Friday NBA Betting Odds & Picks: 3 Bets for Nuggets vs. Jazz, Lakers vs. Trail Blazers, More (Friday, May 7)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers.
- Three games, three bets. Our Action Network analysts have you covered on Friday's NBA card with their favorite plays.
- Check out the angles they are playing for Nuggets vs. Jazz and Lakers vs. Trail Blazers tonight.
Thanks to the NBA play-in race, the league has essentially given us matchups with increased importance on Friday night. Tonight's two national TV games illustrate that fact perfectly with the Celtics facing the Bulls (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN) and the Lakers meeting the Trail Blazers (10 p.m. ET on ESPN).
Both road teams in those games are trying avoid the dreaded No. 7 spot in their respective conferences while their opponents are fighting to make the play-in (Bulls) or settle a tiebreak (Trail Blazers).
As far as our crew's favorite bets for Friday, they are betting more of tonight's loaded slate and see value in the total of one matchup and on the underdog in another. You can read their full analysis and picks below.
NBA Odds & Picks
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Raheem Palmer: The last time these two teams played on April 9, we saw a rock fight: A 103 possession game that saw both teams scoring fewer than a point per possession with a 101-93 final score.
I think we could see a similar result here as the Pelicans score most efficiently in areas of the floor that the 76ers are stout at defending. The Pelicans rank first in frequency of field goals attempted at the rim (41.8%) while the 76ers are allowing the ninth-lowest field goal percentage (63.7%) at the rim.
The Pelicans are also fifth in long mid-range field goal percentage (44.7%) while the 76ers are first in opponent mid-range field goal percentage (38.1%). Although we could see the number long mid-range jump shots decrease without Ingram in the lineup, New Orleans isn't a very good 3-point shooting team — 25th in frequency (31.4%) and 27th in percentage (35.3%).
Surprisingly, the Pelicans' defense has showed up in ways their offense has not. They have the top Defensive Rating over the past two weeks, holding opposing teams to 103.7 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes according to Cleaning the Glass.
The 76ers also live in the mid-range, taking a whopping 36.8% of their field goals from that area. Although Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris are two of the top mid-range shooters in the league in terms of frequency and the 76ers are third among NBA teams shooting 45.5%, the Pelicans are sixth in opponent mid-range shooting percentage (40.9%).
Overall, I think this total is too high. I took some under 229 with my model putting this game at 227, but with Ingram out I still think there's some value at the current number given the struggles of the Pelicans recently.
Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz
Kenny Ducey: There is no one Nikola Jokic loves seeing more than Rudy Gobert. In two games against Utah this season, the Joker is averaging 41 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.
That’s no fluke either, considering the Jazz rank fifth-worst in points per play allowed on post-ups this season. Gobert is a solid rim protector, but he and many others in this frontcourt have struggled one-on-one down low.
The Nuggets are on some kind of heater, covering in four of their past six games, and are getting huge contributions from guys like Michael Porter, Jr., Austin Rivers and Facundo Campazzo.
This team’s depth knows no end, and it should have more than enough to outlast a Jazz team that’s still without Donovan Mitchell. Utah ranks 11th in Offensive Efficiency over the past 10 games after sitting on a perch above the rest of the league for almost the entire season.
Denver, meanwhile, has ratcheted up its defense to rank fourth in the league in that same timeframe, and is in hot pursuit of a top-two spot out West with just a handful of games to go. I think this team will continue grinding out games, and can cover the 4 points here.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Brandon Anderson: Yeah sorry, there's just no way I'm not taking the Lakers as 3-1 underdogs in their biggest game of the season thus far. Sometimes you just have to go with the whole heart of a champion thing. I mean, we literally just did this earlier this week.
The sky was falling on Sunday; LeBron James was hurt again, Dennis Schroder was headed into health protocols, the Lakers lost to the Raptors and everything was awful and doomed. Then, 24 hours later, they beat the Denver Nuggets with a huge closing stretch by Anthony Davis.
Davis is listed as questionable for this game, but I our NBA Insiders tool expects him to play, and this is the sort of opponent he could dominate against if he has one of those games.
Portland has no answer for AD, and the terrible Blazers defense is the perfect antidote to the Lakers lack of offense without James and Schroder. LA has also been a top five defense this season at opponent 3s, both limiting attempts and makes, and that's what Portland thrives off of when Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have the ball.
The Lakers will breathe a huge exhale if they can grab this one and settle safely back into sixth, buying a few days for James to get back on the court and pushing the Blazers toward the play-in game.
As my colleague Matt Moore always says, "bet the narrative." It's the Lakers. This is what they do.
The Blazers have played in close games all season, so there's a good chance this is close late and I'll trust the champs to find a way in a close game.
At +320, you're telling me there's less than a one in four chance of the Lakers winning this game? I just can't buy that.
If I have to watch the Lakers play rope a dope on the media and fans, I may as well at least profit off of it.