Day 2 of the Las Vegas NBA summer league is in the books. These are the important notes I made in each game relative to the betting market, and how they can strengthen our betting process going forward. I also included a few of the standout performances and under-the-radar player impacts that aren’t so obvious in the box score.
Game 1: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Utah Jazz
Open: Thunder -2.5, 171.5
Close: Thunder -2.5, 172.5
Final score: Jazz 78, Thunder 66
The Thunder looked like a team playing in their first game of summer league season going up against a Jazz team playing in their fourth (hosted small tournament in Salt Lake City earlier this week). Both rosters are fairly limited as far as talent is concerned, so even limited experience between a group of guys playing together for the first time goes a long way.
Game MVP: Tony Bradley and rookie Miye Oni‘s stellar play carried over from Salt Lake City. Bradley finished the game with 19 points and 14 rebounds and Oni tallied 14 points of his own on 4-for-5 shooting from 3. Oni’s impact defensively as a switchable wing can’t be understated either, and he led all players with a plus-17 in just 23 minutes of action. I’ll give the game MVP nod to Oni since I’m secretly rooting for the Yale product, but I’m very curious to see how he performs against a stiffer opponent in the Miami Heat on Sunday (4-0 so far this week in their summer league games).
Game 2 – Portland Trail Blazers vs Detroit Pistons
Open: Blazers -3, 172.5
Close: Blazers -6, 175.5
Final score: Pistons 93, Blazers 73
It’s only one game so far, but I’m worried the Trail Blazers may be the biggest disappointment of the summer league for me. The betting market certainly believed in Portland’s roster in the matchup against a Detroit team that found themselves down to Croatia yesterday late in the third quarter. But just how bad were the Trail Blazers in Saturday’s game? The Pistons shot 39.5 percent from the field, missed 26 3-pointers and won the game by 20 points.
The Anfernee Simons hype – which I participated in – took a big hit. Simons struggled to score notching just 15 points on 14 attempts and was a game-worst minus-20. The Blazers as a team shot only 5-for-20 from long range. Portland gets the Rockets Sunday, who just lost their summer league opener by 32 to the Mavericks.
Game MVP: Bruce Brown Jr. may have had the best performance of any player in the summer league on Saturday. He finished with 17 points and 10 assists to go along with three blocks and a steal on the defensive end. He set up Pistons’ shooters for open looks from the get-go and made it easy for his teammates to get into an early rhythm.
Game 3: Atlanta Hawks vs Milwaukee Bucks
Open: Bucks -1, 174.5
Close : Bucks -2.5, 179
Final Score Bucks 89, Hawks 83
The Bucks almost erased a 17-point deficit Friday against the 76ers in a 106-107 loss, and it appears they wanted to give it another shot on Saturday falling behind to the Hawks by 14 points. Atlanta’s roster is definitely inferior to Milwaukee’s (even without DJ Wilson), and it finally showed when the Bucks woke up in the second half. My 25/1 dreams live to fight another day, and wins against the Timberwolves and China should get them into the eight-team playoff.
The wild pace of 102 possessions against the 76ers Friday slowed down in this matchup for the Bucks (89 possessions). I wouldn’t get too excited about Milwaukee overs being a thing for the remainder of summer league (despite the big move from 174.5 to 179 on Saturday).
Game MVP: I liked the prospect of Bonzie Colson playing in Mike Budenholzer’s system in the Brook Lopez role entering summer league, and he’s fulfilled that role perfectly. He knocked down three of his five attempts from distance and tallied 18 points with crucial buckets and free throws down the stretch to complete the come-from-behind win.
Game 4: Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers
Open: Celtics PK, 173.5
Close: Celtics -1, 177
Final Score: Celtics 96, 76ers 82
The pace in this game for the 76ers slowed drastically as well (only 90 possessions) after 109 points were scored in the first half. There was a similar market move to the over, but it paid off this time for bettors landing 178.
The Philadelphia bench that let the Bucks put a major dent in their 17-point lead Friday got absolutely dominated by the Boston bench Saturday. It’s still generally a small sample size, but it’s worth noting for those taking advantage of in-game betting opportunities during summer league. The drop off from the 76ers starting unit to everybody else is substantial.
Game MVP: Everyone remembers the absurd run Carsen Edwards went on with Purdue in the tournament in March. We weren’t sure, however, what he would look like going up against professional level talent in his first game. He silenced any early doubters knocking down five 3-pointers leading to a total of 20 points and a game-high three steals. He was the only Celtics’ starter with a positive plus-minus (plus-three).
Game 5: Memphis Grizzlies vs Indiana Pacers
Open: Grizzlies -1.5, 169.5
Close: Grizzlies -2, 170
Final Score: Grizzlies 101, Pacers 75
The Grizzlies are a summer league team rostering multiple players with NBA experience. Bruno Caboclo, Yuta Watanabe, Ivan Rabb and Keenan Evans all made significant contributions in what ended up being a blowout over the Pacers. They combined to score 55 points against a Pacers’ team that is completely overmatched. If Memphis stays healthy and their main pieces get regular run here in the Las Vegas preliminary games, they are a team that should be around for the eight-team playoff next week.
Aaron Holiday was the one bright spot for the Pacers. He didn’t wow anybody in his rookie season last year in Indiana, but 24 points, five assists and what looks to be an improved 3-point shot (4-for-8) is certainly promising heading into the 2019-2020 season.
Game MVP: Caboclo is a Brazilian player that has spent time with the Raptors, Kings and Grizzlies since 2014. I came away impressed with his versatility on both ends of the floor. 19 points on just nine attempts to go along with five rebounds, two made 3s, two steals and two blocks is a little bit of everything that positively impacts a game.
Game 6: LA Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers
Open: Clippers -1.5, 173.5
Close: Clippers -4, 178
Final Score: Clippers 93, Lakers 87
My Lakers’ overs are not quite dead sentiment after Friday’s games held true with the total going over all of the potential numbers after a market move up to 178 from 173.5. We’ll see where the market opens on Monday when they face the Warriors for the second time in a week after totaling 190 in the first matchup.
Game MVP: The Clippers don’t have too many pro prospects outside of rookie Mfiondu Kabengele. He was a late-first round draft pick for Los Angeles out of Florida State that they purchased from the Brooklyn Nets on draft night, and he didn’t disappoint. He looked bigger and stronger than anybody else on the floor, and it resulted in an effortless 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Game 7: Dallas Mavericks vs Houston Rockets
Open: Rockets -2, 173.5
Close: Rockets -2.5, 179
Final Score: Mavericks 113, Rockets 81
My takeaway from the Mavericks upset win over the Nets on Friday was that Brooklyn played poorly and I didn’t give enough credit to Dallas outside of Cameron Payne. There aren’t too many familiar names on the roster outside of Payne (who dominated again in every facet with 10 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals), but the Mavericks absolutely throttled the Houston Rockets Saturday night.
If there was an under-the-radar team from before the summer league began that is turning heads, it’s Dallas so far. They face a Kings’ team on Monday that “only” beat China by 17 points. If the Mavericks are able to get a win against Sacramento and take care of business against Croatia on Wednesday, then they may be sitting with the top seed in the eight-team playoff as one of the longer shots from the field.
Game MVP: The argument could certainly be made for Payne again after his stellar performance for the second straight night, but rookie Isaiah Roby deserves a shout out with a game-high plus-34 in just 25 minutes of action. The second round pick out of Nebraska averaged 1.3 steals and two blocks per game as a 6’8 forward this past season. He tallied two of each tonight against the Rockets to go along with 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists. He was only a career 33 percent 3-point shooter in college, but if he is able to improve his shot he could absolutely stick as a 3-and-D guy in the NBA.
Game 8: New Orleans Pelicans vs Washington Wizards
Open: Pelicans -1, 173.5
Close: Wizards -3, 176
Final Result: Wizards 84, Pelicans 79
The news that Zion Williamson will be resting for the remainder of the summer league didn’t come as a surprise. But last-minute scratches to Frank Jackson and Kenrich Williams (both played regular minutes for the Pelicans this past season) were. They were the reason for the significant line movement against New Orleans, and it is definitely a concern to monitor going forward as we approach Pelicans’ games the rest of the way.
While the Wizards tried to choke a double-digit lead away late, they held on as anticipated against a Pelicans’ squad missing their three best players. Washington rookie Rui Hachimura looked tentative in the first half, but I thought he looked like an entirely different player in the second half finishing 14 points, five rebounds and two blocks. He’ll be tested against Jarrett Allen and the Nets on Monday.
Game MVP: After the Pelicans came storming back to cut their deficit to just one with 35 seconds remaining, Troy Brown Jr. drove the lane for the Wizards and knocked down a late and-one to ultimately seal a win in their summer league opener. Brown Jr. finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds, which is impressive for a 6’7 guard/forward, but watching him play it makes perfect sense seeing him going the hardest of any player on the floor and competing on every possession. It should be promising for the mid-first round pick from a year ago looking to play a bigger role for Washington this upcoming season.
Game 9: China vs Sacramento Kings
Open: Kings -14.5, 169.5
Close: Kings -28.5, 169.5
Final Score: Kings 94, China 77
The move on the Kings in this game today was absolutely crazy. Yes, China had just lost to the Miami Heat by 41 points Friday night. Yes, we were all fairly certain the Kings were going to win on Saturday. But this line reached as high as 30 points at one point! I had to bet this merely on principle, and fortunately it wasn’t really ever in question.
The Kings actually shot 48.4 percent from the field and over 40 percent from 3. They also attempted 29 free throws. The fact they only beat China by 17 is possibly concerning. They didn’t play very well in their summer league games in Sacramento earlier this week, and a matchup Monday with the red-hot Mavericks squad proves difficult. I’ll likely be staying away from betting that one, but I’m very intrigued where the market values the Kings after the massive move Saturday and an underwhelming result.
Game MVP: Kyle Guy led Sacramento in scoring with 21 points and continues to impress me with his ability to score the basketball outside of his 3-point shooting. If he is able to consistently get to the free throw line and score at the rim, the 55th pick in the second round may stick in the league (like seemingly every other UVA product under Tony Bennett).
Game 10: Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors
Open: Warriors PK, 173.5
Close: Warriors -1, 173.5
Final Score: Warriors 80, Raptors 71
After jinxing a Warriors team trailing by seven points at halftime with a tweet about them going 0-5 in summer league this week, Golden State responded with a 28-7 clinic in the third quarter and cruised to a fairly easy win (their first). The Raptors certainly don’t have a roster with names and experience jumping off of the page, so there is a chance they struggle to get any wins here in Las Vegas. They will likely be underdogs in a matchup with San Antonio on Monday in a spot I’m already eyeing to back the Spurs.
Game MVP: Jacob Evans is the Warriors’ first round pick from 2018 that never really blossomed at any point during the regular season. This was far and away the best I have seen him play since putting on a Golden State uniform. He is technically a shooting guard, but the Warriors have had him playing point guard in the summer league. He did a fantastic job in the combo guard role racking up 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists. For a roster that will be in need of depth this upcoming season, an Evans leap would be monumental for the Warriors after losing Klay Thompson to injury and Quin Cook to the Lakers in free agency.