NBA Betting Guide for 1/20/21: Two Underdogs the Data Likes Tonight
Betting on the NBA can get a little overwhelming throughout the season because there are games virtually every day, and there's just a lot to track throughout the season and entering every night -- spreads, over/unders, injuries, and so on.
But you can rely on numberFire to help. We have a detailed betting algorithm that projects out games to see how often certain betting lines hit, and our oddsFire section of the site allows you to track movement in those lines and see where the action is coming from on particular games.
Detroit Pistons at Atlanta Hawks
The Detroit Pistons are off to a very sluggish start that includes a 3-10 record and an estimated net rating of -6.6, which ranks them 27th in the NBA. The Atlanta Hawks are a more promising 6-7 with a slightly positive net rating (0.4). That's a gap of 7.0 points, then, over 100 possessions. Despite that, there's some interesting data on the Pistons to cover a 4.5-point spread.
Firstly, numberFire's algorithm views it as a three-star bet out of five. The Pistons are 63.4% likely to cover that spread, per numberFire. The expected median score in this game is razor thin: 111.2 to 111.0. My model has it similar: 110.9 to 110.7.
The line has already moved from 6.0 to 4.5, and so far, 31% of the bets are on the Pistons to cover -- but 43% of the money is on the Pistons to cover. Keep an eye on this line in case it falls back closer to open, but there are plenty of indications to like the Pistons if we look past just this season's data and records.
Miami Heat at Toronto Raptors
I don't typically target moneyline bets here, but there's some consensus on the Toronto Raptors at -174. The Toronto moneyline is receiving 58% of the betting tickets and 70% of the money, so that checks out.
The -174 line implies win odds of 63.5%, but our algorithm rates them as 72.7% likely to beat the Miami Heat. My model is a lot closer to the posted line (62.4%), but the betting trends and numberFire's algorithm still point to the Raptors being a good back.
Toronto boasts a +1.5 estimated net rating (10th-best) while the Heat are at -2.4 (20th). That's a gap of 3.9 points over 100 possessions. That doesn't leave a ton of room on the 4.0-point spread either way, but the Raptors should get it done against a shorthanded Heat team.
San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors
The Spurs are 13th in our power rankings, and the Warriors are just 22nd. The Spurs' nERD rating of 49.9 indicates they should win 49.9% of their games this season (a 35.9-win team over 72 games and a 40.9-win team over 82), putting their expected point differential at 0.0.
The Warriors' nERD of 38.5 implies a point differential of -3.5 points and pits them as a 27.7-win team over 72 games and a 31.6-win team over 82 games.
The estimated net ratings for these two teams also favor the Spurs (+1.2) over the Warriors (-3.3).
The betting trends show the opposite and do prefer the Warriors at around 75% of the bets and money to cover the spread of 1.0 points, but the data points to another underdog to back tonight.