NBA Picks & Predictions: How We’re Betting Jazz-Thunder & Lakers-Raptors
Photo credit: Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet
- The Lakers have all but wrapped up the West's No. 1 seed, and need to fend off the Raptors on Saturday night.
- Get our picks and predictions for a pair of Saturday games -- Lakers vs. Raptors and Jazz vs. Thunder.
The NBA’s first all-day slate Friday did not disappoint: There were points galore, and we got some high-flying excitement especially with Grizzlies-Blazers and Rockets-Mavs, both of which went into overtime.
Saturday’s slate projects to be pretty darn good as well with marquee matchups like the Nuggets vs. Heat, Sixers vs. Pacers and Lakers vs. Raptors.
Our staff is here to break down their favorite bets of the day from the following two games:
- 3:30 p.m. ET: Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
- 8:30 p.m. ET: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors
Saturday NBA Betting Picks
Brandon Anderson: Jazz vs. Thunder
|Jazz odds||+2 [BET NOW]|
|Thunder odds||-2 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+108/-127 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||217 [BET NOW]|
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
This one opened at Utah -1 and has slid to Oklahoma City -1 and could push further in that direction by tip, but with a line that close, you’re basically treating this like a pick’em. There’s no home advantage here at a neutral site, so that means we’re just picking the team we think is better. And that’s OKC.
Oh sure, they’re about even in the standings and the advanced metrics, with Utah just ahead in both cases. But none of those numbers reflect that the Jazz are missing Bojan Bogdanovic, and we saw how much their offense stagnated at times Thursday night without him. They also don’t reflect how much the Thunder improved as they gelled this season, winning 29 of their last 39 games.
The Jazz bench unit looked really rough against the Pelicans, another area weakened without Bojan available, while the Thunder bench features potential Sixth Man of the Year, Dennis Schroder.
The Thunder also have a distinct rest advantage. Utah has played a real game, and the Thunder haven’t yet. That could mean some early rust, but I like the Thunder to win somewhat comfortably if they can get past that.
Expect the line to rise, but play it up to -2.5 as needed.
The Pick: Thunder -2
Matt Moore: Lakers vs. Raptors
|Lakers odds||-3 [BET NOW]|
|Raptors odds||+3 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-152/+128 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||221.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
LeBron was dominant defensively vs. the Clippers. Just watch these clips:
However, I’ve noticed a trend where after a big win when he locks down… he comes off the pedal a bit.
Since 2016 when they won the title and he burned himself to a crisp, coming off a game where the under hit vs. an opponent with a 60% win percentage or better, the over is 28-22-1 (56%) and the combined total averages 221 points. LeBron-led teams in that spot are also 19-32 ATS.
The Raptors are a good offensive team overall, and have the size and athleticism to counter the Lakers interior big men.
Anthony Davis got to the line Thursday 17 times by himself. The Clippers are 21st in opponent free throw rate, the Raptors are 15th, better than the Lakers in that category. The big key there is that fewer stoppages allow the Raptors to run, where they are an elite team per possession in transition.
The line has moved quite a bit up and down, and it now sits at Raps +3. If the Lakers get some public action today and that gets up, I’ll take them. I did love the over when it opened at 213.5, but unfortunately it’s at 221.5 now.
The Pick: Raptors +4 or better
Raheem Palmer: Lakers vs. Raptors
The Toronto Raptors had their season-defining win back in November, defeating the Lakers outright 113-104 as 10.5-point road underdogs at Staples Center without the services of both All Star PG Kyle Lowry or veteran PF Serge Ibaka.
In some ways, the 10.5-point spread said a lot about the lack of respect the market had for how good this Raptors team has been despite injuries that have plagued this team all year. Nick Nurse has pushed all the right buttons, leading this team to a 46-18 record, good for second in the Eastern Conference.
The Lakers are coming off a hard-fought win against the Clippers in which Anthony Davis put up 34 points, eight rebounds and four assists on 64% true shooting.
Unlike the Clippers, the Raptors have rim protection and athleticism in their frontcourt in Marc Gasol, Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka. Although no one is going to completely slow down a superstar talent like Anthony Davis, in the first matchup we saw the Raptors’ length and athleticism cause problems for them on the defensive end of the floor and create fast break opportunities on offense. Toronto dominated the Lakers 32-8 in fast break points and outscored them in the paint 54-48.
There’s still some question marks regarding the Lakers’ perimeter defense with the loss of Avery Bradley, who’s been a pest to opposing guards. The Lakers starting lineup (LeBron/Green/Bradley/Davis/McGee) had an Offensive Rating of 114.0 and Defensive Rating of 101.4 for a net of +12.6 points per 100 possessions.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope replaced Bradley in the starting lineup; however, this same lineup without Bradley had an OffRtg of 117.0 and a DefRtg of 113.6 for a net of +3.4 — a total difference of 9.2 points per 100 possessions.
Simply put, the absence of Bradley on the defensive end of the floor can’t be overstated, and there’s no better team to test the Lakers’ perimeter defense than the Raptors.
The Raptors have the sixth-best 3-point percentage in the league at 37.1%, and given their style of play they should get a ton of decent looks. They also have three guards in Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell who are above average from 3-point range but can also break down the defense and get to the hoop.
All in all, this feels like a difficult spot for the Lakers. I’m not particularly a fan of handicapping motivation, but they are 6.5 games ahead of the Clippers for the 1-seed in the Western Conference with seven games left to play in the regular season.
This feels like a letdown spot against a tough group of professionals in the Raptors who will make them earn it. My model makes the Lakers 1.89-point favorites over the Raptors on a neutral court, so it feels like the market has been overrated the Lakers.
I like the spread at +4 or better, and I’d sprinkle in some of your wager on the moneyline if it gets there, too.
The Pick: Raptors +4 or better, Raps ML