We’ve arrived at another NBA Thursday, and we have a short slate of games to work with. I’m still seeing plenty of value on this board, even with some large favorites. Here’s what jumps out to me on DraftKings Sportsbook.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers will travel from New York — where they were dusted by the Brooklyn Nets — to Cleveland to play the 12-2 Warriors on the second night of a back-to-back. I don’t see it going too well for them.
Cleveland has been one of the great stories in the early going this season, but an injury to Evan Mobley has driven a stake through this team. The rookie had the ability to defend every position and was incredible at defending inside of five feet, allowing just a 52% field goal percentage, which trumps the numbers against his replacements — Kevin Love and Lauri Markkanen.
The Warriors just so happen to sit inside the top 10 in field goals attempted per game inside five feet and have knocked down more than 68% of them. I think Golden State should do serious damage inside against a Cavaliers team that was hopeless on the defensive end a night ago in Brooklyn. This should get out of hand.
Philadelphia 76ers at Denver Nuggets
The 76ers still have yet to win a game since Joel Embiid entered the league’s health and safety protocols last Monday, going 0-5 in the week and a half without him. While some of those defeats were heartbreakers to good teams, we’ve learned in the last two losses for Philly that this may, in fact, be a bad team without Embiid.
It doesn’t help that Matisse Thybulle, perhaps the best defender on the team, is also in the protocols, and that Danny Green is on the shelf with hamstring tightness. With Embiid and Green gone, this team has taken a significant blow on offense, and there’s been a big drop-off on the other end without Thybulle and Embiid to guard the paint.
The Sixers were destroyed by Rudy Gobert their last time out, a player who had been struggling mightily. Now, Nikola Jokic is around the corner to exploit this weak post defense led by Andre Drummond and backed up by Paul Reed. They’re allowing shots to fall from inside 10 feet at a 59.2% clip in the five games without Embiid and giving up 117.9 points per 100 possessions — the second-worst mark in the league over that span. This is trouble, especially considering how good the Nuggets have been on defense and the slow pace they play at. There won’t be a way into this game once Philly falls behind.
Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies
Clippers ML (-115)
The Clippers may not have a very deep rotation right now with Terance Mann and Nic Batum in danger of missing this one, but I’m not too worried about it. Brandon Boston Jr. stepped up to score 13 points in 20 minutes last time out against the Spurs and both Luke Kennard and Amir Coffey were a +24 or better.
You can talk all you want about how the Spurs can’t defend, and how that’s the reason those three had so much success. Well, the Grizzlies currently sit second-to-last in defensive efficiency, and there should be little from stopping these deep bench guys from succeeding again.
The shortened rotation has also forced Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein into action, which comes at a great time. The Grizzlies have slipped in the rebounding department, collecting just over 50% of rebounds to rank in the bottom half of the league in November with back-to-back sub-50% rebounding rates in their last two outings. The Clippers are third in that span, and should even have an edge on the glass. This is a stronger offense and a much stronger defense (the Clippers are second in defensive rating and the Grizzlies are second-to-last). This should be a no-contest.
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