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Nikola Jokic
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Odds and Ends

Nikola Jokic vs Utah, Clippers Over Knicks

by Vaughn Dalzell
Updated On: January 31, 2021, 9:40 am ET

Top Game to Bet: Jazz (-1) at Nuggets

Nikola Jokic has gone to work when he meets Rudy Gobert, and I believe that trend will continue in this Sunday matinee. Jokic scored 35 points in the previous meeting this season, plus 28, 30 and 30 in three regular-season meetings during 2019-20. Utah and Denver met in last year's postseason and Jokic averaged 26.3 points per game with 22 or more in six-of-seven matchups. Those are elite numbers versus an elite defender.

The Jazz are in the midst of a 12-game winning streak, and it would not surprise me to see that streak end here in Denver. Utah has played six straight home games and seven of the last eight, with the lone exception being a trip to Denver. Back in Denver for a second time, this contest could be as tight as the 109-105 win for Utah the first time around. 

Over the previous five contests, Utah has allowed the sixth-fewest points per game (105.0). However, the Jazz have permitted 44.0 points in the paint per game during that stretch, tied for 11th in the league. That mark makes up 41.9% of the points. 

Jokic is posting career-highs in two areas that interest me. Jokic is averaging the highest offensive rating of his career (118.5) and scoring the most points in the paint per game (14.2). Jokic's averaging 55.2% of his points in the paint, a positive sign versus Utah. He also averages 4.6 second-chance points per game and Utah is allowing 11.0 per game over the last five (11th). Jokic should get a few extra shots per game in this matchup and based on his recent performances, 22.5 points is a tad bit too low.

Jokic is fresh off a 35-point performance versus the Spurs, and in his last two games, coming off a 30-plus point game, he has scored 27 and 29 points. On the year, Jokic has four 30-point plus games and has followed up with 15, 27, 29, and 35 points for a 26.5 average and three-of-four Overs. In the 15-point game, he sat in the fourth quarter, blowing out the 76ers. Jokic has attempted at least 21 field-goal attempts in five of his last seven games. In his previous five contests where he attempted 21-plus shots, Jokic has scored 27 or more points in all five. I see a 25-plus point performance incoming for The Joker.

I would play this prop up to 23.5 for 1.5u but prefer the 22.5. Anything after 23.5 is 1u or less, with 24.5 the highest I would play this.

Bet Locked In: Nikola Jokic Over 22.5 - 23.5 Points (1.5u)


Top Team to Fade: Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves have lost three straight games and are 2-8 SU in the last 10 overall. It is getting bad for Minnesota, and the only positive was they received D'Angelo Russell back in a losing effort to Philadelphia. The Cavs lost to the Knicks by 21 after beating the Pistons by 15 the game prior. Cleveland is certainly in a favorable spot to earn a win here, and the spread quickly opened at -2 and moved to -3.5 overnight.   

The Cavaliers are 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings in Minnesota. Cleveland is 5-2 ATS in the previous seven games and 5-1 ATS following a loss of 10 points or more. Minnesota is 1-4 ATS in the previous five games and are 1-4 ATS as an underdog. 

Another player prop I am playing today is Andre Drummond's rebounds. Drummond has been a freak on the boards this season, going for 14.7 per game (1st). He posted 15, 16 and 17 in his last three games alone. In January, Drummond averaged 14.7 rebounds per game and recorded 15 or more in eight-of-13 games. Minnesota allows 46.7 rebounds per game (24th) and 48.0 (26th) in the last five games. The Cavs limit opponents to 41.0 rebounds per game over the last five (6th), so expect Drummond to eat up on the boards once again. Three 76ers had 10 or more rebounds in the last game with Minnesota, Clint Capela to go for 15 and 19 rebounds in two games -- the most compatible player to Drummond. 

I am also locking Cleveland to get the SU win over Minnesota parlayed with the first game of the day, the Clippers over the Knicks. A Cavs and Clippers Moneyline parlay is +115 on DraftKings and offers good value for two teams winning in over 60% of models. FanDuel has this parlay at +101 and BetMGM at +105.

Bet Locked In: Andre Drummond Over 14.5 Rebounds (1u), Cavs / Clippers Moneyline parlay (1u),


Sunday Betting Notes:

Clippers at Knicks: Clippers -8

In the last four meetings between the two, the Clippers have scored 24, 128, 128 and 132 points. The team total is 110.5 this time around. In the Clippers' first game back with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Los Angeles scored 116 and covered the -6 spread. 

In the last four meetings, the Over is 4-0, and in the Clippers' last four meetings versus a team with a losing record, the Over is 4-0. Los Angeles has also been a profitable team ATS when visiting New York, going 6-1 in the previous seven meetings. I do not have much confidence in New York being able to put up 100-plus points versus Los Angeles, but I do have confidence in the Clippers going Over 110 points. The 108.5 is available on DraftKings.

The Clippers rank seventh with 113.8 points per game on the season. With Kawhi Leonard in the lineup, the Clippers have won seven straight and average 120.8 points per game. Los Angeles has had eight road games this season and averaged 112.4 points per game (10th). Leonard has only played in eight road games and the Clippers averaged 114.5 points and posted 112 or more in five-of-eight. With both Leonard and George expected in the lineup, back the Clippers to score more than 110 and win.

Bet Locked In: Clippers Team Total Over 108.5 (0.5u), Clippers/Cavs ML parlay (1u)


76ers at Pacers: 76ers -2

Is Joel Embiid playing? That is all that matters. When he suits up, Philadelphia is among the elite, but they are bottom-feeders when he does not. He makes that much of a difference with this team. The 76ers are 0-4 SU this season without him compared to 14-2 with him. If Embiid suits up, back the 76ers on the low-spread or Moneyline as the spread will surely jump to -3 or -4. 

Infiana is 5-4 SU since trading Victor Oladipo with two home wins over Orlando and Toronto. The 76ers are 2-0 SU in the last two road games Embiid played in, beating Detroit and Minnesota. Philadelphia also beat Orlando and New York on the road this season, a less than stellar group. The 76ers are 0-4 ATS in the last four meetings and struggle in Indiana, going 3-8 ATS in the last 11 trips to Indiana. Philly is a low buy here and the same can be said for Indiana. This is a toss-up game, but Embiid's presence is considerable enough to force me and wait for the news before I place my wager on the 76ers. 


Nets at Wizards: Wizards +9

Brooklyn's super team has a look-over game here versus Washington. The Wizards have continued to find ways to lose, and a win here would be a major upset. However, the Nets are  1-4 ATS in the last five overall meetings and 4-15 ATS in the last 19 trips to Washington. 

This just seems like a trap game and I would target player props. James Harden provides excellent value for his all-around performances, and his triple-double value has been juicy. Bradley Beal has looked frustrated but has scored 30 or more in seven-of-nine games this month. Russell Westbrook faces off against his former Thunder buddies, Harden and Kevin Durant. His PRA total of 37.5 is an appealing number if he tries and triple-doubles against his frenemies.

Vaughn Dalzell

Vaughn Dalzell is a former Division I SID, two-time IUP Alumnus and also a contributor on numberFire, FantasyPros and Bet The Prop. You can follow him on Twitter for more insight @VmoneySports.