NBA Odds, Picks & Projections: Bets for 76ers vs. Rockets, Pacers vs. Timberwolves, More (Wednesday, Feb. 17)

Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Myles Turner.

For the 2020-21 NBA season, I’ll be publishing my projections for every NBA game. Here’s what you’ll find in my model: projected team totals, projected combined totals, projected spreads for the matchup and the implied odds for the moneyline.

Note: My projections won’t be updated in real-time throughout the day, but Action’s PRO Projections tool is dynamic and will reflect the latest injury and lineup news.

I’ll also be highlighting some of the slate’s most intriguing matchups with in-depth, game-level analysis that goes beyond the numbers.

NBA Projections Model

NBA Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Philadelphia 76ers at Houston Rockets 7:30 p.m. ET
Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics  7:30 p.m. ET
Indiana Pacers at Minnesota Timberwolves 8:00 p.m. ET

Although projections give us a solid baseline for what a number should be, it’s also important to handicap each matchup for things that the numbers can’t tell us.

Check out my analysis for tonight’s slate.

Philadelphia 76ers at Houston Rockets

Pick Houston Rockets Team Total Under 108.5 (William Hill)
Gametime 7:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN

The Houston Rockets are 16-10-1 to the under this season, and given their statistics, it’s not much of a surprise. The Rockets are fourth in Defensive Rating, holding teams to a mere 109.4 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass.

The biggest issue with this team is that the offense has been a complete mess, as it’s 26th in Offensive Rating (107.7), and over the past two weeks, it’s fallen even further, scoring just 103.1 points per 100 possessions, which is 30th among NBA teams.

In addition to the absence of Christian Wood, the Rockets have seen injuries to Victor Oladipo and Eric Gordon, both of whom are doubtful for tonight’s game. For a team lacking depth, they simply find themselves fighting an uphill battle to score points.

The Rockets’ shooting percentages from all over the floor are downright depressing, to say the least. They’re 20th in eFG%, 28th in 3-point field goal percentage (34.7%) and 29th in the mid-range (35.5%) shooting percentage.

The only area of the floor in which they rank better than 24th is at the rim, where they’re shooting 63.9%, which would be fine if they weren’t playing a 76ers team that sits third in shooting percentage at the rim, holding opposing teams to just 59.7%.

While the Rockets are sixth in pace this season,  I’m not sure that’s enough to get them over this total, as they’re playing a Philly defense that ranks seventh among NBA teams.

My numbers project this game at 223,  going well under the total of 227.5, so the under has some value. However, I like the Rockets team total under better, as Houston would be the team carrying this under given its lack of offensive firepower without Wood, Oladipo and Gordon.

You can feel free to make a wager on both, but my biggest wager will be on the Rockets team total under 108.5.

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Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics

Pick Celtics -2
Gametime 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass

If you watched Monday’s Heat vs. Clippers game and Tuesday’s Nets vs. Suns games, you’ll know that betting against teams with injuries will get bettors killed if they don’t properly factor in exactly what these players are worth to the point spread.

Today is another situation in which we see an injury to a key player followed by a line move, as Kemba Walker is out of tonight’s game for load management.

I read an interesting stat today: The Celtics are -5.6 points per 100 possessions when Kemba Walker is on the floor and +5.1 when he’s off. He’ll be replaced by Payton Pritchard, and the Celtics are +8.0 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. Somehow, we’ve seen this line move from -3 to -2.

I’m not sure the Hawks are worthy of the respect the market is giving them at this point, as they’re just 2-8 in their last 10 games with a net rating of -4.9.

During the past two weeks, their defense has fallen off a cliff. They’re 28th in Defensive Rating, allowing 124.7 points per 100 possessions.

Their offense hasn’t been great either, scoring just 111.7 points per 100 possessions, 22nd during the past two weeks.

Trae Young isn’t having the season he did last year, seeing drops in points per game and field goal percentage, and this Hawks offense just hasn’t been the same without Bogdan Bogdanović, who is out with an avulsion fracture in his knee.

They’re also missing the presence of De’Andre Hunter, who is third on the team in scoring and is one of their better defenders. The Hawks are +9.5 points per 100 possessions with Hunter on vs. off, so his loss has been particularly problematic for this team.

The Celtics are coming off a 112-99 win over a depleted Denver Nuggets team, and this feels like another spot to buy low on a Celtics squad that is still one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

They still have the best two players on the floor with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, so even without Kemba, I’ll lay the short price on the Celtics against a struggling Hawks team.

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Indiana Pacers at Minnesota Timberwolves

Pick Under 225.5
Gametime 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass

This number has been steamed down from the opener of 227.5 to where it currently sits at 225.5.

My projections make this game 222.5, so it feels like we’re getting some value on this under here.

The Indiana Pacers have seen their offense fall off a cliff recently, scoring just 106 points per 100 possessions in the last two weeks and have gone under in five out of their last six games, and they would have gone under in Monday’s game against the Bulls had the game not gone to overtime.

With Doug McDermott being questionable for this matchup, the Pacers will find themselves down another shooter. Nonetheless, this line is a tad bit inflated based on their past two games against the Bulls and the Hawks.

The Pacers take on a Minnesota Timberwolves team that is coming off a tough back-to-back game against the Lakers and really isn’t much of a threat offensively even with the return of Karl-Anthony Towns.

While the Timberwolves rank just 27th in Offensive Rating, scoring 106.6 points per 100 possessions this season, they’re still only scoring 110.9 points per 100 possessions in the four games since KAT’s return, which is 19th during that time frame.

The Timberwolves have inserted Jarred Vanderbilt into the starting lineup, which has added much-needed hustle, but he doesn’t add much offensively.

The Rubio/Towns/Beasley/Vanderbilt/Edwards starting lineup is scoring 112.0 points per 100 possessions and holding opposing teams to just 102.1 in two games and 45 minutes of action.

I’ll play the under 225.5 here.

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