NBA Odds, Picks, Previews for Saturday: 4 Best Bets, Including Clippers vs. Kings & Celtics vs. Trail Blazers
Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jayson Tatum.
- With a full slate in the NBA on Saturday, our staff has you covered from coast to coast.
- After the action started in New York City, we have three picks for two West Coast games.
- Check out our detailed breakdowns and picks below.
From start to finish, we have NBA bettors covered on Saturday afternoon.
The action kicks off on the East Coast on Saturday, when the Knicks will host the Nuggets at Madison Square Garden. Things get intriguing as we move to the West Coast at night, with the Celtics and Clippers playing their second game in as many nights. Boston will play in Portland, while Los Angeles looks to win its second in as many nights in Sacramento after taking down the Lakers on Friday.
NBA Odds & Picks
Denver Nuggets vs. New York Knicks
Malik Smith: The Knicks’ inconsistencies have been well documented this season. When they start well, they don’t finish. When they have poor starts they punch back with spirited runs that get them back in the game and lead to wildly unpredictable endings.
Today they have an early tip (1 p.m. ET) at the Garden against the banged up Nuggets who are dealing with injuries and COVID-related absences that have sapped their depth. The Knicks have also had some injury issues, with Nerlens Noel and RJ Barrett missing their last game. Barrett is expected to play, while Noel is questionable.
There is more reason for optimism for the Knickerbockers entering this matchup. Last season, in games that tipped between noon and 3:30 ET, the Knicks were 10-1 against the first half spread and 8-0 at Madison Square Garden.
If you’ve been following this team closely, I know what you’re thinking: This ain’t last year’s team. And while that has been true on the floor for the first 22 games, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau certainly commands the same effort from his squad.
With their recent stretch of close losses (or moral victories for the glass half full crowd), I expect the Knicks to come out with more energy to start and keep this trend alive. The added advantage of having one of the best bench units in the league going up against a thin Nuggets rotation gives me even more confidence.
Boston Celtics vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Matthew Trebby: Portland is 8-4 against the spread (ATS) this season at home compared to 1-10 on the road. When the Blazers lose, they do it in impressively bad fashion.
The Blazers finished a three-game road trip last week that saw them lose by four, 15 and 22 points to the Kings, Warriors and Jazz. They beat the Pistons at home before a dreadful 31-point loss to the Spurs.
Things are not going to get better for Portland in this one, as it will still be without Damian Lillard.
On the other side, Boston seems likely to get Jaylen Brown back after he sat out Friday night’s game against the Jazz. Brown did play in the Celtics’ previous five games.
While this is the back end of a back-to-back, Boston is 3-1 ATS on the back end of a back-to-back this season.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Sacramento Kings
Raheem Palmer: The Sacramento Kings haven’t exactly been the standard for excellence in the NBA these days. They’re just 9-14 on the season, ranking 25th in Net Rating (-2.9).
In Tuesday’s 124-115 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, though, Sacramento didn’t resemble one of the league’s bottom feeders. The Kings scored 122.8 points per 100 possessions in a game that saw the Clippers struggle to compete for most of it. All things considered, it feels as if that performance said more about the Clippers than the Kings as they struggled to defend most of the night.
Although Los Angeles is on the back end of a back-to-back, I’m expecting a better effort here against a Kings team that generally struggles to score in the half court, ranking 22nd in half-court point per play (89). Sacramento is equally as bad on defense and offense, ranking 28th in Defensive Rating (113) and 28th in Offensive Rating.
Typically when we see teams play twice in one week or back-to-back, there’s a noticeable impact in effort from the team who lost the first game. In this case, it’s the Clippers. If Paul George plays, they should win this one going away, even coming off a back-to-back game against the Lakers.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Sacramento Kings
Austin Wang: Last Wednesday, this matchup had a combined 239 points — and that was without George.
In the six games that Alvin Gentry has coached since taking over for Luke Walton, the Kings’ Defensive Rating is 25th (115.2) in the NBA, per NBA Advanced Stats. Somehow, Sacramento’s bad defense has gotten even worse.
On the other hand, the Clippers have been one of the lower-scoring teams in the league this season in part due to their slow-ish pace and relying on their defense to win games. However, Los Angeles’ defense has taken a step back in their last few games. They’ve given up 115, 124 and 123 in their last three games to the Kings, Lakers and Pelicans. All three of those games went over the total.
One predictive metric for totals I found in recent performances is assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Clippers have had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.8 and 3.2 in their last two games. Since 2018, teams with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.75 or more in their two previous games are 148-93-4 (61.4%) to the over, per the Sports Data Query Language at Gimme the Dog.
This is active on the Clippers as I think they can keep up their recent efficiency on offense against a poor Kings’ defense.
This total has seen significant steam upwards from its opening line of 215.5 in a move I agree with. I expect another high-scoring game between these two teams and would bet the over at 219 (up to 220).