The Most Important Matchups and Best Bets for Wednesday’s NBA Slate
Wednesday features a full night of NBA basketball, but it’s not as full as it was expected to be. Three of the 10 scheduled games have been postponed due to COVID-19, bringing the total number to seven for the season. Six of those postponements have come since Sunday, so it’s not surprising that the league has initiated stricter health and safety protocols moving forward.
Even with the postponements, we still have seven games available tonight. The action gets underway with a pair of games starting at 7 p.m. ET and wraps up with two games at 10 p.m. ET.
One of the most interesting matchups features a battle between the two New York teams. The Nets will head to Manhattan to take on the Knicks, and both teams have posted similar records to start the year: The Nets are 6-6, and the Knicks are 5-6. That said, these teams were not expected to have similar records this season. Can the Nets get back on track? Can the Knicks keep it going?
Let’s dive in.
The Nets are coming off a big win last night vs. the Nuggets. It’s obviously still very early in the season, but the Nets needed that win to get back to .500. After the game, head coach Steve Nash said that the win – which came with Kyrie Irving still away from the team – was needed “for their soul.”
The Nets’ record is not where they’d like it to be at this point, but this team is clearly one of the best in basketball. They rank third in the league in Net Rating, and they’ve managed to do that with Irving and Kevin Durant, both missing large chunks of time. Spencer Dinwiddie also went down with an injury, which means they’ve been without three of their four best players for most of the season.
Now that Durant is back, this team appears poised for some positive regression. Durant has shown no ill-effects from the Achilles injury that caused him to miss all of last season, and he’s averaged 29.9 points through his first eight games. He’s also displayed his trademark efficiency, shooting 53.5% from the field and a career-best 44.7% from 3-point range.
Unsurprisingly, the Nets have been at their best this season with Durant on the floor. They’ve increased their Net Rating by +21.2 points per 100 possessions with Durant on the court this season, which puts him in the 93rd percentile for qualified players per Cleaning the Glass. They’ve been even better with Irving on the court – he owns a Net Rating differential of +23.1 – so this team will be scary once they’re both back in the lineup.
On the other side, the Knicks have been one of the luckiest teams in the league this season. They rank just 27th in terms of Net Rating, which gives them an expected record of just 4-7. One “extra” win over an 11-game sample size is pretty massive.
Julius Randle has led them, and the team has been at their best when he’s on the floor this season. He’s been on the floor quite a bit through their first 11 games – his average of 37.1 minutes per game is tied for the third-highest mark in the league – but that could be changing shortly. Taj Gibson is set to make his debut for the Knicks tonight, and Obi Toppin is also probable after missing each of the last 10 games. Both players will carve out roles in the rotation, which will likely result in fewer minutes for Randle.
The Knicks are a clear sell-high, and we can start by grabbing the Nets at -6.0 on FanDuel Sportsbook.
We’ve seen some notable line movement for tonight’s contests.
The biggest line move involves the Blazers. They’ve moved from -6.0 to -3.5 on the road vs. the Kings, thanks in part to their injury report. Jusuf Nurkic is questionable, and he was forced to leave their last game after just nine minutes. Nurkic is an impactful player, and the Blazers don’t have many options to replace him in the frontcourt. Enes Kanter will likely draw the start if Nurkic is out, but the Blazers’ Net Rating has decreased by -8.9 points per 100 possessions with Kanter on the court this season.
The Blazers have received 50% of the spread bets in this contest, but those bets have accounted for just 11% of the spread dollars. That means the big-dollar wagers – which usually come from professional bettors – have landed on the Kings.
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