NBA Monday best bets: Thunder, Cavs deserve more respect as 'dogs
We split our four NBA picks against the spread over the weekend, though it felt like a 3-1 performance after the Pelicans nearly beat the Jazz outright on Friday, only to disappoint in the encore on Saturday. Let's hope you bet them the first go-around!
Here are our best bets for Monday:
Magic @ 76ers (-15, 208.5), 7 p.m. ET
How many teams in the NBA really deserve to be giving 15 points to anyone? That list shouldn't include the 76ers, who have lost seven of their last 10 ATS and own just two victories by 15 or more points through their first 20 contests.
Even a team as bad as the Magic - who rank dead last in net rating (-11.0) amid a 4-17 start - shouldn't be catching this many points. They've lost by 15 or more points just seven times in 21 games and have enough talent to stay competitive with the inconsistent Sixers.
Pick: Magic +15
Thunder @ Rockets (-2.5, 215), 8 p.m.
For whatever reason, the market can't seem to figure out the Thunder, who have the NBA's third-best ATS record (13-6) despite owning the sixth-worst outright record (6-13) through the first quarter of the season.
Oklahoma City has quietly covered in six straight dating back to the last time these two faced off, when the Thunder handed the Rockets a 12-point loss. Since then, they've rewarded bettors against the Bucks, Celtics, Hawks, Jazz, and Wizards. That's not bad for a team that can't catch any respect in the market.
Meanwhile, Houston has stumbled to an NBA-worst 3-16 record straight up thanks to the high-volume, low-efficiency trio of Christian Wood, Jalen Green, and Kevin Porter Jr., who are shooting a combined 40.8% from the floor and 30.7% from deep. This group shouldn't be favored in any game it plays, especially not against a sneaky cash cow like OKC.
Pick: Thunder +2.5
Cavaliers @ Mavericks (-5.5, 208.5), 8:30 p.m.
If the Cavaliers won their next 20 games in a row, I'm still not sure oddsmakers would take them seriously. That's how overlooked Cleveland has been during its stellar 13-5-2 ATS start, second only to the league-leading Warriors (15-4-1).
The key has been a stellar defense that is allowing the ninth-fewest points per 100 possessions (105.1) and is holding opponents to an NBA-low 57.1% within five feet. That's a direct result of having two dominant big men patrolling the paint. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen both rank in the top 30 in defensive win shares and blocks per game.
The Mavericks' offense was already a work in progress this season, and its inconsistency as of late has resulted in four losses in their last five games. This line should be much smaller; don't be surprised if Cleveland pulls this one out as an outright 'dog.
Pick: Cavaliers +5.5
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