NBA Odds & Betting Picks: Our Favorite Bets for Jazz vs. Pelicans (Thursday, Jan. 21)
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz.
- Thursday's NBA slate tipped off at 7:30 p.m. ET and features three intriguing matchups.
- Check out where our experts are finding value in tonight's games.
There are just three games on Thursday’s NBA slate, but all three have some intrigue.
The Los Angeles Lakers are on the road facing off with the Milwaukee Bucks (7:30 p.m. ET on TNT) in a matchup of two of the NBA’s top teams. The New Orleans Pelicans face the Jazz in Utah (10 p.m. ET on TNT) as they look to rebound from a 1-6 streak over the past two week.
The New York Knicks start a four-game West Coast swing against the surprisingly good Golden State Warriors (10 p.m. ET).
Our NBA crew has zeroed in on two games they plan to bet tonight and you can find their analysis and picks on those games below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Lakers vs. Bucks
Joe Dellera: This is the NBA Finals Preview we all thought we were getting prior to the season starting before the Nets assembled their own Big Three.
I like the Lakers here and I’m surprised they’re an underdog at all. The Lakers have yet to be listed as an underdog this season, but with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the team, the Lakers are 7-2 against the spread as underdogs, per Bet Labs.
This game is very evenly matched, but the Lakers do have an edge rebounding the basketball. They rank first in Rebound% while the Bucks are seventh, per NBA Advanced Stats.
Additionally, the Lakers have been excellent in their half court offense this year with the sixth-best half court offense (The Bucks are fifth), and the Bucks are ranked 17th in half court defense (The Lakers are fifth), per Cleaning the Glass.
Much of this has to do with the Bucks giving up the 3-point shot at such a high rate, and this is an area where the Lakers have improved over the offseason as they now have the seventh best shooting percentage (39%) from 3-point range.
I trust LeBron and AD as underdogs in this spot, and even though I expect it to be a close matchup they should maintain an edge.
Jazz vs. Pelicans
Brandon Anderson: Well, we’re about 20% of the way into the new NBA season, and things have started to settle in. Most advanced metrics place three teams right at the top of the NBA, and they’re the exact three everyone would’ve expected each of the past two years: the Milwaukee Bucks, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the LA Clippers, in some order.
But do you know what team ranks fourth? The Utah Jazz.
The Jazz are balling, in part because they are one of a precious few teams that have basically played the entire season at full strength thus far. Utah has won six games in a row, all but one of them by double digits. The Jazz have moved into the top eight in both Offensive and Defensive Efficiency.
After a dip last year, Utah’s stellar defense is back in peak form, leading the league in defensive effective field goal percentage. The Jazz continue to be an elite rebounding team, and this year they’ve been one of the most deadly 3-point shooting teams in the league. When you combine elite defense and rebounding plus league-leading shooting, that’s a formula for success.
The Pelicans? Not as much formula for success there.
New Orleans has lost six of seven, and while the rest of the league is spacing things out and adding shooting, the Pelicans have packed the paint with non-shooters. That worked for awhile defensively but isn’t working anymore, and the offense has been clogged up.
Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram have been terrific, and Zion has especially been good of late, but this team just doesn’t make sense together. Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams mostly get in the way and Lonzo Ball has stunk this year after a terrible bubble.
These teams just played two days ago and the Jazz led by 22 heading into the fourth quarter and won comfortably. Utah dominated on the glass and had a massive edge from beyond the arc, dominating the game even with a monster effort from Zion. I see no reason the Jazz shouldn’t win this one again.