NBA Odds, Best Bets: Expert Picks for Nuggets vs. Knicks, Heat vs. Bulls
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat.
- Saturday's NBA schedule features eight games with six matchups on the evening slate.
- Action's NBA analysts have four best bets, including picks for Heat vs Bulls and Warriors vs Grizzlies.
- Check out their expert picks for Saturday below.
The NBA has been giving us its version of madness as teams push toward the postseason. There are eight games on Saturday’s schedule and all but one team is currently in the hunt for a spot in the play-in or playoffs.
The featured matchup of the night on NBA TV is a “rivalry” game between the Warriors and Grizzlies (8 p.m. ET), but our crew is targeting two more games on the slate for the their best bets. Their expert picks feature player props, first half spreads and more.
Read on for their analysis and betting predictions below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Denver Nuggets vs. New York Knicks
Malik Smith: This matchup is giving me flashbacks of last season. The Knicks hosted the Nuggets in a matinee game at Madison Square Garden and were favorites in the first half. They trail by 11 at the break. In today’s matchup, the Knicks get a potentially more vulnerable version of Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets who are 5-5 straight up over their past 10 games.
The Knicks are the best team against the first half spread in the NBA (48-22-1, 68%) and even better at home (26-8-1, 76%). They haven’t played since Monday and on three or more days rest, they are 8-2 ATS in the first half. In games that tip before 5 p.m. ET, the Knicks are 7-1 ATS.
The Nuggets are 36-34 ATS and 17-17 on the road in the first half this season. They are 7-13 ATS as road favorites and yet they are 1.5-point favorites in this matchup. They’ve trailed at halftime to the Pistons, Raptors and Spurs in just the past week.
The trends all point to the Knicks here and I’m betting them both ATS and on the moneyline in the first half.
Denver Nuggets vs. New York Knicks
Chris Baker: The Knicks have not looked like a good basketball team since Jalen Brunson went down with a foot injury. The ball doesn’t move on offense and they aren’t getting the same quality of shots that they were with Brunson in the lineup.
They’ve gone 2-3 over their last five games without Brunson despite four of the games being against bottom-10 net-rating teams. During that five-game stretch the Knicks rank 19th in net-rating and 30th in offensive effective field goal percentage (50.2%). This is clearly an entirely different team without Brunson, but I must mention that he did fully practice yesterday and is officially questionable for this one.
With this line being only -2, I would anticipate Brunson to play but it is important to mention that he’s dealing with foot soreness (the team initially called it a bruise). Without knowing Brunson’s exact situation, I would just say that I expect his minutes to be monitored here and caution against assuming he is going to play his normal workload. As someone who personally has plantar fasciitis right now, I can tell you that there is potential for pain to flare up with nagging foot issues if he goes for extended minutes.
The Knicks would certainly benefit from Brunson’s presence, but I don’t know if it will be enough to overcome this elite Nuggets offense. The Nuggets have so much off-ball movement and you need to be locked in help defense when Nikola Jokic has the ball as he can whip a pass for a layup or a dunk in a split second if you are lazy with your rotations. Focus on the defensive end has been a huge issue for Julius Randle and RJ Barrett and I expect Aaron Gordon to benefit with lots of open shots off cuts if Randle defends him. It really is a five-man effort defending the Nuggets and unfortunately I don’t know if the Knicks have five guys who can focus for 48 minutes on defending this offense.
Furthermore, I like the Gordon defensive matchup on Randle. Gordon is an elite defender and has the strength and foot speed to keep the ball in front of him when guarding Randle. I think this is a very cheap line given the uncertainty of Brunson and the matchup so I’ll grab the -2 and play this up to -3.
Miami Heat vs Chicago Bulls
Bryan Fonseca: Jimmy Butler has mostly played well in his Chicago returns.
In totality, he has visited the Bulls five times since originally being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves after the 2016-17 season, and is averaging 27.4 points. In fact, he’s hit over 23.5 on three separate occasions. Additionally, he’s been a top NBA player since the All-Star break, and being left off the All-Star team.
Butler tends to do that at this point of the year anyway. Since the break, he’s been good for 25.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 60% (!!) from the field, 50% on 3s, and 85.7%t on 11 free throw attempts per contest. Butler’s had it going from the field, but even if he doesn’t, he’s been getting to the line at will, reaching double-digit free throw attempts (and makes) in five of his last eight games.
And regarding the primary counting stat here, Butler’s hit over 23.5 points for five straight games before scoring just 23 last time out. This feels like a reliable play, which isn’t always the case surrounding this season’s Heat team.
Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Joe Dellera: The Golden State Warriors head to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies as both teams are on the second game of a back-to-back set. The Warriors lost on the road in Atlanta while the Grizzlies pulled out an overtime win in San Antonio.
The Warriors have struggled to find any rhythm away from home, but they have been a top-10 team overall since the All-Star break with a +2.5 Point Differential across 13 games. The Grizzlies have played well without Morant this season, but over their past seven games without him, they are 4-3 with a +1.2 Point Differential. However, these stats are a bit inflated — the victories are two games against the Mavericks without Kyrie Irving or Luka Doncic, the Spurs, and of course, the one game against the Warriors where they jumped out to a 20-point first quarter lead.
The Warriors need this game much more than the Grizzlies, and while there’s something to be said about being in a position where you “need” a game does not instill confidence, this Warriors team has been waiting to flip a switch all year. There’s bad blood from the Conference Finals last season, and I expect the Warriors to bounce back after their head-to-head loss a few days ago.
The Grizzlies’ recent form is inflated a bit due to their recent schedule and opponent injury luck. Now with the Grizzlies coming off an overtime victory on the road, their home-court advantage is not as significant and I would not be surprised if their rotations were a bit deeper today.
I’ll grab the points with the Warriors on the road; as of the time of writing, BetMGM has the best line with the Warriors priced at +2.5.
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