This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.
Three brave and noble souls contribute to Tuesday's roundtable, laying pride and the respect of their peers on the line.
Alex Barutha: Two bets...
Russell Westbrook, OVER 7.5 rebounds (-134) vs. Timberwolves – DraftKings, 1:35 PM
Celtics (-3, -110) at Pacers – PointsBet, 2:14 PM
Plenty of Westbrook's player props are enticing today. The Rockets have an expected total of 130(!) points against Minnesota, and it's hard to blame any bettors for taking over 45.5 points+rebounds+ assists for Westbrook at -110; he averages 44.5 combined P+R+A when Houston scores between 120-140 points. But I'm targeting over 7.5 rebounds, which I believe is the safer bet, even if it's less exciting.
Two key figures come into play here, aside from just the overall pace of the game, which is almost enough reason in and of itself to like the over. First, Minnesota is 25th in offensive rebounding percentage and 21st in defensive rebounding percentage since the All-Star break. Second, since the break, Westbrook has been the best offensive rebounding point guard in the NBA (7.6 fgOR%) and is in the 92nd percentile for defensive rebounding for his position (13.5 fgDR%), per Cleaning the Glass. The raw number is 8.6 boards per game over the past seven. The season is effectively over for Minnesota, and they've made defense and rebounding non-priorities. Westbrook is exactly the type of high-energy player that shouldn't play down to his competition.
Onto Celtics at Pacers. It's absolutely shocking that this line opened at -1 and, admittedly, a ton of value has already been bet out of it. I assume oddsmakers think bettors will consider the absences of Jaylen Brown for the Celtics and Malcolm Brogdon/Doug McDermott for the Pacers equal. That's not even remotely close to being the case.
With Brown out for Boston, the team still retains an impressive +8.1 net rating – they've been winning despite injuries all season. Meanwhile, Indiana has a -7.8 net rating with Brogdon, McDermott and Jeremy Lamb off the court, and that number jumps to an abysmal -12.4 with Victor Oladipo – who is questionable – also out. My read of this game is that is has a better chance of being a blowout than being close. If you're feeling ambitious, taking the Celtics to win by double-digits (-9.5, +230, FanDuel) might be an interesting way to grab some plus money. I also wouldn't argue with throwing some money down on Jayson Tatum 35+ Pts/Boston To Win at +1320 (also FanDuel).
Nick Whalen: Coby White OVER 30.5 PTS + REB + AST (-120) vs. CLE – DraftKings Sportsbook, noon CT
I've often said there's no safer bet than backing a high-usage rookie guard shooting under 40 percent from the floor. WITH THAT SAID, I love White to go over on this number against a team that, while improved since parting ways with John Beilein, is still the Cleveland Cavaliers. White has gone over on that number in each of his last three games, and in six of his last eight contests overall. In three of those games, White topped 30.5 in points alone. Lately, though, he's begun to contribute more as a playmaker, totaling 25 assists over his last four games. With Zach LaVine out again tonight, White should be locked in to around 35 minutes, as has been the case since the Bulls returned from the All-Star break.
Joe Bartel: (Three-way parlay, +579, FanDuel, 11:14 AM CT)
• RJ Barrett over 15.5 points (-110) vs. Wizards
• Russell Westbrook over 45.5 points/rebounds/assists (-118) vs. Timberwolves
• Spencer Dinwiddie under 29.5 points/rebounds/assists (-108) vs. Lakers
I think any of these is perfectly fine to bet standing on their own, but I figured we might as well give three bits of advice away for the price of one. Conventional wisdom will suggest Bradley Beal's 31-point over/under is an intriguing action piece, but I'd rather target the shooting guard's suspect defense with Barrett, who has hit Tuesday's over in six of the last 10 games. What's more, the Wizards have been perennially bad against SGs, allowing 30 points per game this season to the position in a contest that, at least based on the total over/under (228.5) should be relatively high-scoring.
Westbrook's line is an easy one to follow, with the Timberwolves continuing their post-trade deadline crusade against the concept of defense. The 31-year-old posted 45 points, 10 assists and six rebounds the last time he faced Minnesota, and given the team's ineptitude against opposing point guards over the last five games, it's entirely possible he does it again. I feel better about the over on Westbrook's 15.5 rebound/assist total than perhaps his points, but I think he does enough of everything where it probably won't make a difference when considering the point/rebound/assist totals.
Finally, I wanted to get in on the Dinwiddie action, if only because this line would be at least two or three points lower were LeBron James (groin) to be deemed active, a possibility that seems all the more imminent following Tuesday's latest report. The Lakers have allowed the fifth fewest points to opposing point guards over the last 10 games, although it's worth pointing out LA hasn't exactly went against a murder's row of score-first PGs during that stretch. Still, Dinwiddie's extreme inconsistencies as of late have me willing to chance the under, particularly since he's not much of a factor on the glass.