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NBA Christmas Day Slate has Warriors, Spurs Among Odds Favorites

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Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors typically manage to cover when they face a close line on the road. The Warriors are listed as 3.5-point favorites on the NBA betting lines against the Cleveland Cavaliers for their Christmas Day matchup, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Warriors are finding their peak form and are 14-2 straight-up and 7-8-1 against the spread on the road this season. The smallest line in any of the ATS losses, though, was 8.5 points.

The main matchup will be Durant against LeBron James, who has helped Cleveland forge a home record of 15-2 SU and 10-6-1 ATS. The Cavaliers are trying to replace injured SG J.R. Smith (right thumb surgery). Star forward Kevin Love (left knee bruise) also has an injury issue, but only had to play 25 minutes during a blowout win on Friday.

The Christmas Day slate begins with the New York Knicks hosting the Boston Celtics in a pick’em contest. The key matchup will be at point guard – the Knicks’ Derrick Rose and the Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas. Boston is 7-3 SU and 8-2 ATS in its last 10 road games and has found a rhythm since C Al Horford returned from injury.

Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (right knee contusion) could have his minutes closely monitored to avoid aggravating his injury.

The San Antonio Spurs are favored by 7.5 points against the Chicago Bulls in a matchup headlined by two elite small forwards, the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard and the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler. It is tough to go against San Antonio being 14-0 SU and 11-3 ATS in December home games over the last two seasons, particularly with Chicago’s erratic perimeter shooting.

The Bulls are 4-6 SU and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games as a road underdog, according to the OddsShark NBA Database.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are favored by 4.5 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Thunder PG Russell Westbrook is carrying his team which has been inconsistent at home, going 9-6 SU and 8-7 ATS this season.

Minnesota has plenty of promise in C Karl-Anthony Towns and SF Andrew Wiggins, but awful defense has kept them from getting into the playoff picture. The Timberwolves are 1-9 SU and 4-6 ATS in their last 10 road games against the Thunder.

And the availability of Chris Paul (hamstring) will weigh heavily on the lines for the Christmas nightcap between the Los Angeles Lakers and Paul’s Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers are also without PF Blake Griffin (minor knee surgery), but D’Angelo Russell and the young Lakers are struggling at 0-4 SU and ATS in their last four divisional games.

The Clippers are 10-0 SU and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games as the favorite against the Lakers.

NBA All-Star Weekend Odds: Slam Dunk, Three-Point, Skills Challenge

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One man having serious slam dunk contest buzz means better prices for the other three heading into NBA All-Star Weekend at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Dallas Mavericks rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. is a +170 favorite on the slam dunk contest odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (+220), Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. (+265) and Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (+400) are also in the running.

Smith has taken every opportunity this season to try to “posterize” some of the NBA’s biggest names, which might explain his low price. Mitchell was a late entry who has come on strongly for the surging Jazz and is capable of the upset. As the only forward in the contest, Nance could have a hard time getting the benefit of the doubt from the judges.

The three-point contest is unpredictable by nature but has some familiar faces with favorite Klay Thompson (+210) and defending champion Eric Gordon (+450). Devin Booker (+550), Paul George (+650), Wayne Ellington (+700), Bradley Beal (+750), Kyle Lowry (+1000) and Tobias Harris (+1100) complete the eight-marksman field.

Thompson is converting threes at a career-high 45.4 percent rate, so the Golden State Warriors guard will likely draw a lot of interest. However, Gordon outlasted him in 2017 and will also be in his former home arena. Ellington, who scores more than 75 percent of his points from beyond the arc, stacks up as the sleeper from deep.

The skills challenge lacks the cachet of the other two competitions, but is wide open due to its format that guarantees a guard vs. center matchup in the final. The Los Angeles Clippers’ Lou Williams (+350) is the favorite, but it might be wiser to favor a younger competitor, such as the Denver Nuggets’ second-year guard Jamal Murray (+400), in an event that is staked on speed and shooting.

Al Horford (+500) has the best price of any big man, but the Chicago Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen (+700) might have the skill-set more suited for the event. Murray, Markkanen and the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid (+600) will each be out to be third international player in a row to win the event.

For more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Cavaliers Shaky Betting Favorite Against Celtics on NBA Opening Night

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While the sample might not be big enough for a true trend, the Cleveland Cavaliers go into opening night with a dubious track record as a narrow favorite at home.

With some uncertainty over whether – or how much – LeBron James will play after missing most of the preseason with a sprained left ankle, the Cavaliers are listed as 3.5-point favorites against the Boston Celtics with a 212.5-point total in their NBA opening night matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Interestingly enough, the OddsShark NBA Database shows that the Cavaliers are 0-6 straight-up and against the spread since January 2016 when favored by four or fewer points in regular-season home games.

Both Boston and Cleveland had offseason turnover that included trading point guards, with Kyrie Irving heading to the East Coast while Isaiah Thomas moved to the shores of Lake Erie. On top of having their new running mates Irving and SG Gordon Hayward, Boston returns only four of its 10 most-used players from last season.

However, under coach Brad Stevens they are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven road games against the Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers, who were just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 home games of last season, have eight new players. James has had little practice time with the Cavaliers’ three new starters, PG Derrick Rose, SG Dwyane Wade and PF Jae Crowder, but with James’ talent and court sense chemistry can come pretty quickly (Thomas is out with a hip injury).

The total has gone over in four of the Celtics’ last five road games against the Cavaliers.

Later on Tuesday night, the defending champion Golden State Warriors are 9.5-point favorites against the Houston Rockets with a 230.5-point total in a matchup between the two highest-scoring teams from last season.

Due to new PG Chris Paul’s various injuries (bruised left shoulder, bruised left knee), the Rockets have had scarcely little time to see how Paul and SG James Harden will work together on the floor. If Paul is good to go in this one, though, he will face the Warriors’ Stephen Curry at each end of the court for the entire game.

The Rockets are 1-11 SU and 4-7-1 ATS in their last 12 road games against the Warriors, but any team that shoots threes as frequently – and often efficiently – as Houston is always a threat.

Golden State, with its big four of Curry, PF Kevin Durant, SF Draymond Green and SG Klay Thompson, almost always lays big-time points at Oracle Arena. While the Warriors infamously laid an egg in their home opener last season, they are 19-1 SU and 14-5-1 ATS in their last 20 regular-season home games with a closing line between 8.5 and 10.5 points.

The Warriors, unlike the other three teams in action on Tuesday, had minimal offseason turnover with 12 players returning from their championship team.

The total has gone under in six of the Rockets’ last nine road games against the Warriors.