Friday NBA Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Bucks vs. Jazz, Cavaliers vs. Trail Blazers (Feb. 12)
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz and Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks.
- Friday night's NBA slate is loaded with 11 intriguing matchups.
- Check out how our experts are finding value in two of these games below.
Friday’s NBA slate is absolutely loaded with awesome games to choose from, including two star-studded national TV matchups: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN) and Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Lakers (10 p.m. ET on ESPN).
Our NBA analysts are betting two other games tonight, including a matchup between the No. 1 team in the West and the No. 2 team in the East. You can find their analysis and picks in those games below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Bucks vs. Jazz
Brandon Anderson: What a matchup we have here. We’ve got the best team in the NBA right now, an absolutely stifling defense and elite rim protector, the hottest shooting team in the league and a truly untouchable offense … and the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Jazz are doing everything right over the past month. Utah has won 16 of its past 17 games, and 14 of those 16 wins have come by double digits. The Jazz are straight up dominating every opponent in their path, and they’re doing it on both ends of the court.
The Jazz rank top four in the NBA in both Offensive and Defensive Efficiency. Utah leads the league in 3-point attempts and makes, and the Jazz have been scorching from behind the arc all season. Utah’s defense is also holding opponents below 50% on Effective Field Goal Percentage, an absolutely absurd number.
Those are the sort of numbers we had come to expect from Milwaukee over the past couple seasons, at least the regular season Bucks, but this year’s version has not lived up to that standard. Milwaukee traded all of its depth in for a shot at Jrue Holiday, and the move has had mixed reviews so far.
The Bucks offense has ranked near the top of the league all season, but the defense has not been up to par or anywhere near its recent dominance, and the bench has proven to be paper thin. These Bucks are still good but nowhere near the level we’ve seen in the past right now.
Tonight both teams are missing their starting point guard, but that means different things for each team. For the Jazz, no Mike Conley means even more time on the ball for Donovan Mitchell, and Spida is absolutely slaying during this winning stretch.
While the Jazz have gone 16-1, Mitchell is scoring 25.5 PPG and making 3.9 3s per game at a 48% clip. (Think Mitchell from last year’s playoffs, but for a full month.) Conley has been great too, but even more Mitchell could be a problem for Milwaukee.
So could the absence of Jrue Holiday. No Holiday means Bryn Forbes likely moves into the starting lineup, and that is not good for the Bucks. Forbes has not found his footing at all in Milwaukee, and the Bucks have no guard answer to defend Mitchell.
Milwaukee also makes its defensive living by stifling opponents inside the arc and forcing them to beat them from deep. That could be a problem against a team that leads the league in threes and has been molten lava behind the arc all season.
I love Utah in this spot. I’ve been riding the Jazz during this winning stretch, and I see no reason to fade them here.
Cavaliers vs. Trail Blazers
Raheem Palmer: The loss of Larry Nance for this Cleveland Cavaliers team is bigger than the market realizes.
While the Cavaliers were eighth in Defensive Rating, allowing just 108.3 points per 100 possessions through the first 20 game of the season, their defense has fallen off a cliff recently. They’re now giving up 121.6 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks which is 28th among NBA teams.
The defense has been poor with or without Nance, they’re giving up 108.5 points per 100 possessions with Nance on the floor and a whopping 116.6 points per 100 possessions with him off.
The Cavs have struggled offensively, but they are playing a Trail Blazers team that has one of the worst defenses in the league and is coming off a tough game against the 76ers.
Overall I make this total 223, so at 221.5 there’s a small edge.