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NBA Betting Guide: Tuesday 4/9/19

The Jazz and Thunder are both jostling for playoff positioning in the Western Conference. Can they hold serve on their home floors tonight?

numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, a line, or moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting on any given night. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.

For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110 spread wager, if we give a 3-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300.

Using our models as a guide, let's take a look at the best bets for tonight.

Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.

Denver Nuggets at Utah Jazz

Jazz Moneyline (-138): 3-Star Rating out of 5

At this point in the season, not a lot of teams have things to play for. And it's for that reason that we get many of them, whether they're tanking or satisfied with their playoff seeding, resting players or opting against playing those who otherwise could've have played with a minor injury. Fortunately, tonight we get a couple of spots with playoff teams going up against one another, including the Denver Nuggets traveling to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Jazz.

While the Nuggets have been eliminated from contention for the 1 seed in the West, they will have to stave off the Houston Rockets -- a half-game back -- for the 2 seed. At the same time, the Jazz are ensured the 6 seed or better, but they could potentially get homecourt in the first round if they are able to win each of their last two games and have the Portland Trail Blazers drop both of theirs.

Ignoring Portland's chances of losing out, the Jazz should feel confident in their ability to get a win on their home floor this evening. For the year, they are 28-12 at Vivint Smart Home Arena, posting a net rating of 7.5 -- good enough for fifth in the NBA. They have won their last seven games at home, doing so by an average of 16.9 points per game.

Taking into consideration their status as 2.5-point favorites, we see -- according to Killer Sports -- they are 27-10 as home favorites, including a 15-8 record versus Western Conference foes. They defeated Denver 114-108 in their lone game in Utah this season, and did take the two teams' most recent matchup in Denver (111-104).

Denver has seen a noticeable dip in net rating on the road, going from 10.8 all the way down to -2.3 away from Pepsi Center. They're an even 20-20 and have covered just 39.5% of the time, while dropping 13 of the 20 games they have been labeled road underdogs.

Our models see the Jazz winning outright at a likelihood of 66.53%. A potential return of 14.70% produces a three-star rating in our system.

Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder Moneyline (+108): 3-Star Rating out of 5

The Oklahoma City Thunder are another team fighting for playoff seeding in the back half of the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Currently in the sixth slot, they are two games back of the aforementioned Jazz but only a half-game clear of both the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers. In other words, if they don't take care of business they'll find themselves in the 8 seed facing off against the defending-champion Golden State Warriors in the opening round. So, expect a great effort from Russell Westbrook, Paul George and company.

In front of their home fans, that hasn't been much of an issue for the Thunder this year. OKC has won 26 of its 40 home games this year, including each of their last two. Within that split, their net rating is 12th in the NBA and their defensive rating (104.9) is 4th. In their only home game against Houston, they came away with a 98-80 victory due to a stellar defensive effort, holding James Harden to 19 points on 19 shots. To many casual fans' surprise, OKC actually has the head-to-head edge for the year, having bested the Rockets in Houston back on February 9.

Versus Western Conference teams, the Thunder are 27-24 with a margin of 1.7 points in their favor. But when we narrow that down to only home games, they are 16-9 with a margin of 4.4 in their favor. Coincidentally, they've only once been home 'dogs to a Western Conference foe -- that same win over these Rockets.

Houston isn't playing without a cause though. As mentioned, they are a half-game back of Denver and winning at least one of two could go a long way in making sure Portland doesn't steal the 3 seed. At 22-18, they are above .500 on the road and have won 14 of their 25 away games against teams out West. In the 18 games they have been favored, they are 10-8 but have only won one of five when they've only given up two or fewer on the spread line.

This is expected to be a close game, and it will be hard fought with both teams in need of wins. That being said, there's value in taking the underdog Thunder. After opening at -102, per Sports Insights, they return $108 for every $100 bet, so when combined with a 59.41% win probability that makes them a solid three-star bet.

Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers

Over 224.5: 3-Star Rating out of 5

As you should know by now, only the Blazers have something to play for here. The Los Angeles Lakers have been eliminated and are without a long list of players, including one LeBron James. Playing for pride, they have managed to win their last two games and 6 of 10, which is reason enough to stay away from either side of this potential spoiler.

Instead, we will pivot to the total and target the over. After all, even in the midst of this 10-game stretch the Lakers have given up 111-plus points in five of them. Along with their opponents, they have averaged 223.6 points a game, which you think would be enough for the over to hit more often than not -- but it hasn't. It has managed to win out only three times, though the over has been 225 or higher in eight of those games. They've been a little bit higher than they probably should, and that's why this is a buy-low opportunity, if you will.

In the Lakers' six home games in this stretch, they have combined for 221.4 with their opponents, two times going over today's total and the total set for those respective games. For the year, their pace at home is fifth at 103.41 possessions per game, and it falls to just ninth (101.80) since March 1.

The road Blazers have had the over hit at a 48.6% rate (not including three pushes) in their 40 road contests this season, their games averaging 222.6 points against a 222.5 average over/under. In the five they have played without injured center Jusuf Nurkic, the over has hit in two with another pushing. It is 3-3-1 in the seven games absent Nurk regardless of venue. Three of those games have totaled at least 223 points with Portland scoring at least 110 in all but one. They've averaged 114.1 points a game and 113.6 on the road, with C.J. McCollum only playing in the last one -- a 132-122 win in Minnesota.

With McCollum back and Portland looking for an important win, I'd expect them to make more of a statement win at Staples Center tonight. That should help the total hit 225 or more, something our models expect at a 64.01% rate. A potential return of 22.20% justifies yet another three-star bet tonight.

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