Between Tom Brady pulling off another conquest in leading Tampa to a championship and commercials joining the game and halftime show in being a dud, you’re probably eager to dive out of your post-Super Bowl Sunday slumber into basketball betting season.
Hopefully you at least peeked your head in on Christmas Day or a loaded college basketball Saturday so you haven’t missed all the wild. Just in case you haven’t found the time, blue bloods like Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina and Kansas are stuck at varying degrees on the terrible-to-mediocre scale, Gonzaga and Baylor are on a National Championship collision course, and potential Cinderellas are emerging with Western Kentucky, Drake, Belmont, Loyola-Chicago, Wright State, Wofford, Winthrop, and UC-Irvine all lining for a slipper fitting.
In the NBA, no edge is ever safe in the pros since a 20-point advantage usually means nothing, and two five-point leads were wiped out inside of the last 10 seconds on consecutive nights to close out January. The Jazz own the best record, James Harden plays for Brooklyn now and LeBron James has a Benjamin Button act going in being the MVP with over two-thirds of the season still left to be played.
Those of you familiar with Gaming Today on the print side know what I do, but for the unitiated, we’re going to isolate some trends, preview key games and offer up a suggestion or two pick-wise. Keep in mind that given the current climate, you should always check on the availability of key players leading up to tip-off before wagering on anything these days.
Even that didn’t help last Friday, since Nets star Kevin Durant was told he couldn’t start minutes before a nationally-televised loss to Toronto (which plays in Tampa this season). Durant then got cleared to enter off the bench, started the second half and was pulled again by league mandate. He’ll miss the next few games due to COVID protocols, reportedly because he was in a car with a Nets employee who tested positive three times prior to the game.
Nets Gains Or Losses While KD Sits?
Unless there’s some unexpected reprieve, Durant will be unavailable for games at Detroit and home against Indiana on Tuesday and Wednesday. Kyrie Irving sat out the Nets loss in Philadelphia with a finger sprain and may not play in both ends of the back-to-back, so be wary of laying points since Brooklyn will still likely be favored in both games so long as Harden plays. He’s averaged 23.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 11.8 assists in helping the Nets to a 7-4 mark in the 11 games he’s played since coming over from Houston and has chosen to help aid the transition by being more of a facilitator for his All-Star teammates.
Brooklyn lost the only game he’s missed – it coughed up one of the five-point leads blown inside the last 10 seconds – and is just 4-8 against the spread since Harden came on board. It’s predictable that their spreads have been inflated, while high totals have contributed to a 6-6 mark on over-unders. The high side is 8-4 over the last 12 games for both the Pistons and Pacers, so we might see higher numbers from sportsbooks in spite of Durant’s absence. There could be value in riding the ‘under’ as a result, particularly if and when Irving sits.
This first half of the NBA week will be highlighted by a rematch between the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic and runner-up Trae Young, who combined for 48 points and 23 assists last Wednesday (Feb. 3) in Atlanta in a 122-116 Mavs win. Those two will always be tied together given the early debate over who the most valuable player from that class is and are aware of the rivalry, so it’s a safe bet that both players will be up for this game. Atlanta will arrive in Dallas well-rested given three full days in between games and have Danilo Gallinari back up at full speed to help replace second-year forward De’Andre Hunter for the next weeks as he mends after a knee procedure. Gallinari’s presence further increases the likelihood that we’ll get another high-scoring game. Look for a total hovering around 230 to be placed on this rematch and ride the over.
Seen On The College Scene
NCAA basketball action on Super Bowl weekend was highlighted by UNC winning at Duke in a game where freshman Caleb Love finally delivered a performance many Tar Heels hoped would be a regular occurrence by this point. North Carolina visited Miami on Monday night looking to avoid a letdown in a weird spot in between a rivalry game and Saturday’s showdown with Virginia in Charlottesville.
The Cavaliers have rebounded from blowing a second-half lead in a collapse at Virginia Tech by defeating N.C. State and Pittsburgh and remain atop the ACC. With games against the Tar Heels, Florida State, and Duke coming up after Wednesday’s visit to Georgia Tech, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the ‘Hoos caught looking ahead.
The Yellow Jackets look like they’ll be on the bubble as Selection Sunday approaches and need to take down a conference giant to strengthen their case after letting a golden opportunity to take down the Blue Devils in Durham get away in the final minute late last month. Georgia Tech has won eight consecutive games in Atlanta, posting upsets of Kentucky, UNC, Clemson and FSU in that span. You’re going to want to take the points with the Bees on Wednesday.
Other games to watch early in the week feature unbeaten Gonzaga looking to avenge its most recent loss suffered last February in Provo against BYU, West Virginia looking to build off an impressive win over Kansas as it tries to upset Texas Tech in Lubbock on Tuesday, and Rutgers looking to move one step closer to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1991 by taking down the Hawkeyes in Iowa City on Wednesday.
Although it’s risky to back the Scarlet Knights given their adventures at the free-throw line often turn into a horror show, Iowa hasn’t looked like the same team without sophomore wing C.J. Fredrick. The Hawkeyes have dropped four of their last five and may not get Fredrick back from a leg injury this week, so check on his availability before pulling the trigger on Tuesday. If he’s sidelined again, Rutgers could be a live road underdog.