Sunday Picks Preview Article


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NBA Picks for March 10: It's A Magical Day Today

Indiana Pacers vs. Orlando Magic
Sunday, March 10, 2024 at 6 p.m. ET at Kia Center in Orlando

Indiana On The Road

This game will not be decided by three-pointers.

Indiana backers will want to say that it will be, because the Pacers have, overall, been strong behind the arc.

The problem for Indiana is that "overall" does not include "on the road."

Whereas the Pacers shoot 39.6 percent from deep at home, their three-point conversion rate in road games plummets to 35 percent.

In terms of three-point shooting efficiency, they thus suffer the NBA's worst decline from playing at home to playing on the road.

The Deciding Question

Because this game will not be played in Indiana, the Pacers won't be able to rely on having what would have constituted a significant advantage for them as part of their endeavor to outscore Orlando's offense.

The Magic, primarily, want to score at the basket because three-point shooting is not their strength.

Led by guards and forwards who ably attack inside, they attempt the third-most field goals within five feet of the basket.

This game will be decided by each team's relative ability to score at the basket because Indiana, too, is profoundly inclined to score at the basket.

The Pacers attempt the most field goals within five feet of the rim.

Orlando's Rim Protection

I like Orlando because it does a much better job protecting the rim than Indiana does.

The Magic do a great job working together to prevent players from achieving a favorable shot opportunity by driving to the basket.

You can see from video footage their strong positioning, as they converge upon ball-handlers while they approach inside.

More than other teams, they have opponents attempt shots deep in the shot clock when the latter are desperate to avoid committing a shot clock violation.

All of this amounts to the Magic allowing the ninth-fewest made shots within five feet of the basket.

Indiana's Rim Protection

Conversely, Indiana is struggling to defend well even with Myles Turner on the floor, but the Pacers struggle all the more so when he is off the floor.

Turner is just one player. His presence does not suffice to make up for Indiana's lack of perimeter defenders.

On defense, the Pacers also struggle in the low post.

It is too easy for Indiana's opponents to reach and finish at the basket.

Hence, the Pacers allow the second-most field goals within five feet of the basket.

Orlando will win because it will have a significantly easier time scoring than Indiana.

Best Bet: Magic ML at -135 with BetOnline

Brooklyn Nets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Sunday, March 10, 2024 at 7 p.m. ET at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland

A Different Betting Approach

It is important to have multiple betting approaches because, for some games, some approaches aren't valid.

In this case, the match-up-oriented approach is not valid because, as I will explain further, many Cleveland games do not play out in the way that one would expect them to based on how the teams match up against each other.

Take Cleveland's last loss for example.

The Cavaliers' offense barely eclipsed 100 points even though Atlanta allows over 120 points per game.

Cleveland matched up well against Atlanta because it likes to attack the basket and Atlanta's rim protection is poor.

If a bettor had relied on dissecting the matchup for that game, then he would have lost, because the Hawks covered the spread and won.

Let-Down Situation

How do we know which games Cleveland will disappoint in relative to match-up-based expectations? There is a pattern.

Cleveland, directly before facing Atlanta, had just edged past a superior Boston team.

Subsequently facing a losing Atlanta team, the Cavaliers suffered a let-down.

Similarly, after eking past a difficult Dallas team, they lost straight-up to underdog Chicago.

To give another recent example, they played impressively well while dominating a strong Sacramento team only to fail to cover the spread in their next game, which took place at lowly Washington.

When they beat a strong team, they reliably suffer a let-down in their next game when its opponent is a poor one.

Expect a let-down from Cleveland tonight because it is coming off an overtime win over mighty Minnesota and now faces a losing Brooklyn team.

Best Bet: Nets +7.5 at -110 with BetOnline