First to 15 NBA Odds & Picks: Bet Timberwolves vs. Bulls, Celtics vs. Trail Blazers (March 17)

First to 15 NBA Odds & Picks: Bet Timberwolves vs. Bulls, Celtics vs. Trail Blazers (March 17) article feature image

Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles the ball during the game against the Boston Celtics.

There are so many ways to bet an NBA game, but for those bettors who can't bear to sweat the full 48 minutes, there are other markets that offer more instant satisfaction. One of those markets is the Race to 15 Points. It's as simple as the name suggests: The first team to hit 15 points cashes the bet.

We've got a robust Friday slate of games with eight matchups on the schedule. Here are two first to 15 picks from Friday's slate of games.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Chicago Bulls

First to 15 OddsTimberwolves: -111 | Bulls: -115
Time | TV8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass

The Timberwolves have been one of the best first quarter teams in the NBA all season, but their recent 10-game stretch has been even more impressive.

Here are their ranks in the first quarter over that span:

Points: No. 2 (32.0)
FG Pct: No. 4 (52.9%)
3P Pct: No. 3 (43.7%)
Plus/Minus: No. 2 (+3.8). 

They also have been the first to 15 in eight of those 10 games, including five games in a row. The Bulls over the same span are averaging 22 points in the first quarter, play at the third-slowest Pace (98.20) in the NBA and have won the Race to 15 just four times in 10 games.

There are some injury concerns — Rudy Gobert, Naz Reid and Austin Rivers are questionable — but Anthony Edwards is the engine that makes this offense run. The Wolves should be favored here, even on the road. I'm not overthinking this one; I would bet it up to -120.

Boston Celtics vs. Portland Trail Blazers

First to 15 OddsCeltics: -148 | Trail Blazers: +116
Time | TV10 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass

Injury concerns factor into this matchup too — Marcus Smart (illness) and Jayson Tatum (hip) are questionable to play — but setting that aside, the Celtics are being overvalued here. This is the fourth game of a six-game road trip, they just played a tough game in Minneapolis and prior to that had games in Houston and Atlanta within seven days.

The Celtics looked a bit lost defensively to open their past three games and the Trail Blazers are averaging 30 points in the first quarter over the past 10 games. The Blazers are also 7-3 in the Race to 15 standings while the Celtics are 4-6 over the same span.

The Celtics are the better team and should win the game (even if two of their best players sit), but I don't think their recent performances in first quarters should inspire much confidence that they will come out booming. This should be closer to a coin-flip and I like the value on the Blazers are plus money.

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Doug Ziefel
Jun 21, 2024 UTC