We’ve got a busy Sunday in the NBA with 10 games on the slate, including an afternoon tip between the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets (3 p.m. ET on NBATV) and a late matchup out West between the Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers.
Our NBA analysts have targeted two other games tonight’s schedule, and are both lookin at the total in each of their picks. Take a look our in-depth analysis for each showdown below.
NBA Odds & Picks
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Austin Wang: The Cleveland Cavaliers will host the New Orleans Pelicans this evening in what I believe will be a shootout. Bookmakers have not sufficiently adjusted for Larry Nance Jr.’s absence and Kevin Love’s return.
Nance has been out for six straight games with a serious illness that caused him to lose 20 pounds. The Cavaliers have gone over four straight games by an average of 14.25 points. The Cavaliers’ Defensive Rating decreases by 5.9 points and their Offensive Rating increases by 5.6 points when he is off the court, per Basketball Reference. His impact on the defensive end cannot be emphasized enough.
Instead, his minutes will primarily be replaced by the return of Kevin Love, who has looked decent in his five games back. He instantly gives the Cavaliers a boost in scoring while not being much of a threat on defense.
Since the 2018-2019 season, in games where Nance is not playing, the Cavaliers have gone 31-14-2 (68.9%) to the over.
During that same timeframe, in those games where Nance is out and Love is in, the Cavaliers are 13-4 (76.5%) to the over.
Also, the Pelicans look to be healthy with most of their key players returning from injury. In the last five games, the Pelicans played at the second fastest Pace (103.6) in the league, per NBA Advanced Stats. I expect them to resume their high-scoring ways that has them 33-16-3 (67.3%) to the over this season.
My recommendation is to take the over in this game as I see it easily hitting the 230s.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks
Raheem Palmer: This is the third and final matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs this season. Given the familiarity between these two Southwest divisional foes, this will likely be a hard fought matchup and personally I’m not expecting a ton of points.
The Mavericks haven’t played particularly fast this season but they are now dead last in pace since the All-Star break, playing at just 95 possessions a game. More importantly, the Mavericks are third in Defensive Rating, holding opposing teams to 106.3 points per 100 possessions.
They’ll be facing a Spurs team that is just 19th in Offensive Rating (111.1) in their non garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass. The Spurs aren’t a very fast paced team either (15th in Pace at 99.71) and since the All Star break they rank 19th in Pace, playing just 98.38 possessions per game. With these two divisional foes both ranking towards the bottom of the league in pace, I’m just not expecting a ton of possessions.
In the first two games this season, these teams played 97.9 and 91.5 possessions so we can expect that here as well.
When betting totals, pace is half the battle and the other half is efficiency. Given the Mavericks’ defensive improvements and the familiarity between these two teams I’m not expecting these teams light up the score board.
While these teams come in to this game well rested with the Mavericks last playing Thursday and the Spurs playing on Friday, both of these teams are on the front end of a back-to-back so we can expect less minutes from the starters.
Overall, I think this total is just a tad bit too high as my model makes this game 217. I’ll take the under 220.5 here.
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