Before we getting into our best bets for today's slate, I want to take a few moments to talk about the Celtics' defeat last night.
There are a number of different things you can pick up on when handicapping a game. Boston was a big public favorite yesterday, but the point spread stayed at Boston +2 for most of the day. That game was one of the heaviest bet games of the night. The line freezing at +2 showed that the books had liability on the Rockets. When the line moved to -2.5 that should have been a signal to go with the Rockets or lay off the bet.
In most cases, that's what I would have done, but last night I relied on my ability to figure out how the teams on the court would play. Obviously I'm a League Pass subscriber, so I have seen all these teams play more than once. Boston was playing much better basketball than the Rockets. However, Houston got the win so that's all that matters.
That same scenario is playing out in two of the games on tonight's slate.
The Raptors take their 15-game winning streak to Brooklyn to face the Nets. Toronto is a 3.5-point favorite in a heavily bet game. This line is yet to move. If it drops to Nets +3 before tip-off, fade the Raptors. Keep an eye on line movement in the Heat/Jazz and Lakers/Nuggets games.
Atlanta Hawks vs Cleveland Cavaliers: Hawks -2
I know you may find it funny that I'm actually going to sit down and watch the two worst teams in the Eastern Conference play tonight—it's kinda what I do. You will enjoy watching Trae Young play. He is going to win an MVP one day.
The last time these two teams met, the Cavaliers beat the Hawks by three points in Cleveland (121-118). That's right, the Cleveland Cavaliers scored 121 points. They've only done that one other time this season, an overtime victory over, you guessed it, the Knicks.
The Cavs have won just once in their last 15 games. This is a team looking forward to the All-Star break. Atlanta hasn't been much better this season, but they are a more talented team and they've played better as of late.
Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets: Lakers -2.5
This is going to be a very similar situation to Rockets/Celtics from last night. Once again I'm going with my gut. This line may very well move before tip-off. If it moves to Nuggets +2, I can agree with someone backing the Nuggets.
The Lakers and Nuggets are the top two teams in the Western Conference. Denver is trailing them by three games. Even though most teams are focused on the All-Star break, these veteran squads both know how important this game is.
The Lakers and Nuggets have split the season series thus far. The Lakers got a nine-point win in Denver, while the Nuggets beat the Lakers by 14 at Staples Center. LeBron James did not play in that Lakers loss.
The Lakers come into tonight's game fully healthy, while the Nuggets will be without Will Barton and Michael Porter Jr. This will be a very competitive game, but the Lakers will get the win before both teams head to the break.
I have decided to add a new feature to my NBA Best Bets. I'm not a real big parlay player—it's hard enough to get one game right. Parlays are how sportsbooks make their money. The handle on losing parlays can be as high as 45% of a book's intake. With that being said, a lot of you hit me up on Twitter and ask me for a parlay to bet. I'm a man of the people, so welcome to the People's Parlay! Remember to wager with your head and not above your head.
Parlay: Pistons +7.5, Hawks ML, Jazz ML (+420)
Season Record: 70-57
MORE FROM SI: