NBA Betting Guide for 1/25/21: Which Underdogs Can Cover Tonight?

Betting on the NBA can get a little overwhelming throughout the season because there are games virtually every day, and there's just a lot to track throughout the season and entering every night -- spreads, over/unders, injuries, and so on.

But you can rely on numberFire to help. We have a detailed betting algorithm that projects out games to see how often certain betting lines hit, and our oddsFire section of the site allows you to track movement in those lines and see where the action is coming from on particular games.

Where do our algorithm, our power rankings, and the betting trends identify value in tonight's games? (All odds from FanDuel Sportsbook.)

Charlotte Hornets at Orlando Magic

I know the title of today's betting guide is about underdogs, but it doesn't apply for this game. numberFire is recommending the Orlando Magic to cover the 1.0-point spread -- but even more so recommending the Magic moneyline (-108).

The -108 moneyline implies a really tight game (and a 51.9% win probability). numberFire's algorithm sees the Magic as 69.1% likely to win instead. Converted to a moneyline equivalent, that probability is -224, so yeah. Lots of value on it. Our algorithm rates it as a four-star bet out of five.

The point spread (Magic -1.0) is a little less intriguing and comes in with a two-star recommendation. Our algo indicates it's 60.4% likely to occur, still good for a 15.4% expected return.

The betting trends on this game are close to even. The Magic moneyline is getting 51% of the betting tickets and 57% of the money, so there's a tinge of heavy money there. The same can be said for the spread (43% of the tickets and 50% of the money).

Denver Nuggets at Dallas Mavericks

Now let's look at a pair of underdogs. The Dallas Mavericks are rating out well to win outright (+102 is their moneyline) and to cover (+1.5). Both are rated as three-star bets.

Using an ELO-based adjusted point differential model, the Mavericks are a +1.1 this season while the Denver Nuggets are at +3.3, so that's fairly spot on with the spread (2.2 points) without any home court tweaks. However, looking at adjusted data back to last season, my model predicts that the Mavericks should be 2.0-point favorites. numberFire actually projects the median outcome in this game to be 111.2 to 107.5 in favor of the Mavericks, a 3.8-point differential in their favor.

This recommendation goes against the betting trends, particularly the spread. But it's about a coin flip on the moneyline (52% of the bets and 47% of the money is on the Mavs' moneyline). The 2020-21 data favors the Nuggets (slightly), but a larger sample shows value on the Mavericks.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers

The Oklahoma City Thunder have struggled by all accounts this season. Their estimated net rating is -7.2 (29th), their ELO-based adjusted point differential is -6.9 (28th), and their nERD is 29.5 (28th).

The Portland Trail Blazers are far from full strength (C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic are out). Without those two on the court but with Damian Lillard, Portland has just a +1.1 net rating this season (down from +3.4 with all three). That's still not bad, but in the time that all three will be out tonight (when Dame is resting), things can get ugly: they have a -34.1 net rating over 77.0 minutes without all three this season.

Despite the big gap between the two even with just Lillard on the court, numberFire's showing some value on the Thunder +5.5 and their moneyline of +184. Looking at the 25 most similar games to this one historically -- based on our strongest predictions -- we can see that teams representing the Thunder covered the spread in 17 of them (68.0%). They also won 52.0% of the games outright.

There's some good betting trends on the Thunder +5.5 (29% of the bets but 41% of the money), and numberFire's algorithm pits it as a two-star bet out of five.