulls won 112-92. In the early November clash, Chicago won 99-98 at home and the ‘under’ (212) was never in doubt. For the third installment, we’re looking at a total of 213 ½.  The Cavaliers have leaned to the ‘over’ (14-8) at home and they can’t stop anybody defensively lately. In 2019, Cleveland has allowed 123.4 PPG and that’s led to an 8-2 ‘over’ mark. The good news for the Cavs is that Chicago (101 PPG) can’t score.

Detroit (19-25-1) at Washington (26-19): Since point guard John Wall was ruled ‘out’ for the season, the Wizards have seen their total results end in a stalemate (5-5) through 10 games. The Wizards are averaging more points (118.6) at home and Detroit could be without rim protector Andre Drummond (nose) for this game. Washington has the second worst scoring defense (116.5 PPG) in the league yet Detroit hasn’t shown much offense (105 PPG) this season. The Pistons have seen the ‘under’ go 6-1 in their last seven games. The ‘under’ has cashed in three of the last four games in this series, which includes a 106-95 home win by the Pistons on Dec. 26. 

Dallas (20-23-2) at Milwaukee (22-22-1): This is the first meeting between the pair this season and oddsmakers are expecting a shootout with an opener of 227 ½. I have the confidence in the Bucks to score at home (120.6) but I’m hesitant to back Dallas. The Mavericks have come back to life with a 5-14 record in their last 19 games. In its previous five games against winning clubs on the road, Dallas is only averaging 99 PPG.

Orlando (20-26) at Atlanta (24-21): This will be the first encounter between these Southeast foes this season. In the previous campaign, the pair saw all four of their total outcomes split (2-2). The Magic’s offense (104.3) hasn’t traveled well and that’s led to a 13-8 ‘under’ record. They do enter this game on a 4-0 ‘over’ run but three of those games were in Florida. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the high side streak continue knowing Atlanta owns the worst defense (117.7 PPG) in the league.

Sacramento (27-19) at Brooklyn (25-22): This total opened 230 and even though the ‘over’ has cashed in six of the last eight meetings between the pair, they’ve only combined to eclipse this number once during this span. The Kings own the best ‘over’ mark on the road (16-6) this season but the ‘under’ has cashed in each of their first two games on their current six-game road trip. Sacramento’s defense has been sharp in their last seven games, holding teams to 104.4 PPG and that’s led to a 7-0 ‘under’ mark. This is a nice test against the Nets, who have turned their season around after an 8-18 start. Since then, Brooklyn has gone 16-5 behind an offense that’s averaging 115.1 PPG. The Nets have only played three home games in January and the ‘under’ has gone 2-1.

New Orleans (25-21) at Memphis (18-28): The ‘under’ cashed in each of the first two meetings between the pair this season and the total closed 214 in both games. This isn’t an easy total to handicap since New Orleans won’t have All-Star Anthony Davis, who is expected to miss 1-2 weeks with a finger sprain. The Pelicans have gone 1-4 without Davis in the lineup this season and the defense has allowed 123.6 PPG, which has helped the ‘over’ go 4-1.

Miami (24-20) at Boston (28-18): These teams just met on Jan. 10 from South Florida and Miami ran past Boston 115-99 while the ‘over’ (212) slid in with a late surge (59 points – 4th). Boston was playing on no rest and it’s struggled in that situation this season. For the rematch the number has been pushed up to 215 and the Celtics have leaned to the ‘over’ (14-8) at TD Garden this season, especially lately. The Celtics are averaging 118.4 PPG in their last nine at home and that’s helped the ‘over’ go 7-2. The Heat have been nothing but a bully on the road this season and it’s only defeated two playoff teams (Nets, Clippers) so far. In their last two road games versus winning teams, they’ve scored 86 and 84 points.  

Houston (26-19) at Philadelphia (26-21): James Harden and the Rockets have been on a roll, averaging 123.5 PPG in their last nine games. The ‘over’ has gone 6-3 during this span. On the road, Houston (107.4 PPG) hasn’t been as electric this season. It’s dropped five straight road games versus Eastern Conference foes and the ‘over’ has gone 4-1 in those games. Philadelphia has connected offensively at home (118.9 PPG) and that production has led to a 14-10 ‘over’ mark. These teams have seen their totals split (2-2) in each of the last two seasons.

Portland (21-25-1) at Utah (23-24): The ‘under’ has connected in four straight meetings between the pair and that includes a 2-0 mark this season. Utah has captured two blowout wins (117-96, 120-90) in those games. The Trail Blazers are averaging 94.8 PPG in their last five trips to Salt Lake City. Portland is scoring nearly seven points less (108.5 PPG) on the road and their defense has been worse (113.9 PPG). Utah’s defense has started to pick up the intensity at home lately, allowing 96.6 PPG in their last five games albeit to four losing clubs and the Lakers without LeBron James. The ‘under’ has gone 4-1 during that span.

Golden State (25-21) at L.A. Lakers (17-29-1): In the only meeting between the pair this season on Christmas, the Lakers stunned the Warriors 127-101 and the ‘under’ cashed because Golden State’s offense took the holiday off.  Los Angeles lost LeBron James (groin) to an injury in that game and the team has gone 5-7 without the All-Star since. The offense has actually looked great the last two games (138, 134 points) against the Thunder and Rockets but expecting another crooked number could be tough with Lonzo Ball (ankle) joining the Los Angeles injury report. Golden State is coming off a 112-94 win over the Clippers on Saturday as DeMarcus Cousins made his debut and he actually slowed down the offense. Prior to his start, the Warriors were averaging 133.6 PPG in their previous eight games (7-1 Over). On the road, Golden State has been a solid ‘over’ (14-8) lean but the Lakers have been the best ‘under’ (17-6-1) bet in the NBA this season.

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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