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  • Writer's picture@WizeOwlSports

Mar 22nd NBA Action: RPM Picks Four Games from 11 Game Schedule


There are four games on today's NBA docket where our RPM-based model forecasts reasonably high conviction wins versus the number. We are betting each.

Over the past two days, injuries that we guessed were not factored into the numbers have disqualified half of the models picks. Player health is not an issue today though, as, in general, key personnel available for duty Sunday are consistent with expectations at the time of the last recalibration of the weekly RPM figures.

There is one exception: the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics will both be shorthanded when they do battle at TD Garden today. Detroit big, Greg Monroe's right knee sprain became known just after the numbers were last reset. Monroe's whole-season RPM is 2.56. Replacements Anthony Tolliver and Joel Anthony, who we think are likely to shoulder Monroe's foregone playing time, both sport meaningfully lower RPM's. Factoring in that the backups will have to absorb Monroe's 31 minutes, and that Detroit away and Boston at home average a combined 196 possessions (this is important because RPM is set to measure productivity per 100 possessions), we estimate that the necessary personnel shifts for the Pistons move the betting spread 2.7 points Boston's way.

However, Boston too is hampered by absence. In fact the Celtics are particularly stretched at the Guard position, as Marcus Smart will serve out a one-game suspension today, while Isaiah Thomas will also miss today's action -- Thomas' absence though is likely baked into the numbers since he suffered a bruised back and elbow on March 9th. Phil Pressey and/or James Young are likely to gain floor time in Smart's stead. These players sport RPM's of -2.99 and -3.30, respectively (versus Smart's RPM of +1.00). Given the ability of the replacements and considering the average number of possessions for these two teams, we estimate that distributing Smart's 26+ minutes of average playing time among some combination of Pressey and Young today should result in Boston losing about 3.8 points of relative advantage.

Of note, Monroe is roughly 2.5 times as valuable as Smart on the basis of RPM, however, Monroe's absence, on average, hurts the Pistons less than Smart being sidelined hurts the Celts. This perhaps counterintuitive outcome is explained by the disparity in the quality of the replacement players for each team. Tolliver and Anthony both boast positive RPMs, though meaningfully lower than Monroe's. Contrarily, Pressey and Young RPM's are both VERY negative, while Smart's is positive.

Since Monroe's injury is estimated to costs Detroit 2.7 spread points, while Smart's suspension costs Boston 3.8 points, the 2.4 points of value to Pistons backers identified by the power ratings model might be understated by 1.2 points.

All playable picks for today appear below:

The picks indicated above are based on spreads as of the time of this writing. Changes in the betting line might impact the model's predictions. For instance, at the current +9, the model has a lean on the Pelicans, but conviction is not high enough to warrant a play. However, at a half point tighter, the model solidly favors the LA Clippers. If, on the other hand, the spread widens to 10, the model firmly backs New Orleans. Similarly, the model makes Washington 3.5 points better than Sacramento -- exactly inline with the betting spread. The model endorses Sacramento at +4.0 though. And finally, the model recommends Philly +5.0, but takes a pass at +4.5.

Happy betting!!

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