First to 15 NBA Odds & Picks: Target Heat vs. Nuggets, Jazz vs. Kings (December 30)
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: DeAaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings.
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.
Tonight we’ve got a pretty packed Friday slate of games with nine games in total. As for the bets we’re targeting, both are from teams playing at home where they have been outstanding early in games.
Let’s get into Friday’s First to 15 NBA odds and picks.
Miami Heat vs. Denver Nuggets
|First to 15 Odds||Heat: +100 | Nuggets: -128|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
The Nuggets have been a pick in this column often and for good reason. They’ve been the best team in the NBA when it comes to jumping out to fast starts all season. But at home in Ball Arena, the Nuggets are elite.
In 15 home games, they’ve cashed this bet 12 times, thanks in large part to their incredibly efficient offense (read: Nikola Jokic), which ranks first in first quarter points (32.1), Offensive Rating (125.3) and Effective Field Goal Percentage (63.3%). They also don’t waste time scoring, hitting the 15-point mark at the fastest rate of any team in NBA (5:33). Their starting lineup is one of the best in the league at pushing teams offensively in the first quarter.
The Heat are also a good team in this respect, but there’s a notable drop off between how well they play in the first quarter when they are at home compared to on the road. I think the Nuggets’ odds are too low here and I like the value of better the league’s top first quarter team here.
Utah Jazz vs. Sacramento Kings
|First to 15 Odds||Jazz: -104 | Kings: -122|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
The Kings, like the Nuggets, are another team that is well ahead of the rest of the league at home early in games. They have the second-best win percentage in the Race to 15 standings, tied with the Golden State Warriors.
The Kings aren’t nearly as efficient as the Nuggets — they fall just outside the top-10 in first quarter scoring — but they are a team the likes to push the pace, especially their starting lineup, which is eighth-highest in first quarter Pace.
The Jazz, on the other hand, do not carry their early offense on the road with them. They are 9-11 on the road when it comes to the Race to 15 standings and in stark contrast to the Kings, they don’t really push the pace like the Kings.
This Kings also have been on a six-game homestand while the Jazz are on the the final game of a three-game road trip and have played six of their past seven games on the road. I’ll take the Kings with their uptempo playing style to prevail at home here.