NBA Odds, Picks & Projections: Betting Analysis for Hawks vs. Spurs, Lakers vs. Grizzlies, More (Friday, Feb. 12)

Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 and LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

For the 2020-2021 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
Minnesota Timberwolves at Charlotte Hornets 7 p.m. ET
Atlanta Hawks at San Antonio Spurs 7:30 p.m. ET
New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks 7:30 p.m. ET
Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets 9 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Lakers at Memphis Grizzlies 10 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 x-game slate.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Charlotte Hornets

Pick Over 228 (DraftKings)
Gametime 7 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass

Similar to Wednesday night’s Hornets vs Grizzlies game, my model isn’t properly capturing who these teams are at this point, so as I did in that game,  I’ll be fading my model once again.

This line is simply too short: With Karl-Anthony Towns on the floor for Timberwolves, they are scoring 116.5 points per 100 possessions compared to 105.0 points per 100 possessions without him.

If adding a star player back to lineup who is scoring 21.2 points per game and improves the offense by +11.6 points per 100 possessions isn’t enough to convince you, understand that the Timberwolves play at the fifth-fastest pace in the league and are 25th in Defensive Rating (114.8) in their non garbage time minutes via Cleaning the Glass. It’s no surprise this team has gone over in three straight games against the Clippers, Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder.

They’ll be facing the Charlotte Hornets’ red-hot offense, which has been scoring 119.0 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks.

Devonte’ Graham is questionable for this matchup, but we could see this total rise if he plays — the Hornets are +3.4 offensively when he’s on the floor vs .off the floor. LaMelo Ball has been solid in Graham’s absence, but having another point guard in the rotation who is scoring 14.3 points per game can’t hurt this team. I like the over.


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Atlanta Hawks at San Antonio Spurs

Pick Under 225 (DraftKings)
Gametime 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass

Unlike our first game, we have model plays from here on out, which increases my confidence knowing that the math actually fits my handicap. This line has been on the move opening at 228.5 before being bet down to its current number. I personally agree with the line move as the Hawks are 16-8 to the under while the Spurs are 14-11.

Totals in Hawks games simply aren’t being priced properly this season. They rank 13th in pace (100.15) and Defensive Rating (110.5), and over the past two weeks, they haven’t been scoring very well either, ranking 19th in Offensive Rating (112.0).

While Danilo Gallinari’s return has certainly helped the Hawks’ offense, they face a Spurs team that hasn’t been playing well offensively recently. The Spurs had just 41 second half points and put up a 92 Offensive Rating against a lackluster Warriors defense and are scoring just 108.0 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks, 25th in the league during that time frame.

The Spurs have solid perimeter defenders in Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Keldon Johnson and something tells me that after giving up 32 in back-to-back games against Steph Curry they’ll be prepared for Trae Young.

The Spurs are still 10th in Defensive Rating (112.5) over the past two weeks so even with Curry’s scoring outburst, these games still flew under. My projection makes this 222 so at 225 I think this total is a little too high.

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New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks

Pick Over 232 (DraftKings)
Gametime 7:30 p.m. ET

The best thing about my projection system is that it weights recent data more heavily and that’s key for the Pelicans who are 15-8-1 to the over and have gone over in eight of their past 10.

So what happened over the past 10 games? When head coach Stan Van Gundy took over this team from Alvin Gentry, he had this team playing a much slower pace.

From the start of the season through their Jan. 19 game against the Utah Jazz, the Pelicans played the fifth-slowest pace in the league at around 98.21 possessions per game and scored just 108.2 points per 100 possessions through the first 15 games of the season. At that point they ranked 17th in Offensive Rating.

The following night they played the Jazz again with the Pace coming in at 103.1 possessions. They Pelicans caused trouble for Jazz holding a double digit first half lead and putting up an Offensive Rating of 114.5.

For good reason, the Pelicans have continued to push the pace and it’s not a coincidence that they currently are fifth in Offensive Rating scoring 117.9 points per 100 possessions over the past 11 games since the change in philosophy.

One thing that hasn’t changed is their defense as the rank 27th in Defensive Rating, allowing opposing teams to score 115.4 points per 100 possessions this season.

Their defensive scheme in which they allow the highest percentage of 3-point field goal attempts (44.2%) is particularly problematic against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks who rank 10th in 3-point attempts, shooting 38.9% of their shots from deep.

While the Mavericks aren’t particularly shooting well from deep, regression is coming for this defense. (If you give up open 3s in an environment with no fans to a team that likes to shoot it from deep, you’re asking for trouble.) Don’t believe me, ask Zach Lavine and Coby White who combined to shoot 17-of-31 from beyond the arc Wednesday.

It appears regression for this Mavericks offense has already started to happen as they scored 122, 116, 134, 127 and 118 in games against the Hawks (2x), Warriors (2x) and Timberwolves. Over the past five games they’re 4-1 and have an Offensive Rating of 121.0, fourth among NBA teams during that time period.

Given the pace of this game, how well these offenses are performing recently, and my projection for this game (235), I’m playing the over here at 232.

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Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets

Pick Over 222 (PointsBet)
Gametime 9 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass

The Thunder once again come into this game shorthanded as they’ll be missing Shai-Gilgeous Alexander and George Hill for this matchup. Still, I think this total is short given their style of play.

The Thunder play at the eighth-fastest Pace in the league this season (101.63) and while no one will mistake this 29th ranked offense for a juggernaut, they are playing a Nuggets team that ranks 21st in Defensive Rating, allowing 113.5 points per 100 possessions and 119.3 over the past two weeks.

The Nuggets rank last in points at the rim, allowing opponents to shoot 70%.  Even the depleted Thunder should be able to get to the rim and score, if they push the pace.

Without Garry Harris and PJ Dozier in the lineup, we’ll continue to see more Michael Porter Jr., which means a lot of offense and very little defense. The Nuggets are scoring 117.9 points per 100 possessions with Porter on the floor, and allowing 117.7 points per 100 possessions.

As a whole the Nuggets are +6.6 points per 100 possessions worse with him on the floor. My projections for this game make this game 225, so I’ll play the over here.


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Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Lakers

Pick Over 218.5 (BetMGM)
Gametime 10 p.m. ET

I mentioned this in Wednesday’s projection piece where we took the Grizzlies/Hornets over, but have you seen the Grizzlies defense lately? Over the past two weeks, the Grizzlies are allowing 120.9 points per 100 possessions, 27th among NBA teams.

They’ll be playing LeBron James and the Lakers who have scored 111.4 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks but clearly haven’t played up to their potential.

I’ve been playing these Grizzlies overs as of late and I see no reason to stop. The Grizzlies are just 9-10-1 to the over this season, but the over is 6-3-1 in their past 10 games, including three straight games against the Hornets, Raptors and Pelicans.

While the Lakers are still the top ranked Defense in the league this season, I’m not seeing a solid defensive performance from this team after playing three straight overtime games this week. The Grizzlies are 14th in Pace this season, but I think we’ll see them push the pace tonight against a Lakers defense that is first in the half court allowing just 89.3 points per play.

Anthony Davis is questionable for tonight’s matchup and it’s likely he could play, which would make this total shoot up. My projections make this game 220 so anything under that number feels like a positive expected value proposition.


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