NBA Betting Odds, Picks & Previews: Our Staff’s 3 Best Bets for Celtics-Knicks & Clippers-Suns (Jan. 6)

NBA Betting Odds, Picks & Previews: Our Staff’s 3 Best Bets for Celtics-Knicks & Clippers-Suns (Jan. 6) article feature image
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Dustin Satloff/Getty Images. Pictured: Terance Mann.

  • With four games on the NBA schedule on Thursday, our analysts have identified three bets with great value.
  • We start at Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks will face the Celtics, before going to Clippers vs. Suns.
  • Check out their picks and analysis below.

For Thursday night’s four-game slate, our team of NBA betting analysts have three picks for bettors.

It starts in New York (exciting news there!), where the Knicks will host the Celtics in a highly anticipated Eastern Conference matchup. Then, we head out to the Western Conference for the Clippers’ trip to take on the elite Suns.

We have two player props and a pick on the over/under. Check out their breakdowns and bets below.

NBA Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks
7:30 p.m. ET
Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks
7:30 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns
10 p.m. ET

Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks

Pick
Al Horford, over 3.5 assists (+126), over 5.5 assists (+450)
Book
FanDuel
Tipoff
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Brandon Anderson: The Celtics are still struggling to find their offense for the season. Boston ranks only 19th in Offensive Rating, per Basketball Reference, and the Celtics rank 24th in Effective Field Goal Percentage and 23rd in assists per game.

In short, Boston is still taking too many difficult shots and not generating enough good looks with ball movement and modern offense.

Over the last five games, it feels like the Celtics are making a purposeful change, starting to run their offense through Al Horford a bit more. Horford has always been one of the game’s best passing big men, and he’s been generating some good looks for his Boston teammates.

Horford is averaging 5.6 assists per game over the last five, a pretty big leap from his 3.5 before this stretch. The advanced numbers bear out the change too. Looking at Potential Assists at NBA Advanced Stats, Horford actually makes the leaderboard at 9.8 per game over the last five, just ahead of Steph Curry and another big man passer he’ll face tonight, Julius Randle.

By contrast, Horford had been averaging just 5.9 potential assists per game before this recent stretch. It’s easy to see how many more opportunities he’s getting.

This number, then, is way too low. Horford has at least five assists in four of these five games, and we only need four and are getting a plus number. That means this could be a chance to look for an alternate over. You can play Horford to have at least six assists at +470, or at least eight at +1500.

Eight seems a bit much, though he did do that five games ago. Be careful, though — Jayson Tatum was out for four of these five games and is back now, though Horford still led the team in potential assists with Tatum back last night. Still, six is reasonably within range, especially with an implied 17.5% likelihood.

If you want, you also go back to the Jaylen Brown 3-pointers well, which hit for us last night. Brown is averaging 3.4 made 3s on 9.2 attempts over his last 11 games, with at least seven attempts in every game. He’s gone over 2.5 3s (-120) in eight of those 11. You can also play at least four 3s (five of the last 11) at +205 or at least five (three of 11) at +520. The odds are starting to fall but still in our favor.

I probably won’t get overly aggressive on these since both Brown and Horford saw their numbers boosted with Tatum out, but the lower alternate over for both is pretty reasonable and comes off at +1624 as a Same Game Parlay at FanDuel.

If you’re sticking with just the more certain Horford over 3.5 assists, I’ll play confidently at +126 or any plus number.


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Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks

Pick
Under 208
Book
DraftKings
Tipoff
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Malik Smith: The Celtics and Knicks are two of the most profitable teams to the under this season — unders for both teams are 22-16. Generally, when two division opponents face each other, the under hits at about 52%, according to Bet Labs. Over the past two seasons, that number has jumped to 57%.

Trends aside, the matchup for both teams points to a potentially lower scoring game as well. The Celtics rank 25th in Offensive Rating (107.8) over the past month and the Knicks rank 26th (107.7). They also rank 10th and 11th respectively in Defensive Rating while also coming in the bottom 10 in Pace — the Knicks are 29th over the past month with 94.47.

This line has come down since opening around 211, but I think there’s still value at 208 considering how tough it has been for the Knicks to score and how solid both defenses have been in recent games. I wouldn’t go lower than 207.


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Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns

Pick
Terance Mann over 12.5 points (-110)
Book
DraftKings
Tipoff
10 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Kenny Ducey: On a short slate, this is one of the player props that really stands out to me. Mann has commanded more of the ball in the last six games with Paul George out, and he’s done incredibly well with it. He’s averaged 13 points on 56.4% shooting and has scored at least 17 in three of his last four. On top of all that, the last time he faced the Suns he finished with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting in 38 minutes.

Mann should be locked into a heavy dose of run here with the Clippers shorthanded, and he will see a Suns defense on the other end which has looked increasingly human over the last two weeks. In that time, they’ve allowed more than 109 points per 100 possessions, posting a defensive rating that’s over five full points worse than their season average.

It’s not as if the Suns’ defense is bad right now, but this line probably respects its form a little too much. Mann should be plenty involved here for Los Angeles and I’d expect him to knock down his shots given his recent success.


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