NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Pacers vs. Celtics, Pelicans vs. Lakers (April 1)
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: CJ McCollum #3 and Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans.
It’s a glorious weekend for basketball and it kicks off with an awesome Friday night slate of games in college and in the pros. The Women’s Final Four gets rolling tonight with two great games. The NIT Championship game tips off tonight at Madison Square Garden.
And, of course, the NBA is in full swing with 10 matchups as the season nears its end in nine days. Our analysts are eying three matchups for tonight and see value in one total, one prop and the spread and moneyline in a late matchup.
Check out their analysis for those games and best bets for Friday night below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Indiana Pacers vs. Boston Celtics
Austin Wang: The Celtics are ranked No. 1 in Defensive Rating in the entire league, they’ve simply been shutting teams down. However, they recently lost starting center Robert Williams III to a torn meniscus. That’s a huge blow because he was the anchor for their dominant defense and it’s been no surprise that they’ve suffered on the end of the floor in his absence.
For most of the season they were banking on their defense but they’ve recently caught fire on the offensive side as well. They are No. 1 in Offensive Rating since the All-Star break, their young stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, are incredible, and Derrick White has been an excellent sixth-man off the bench.
They should continue their offensive dominance against Pacers, one of the league’s worst defensive teams, who rank 27th in Defensive Rating for the season and 29th since the break — Opponents average 121 points per game against them over that span.
Even if the game script is a blowout, the Celtics don’t take their foots off the pedal. We’ve seen their bench come in and start launching 3s in that situation. Additionally, Celtics games have gone over six of their previous seven.
I liked this over at 223, but I’d bet it up to 226.
Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets
Brandon Anderson: You have to love these final weeks of the NBA regular season when the tanking teams just let the freak flags fly.
The Kings and the Rockets play for the second time in three days tonight, but it might as well be their G League affiliates out there. De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis have long since been sidelined for Sacramento. Houston will be without Dennis Schroder, Eric Gordon, and Christian Wood with phantom injuries.
That means the kids are playing, and they are playing fast. These teams played at a huge pace two days ago and would’ve scored far more than the 239 points they had if shots were falling. The Rockets are leaning all the way in on youth development. Star rookie Jalen Green and reclamation project Kevin Porter Jr. are getting all the usage they can handle, and we’re seeing plenty from rookies Usman Garuba, Josh Christopher, and Daishen Nix too.
Green’s shots has been falling lately and he has been mostly overlooked this season as the players drafted around him exploded. No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham has been a monster late in the season. No. 3 pick Evan Mobley leads the Rookie of the Year Race, with No. 4 pick Scottie Barnes making a strong closing push. Green has been nowhere in the mix, but he’s closing the year strong.
Entering the final week of March, Green had scored 23 or more points only eight times in his career. Now he’s done it four times in the last week, and the big difference has been a massive uptick in 3-point volume.
Just look at the huge 3-point attempts over the last four games: 10, 11, 15, and 14. Those are four of the five highest number of attempts in Green’s young career, and it should come as no surprise that he’s also recorded four of his five best 3-point shooting outputs too.
Green has made five, six, six, and six 3s his last four games, averaging 5.75 makes on 12.5 attempts and racking up 27.5 PPG. The Kings are bottom five in the NBA against opposing shooting guards and second to last in 3-point percentage allowed, letting opponents get up clean looks all game. And remember, these teams just played two nights ago when Green hit 6-of-14 treys so we know he can put up a big number.
This line has risen fast but it hasn’t gone far enough. I’ll play the traditional over at +145, implying a 41% hit rate, and I’ll grab the alternate over 4.5 makes too at +325. When a guy is getting up double digit 3s a night in a game that will play out this fast, the sky is the limit.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Raheem Palmer: The Pelicans and the Lakers meet in a de-facto playoff game with both teams needing to win to keep their Play-In hopes alive. The Lakers are in a far more desperate position as they’re on the outside looking in after their 122-109 loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.
After losing four straight games and five out of their last six, the Lakers look dead as fried chicken and now face a must-win situation on the second night of a back-to-back while playing their third game in four nights. You hear this phrase a lot when it comes to the NFL: If a team is in a must win game, they probably aren’t very good.
Fortunately, the Lakers could have some reinforcements for this matchup as Anthony Davis and LeBron James are game-time decisions, which could make a world of difference. Still, the Lakers weren’t exactly world beaters with them in the lineup, going 11-10 SU with a Net Rating of -0.4.
As Anthony Davis — out since Feb. 16 with a foot sprain — progresses toward a game-time decision vs. New Orleans on Friday, LeBron James is hopeful to test out his ankle sprain and try to make a return to the lineup too, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 31, 2022
If one of or both Davis or James don’t play the Lakers are in a world of trouble against a Pelicans team that has defeated them twice. This past Sunday, James scored 39 points shot 7-of-13 from 3-point range, grabbed nine boards, dished out five assists and the Lakers still blew a 20-point lead. If the Lakers can’t win a game in which their best player does that, they may be drawing dead.
The Lakers are just 4-14 since the All-Star break with a Net Rating of just -7.8, third-worst among NBA teams ahead of the Blazers and Thunder, both of whom are in full development mode.
The Pelicans are 10-7 with a +7.3 Net Rating despite missing Brandon Ingram for a 10 game stretch with a hamstring injury. The Pelicans have put it together on the defensive end of the floor the past two weeks, allowing 108.3 points per 100 possessions, which ranks third in the NBA.
The Lakers are 20th in turnover percentage (14.3%) which could be a huge factor against Pelicans team which is top 10 in turnover rate (14.3%) and is eighth in transition points per 100 possessions (3.2), an area the Lakers struggle to defend.
With tired legs on after a game in Utah this is an awful spot for the Lakers who are just 2-8 on zero says rest with a Net Rating of just -3.2 behind an Offensive Rating off 110 and a Defensive Rating of 113. With or without James and Davis, fade the Lakers and the Pelicans should quickly put this team out of their misery.
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