The jack-o-lanterns have finally given way to Thanksgiving decorations as the calendar turns to November, marking the start of the first full month of NBA action. Pay little attention to the win-loss records at this point: Many of the teams at the top of the standings haven’t played the class of the league just yet. Trends are just beginning to take shape, and if you pay close enough attention, there are a few games every night where smart bettors can take advantage while things continue to shake out. Here’s a look at a few of those matchups on tonight’s schedule.
Best Bet: Under 215 (WynnBet)
In case you couldn’t tell by their combined 4-8 record, both the Orlando Magic (21st) and Minnesota Timberwolves (23rd) rank in the bottom third in the league in terms of offensive efficiency. Karl-Anthony Towns and Co. have broken the century mark in scoring just twice this season, while the Magic are averaging a mere 102.6 points per game, the fifth-worst mark in the NBA.
Tonight marks Orlando’s sixth road game in eight contests, and they’ve shot just 42.6 percent from the field in opposing gyms this season. The Magic are playing more competitive basketball as of late, but this is a difficult spot for a team suiting up for its fifth game in eight nights.
Minnesota’s offensive numbers are down pretty much across the board compared to last year: Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell are the only players on the roster who average double-figures in scoring. That trio should be enough to take down the Magic, but likely won’t be enough to push the game total over the number.
Best Bet: 76ers -6 (DraftKings)
The Philadelphia 76ers laying just six points in this one almost feels too good to be true. They were one of the best teams in the league at home last season (33-10), and their lone loss at the Wells Fargo Center this year came against the Brooklyn Nets in a game where Sixers never trailed until the final 48 seconds.
Fresh off of a dominating 122-94 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, the 76ers are looking to keep the ship rolling after an uneven start to the season. Portland heads into Monday’s showdown on a second leg of a back-to-back after playing the upstart Charlotte Hornets last night.
Sixers/Trail Blazers is a complete contrast of styles: Portland plays at an extremely quick pace thanks to their dynamic backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum (who’s surprisingly leading the team in scoring to this point). Conversely, Philadelphia has notched the fewest number of offensive possessions in the league, thanks in large part to the absence of Ben Simmons, who’s in the process of integrating himself back into the team after a tumultuous offseason.
However, even without Simmons, the Sixers have been able to average a league-best 115.4 points per 100 possessions, and that offensive firepower will allow them to cover the number and give them their first three-game winning streak of the season.
Best Bet: Wizards +5.5 (DraftKings)
If you had the Washington Wizards at the top of the Southeast Division standings at the beginning of November, take a bow. This team is noticeably better than the crew that got bounced out of the first round of the playoffs last year, and could be a tough out once this year’s postseason rolls around, as long as they stay (relatively) healthy.
Washington took down Atlanta 122-111 last Thursday sans Spencer Dinwiddie, who missed the game due to rest. The Hawks shot just 14 free throws in the loss, a sharp departure from their magical run last season when they practically lived at the charity stripe (24.2 FTA per game in 2020-21).
For what it’s worth, both teams have benefitted from relatively soft schedules to this point, although the Wizards have notched two victories over the Boston Celtics. The Hawks’ only win against a team on the plus side of the ledger came in their season opener against the Dallas Mavericks. It should also be noted that Atlanta is just two days removed from getting boat raced in a 28-point loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Washington won tonight’s contest outright, so the 5.5 points is more or less a bonus. While Atlanta swept all three games against the Wizards last season, the final two wins came by a combined total of five points.
Best Bet: Under 214 (DraftKings)
Points figure to come at a premium in this one, so a total of 214 for two struggling offenses is extremely enticing. Oklahoma City has scored 100 points or more just twice this season, and the Clippers have notched a grand total of 171 points in their past two games.
Los Angeles’ 1-4 record is due in large part to an injury list littered with names including – most notably – Kawhi Leonard, who’s out indefinitely as he recovers from offseason surgery on his right ACL. The Thunder can’t lean on the injury excuse: They’re simply a young, inexperienced team trying to figure out how to compete every night. Oklahoma City is the third-worst team in the league in offensive efficiency, they shoot just 41.6 percent from the floor, and they average just a shade over 97 points per night.
The Clippers aren’t a whole lot better – Luke Kennard is currently their third-leading scorer with 12.4 PPG off the bench – but their early-season difficulties will likely disappear once they get a healthy set of bodies. Until then, expect their offensive struggles to continue, regardless of who they square off against.