We look at some best bets for NBA clubs that have raised eyebrows during the first month of play, namely the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, and Minnesota Timberwolves.
It happens every year. After a few weeks of regular season action, some teams outperform expectations. Some end up continuing the trend and have good seasons while others revert to old habits and fade down the stretch. The 2023-2024 campaign is no exception, with the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Indiana Pacers all playing to the level where their fanbases are allowed to dream of decent years.
So what are some of the upcoming best bets to play regarding these clubs? Let’s discuss.
Don’t forget to check out our NBA odds for plenty of basketball action.
Houston Rockets Best Bets
The most surprising one of the trio is the Houston Rockets. Now, to be clear, such eyebrow-raising has a lot to do with how poor the team was last season. There are no two ways about it. With a 22-60 record, they were pitiful. Only one team had a statistically worse year, the Detroit Pistons (17-65).
But a lot has changed since last spring. Like, a lot. For one, they have a new coach in Ime Udoka. This isn’t the platform to discuss what happened in Boston and why he was let go, but the fact of that matter is he’s here in Houston and the club is playing all the better for it. Recall that the Celtics’ defence took a hit last year, which was Joe Mazzulla’s first on the touchline at TD Garden.
To that effect, Houston sports the third-best defence in the NBA, giving up only 105.8 points a game. That’s right, third best. We’re talking about the Houston Rockets.
Young studs Alperen Sengun, Jalen Green, and Jabari Smith Jr, all second or third-year players, are starting to flourish. Sengun, for that matter, is in the top 20 in rebounding with 8.2. The main player helping them is a name very familiar to Canadian basketball fans: former Toronto Raptor Fred VanVleet. He comfortably leads the team in assists with 7.9. Dillon Brooks – love him or hate him – is pitching in with 13 points a night and 4.2 boards.
This is a way sounder unit than a year ago. So what happens next?
Of note, they’re off for a few days. They don’t play again until Friday, November 17 at the L.A. Clippers. Neither side is amazing offensively and both are sound defensively.
Best Bet: Take the Under
They stay in Los Angeles to play the Lakers on Sunday, November 19. The Lakers are a bottom-10 team in preventing rivals from rebounding the ball. Sengun is having a great year doing just that.
Best bet: take the over for Sengun rebounds.
Indiana Pacers Best Bets
On the other end of the spectrum are the Indiana Pacers. That’s not the say that Rick Carlisle’s ensemble is bad, but they’ve been competitive by playing a completely different brandd of basketball.
With Indiana, it’s all about outscoring the opposition. Their lowest-scoring game to date was a 112-105 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Bulls and it’s not even close. Winners in their matches have scored 143, 125, 155, 121, 125, 134, 126, and 137. The Pacers feature the top-ranked offence in the NBA, scoring 126.0 points a night. Indiana’s field goal percentage is a beguiling 49.8 per cent. On the flip side, they are the third-worst defensive club (123.1 points a game) and are 25th in field goal efficiency allowed (48.9).
Tyrese Haliburton leads to side with 23.8 points a game. That’s not especially high for a side that scores the most points on average. The rest of the group makes for that. Myles Turner puts in a solid 18.0, Montrealer Bennedict Mathurin 13.4, Buddy Hield 13.1, Jalen Smith 11.8, Aaron Nesmith 11.7, and Bruce Brown 11.0. These are all guys who play at least 20 minutes a night except for Jalen Smith.
So what does this mean for Pacers props?
Best Bet: Take the over as often as possible.
The one exception could be next Wednesday, November 22 versus the Toronto Raptors, a team that has a stout defence and doesn’t score much.
Minnesota Timberwolves Best Bets
To conclude our drive-by look at teams with surprising starts, we examine the Minnesota Timberwolves. Some criticism of the pick is warranted. How can a roster featuring Anthony Edwards, Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Jaden McDaniels be off to a “surprising” start?
Because all these players were present last season but the club barely clawed its way into the playoffs where they were flattened in the first round by the Denver Nuggets. The question wasn’t whether the roster had talent or not, but rather if this group of players was the one to carry the Timberwolves toward success. So far, the team is 7-2 and looking mighty fine. Chris Finch is head coach for the third year in Minneapolis and he may finally be reaping the benefits of a very good collection of players.
Gobert, McDaniels and company are making good on their highly touted defensive skills. Minnesota gives up the least amount of points per match at only 103.1. They also keep the opposition shooting at an NBA-low 41.8 per cent from the field. Given that they’re in the bottom ten in field goal attempts by other clubs, that means plenty of contested shots. Gobert is fifth in the NBA with 2.2 blocks a night. This is the Timberwolves team fans thought they were getting last year.
For our Timberwolves best bets, we’ll go with…
In-Season Tournament West Group C Winner: yes
Take the under tonight versus the Golden State Warriors.
Take the Timberwolves on the moneyline against the Pelicans on Saturday, November 18.