Sunday’s main slate features eight games and gets underway at 6:00 p.m. ET with the final game tipping off at 9:30 p.m. ET. Let’s survey the slate and pick the best bets for Sunday night.
Raptors -7 (-110)
Toronto is enjoying one of the greatest home court advantages in the history of professional sports. This is an edge unlike any before because it has nothing to do with a rowdy environment in the arena. The seats sit empty. However, this is exactly why Toronto is unbeatable at home. Canada’s draconian COVID measures have not only kept the fans out but have also kept out the stars of the opposing teams. If an NBA player travels to Toronto and happens to test positive for COVID, then that player must remain in Canada for two weeks. NBA teams are not necessarily protesting the Canadian government by boycotting Toronto contests, but they’re definitely not willing to risk losing their star players for two weeks.
Toronto has been great at home because they are playing G-League teams. Before every home game, the stars of the opposing team develop a sudden illness or injury that prevents them from traveling across the border. Magically, as soon as the G-league team returns to America, the stars are suddenly healthy again. The Raptors have won five of the six home games games dating back to Dec. 15 when Canada’s latest travel restrictions were put in place (ATS covers in all six). The one loss came against the 76ers, who sent their full roster because the team had already experienced a COVID outbreak. For obvious reasons, this issue is not widely addressed, but sharp bettors know what time it is.
Get on this line early because as game time approaches, more Pelicans will mysteriously pop up on the injury report, and the line will increase.
Lakers - 3 (-110)
Let’s get some late night action and build on your NFL winnings. Hopefully, we’re not trying to save a breakeven day, but either way the Lakers should help. This line is too small given Memphis’ health status. Ja Morant missed a month with a knee injury, and now a nagging thigh injury forced him to missed Saturday’s contest with the Clippers. In that game, Dillon Brooks injured his ankle and was unable to return. There are several Grizzlies unable to play due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols including Steven Adams. Also, Kyle Anderson (back) was unable to play Saturday and has not played since Dec. 31. Memphis is a very good team that ranks 10th in defensive efficiency and fifth in offensive efficiency, but they could be without too many key pieces in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
LeBron James cannot carry this team for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. He needs help, he always needs help. But for now, the cavalry isn’t coming and he’ll need to do it all by himself, and he has proved in the past that he can get it done. Winning alone in May and June is a different story, but beating the Grizzlies by three at home in January is not an insurmountable challenge. Over the last six games, the Lakers have gelled without Anthony Davis and James has been that glue. He’s second in the league in scoring over that span (28.7 PPG). Former first-round pick, Malik Monk, has also stepped up and filled the void left by Davis. Monk is averaging 22.2 PPG with a +12.2 Net Rating — Monk averaged 11.7 PPG and his Net Rating was 0.8 with Charlotte last season.
The Lakers have adjusted to life after AD. They have won five of their last six game and have covered in five of six (they failed to cover the -7.5 line vs. the Timberwolves in their 108-103 win on Jan. 2). Over this six game turnaround, the Lakers have recorded the best offensive efficiency in the league (121.3) and the fourth-highest Net Rating (+10.2). A better defensive performance from the Lakers would help this bet, but that might not be a factor with the Grizzlies’ offense being short-handed on Sunday night.
One note of warning and advice, these rosters are changing rapidly throughout each day and in every sport. For up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups, download the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive.
Winning on the road isn’t easy, but when the home team is missing a star player and possibly the league’s top MVP candidate, it becomes a lot easier. Kristaps Porzingis is out and Luka Doncic (ankle) is questionable to play on Sunday. The Mavs won on Jan. 7 without their studs, but a win against the Rockets is hardly the strongest supporting evidence. On Jan. 5, they defeated the Warriors, but the Warriors were short-handed and Steph Curry had one of his worst nights of the season (14 points with a 20.8% FG% and 11.1% 3P%) — Curry missed the following game with a quad injury. They do deserve credit for their win over Denver, but Denver is barely a .500 team and Luka carried the team with 21 points, eight rebounds and 15 assists. This line is too small if Luka is out, and it can still be attacked if Luka plays through injury.
The Bulls may not be championship contenders, but they’re one of the favorites to emerge from the Eastern Conference side of the bracket. The are healthy and are rolling with nine straight wins and 13 in the last 15 games. They stumbled recently in the covers department, but on Friday they did not play down to their opponent and covered the -5.5 point spread in their win over the Wizards. That stumble — three wins but 0-3 ATS — was likely the result of three games (two on the road) over four days (Dec. 31 to Jan. 3).
Even if the Mavs were healthy, this line seems way too low against the team that currently holds the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
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