The Most Important Matchups and Best Bets for Tuesday’s NBA Slate
The NBA Season continues rolling right along, and we’ve got another five-game slate on tap for Tuesday. The action gets underway with the Utah Jazz vs. the Brooklyn Nets at 7:30 p.m. ET and wraps up with a matchup between the Chicago Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers at 10:30 p.m. ET.
The Nets will be one of the most interesting teams to monitor on today’s slate. They will be playing without Kevin Durant, who is expected to miss approximately one week due to health and safety protocols. How will the team fare in his absence?
The Denver Nuggets will also be playing a man down tonight vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves. Michael Porter Jr. will miss his third straight game due to health and safety protocols, but the Nuggets are still listed as 11-point home favorites on FanDuel Sportsbook. Is there some value with the Timberwolves in this matchup?
Let’s dive in.
Durant was a bit of a question mark coming into this season. He was one of the best players in the league before getting injured, but it has historically been challenging to come back from an Achilles injury. It was reasonable to think that he might not be the same player with the Nets that he was with the Warriors and Thunder.
Luckily for NBA fans, those concerns appear to have been unfounded. Durant has averaged 28.2 points per game during his first six games with the Nets, and he has continued to display his trademark efficiency. He’s shooting 51.4% from the field, 45.5% from 3-point range, and 88.5% from the free throw line, which gives him a chance at an elusive 50/40/90 season. That is typically reserved for 3-point specialists, not volume scorers like Durant.
Unsurprisingly, Durant has had a massive impact when on the court for the Nets. They’ve increased their Net Rating by a ridiculous +33.1 points per 100 possessions over Durant’s 205 minutes, which puts him in the 99th percentile for all players per Cleaning the Glass. That is obviously a small sample size, but it’s impossible to understate how important Durant has been for the Nets early in the year.
With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the Jazz are listed as road favorites in Brooklyn. The Jazz have also garnered heavy support in the betting market, receiving 89% of the early spread dollars.
On the other hand, losing Porter Jr. could be addition by subtraction for the Nuggets. Porter Jr. is an extremely gifted scorer, but he still has a long way to go on the defensive side of the ball. Defense may not be as sexy as offense, but it is arguably the more important part of the game.
Porter Jr. being on the court has actually been a liability for the Nuggets this season. Their Net Rating has decreased by -19.1 points per 100 possessions in that situation, and nearly all of that impact falls on the defensive end of the court. They’ve allowed an additional +14.1 points per 100 possessions with Porter Jr. on the floor this season, and their opponents have also increased their effective FG% by +5.4%.
This isn’t a one-off with MPJ either: The Nuggets were also worse with him on the court last season, which is why head coach Mike Malone didn’t give him many minutes before the Orlando bubble.
Porter Jr. still has plenty of time to rectify his defensive woes, but the Nuggets are simply a better team at the moment without him. They cruised to an easy win without Porter Jr. in their last contest, and they should be able to easily dispose of a Timberwolves squad without Karl-Anthony Towns on Tuesday.
We’ve seen some notable line movement for tonight’s contests.
The biggest move involves the Jazz. They were initially listed as three-point underdogs, but they’ve moved all the way to 4.5-point favorites following the news that Durant would not suit up. The Jazz have received the vast majority of the spread bets and dollars in this contest, so there’s a chance the line could rise even higher before tip-off.
The Clippers are another team generating significant buzz among the sharps. They’ve received 55% of the early spread bets, but those bets have accounted for 72% of the spread dollars. That has caused this line to increase from Clippers -8 to Clippers -9.5.
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