- Boasting the best home scoring margin in the NBA (+13.4), Milwaukee is rightly a double-digit favorite against the Pistons on Tuesday night.
Three at 3 looks to pick up in 2019 where it left off last season after a highly profitable 2018 that included three straight winning months since the start of the NBA season. The calendar year ended on a high note last night with winning plays on a pair of home favorites with Charlotte and New Orleans. Here are Three at 3’s best bets for January 1.
1. Utah Jazz at Toronto Raptors (-3)
7:30 pm ET
When Toronto beat Utah 124-111 as a 3.5-point road underdog on Nov. 5, both Kyle Lowry (17 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds) and Jonas Valanciunas (11 points, six rebounds, two blocks) played key roles. They'll both be out of action tonight, and the absence of Valanciunas, who has missed the Raptors’ last eight games with a dislocated thumb, leaves Toronto especially vulnerable up front against Utah's Rudy Gobert (15.5 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 2.1 BPG).
Lowry, who is averaging a career-high 9.8 assists per game as the lead facilitator in the Raptors’ new-look offense, will remain sidelined Tuesday after having missed seven of Toronto’s past eight games with leg and back ailments. His absence has had a noticeable impact on the Raptors, who are 1-5-1 against the spread in those seven contests, with a 116-87 loss in Orlando on Friday night marking the team's most lopsided defeat of the season. The Jazz, meanwhile, are 4-2 both straight up and against the spread over their past six games—they rank first in defensive rating (99.7) and second in rebound rate (53.9%) among all NBA teams over that six-game span. Expect Utah to put the clamps down on the undermanned Raptors and win tonight’s game outright.
Pick: Jazz (+3)
2. Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks (-10.5)
This may seem to be too hefty a spread for Milwaukee to cover against a Pistons team it beat by three in their most recent meeting, 107-104 in Detroit on Dec. 17. But the Bucks were only a three-point favorite in that game, and their status as a double-digit favorite on Tuesday reflects the fact that they've been far more formidable at home than on the road this season. While only 9-7 straight up and 7-8-1 against the spread away from home in 2018-19, Milwaukee is 16-3 SU and 12-7 ATS at home, with an average margin of plus-13.4 over those 19 games played.
Although Detroit’s Blake Griffin scored 31 points in the first meeting between these teams while Milwaukee’s leading scorer Giannis Antetokounmpo notched only 15—and the Bucks’ second-leading scorer Khris Middleton sat out the game entirely—Milwaukee waltzed to a 115-92 home win on December 5 to easily cover a 7.5-point spread. The Bucks outscored the Pistons 29-9 on fastbreak points in that game and, coming off seven wins over their past eight games, should continue to gallop at full speed on Tuesday.
Pick: Bucks (-10.5)
3. Portland Trail Blazers at Sacramento Kings (+1.5)
After having lost four of its previous five games against the spread, Portland came through with a 129-95 blowout victory over the visiting 76ers on Sunday. Philadelphia, however, was in the midst of its longest road trip of the season, and the Sixers were also playing without superstar center Joel Embiid. The Blazers successfully took advantage of a team that came out flat, an opportunity they likely will not have on the road against a Sacramento squad that enters January with a winning record for the first time since 2004-05.
Portland is 9-21 against the spread in road games under head coach Terry Stotts when coming off a win by 15 points or more. The Blazers find themselves matched up with a Kings team that is 21-15 against the spread this season—only the Mavericks and Spurs have better ATS records. Sacramento has won each of its past three home games straight up and is 10-5 against the spread as a home underdog this season.
Pick: Kings (+1.5)