A bettor should follow any rule changes that could impact the way you bet on games in any sport. We see a great example of this in the NBA to start the 2021-22 season. Last week I mentioned how the new rule about offensive players initiating contact for fouls impacted James Harden. Well, while Harden is the poster child for the problem the league hopes to eradicate, he is far from the alone offender.
Many other players and teams saw what Harden was doing and how effective it was, so they started doing it themselves. So far, the result has been many confused looks on players’ faces wondering why they aren’t rewarded with a trip to the free throw line for lowering their shoulder to an opponent.
Last season, NBA teams averaged 112.1 points per game and 21.8 free throw attempts per game. The previous season, they averaged 111.8 points and 23.1 free throws. So far this season, those numbers have fallen to 107.4 points and 20 free throws. It might not sound like a lot, but it had a significant impact on betting.
In Sunday games, the sub went 59-34 in NBA games. This means that if you’ve bet blindly on every NBA game this year, you earn around 22 units. Of course, the books have figured this out. At the start of the season, we saw most of the totals hovering between 220 and 235 points, which is in line with the league’s situation in recent years. The average total of the nine NBA games scheduled for tonight is currently 216.3.
Now let’s drop some picks as the NBA drops the totals.
All Eastern Time and All Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
The hot ticket
?? Giants at Chiefs, 8:15 PM | Television: ESPN
The choice: More than 52 (-110): A lot has been done this season of Patrick Mahomes’ struggles, and rightly so. The quarterback has been so spectacular in his career that he has inspired teams to seek out other quarterbacks with terrible mechanics who often attempt silly throws. I mean, without Patrick Mahomes, there’s no way Zach Wilson would be selected No.2 in the draft by anyone. The problem, of course, is that the reason Mahomes is unique is that he is able to make parts that no one else can.
Unfortunately for Kansas City, he hasn’t made it this season. Mahomes is having the worst year of his career as a starter. Although he has a high career completion rate of 67.5%, he currently has career lows in passer rating, yards per attempt and yards per completion. His interception rate of 3.2% is the highest of his career, as is his dismissal rate of 4.8%. What to wonder if it is less than 100%!
Tonight will provide Mahomes with the opportunity to “get back to good health” from a performance standpoint. He will face a Giants team that ranks 23rd in the NFL for points allowed per practice (2.34) and 19th for defensive efficiency in the red zone. The Giants have also allowed their opponents to complete nearly 70% of their passing attempts, although the yards they allowed per attempt were respectable. The Giants have faced just two teams that can compare to what the Chiefs have offensively (Cowboys and Rams) and have allowed 82 points in those two games.
Plus, we can’t forget that the Chiefs have a horrible defense! While attention was drawn to Mahomes, Kansas City allowed 2.84 points per possession, the league’s worst in defense. Opposing offenses have managed to score points on 49.3% of their training against this Chiefs defense. There will also be plenty of opportunities for the Giants to score points on the board, which makes it all pretty appealing.
Key trend: Kansas City games have averaged 55.9 points per game this season, the most of any team in the league.
Here’s what SportsLine says about the game: SportsLine expert Larry Hartstein is 18-5 in his last 23 ATS picks involving the Chiefs and he released his pick for Monday Night Football.
Raptors at the Knicks, 7:30 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass
Less than 208
Choice: Less than 208.5 (-110) – As mentioned above, the under has been a profitable game in the NBA this season, but we are also seeing the books adjust the lines. That means we have to adjust as well, but even at 208.5 I still think that total is too high. Just like when we took the money in last week’s Knicks-Bulls game, I’m not worried about where the Knicks are ranked defensively. If Tom Thibodeau trains you, defense is always at the heart of what you do. I don’t see the Knicks’ scorching start to filming as something that lasts either.
Instead, I’m more interested in the fact that Toronto is one of the best defensive teams in the league so far, and both teams are some of the slowest. The Knicks are ranked 27th in the NBA in rhythm, while the Raptors are 29th. The less possessions there are, the fewer shots there are. The fewer shots there were, the fewer points scored. It’s scientific!
Key trend: The under is 8-3 in New York’s last 11 games as a home favorite.
Spurs at Pacers, 7 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass
San Antonio Spurs +3
The pick: Spurs +3 (-110) – The Pacers are an absolute mess defensively right now. Their 109.1 net defensive rating ranks 24th in the league and is the main reason the Pacers are on a 1-6 start to the season. Now I think it’s something that will improve as the season goes on, but it’s a legitimate issue right now and it’s extremely difficult to trust the Pacers as favorites.
Meanwhile, the Spurs may only be 2-4, but their net score of 2.3 (offense rating minus defense rating) ranks 13th in the league, and they’ve been excellent defensively. There is a lot of potential on the offensive side, but there are also a lot of new faces learning new teammates and new roles within a system. Still, the results are encouraging and I have more confidence in San Antonio right now, so I’m taking my chances here.
Key trend: Spurs are 20-8-1 in their last 29 games as road underdogs.
?? The SportsLine choice of the day: SportsLine Projection Model of the Night’s Favorite NBA Game is on one side of the gap between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Portland Trailblazers.
Monday night parlay
Here’s a three-legged NBA silver line parlay for tonight that pay +209.