Friday NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Our 4 Best Bets for Nuggets vs. Warriors, Grizzlies vs. Trail Blazers & More (April 23)
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies.
- Friday night brings a bevy of important matchups for the NBA playoff race.
- Our staff has identified three games as having great betting value, with two of them meaning a lot to teams looking to avoid the play-in tournament.
- Check out our four best bets for Friday night's slate of NBA action.
Friday’s slate of NBA games brings us a night full of games with playoff implications in both the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Our staff of NBA betting analysts at The Action Network have highlighted three games with betting value, two of which are between playoff teams out west.
Check out their picks and detailed breakdowns below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Wizards at Thunder
Raheem Palmer: The Washington Wizards are one of the hottest teams in the NBA. They’re winners of six straight and eight out of their last nine games, including an 11-point fourth quarter comeback in the final seven minutes last time out against the Golden State Warriors.
We’re finally seeing the Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook experiment become what we envisioned when the season. Because of that, it appears Washington has a solid chance at making the play-in game. Beal is second in the league scoring at 31 points per game and Westbrook is averaging a triple-double for his fourth season.
The trade deadline acquisition of Daniel Gafford has been huge. The addition of a rim-protecting big who can block shots on defense and run the floor and catch lobs on offense has been great. In just 17.9 minutes of action, Gafford is averaging 12.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks, making a big impact on defense. The Wizards were 27th in Defensive Rating this season, giving up 114.4 points per 100 possessions, but since March 25th, the Wizards have a Defensive Rating of just 107.3. Gafford’s presence has been a big part of that.
Despite how well the Wizards are playing, laying 10 points is new territory for a team that has struggled for most of the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder are tanking however, sitting Shai Gilgeous Alexander, Al Horford and possibly Luguentz Dort for this matchup.
The results haven’t been pretty as the Thunder are dead last in Offensive Rating, scoring just 104.7 points per 100 possessions this season in their non-garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass. Over the past two weeks, their Offensive Rating is a mere 101.9.
The defense has also fallen off a cliff, as well, but this is still a team that can defender the perimeter. Oklahoma City ranked sixth in opponent 3-point percentage (35.5%) and 13th in opponent midrange shooting percentage (41.9%).
Despite the presence of Beal and Westbrook, the Wizards are still just 24th in Offensive Rating (109.5). Much of the Wizards improvement has come from their defense which is holding teams to 105.5 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks, second in the NBA.
Grizzlies at Trail Blazers
Brandon Anderson: Are we totally sure the Blazers are the right team to be favored here?
I think the Grizzlies are the better team, just straight-up better. The advanced metrics agree too. Memphis is three spots better in Net Rating, per Basketball Reference, but the gap is almost two points per 100, a pretty sizable difference. And though Portland’s offense is clearly better than the Grizzlies’, the gap in defense is absolutely mammoth.
The Grizzlies’ offense is average but clearly a step behind Portland, thanks mostly to Damian Lillard, who is playing but clearly not at full health just yet. Memphis is missing Jonas Valanciunas but finally has Jaren Jackson Jr. back, and he looked terrific in his season debut. Jackson had 15 points, eight rebounds and four blocks in just 18 minutes off the bench.
In those minutes, Jackson revolutionized the Memphis offense. The Grizzlies had a 132 offensive rating with him on the court, as his spacing immediately transformed the offense into something far greater.
No Valanciunas means more opportunity for Jackson, as well as more minutes for Xavier Tillman and Brandon Clarke. And if I’m honest, I think that actually makes me like Memphis more, not less. Tillman and Clarke are really good defenders who will muck things up inside and more than hold their own against Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter, and more minutes for Jackson could really hurt Portland’s already terrible defense, pulling the Portland bigs away from the hoop and letting Ja Morant do his thing getting into the lane.
Portland is 32-26 this season, but the metrics suggest this team should be at least five wins worse. That’s because the Blazers have won an incredible nine times this season by one, two or three points thanks to Dame Time, meaning Portland has only covered a -3 line 23 times in 58 games despite its winning record.
This game is likely to be close. It means a lot to both teams as they fight for seeding in the congested Western Conference, and all Blazers games feel close. Memphis may be the better team and could well win this game, but at +3.5, they can also lose a close one and still win our bet.
If the line drops at all, or if you’re feeling bolder, try the moneyline play instead and go for the win. And if you really believe in Memphis, this is a great spot to consider betting on the Grizzlies to make the playoffs and/or the Blazers to miss. If Memphis does win tonight, it gives the Grizz a solid shot at moving up in the standings and the Blazers slipping as far as the eight seed. That would likely match these two teams again in the first play-in game, with the same matchup advantages in Memphis’s favor and a win securing a playoff berth.
Grizzlies at Trail Blazers
Kenny Ducey: The Grizzlies are in a backslide. After putting in so much great effort on the defensive end all season long, this team has allowed a whopping 115.3 points per 100 possessions over the past 10 games, good for 23rd in the NBA.
As a result, Memphis has lost five of eight, missing out on some big-time opportunities to climb out of the play-in tournament out West. That task is looking more and more unlikely by the day with the Trail Blazers and Mavericks ahead of them by 2 1/2 games.
Speaking of those Trail Blazers, they have not been winning much of late either, but at least they have the excuse of losing Damian Lillard to hamstring injury for a few games. This team has still looked strong on offense, scoring 114.1 points per 100 trips down the floor in the last 10 games, and its defense has continued to get better since C.J. McCollum’s return.
Portland’s high-octane offensive attack should overwhelm a tired and lethargic Memphis defense, and Enes Kanter should dominate the glass against a frontcourt that has struggled to rebound lately. The Grizzlies have relied on Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson, Jr. to scrap down low and get second-chance points, but we’ve seen them struggle against teams with size. Kanter’s tenacious play out front should bother just enough to neutralize some of their offensive ability, and create yet another edge for Portland.
Nuggets at Warriors
Matthew Trebby: The Nuggets, unfortunately for the rest of the Western Conference, have not slowed down since Jamal Murray’s season-ending ACL tear.
Denver’s offense remains among the best in the NBA, ranking third in its last nine games, eight of which have been without Murray. Nikola Jokic remains the favorite to win the MVP, while Michael Porter Jr. has stepped up his game to become the Nuggets’ No. 2 option on offense.
Golden State, meanwhile, is getting an epically efficient month from Stephen Curry, who is averaging 38.7 points per game in April. That has only translated to a 6-5 record for the Warriors, though, while Denver is 4-0 in its last four without Murray.