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Lakers vs Nuggets NBA betting picks and predictions: Bettors love LeBron to top this prop

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Wednesday’s NBA odds have Los Angeles Lakers as short road favorites over the Denver Nuggets, with the top two teams in the Western Conference playing their final game before the All-Star break.

We build the NBA betting blueprint for this marquee matchup, from our best bets for the pointspread and total to some quick-paying picks and prop plays.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS AT DENVER NUGGETS (+2.5, 220.5)

QUICK HITTER

The Nuggets have won four in a row and eight of their last 10, climbing the ladder to second in the Western Conference standings – three games back of the Lakers for the top spot. Denver rallied to a 127-120 road victory over the Spurs on Monday, erasing a 23-point deficit with under 19 minutes to go.

Los Angeles PG Rajon Rondo scored a season-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting as the Lakers blew past the Suns at home 125-100 Monday night. Los Angeles has now won four of its last five games both SU and ATS as it looks to continue that momentum heading into the All-Star break.

Denver has been one of the least profitable NBA bets in the first quarter this season, going 17-36-1 ATS including a 11-15-1 ATS return at home. The last time these teams met on December 22, the Lakers won the opening stanza 28-23 despite being without LeBron James, who missed his first game of the season. Look for a similar scoreline with James back in the lineup Wednesday.

PREDICTION: Lakers -1 First Quarter

FIRST HALF

Despite dealing with several injuries, Denver has won six of its last seven games including a pair of back-to-back sweeps. The Nuggets will likely have a short bench again Wednesday with Mason Plumlee (foot), Michael Porter Jr. (ankle) and Will Barton (knee) all sidelined. Denver will have nine days off to get healthy before playing next.

The Lakers are getting big contributions from their bench, including Rondo, who is 7 of 10 from the 3-point line in his last two games after going just 6 of 34 over his previous 15 appearances. With the entire rotation clicking, Los Angeles will start fast again in the Mile High City.

PREDICTION: Lakers -1.5 First Half

TEAM/PLAYER PROP

James has entered rarified air in his 17th NBA season. For the first time ever, the four-time MVP leads the NBA in assists. He is averaging 10.7 dimes per game – the most of his career and the only time he has ever averaged double-figures in that category. James has recorded at least nine assists in six straight games including 15 against the Rockets on February 6.

An efficient Lakers offense has helped James accomplish this feat, as has Anthony Davis. The big man is having another big year averaging 26.5 points on 51.9 percent shooting. The Lakers lead the NBA with a 48.8 field goal percentage this season. Expect James to have another strong performance distributing the basketball in his final game before the All-Star break.

PREDICTION: LeBron James Over 9.5 Assists

TOTAL BET

The Nuggets are used to playing games with relatively low totals as the oddsmakers have been conservative with setting their numbers. Denver has not had a total above 230 points all season with its highest Over/Under number being 229.5 back on January 24 against the high-scoring New Orleans Pelicans. The Nuggets won that game 113-106 as the final score stayed 10 points under the total.

Los Angeles has stayed beneath the total is two of its last three games and is dead even on the season with an Over/Under record of 26-26. The Over is 15-12 in the Lakers’ road games this season and 15-12 in Nuggets’ home games. It’s a good bet both teams will score some points as the starters could see extended minutes with the All-Star break looming.

PREDICTION: Over 220.5

SPREAD BET

Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap gutted through injuries to help spark the rally against the Spurs on Monday. Millsap scored 22 points in his second game back from a knee injury and Murray poured in 14 points in the fourth quarter as Denver racked up 74 second-half points in the comeback.

These teams split the first two meetings this season with each team winning on the road. The Nuggets blew out the Lakers 128-104 at STAPLES Center back on December 22, however, Los Angeles was without James for that matchup. The Lakers won a convincing 105-96 decision on December 3 at Pepsi Center.

Avery Bradley has been lighting it up from behind the arc and is 18 of 29 from 3-point range while averaging 15 points over his last five games. Bradley and the Lakers must solve a Denver defense ranked third in 3-point shooting (34.1 percent). Los Angeles is the only team in the NBA to has fewer losses on the road (five) than it does at home (seven). The Lakers head into the break with another victory away from home and cover this slim spread.

PREDICTION: Lakers -2.5

College basketball odds, picks and predictions: Bet on big first half from Oregon

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Baylor aims to stay at the top of the NCAA men’s basketball rankings as they take on a reeling West Virginia squad on Saturday, while Oregon looks to crush visiting Utah on Sunday night. We break down the college basketball odds for those games and much more as we bring you the best betting notes, picks and predictions across the NCAA this weekend.   

WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS AT BAYLOR BEARS

Things don’t get any easier for No. 14 West Virginia as they come off back-to-back losses. The Mountaineers fell to Oklahoma on the road last Saturday before losing at home to Kansas on Wednesday. They scored an average of just 54 points per game in those two contests and now take on No. 1 Baylor who has held foes to 58.3 ppg on 38.4 percent shooting this season.

Generally the best way to attack the 1-1-3 zone defense that Baylor employs is to attack with a pair of guards that can dribble and drive, as well as knock down the occasional jumper. Unfortunately for WVU, while they have strong players down low, they lack scoring punch in their backcourt. Look for the Bears to hold the Mountaineers Under their team total. 

PURDUE BOILERMAKERS AT OHIO STATE BUCKEYES

Anyone who has been following the Big Ten this season knows that most schools are killing at home and just getting shredded on the road. Purdue and Ohio State represent this trend probably better than anyone, especially during the first half of games.

The Buckeyes have an average first-half scoring margin of plus-12.2 ppg at home (fifth-best in the country) but that drops to minus-1.8 on the road. The Boilermakers have an average first-half margin of plus-11.7 ppg at home and that falls to minus-1.7 on the road.

With Purdue putting up just 27.6 first half ppg on the road, and Ohio State holding opponents to 25 first half ppg in Columbus, take Ohio State on the 1H spread.

GONZAGA BULLDOGS AT PEPPERDINE WAVES

The Zags have the No. 2 team in the country but they might not have the best betting value when they face Pepperdine on the road on Saturday night. Gonzaga is coming off a 30-point rout of Saint Mary’s but prior to that game they failed to cover in three straight contests.

Pepperdine is 25th in the country in scoring with 77.2 ppg and is 7-3 SU over their last 10 contests. They also played well against Gonzaga in the last meeting between the two squads, falling by a score of 75-70 on the road on January 4. A matter of fact, the Waves are 3-1 ATS in the last four games of the head-to-head with the Zags.

With Gonzaga usually a massive favorite, laying at least 10 points in 13 of their last 14 contests (and laying at least 20 points in seven of those), the underdog Waves have value on the spread.   

UTAH UTES AT OREGON DUCKS

Utah is 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS on the road in Pac-12 play, losing by scoring margins of 39, 19, 19, 16, 14 and 4 points. A common theme for Utah in those losses has been ice-cold shooting, far too many turnovers and a tendency to fall behind early. In three of those games, including Thursday night against Oregon State, the Utes were down at least 16 points by halftime.

On Sunday the Utes wrap up their Oregon road trip as they face the No. 17 Ducks. The Ducks are tied for first place in the Pac-12 after a come from behind win against Colorado on Thursday.

Led by guards Payton Pritchard (19.3 points and 6 assists per game) and Chris Duarte (14 ppg), the Ducks rank 19th in the country in offensive efficiency. And Pritchard and Duarte are especially effective at home where they shoot a combined 49 percent from the floor and 41 percent from deep. Bet on Oregon to cover the first half spread.  

MID-MAJOR TO WATCH: BRIGHAM YOUNG COUGARS (19-7, 17-9 ATS, 15-11 O/U)

BYU received 43 votes in the latest AP Top 25 Poll and is currently riding a five-game winning streak. Over their last 17 games the Cougars have gone 14-3 SU and 13-4 ATS. BYU has the best group of outside shooters in the country, connecting on 10.9 made 3-point shots per game while shooting 42.5 percent from deep.

On Saturday, BYU heads to the Jenny Craig Pavillion (seriously that’s what it’s called) to take on the San Diego Toreros. The Toreros are at the bottom of the West Coast Conference standings and shoot just 41.2 percent from the floor. That’s right: San Diego shoots worse from the field than BYU does from beyond the arc.

NATIONAL TITLE ODDS

Dayton has been flying up the NCAA futures odds board and is currently listed as high as +1,600 at some books. The Flyers are fifth in the country in scoring (81.6 ppg) and first in shooting percentage (52.3), and haven’t lost a game since December. While detractors might point at the lack of stiff competition in the Atlantic 10 Conference, it’s worth noting that the Flyers only two losses this season occured in overtime and one of them was against No. 3 Kansas.

On Saturday, Dayton is on the road against the Massachusetts Minutemen. The Minutemen allow 72.9 ppg on 46.5 percent shooting (328th in the country) and lost by 28 points to Dayton on January 11.

BETTING TRENDS

• The Toledo Rockets are just 1-10 ATS at home this season. On Friday they host the Buffalo Bulls who are 4-0 SU and ATS in the last four games in the head-to-head. The Rockets look like a good fade as 2.5-point favorites.  

• Over the last ten days SEC conference games have gone 13-4 O/U. If you’re looking for a solid Over bet in SEC play this weekend, the matchup between Mississippi State and Arkansas looks good. Arkansas has cashed the Over in eight straight games while Miss State is 7-1 O/U in its previous eight contests.

• The top ATS team in the country are the North Florida Osprey who are 19-6 ATS, including 7-1 ATS over their last eight games. On Saturday, the Osprey host the North Alabama Lions. North Florida is 4-0 ATS in four games against North Alabama dating back to last season.

2020 NBA All-Star Skills Challenge odds to win and betting picks: Don’t fade the big men

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The NBA skills challenge might not be the flashiest event at the All-Star Game, but it has proved to be very profitable for bettors who like to wager on underdogs. We take a look at the odds to win the NBA skills challenge for this year’s field and break down our betting picks for the 2020 event.  

WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR THE TACO BELL SKILLS CHALLENGE?

The skills challenge features eight NBA players going through an obstacle course which tests their dribbling skills, passing ability, agility and shooting.

Two players face off next to each other on identical courses on the court. For the first leg, they run down the court while dribbling between five obstacles, before throwing a pass through a target. Then they turn around and dribble back the full length of the court for a lay up. Then they head back up the court before hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The first player to sink his shot from beyond the arc wins.

It’s a single elimination format with three rounds and the brackets won’t be chosen until Saturday.

ODDS TO WIN NBA SKILLS CHALLENGE

PLAYER TEAM ODDS
Spencer Dinwiddie Brooklyn Nets +350
Khris Middleton Milwaukee Bucks +410
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Oklahoma City Thunder +460
Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics +550
Pascal Siakam Toronto Raptors +550
Domantis Sabonis Indiana Pacers +850
Patrick Beverley Los Angeles Clippers +900
Bam Adebayo Miami Heat +1,200

NBA SKILLS CHALLENGE BETTING PREDICTION

This year’s event features three former winners: Patrick Beverley (2015), Spencer Dinwiddie (2018) and Jayson Tatum (2019). While Dinwiddie has the best odds to win at +350, if recent history is any indication this is one contest where underdogs have a good chance of coming out on top.

Since the event started including big men in 2016, two players have won with the worst odds (Dinwiddie and Karl-Anthony Towns) while another took home the title with the second-worst odds (Kristaps Porzingis in 2016). Last year, Tatum won with the fifth-best odds at +600.

That said, we’re not taking the player with the worst odds this year. Adebayo is having a terrific season but he’s only connected on one 3-point shot all year (on 11 attempts), so the final step in this event could prove to be a challenge.

We like the +550 payout for Tatum to repeat, but our money is on the player tied with Tatum in the odds department: Raptors forward Pascal Siakam. Siakam is quicker and has better handles than many give him credit for, and he’s really improved his shot from beyond the arc this season (connecting on more than two 3-point shots per game at a clip of 36 percent).

Siakam also seems to play at his best when the pressure is on, so expect him to thrive under the spotlight in Chicago this weekend. We’re betting on the Raptors’ big man.