NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Clippers vs. Raptors, Knicks vs. Thunder (December 31)

NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Clippers vs. Raptors, Knicks vs. Thunder (December 31) article feature image
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Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Obi Toppin #1 of the New York Knicks.

What a year it has been in the NBA. The past few weeks have been rocky but we’re closing out 2021 with 10 games on Friday night’s New Years Eve slate.

Our NBA analysts are eyeing two games on tonight’s schedule and are betting one total and one spread across those matchups. You can read their analysis and best bets for Friday night below.

NBA Odds & Picks

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Los Angeles Clippers vs. Toronto Raptors
7:30 p.m. ET
New York Knicks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
8 p.m. ET

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Toronto Raptors

Pick
Over 210.5
Book
DraftKings
Tipoff
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Austin Wang: The Toronto Raptors host the Los Angeles Clippers on New Year’s Eve. Due to recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, the government of Ontario recently announced it will limit attendance at the Scotiabank Arena to 1,000 people. Therefore, one interesting wrinkle about this game is that there will be very few fans in attendance.

I think an empty arena will help with scoring as they won’t have close to 20,000 fans impacting their play. As we saw in the NBA bubble, scoring increased dramatically and I can see the same in this case.

The Clippers’ Ivica Zubac is going to be out for the Clippers, so we’ll see Marcus Morris and Serge Ibaka pick up minutes at the five. With Morris at center, this will be a very small lineup for the Clippers that could lend to a faster pace. Even though Paul George is out, they still have scorers who can take advantage of the empty arena and faster tempo.

The Raptors are going to be getting a handful of guys back in the rotation after recently being cleared from health and safety protocol. They’ve done well with a smaller lineup and it should be in their best interest to do so to match up against the Clippers. I can see Pascal Siakam or Scottie Barnes at the center position, surrounded by other scorers and 3-point shooters that are fresh, well-rested and ready to run.

The Raptors’ previous five games have gone over the total and they have been playing at a faster pace lately. I make this total 215, so I see a nice opportunity to take the over here in this matchup at 210.5 (up to 213).


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New York Knicks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Pick
Knicks -4.5
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
8 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Kenny Ducey: Sample sizes be damned, the Knicks may be better off without Julius Randle.

Okay, I don’t mean forever but you can’t deny that Randle — in his current form — has been detrimental to the Knicks’ success. After going 2-for-10 from the field against the Pistons on Wednesday, Randle was yanked along with the rest of the starters in the second half. The bench went on to dominate undermanned Detroit, pulling away and helping New York cover the spread for a third straight game.

No bench player had a Plus/Minus worse than +27, and now at least one — Obi Toppin — will see more run as a result of Randle’s absence on Friday. With the big man off the floor this the year, the Knicks have a +15.9 Net Rating as opposed to a -6.3 with him on the court, and just about every individual player has better numbers when they don’t share the floor with Randle.

It makes perfect sense since he’s so ball-dominant. When he was scoring with ease last year, it wasn’t as big of a deal that he commanded the ball so much in the post, but it’s been incredibly hurtful to the rest of the team in 2021-22.

It’s hard to figure out why the Knicks are such short favorites on the road against Oklahoma City, considering they’ve gone 5-2 ATS in their last seven games and played far better away from home. I’ll be laying the points.


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