The Most Important Matchups and Best Bets for Tuesday’s NBA Slate
The NBA is reportedly debating a shutdown given the league-wide struggles with COVID-19, but there will be basketball on Tuesday. There are six games currently scheduled, starting with the Miami Heat vs. the Philadelphia 76ers at 7 p.m. ET and wrapping up with the Indiana Pacers vs. the Golden State Warriors at 10:30 p.m. ET.
That said, the game between the Heat and 76ers may not happen. Miami is the latest team to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak, and they only have six players not on either the injury report or in health and safety protocols. They have two additional players listed as probable – which would get them to the required minimum of eight – but that game remains in serious jeopardy. Luckily, FanDuel did not include that game on the main slate, so you won’t need to worry about it from a DFS perspective.
The matchup I’m most excited about involves the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets. The Lakers have gotten off to a fast start this season, but the Rockets have won just three of their first eight games. Can they right the ship and save their season?
Let’s dive in.
The Rockets have overhauled their roster pretty drastically over the past two seasons. It started by trading Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, and then Westbrook was shipped off to the Wizards in exchange for John Wall. They also jettisoned starting center Clint Capela before the trade deadline last season in an effort to play with even more spacing on offense.
The Rockets were able to try those things because they had two constants: James Harden and Mike D’Antoni. Harden catches some flack because of his style of play, but it’s not hyperbole to say that he’s one of the greatest scorers in the history of basketball. He is hyper-efficient for someone who touches the ball so much offensively. He averaged 84.6 touches per game last season, which was the ninth-highest mark in the league, and he averaged 0.41 points per touch. No one in basketball can match his combination of volume and efficiency. For example, LeBron James averaged 0.28 points per touch, Nikola Jokic averaged 0.21, and Luka Doncic averaged 0.29. Even Giannis Antetokounmpo – the back-to-back reigning MVP – averaged just 0.36 points per touch on slightly less volume.
Now that D’Antoni is gone, Harden’s role in the Rockets’ offense has diminished. His usage rate of 29.5% represents a drop of more than 10% from its peak in 2018-19, and the Rockets’ offense is suffering because of it. He scored at least 40 points in 21 games last season, and the Rockets went 18-3 in those contests. They also ranked sixth in the league in Offensive Efficiency. With Harden taking on a smaller role this season, they’ve dropped to just 14th in that department.
Luckily for the Rockets, Harden may have no choice to revert to his old ways tonight vs. the Lakers. John Wall and Eric Gordon are both listed as questionable, and Harden is their only real option offensively if they’re ruled out. Harden has increased his usage rate by +5.5% with both players off the court this season.
That could make Houston an interesting option as 4.5-point home underdogs on FanDuel Sportsbook.
We’ve seen some notable line movement for tonight’s contests.
The biggest line move involves the Heat. They are unsurprisingly not getting a ton of support in the betting market, which makes sense given their current roster. Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn, and Bam Adebayo have all been ruled out, which leaves Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson to handle most of the scoring.
The 76ers will also be playing shorthanded, but they will at least have both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in the lineup. With that in mind, this line has moved from 76ers -4 to 76ers -8 on FanDuel Sportsbook.
The Jazz are another team that have seen the line move in their favor. They were originally listed as 9-point road favorites vs. the Cavaliers, but they’re all the way up to -12. The Cavs will remain without Darius Garland, Kevin Love, and Collin Sexton, which leaves them devoid of nearly all of their offensive talent. Even Andre Drummond has been added to the injury report as questionable, so the Cavs could be extremely thin in this matchup.
BEST BETS FROM THE SPORTSGRID BETTING MODEL