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NBA

Nov 22, 2019

Friday's Best Bets

There is a decent night of games in the NBA lined up, and with only two double digit spreads out of the 10 games on tap, we should see some rather competitive contests.

What's presumably on the top of that list for many tonight is the Houston/LA Clippers night cap this evening in a game between two teams that could end up meeting with a berth in the Finals on the line come next May. That, and the Boston/Denver game starting a little bit earlier are the high watermark games (at least on paper) this evening, but sitting on the sidelines from a betting perspective for those games is what I'll likely end up doing.

Instead, it is two of the uglier looking underdogs that have caught my eye this evening, as I'm not sure these two teams deserve all the points they are currently being given. Yes, they aren't the best teams in the league by far, but they should be able to hold tough against tonight's two foes. Let's get to the plays:

San Antonio at Philadelphia (ESPN, 8:05 p.m. ET)

Best Bet #1: San Antonio +7.5

The Spurs have been money burners all year long at 3-12 ATS, and a current seven-game losing streak is mainly to blame. Yet, they are also a team that shouldn't be nearly as bad as their record shows right now, as they've got quality NBA talent like DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge leading the way. This team just has to decide to play some defense – they've allowed at least 111 in all seven of their losses during this current streak, and with four of them finishing with 121+. Which brings me to the idea that Philly might be one of the better opponents for the Spurs to see right now to break their slump, because one thing Philly doesn't particularly do well this year is shoot the ball.

Philly G Ben Simmons hit his first professional three pointer the other day and it got out of this world praise for whatever reason. Celebrating something that's part of the job description – guards should be willing and able to take and make threes – as if it was a ground-breaking moment was absurd from all the media that wanted to shine their own light on it. Can you imagine if I spent 3+ years writing these pieces without using capitals at the beginning of sentences? Only to be heaped with praise on the one piece I finally do. As New England Patriots HC Bill Belichick loves to say “Do your job”, and maybe now, Simmons can finally completely do his.

That's the absurdity of the situation from my view, and chances are we will either see Simmons puff out his chest because of all the praise he received for that shot and shoot many more of them, or he'll be content soaking in the admiration a bit longer and wait a few games before pulling the trigger again from beyond the arc. Either way, it's a good thing for backing the Spurs tonight, as no/few attempts mean less three-pointers get rung up on San Antonio, and a flurry of attempts for a guy that's made one three in 3+ years is going to come with plenty of misses. Those misses will create plenty of opportunities for the Spurs to get out and score easy buckets in transition as well.

Aside from Simmons, Embiid has a tough matchup with Aldridge in this game, and the 76ers lack consistent outside shooting around those two guys. That means that if San Antonio does decide to commit some effort to defense tonight, they should be able to pack the paint to a degree to limit Embiid's effectiveness in there, as well as the drives through the lane that Simmons loves to do.

Finally, as a team, Philly has not scored more than 114 points once in their past nine games (in regulation), whereas even during this losing streak for San Antonio, the Spurs have put up at least 109 points in every single game. Obviously it's not as simple as that, but if the Sixers top out around 114, and the Spurs floor is 109, that's already enough of a margin to stay within this spread.

With San Antonio the more desperate team in terms of trying to get back on track themselves, this game should come down to the final possession or two, if the Spurs don't run away early and win this game outright.

Cleveland at Dallas (8:35 p.m. ET)

Best Bet #2: Cleveland +10

The Cavs are another team on an extended losing streak (five games) entering tonight that I'm backing, although it does have a bit more to do with fading Dallas then being completely enamored with Cleveland. However, four straight losses by 10+ points, with the last three being by at least 18 points, can be quite the motivational tool for Cleveland as well as they try to get back on track.

But as I said, this game is more about fading a Dallas team at a number that's probably a full possession too high and it's because of those respective recent results. Cleveland just got smoked by 24 in Miami on Wednesday, while that same night, Dallas could do no wrong in a 142-94 win over the depleted Golden State Warriors. You get a handful of games each year where one team wins by 40 or so points like the Mavs did, and those are always spots I look to fade said team in their next outing because chances are things don't run nearly as smooth for them again. Those big wins also force line adjustments in opening, and it never hurts the oddsmakers inflation perspective to have an opponent coming off a 24-point loss to boot.

This is also the final meeting of the year between these two teams after Dallas went into Cleveland at the beginning of the month and walked away with a 20-point win. Again, another data point that on the surface that allows this line to be where it's at. Because when you lay out the general scenario here, you've got Dallas – off a 38-point win – laying “just” 10 points against a Cleveland team they've already beaten this year by 20, and is coming off a 24-point loss in their last outing. Seems pretty simple for most to lay the chalk no matter the number and already spend their presumed winnings in their head.

I'm not buying it will be that easy for the Mavericks tonight, especially when I haven't even touched on the fact that they've got two huge games – measuring stick type games - @ Houston and vs LA Clippers on deck. Put it all together and this spot is really a bad one for Dallas as this type of chalk, because the possibilities for looking straight past Cleveland are quite strong.

Dallas probably wins this game outright, but it will much tougher then this line suggests, as Dallas extends their 1-5 ATS record after a win by 10+ points.

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