The Most Important Matchups and Best Bets for Monday’s NBA Slate
The NBA is not in a great spot right now from a COVID-19 perspective. They’ve already postponed Monday’s contest between the Mavericks and Pelicans, and the Celtics’ will have to postpone their second straight game on Tuesday. Overall, that brings the season total up to four postponed games, with three coming in the past three days.
That said, we still have plenty of basketball on the calendar. Monday features a seven-game slate, starting with a quartet of contests at 7 p.m. ET and wrapping up with two games at 10 p.m. ET.
One of the most interesting games involves the Cavaliers and the Grizzlies. The total sits at just 206.5 points, which is nearly unheard of in 2021. Almost every team in the league is playing faster and getting more efficient offensively on a yearly basis, so this game stands out as a major outlier. Should you back the over out of sheer principle?
Let’s dive in.
A 206.5-point total is a throwback to an earlier era of NBA basketball. Every other game on tonight’s slate has a total of at least 212, and five games own a total of at least 221.5. Overall, there has been just one other game this season with a total of fewer than 210 points, and that game also featured the Grizzlies vs. the Cavaliers. They combined for just 184 points in that contest, so it’s no shock that tonight’s matchup is even lower.
These two teams fit all the criteria for another potential under. Both teams have been strong defensively to start the year – Cleveland ranks first in defensive efficiency, Memphis ranks eighth – and the Cavaliers have also played at the third-slowest pace. Both teams are also dealing with injuries that have severely hampered their ability to score the ball.
The Cavaliers are playing without Darius Garland and Kevin Love, and their offense has been a disaster with both players off the court this season. They’ve averaged just 96.0 points per 100 possessions in that situation, which has caused them to drop to dead-last in offensive efficiency this season.
The Grizzlies haven’t been much better. They rank 29th in offensive efficiency on the year, which is not surprising with Ja Morant out of the lineup. He is easily their top offensive player, and the Grizzlies have averaged just 100.5 points per 100 possessions with Morant off the court this season.
This feels like an appealing under spot, but history suggests you may want to exercise some caution. The under has gone just 76-94-4 in games with a total of fewer than 210 points since the start of the 2018 season. Maybe the Grizzlies and Cavs are so bad on offense that they are an outlier, but it’s tough for teams not to hit the 210-point threshold in the modern NBA.
We’ve one notable line movement for tonight’s contests.
That line move involves the Indiana Pacers. They were listed as just two-point road favorites over the Sacramento Kings on the advance point spread, but they’ve moved all the way to -5.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook. Not only have the Pacers been excellent this season – they’re 6-3 and rank sixth in Net Rating – but the Kings could also be shorthanded. Buddy Hield and Richaun Holmes are both listed as questionable, so it’s not surprising that the line has moved in the Pacers’ favor.
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