Free NBA Picks for October 21, 2017 by Professor MJ



University Professor. PhD in stats. Proud dad of 2 boys.


Hi guys, I hope you are having a nice start to your weekend. So far our NBA picks have gone like this:

  • 5 star bets = 1-0
  • 3 star bets = 3-0
  • 2 star bets = 0-1

TOTAL: 4-1.

Let’s keep it up! I’ve got 2 plays to recommend tonight, enjoy the read!

PICK #1: New York Knicks +2.5 vs Detroit Pistons (rated 3 stars)

I’m not surprised by the fact that the public is betting the Pistons fairly heavily (more than 65% of the bets have gone their way). The Knicks have lost their only game by a 21-point deficit at OKC, while the Pistons have looked pretty good following a 102-90 win over Charlotte and a close 115-111 loss in Washington last night.

A key factor in this game is rest: the Knicks were off last night, while the Pistons will be playing the second leg of back-to-back road games (also a third match in four nights). I am aware it’s still early in the season so players shouldn’t be extremely tired, but basketball is a tough game on the body and it’s never easy to be playing under such circumstances.

Over the last 7 meetings between these two teams, not only has the home club won, but they beat the spread every single time!

PICK #2: Milwaukee Bucks -3 vs Portland Trail Blazers (rated 2 stars)

All of my picks are based on a mix of statistical modeling and adjustments made based on certain factors like injuries and rest. I only discuss the statistical part once in a while, and I will do it in this case. Based on Vegas lines for total number of regular season wins by each team (which is, in my humble opinion, the best barometer of how good each team figures to be this season), Portland is expected to have .518 record versus .573 for Milwaukee. That translates into a 44.5% win probability for the Blazers facing the Bucks on a neutral court. After adjusting for home-field advantage: 36.3%.

That being said, I did not see any injury adjustment was necessary in this game. However, I felt like rest called for an adjustment; both teams are playing a second game in two nights, but the Bucks did not have to travel overnight because both of their contests were at home. I estimated that I needed to multiply Portland’s win probability by 95%, which reduces their chances of coming on top to 36.3% * 95% = 34.5%. That’s the equivalent of a 4.8 spread.

Since the actual line is 3 and my projected line is 4.8, I would normally grade it as a 1-star bet. However, I like how the Bucks have experienced quite a bit of success over the Blazers recently. First of all, they won both meetings last year (93-90 in Portland, 115-107 in Milwaukee), and four of the past five overall. Secondly, notice how the Bucks are 6-1 AGAINST THE SPREAD versus Portland over the last 7 matchups, which is even more convincing.

The Blazers are 2-0 so far, but have faced weak opposition: the Suns and the Pacers. They will quickly realize they are up against a much tougher opponent. Meanwhile, the Bucks have had good preparation after facing Boston and Cleveland.

It looks like I’m going against sharp money (like I did yesterday with my Charlotte pick) as the spread has gone down from 4.5 to 3 despite 50% of the bets going on each team. I would stay away from that game with a 4.5 spread, but at 3 I’m taking Milwaukee.


I wish you the best of luck in your plays this weekend, and don’t forget to take a look at my NFL picks (15-5-1 over the past 4 weeks). Have a great weekend!

Professor MJ

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