For the 2020-2021 NBA season, I’ll be publishing my projections for every NBA game on the Wednesday and Friday slate. 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|
|Phoenix Suns at Toronto Raptors||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves||8:00 p.m. ET|
|Memphis Grizzlies at Utah Jazz||9:00 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 x-game slate.
Phoenix Suns at Toronto Raptors
|Pick||Under 224.5 (BetMGM) and Suns -3.5 (PointsBet)|
|Gametime||7:30 p.m ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
In Wednesday’s 135-111 win over the Denver Nuggets, the Toronto Raptors shot 45-of-89 from the field, 24-of-58 from behind the arc (50%) and scored 16 fast-break points. That’s not likely to repeat itself against the Phoenix Suns, who are fifth in Defensive Rating, according to NBA Advanced Stats, and hold opposing teams to 109.2 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes according to Cleaning The Glass. By comparison, the Nuggets are 17th in Defensive Rating (111.9) this season.
Although Toronto makes a living from behind the arc, shooting the third-highest frequency of 3-point field goal attempts (42.4%) while making the ninth highest (38.3%) this Suns team is stout at defending the perimeter. Opposing teams are shooting the third-lowest percentage from behind the arc (34.9%), so I’m not expecting a huge scoring outburst from a Raptors team who just traded Norman Powell for Gary Trent Jr and Rodney Hood, both of whom are likely to be available tonight.
If you shut down the Raptors’ 3-point attack, they don’t have much else as they rank 24th and 27th in field goal percentage at the rim (60.6%) and from midrange (37.6%) respectively.
The Suns have plenty of advantages to capitalize on offense. They’re shooting 66% at the rim against a Raptors team that ranks 20th in field goal percentage at the rim (64.4%). They also should have no problems scoring from behind the arc as the Raptors are allowing teams to shoot 38.1% from behind the arc, 22nd among NBA teams.
Although the Suns are likely to score efficiently, they still rank 24th in pace this season, playing just 98.22 possessions per game, so from my projections, this total is a bit too high. I played some under 225 and we’re seeing this total get steamed down for a reason. My projections make this game 222 and I still see some value at this number at the current number.
I also like the Suns in this matchup and while there’s some steam on the Raptors at +4.5, at 3.5 I see a ton of value on a Suns team that should be able to shut down this Raptors offense and do whatever they want. Look for the Suns to bounce back from Wednesday Night’s loss to the Orlando Magic with a win in a game that is lower scoring than the market anticipates.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets
|Pick||Under 229.5 (DraftKings)|
|Gametime||8:00 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
The Rockets are a league leading 26-16-1 to the under this season and for as much as I’ve spoken about playing Pelicans overs, I’ve played Rockets unders just as much.
The Rockets hold the league’s worst offense, scoring 105 points per 100 possessions this season. Unfortunately, the return of Christian Wood hasn’t done anything to change that as they’re still scoring, yup you guessed it 105 points per 100 possessions. Making matters worse, they traded Victor Oladipo at the trade deadline who was the team’s second leading scorer at 21.2 points per game.
With the Rockets lacking offensive weapons, Oladipo had a usage rate of 29.9% and you have to imagine that they’ll miss his presence as Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley likely won’t be available for this game. When you combine that with the absence of Eric Gordon, the cupboard is almost completely bare on this Rockets team offensively. Houston is dead last in 3-point (33.2%) and midrange (35.4%) shooting percentage and 16th at the rim. It’s not farfetched to assume that this Rockets team could still struggle to score against this Timberwolves defense that is 27th in Defensive Rating and giving up 116.1 points per 100 possessions this year.
The Timberwolves aren’t anything to write home about offensively as well as they’re 26th in Offensive Rating scoring just 107.6 points per 100 possessions this season. Their full season numbers could be a bit misleading as Karl Anthony Towns missed a large stretch of games and Rookie of the Year candidate Anthony Edwards has emerged as of late and the Wolves are 13th in Offensive Rating over the past two weeks (113.0). While the Wolves do play a fast paced game at 101.70 possessions a game, I still think this total is a tad bit too high at 229.5 based on my projections. This total opened at 226 and personally I disagree with the line move. I’ll take the under here and if you feel inclined you can also play the Rockets team total under 113.5, as well.
Memphis Grizzlies at Utah Jazz
|Pick||Under 229 (DraftKings)|
|Gametime||9:00 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
This game got steamed up from the opener of 227.5 to where it currently sits at 228.5. This is an intriguing game between two teams in the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies who rank second and sixth in Defensive Rating this season. On the flip side, these two teams are also top 10 in pace so we’re looking at a fast paced game. The question is will these teams be efficient offensively?
The Grizzlies are just 21st in Offensive Rating this season, scoring 110.0 points per 100 possessions. This is a team that is generating most of their points in floaters and mid range jumpers, while struggling at the rim and from behind the arc, the two most efficient areas of the floor. The Grizzlies are 18th in field goal percentage at the rim (62.9%), ninth in midrange field goal percentage (43.6%) and second to last in 3-point shooting percentage (34.3%). They’re facing a Jazz team which is top 10 in field goal percentage at every area of the floor so the Grizzlies could struggle to generate efficient offense in the half court if they aren’t getting out in transition consistently. Of course, with Ja Morant at point guard, this is a real concern.
The Jazz are scoring 119.1 points per 100 possessions this season, second behind only the Brooklyn Nets. However, their offense is prone to variance as they’re shooting the highest frequency of 3-point field goal attempts (45.4%). Where the Grizzlies can defend this team is at the rim, where they’re holding teams to 61.9%.
The pace of this game is why this total is where it is but from my projections this number is a tad bit too high. This feels a bit risky based on the Jazz having a prolific offense but keep in mind the Jazz are 22-20-1 to the under while the Grizzlies are 23-19-2 to the under. These have been two under teams this season and with my projection making this game 225, I’ll play the under and fade the steam that pushed this up to 228.5