Last Updated: 2017-11-22
Everybody in the NBA caught an off day last week because of the Thanksgiving holiday. That won’t be the case this week, as we wrap up November and head on into December. One thing that people often overlook in the NBA is travel concerns related to weather. In all sports, it is in your best interest to have a list of beat writers on Twitter so that you can get the day-to-day updates on teams. As weather gets bad, flights get delayed, team buses get caught in traffic, etc. We know weather is a factor with outdoor sports, but it can create some travel headaches for these teams that could carry over to the court.
These situations are generally pretty rare and technology has improved the ability to travel in bad weather, but it is still worth mentioning as we head into the snowy parts of the year. Even though these guys are in far better physical shape than just about all of us, they are still human. They are still subject to jet lag and travel frustrations. A lot of athletes are creatures of habit and these deviations can wreak havoc. Just store it away. It won’t pop up a lot, but when it does, you could get some value.
Anyway, we’re still using the schedule to our advantage, so here are those situational betting spots for the week ending December 3:
Monday November 27
Los Angeles Lakers “at” Los Angeles Clippers – The Lakers are technically the road team at STAPLES Center for Monday’s game. Here’s where this spot is interesting. The Clippers return home from a long Eastern Conference road trip. The Lakers return to the court for the first time since Wednesday night. Prior to the long holiday weekend break, the Lakers played Phoenix, Denver, Chicago, and Sacramento. That’s not exactly a murderer’s row of opponents. The Clippers need to bank wins. Normally the first home game back is a big flat spot, but it may not be here. I’d look to back the Clippers at a reasonable number.
Portland Trail Blazers at New York Knicks – The Trail Blazers battle the Knicks to put an end to a long and arduous road trip. Portland will enjoy consecutive days off following this game, which feels like a rarity. Portland will be playing its eighth game in 13 days, including road games in Sacramento (a home-and-home back-to-back), Memphis, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Washington, and then back to NYC. Isn’t it asinine that these teams leave one state to fly back the next day? For the Trail Blazers, this is a really tough spot. It is the fifth game in eight days for the Knicks as well, who aren’t very good, but they should have more legs than the opposition.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Philadelphia 76ers – I don’t know if betting this game is the best idea, but how fun is this one? Joel Embiid has become a superstar on the court and off of it. LeBron James is the best player on the planet and he’ll have two days of rest before this one. The Sixers certainly seem like they are for real. Will the Cavs be invested in knocking them down a few pegs? The greats in the Western Conference generally are. I don’t think the Cavs have that same side to them, but I don’t know for sure because we haven’t seen a young, talented upstart like this during the Cavs’ reign of Eastern Conference terror. This isn’t a game to bet, but I will be fascinated to see how it plays out.
Tuesday November 28
Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers – This rivalry got watered down in a hurry. It cooled off. The flames were put out. I’m done with Heat puns. With Dwyane Wade playing with LeBron again and Chris Bosh not playing anywhere, this one has no extra meaning. It sort of seems like it will feel that way, right? The Cavs have given forth some half-assed efforts against teams that are of no consequence to them. Miami is one of them. With a back-to-back off of whatever happens in the Sixers game, I wouldn’t expect much from Cleveland here. I would expect something from Miami, though. It’s dog or bust here.
Washington Wizards at Minnesota Timberwolves – The front end of a back-to-back is always tricky. When it comes against a non-conference opponent, it becomes even harder. Washington has to fly out to the Twin Cities just to board a plane and fly right back to the East Coast to battle the 76ers the next night. This is the front end of a back-to-back for Minnesota as well, with the game in New Orleans the next night. I’d expect to see both teams mail this one in a bit late. Look to live bet the under or hit the second half under because a plane is gassed up and waiting on the tarmac.
Wednesday November 29
Brooklyn Nets at Dallas Mavericks – If you think back to last week’s article, I made it a point to talk about how excited bad teams get to actually have the chance to win a game. It’s only November 29. We aren’t tanking for [insert player here] yet. The Mavericks have that chance on Wednesday night. The Nets are playing their third road game in four nights, fourth game in six nights, and fifth game in eight nights. The Mavericks played in San Antonio on Monday, had a day off, and have two more after this. It’s all systems go for the Mavs in this spot. Wins are few and far between for Rick Carlisle’s team. This is one he and his players can get. I’d expect them to do it.
Phoenix Suns at Detroit Pistons – The Pistons got used to that Motown sound and that home cooking. This will be Detroit’s first home game since November 20. You can bet that Detroit will be hot and ready to defend Little Caesars Arena. (see what I did there?!) The Pistons catch the Suns on a back-to-back after playing in Chicago and the Suns will be playing their third game in four nights, fourth in six, and fifth in eight. The Pistons only played two road games in between home games, so they are very well-rested. It is a great spot for the home team. The line will reflect it, but you can lay it with confidence.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Orlando Magic – Welcome home, Orlando. Here are two of the most talented teams in the NBA. Following a tough road trip with four games in six nights, the Magic return home to host the well-rested Thunder. Oklahoma City has three days off before this game. Road favorites are not a favorite of mine, but that looks like the way to go in this spot.
Thursday November 30
Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics – We know that the 76ers plan to be extremely careful with Joel Embiid in back-to-backs. With one here, we’ll have to see what the plan of attack is. Philadelphia hosts Washington on Wednesday and visits Boston on Thursday. There are no detrimental situational spots for Boston before or after this game, so this one should sit well with them. Will we see a full complement for the Sixers? We know how poorly they’ve played with Embiid on the bench. Will this line overadjust if he is out? Will he be playing on a limited basis? There’s a lot to unpack with this game.
Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers – The Jazz have a standalone road game against Los Angeles in this spot. The Clippers have some time at home after a pretty extensive road trip, so they should be rested and ready to go. As mentioned, the Clippers need to start banking some wins. This looks like a favorable spot. The Jazz host Denver on Tuesday and host New Orleans on Friday. It will be the Clippers or nothing for me in this one.
Friday December 1
San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies – The Rapid Revenge Theory will be in play here. The Spurs host the Grizzlies on Wednesday and then head to the FedEx Forum on Friday. With Oklahoma City on deck to kick off a stretch of five games in seven nights, the spot certainly seems to favor the Grizzlies. Memphis visits Cleveland the next night, but it isn’t a look-ahead spot when the Spurs are the opponent. These two have a long history. I’d expect a big effort from Memphis here no matter what happens on Wednesday.
Golden State Warriors at Orlando Magic – This is a pretty rough spot for Golden State. The Warriors play the Lakers on Wednesday, take the redeye to Orlando, and then play the Magic on Friday. This isn’t exactly a game that Golden State will be excited about. A day off the next night in Miami seems more exciting. Orlando will be catching a pretty sizable number in this spot and looks like the preferred play.
Sacramento Kings at Chicago Bulls – This is one of those spots that we’ve discussed lately. The Bulls have a good chance at a win and actually have had some advantageous spots over the last couple of weeks. Sacramento has a really weird road trip here. This is the front end of a back-to-back with a matchup in Milwaukee on Saturday. Three days later, the Kings play the Cavaliers. Cleveland gets a bad rap, but three nights off in Cleveland seems like hell for an NBA player. I’m not sure how excited the Kings are to fire up this trip, especially against a terrible Chicago team. Perhaps the Bulls sneak up on them here.
New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz – We’ll flip the switch a little bit here for this game. Normally, we look solely at the scheduling spots. In this one, though, there are additional angles. As we all know, the strength of the Pelicans is on the interior. Rudy Gobert is out for the Jazz. That means that we have backups playing bigger minutes or guys shifting positions that have to deal with more physicality down in the blocks. With this being a back-to-back for Utah, altitude or not, this strikes me as a really bad spot. This isn’t a particularly bad spot for the Pelicans, so I’m going to look their way in this game. Utah is in a back-to-back off of a late return flight from Los Angeles, so that is another favorable angle for backing the road team.
Saturday December 2
Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets – Hide the women and children for this one. This standalone road game is sandwiched between home games against Golden State and Houston. The Lakers are basically losing this game by a decent margin when they take the floor. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but are they really going to show up here? Denver has a pretty light schedule before this game, so the Nuggets won’t mind running with the Lakers. Will the Lakers be able to match that intensity? My guess is no.
Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers – The Pistons are not in a good spot on Saturday. This will be the third game in four nights and fourth in six, all in different arenas. The 76ers are also playing their third game in four nights and fourth in six, but they have a lot less traveling to do than Detroit. The Pistons got off to a great start because of a lot of home games. As the schedule evens out, the record should as well. The Sixers are a good look here on Saturday.
Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks – Hopefully the Clippers have banked some wins by this point. Maybe perception has shifted. This is not a real great spot. The Clippers host Utah on Thursday and then hit the road for a quick back-to-back in Dallas and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Dallas is enjoying the comforts of home for a few days during a nice three-game homestand. If we get lucky and the Clippers are playing well, maybe we get a chance to go against them here. If they are still struggling, this will be one of those opponents that they cannot take for granted and will need a win.
Sunday December 3
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers – Who the hell makes the NBA schedule? The Rockets have three days off before this game and three days off after this game. This epitomizes the standalone road game. What a pointless trip. Go beat the Lakers by 15 and then come right back home. Maybe the LA nightlife will trip the Rockets up, but this looks like blowout central against a Lakers team in a back-to-back off of Saturday’s game in the altitude. We’ll see how it sets up, but it looks pretty cut-and-dry right now.
Orlando Magic at New York Knicks – Meh. The Magic have a quick two-game road trip to NYC and Charlotte. The Knicks have three days off before this one and play a standalone road game in Indiana on Monday. Seriously, who makes this schedule? Will Orlando be ready to play after home games against the Thunder and Warriors? I have no idea. I wouldn’t think so, but the Knicks are also not particularly good.
Keep an eye out for these situational spots every week at BangTheBook.com!