NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions: 4 Best Bets for Thursday, Including Suns vs. Mavericks, Pacers vs. Warriors, More (January 20)
Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images. Pictured: Steph Curry
- Three games on Thursday night, three best bets from our NBA experts.
- Our crew has two picks for Pelicans vs. Knicks, plus bets for Suns vs. Mavericks and Pacers vs. Warriors.
- Find out how they are gaining an edge on this three-game slate below.
They are eyeing totals (team and full game) and props across all three games on the evening’s slate. Check out their analysis and best bets for Thursday night below.
NBA Odds & Picks
New Orleans Pelicans vs. New York Knicks
Joe Dellera: The Pelicans visit the Knicks and look to exact revenge from their Oct. 30 loss earlier this season. This matchup should see more points than expected based on the opening line of 208.
In that October matchup, the Knicks dropped 123 points while shooting a blistering 57.6% from 3-point range. While 57.6% is not expected to be replicated, the Knicks have an advantage from beyond the arc.
The Pelicans allow the 11th-most 3-point attempts in the league — 38.1% of their opponents’ shots come from 3-point range. This is a bold strategy considering opponents shoot 37.3% on those attempts, the second-worst allowed mark in the NBA.
This is good news for the Knicks who basically only know how to shoot 3s. They take 3s at the eighth-highest frequency in the league — 39.1% of their shots and they are successful — and covert 36.5% of their 3s as a team.
This is an exploitable matchup for the Knicks. In their October matchup, Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, and RJ Barrett his 4, 5, and 6 3s respectively, and given Fournier’s hot performance against the Timberwolves this could be a spot to look at his 3s prop.
New Orleans Pelicans vs, New York Knicks
Kenny Ducey: The Pelicans may rate as a top-five team on the glass this season, but over the past two weeks they sit down in 13th with a 50.3% rebounding rate. In first place? That’d be the Knicks, who have collected 54.5% of available boards. Front and center has been Julius Randle, who has averaged 9.9 rebounds during that span with 16.7 points and 5.7 assists to boot.
That should mean his points, rebounds and assists total is very much in play here against his former team. We know this team to be below average on defense, and the Knicks have actually kicked it up a notch on offense over the last five games with four offensive ratings of 111 or higher in that span.
Randle’s Usage Rate has remained steady throughout the year, sitting at 27.8%, and the Pelicans have really been at a loss inside lately. This should be a very attackable matchup for the big man and he should be the top performer in what is ultimately a winning effort for the Knicks.
Phoenix Suns vs. Dallas Mavericks
Brandon Anderson: Remember when Luka Doncic was starting slow once again and the Mavericks looked lost under new head coach Jason Kidd?
That feels long ago now. Kidd has Dallas playing outstanding defense, the Mavs are making a charge up the standings, and Doncic is putting up big numbers again. Over the last 10 Mavericks games, Luka is up putting up 23.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 9.3 assists per game, just about averaging a triple-double once again. The scoring is down a bit right now, but it’s working, both for him and for Dallas.
We’ll focus on the assists tonight, because this number is just too low. Before this 10-game stretch, Doncic had missed three weeks of action, and his numbers look different since his return. During the first part of the season, he was at 25.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game. It’s no coincidence that the Mavs are playing better as Doncic does a little less as a scorer but more in other areas of the game to help his team.
Doncic has gone over 7.5 assists in six of these last nine games, but the hidden numbers tell us even the unders have likely just been unlucky shooting by his teammates. That’s because Doncic is averaging a whopping 16.8 potential assists per game over this recent stretch per NBA Advanced Stats, a huge number that gives him a great shot at around nine assists a night or more if his teammates get hot. And sure enough, five of these nine games have seen double-digit dimes from Luka, including games with 12, 14, and 15.
Again, this could be a spot for an alternate over if you like, maybe 10 or 12 assists. Another way you can play aggressively is a Doncic triple-double, priced at +400 at DraftKings. That’s an implied 20%, but Luka has a triple-double in three of his last six games, a 50% hit rate. He’s had the points easily in all six and is one rebound away from double-digit boards in six straight too, so that’s essentially a bet on double-digit assists with a little more risk at a much better price.
If you want to play a few Doncic props together in a Same Game Parlay, one other prop to consider is Dorian Finney-Smith over 1.5 made 3s at +100 on DraftKings. He’s had multiple 3s in 20 of 31 games with at least 30 minutes played, a 65% hit rate, and Dallas will surely need his wing defense out there against the Suns tonight as much as they can keep him on the court. Sure enough, DFS has played twice against the Suns this season and hit a trio of 3s in each game.
We’re projecting Doncic at 9.5 assists, so that gives us a 20% edge here and makes the over 7.5 playable to -145. If you only have 8.5 available at your book, it might be time to try one of those alternate overs or a combination of the options above.
Indiana Pacers vs. Golden State Warriors
Raheem Palmer: My model makes this total much lower, but when you look at these two teams recently, you’ll see it’s clear that neither one is as good defensively as they would be if full strength. The Golden State Warriors are missing Draymond Green who has a big impact on their defense.
The Milwaukee Bucks scored 40 points in the paint in last Thursday’s 118-99 win over the Warriors. Before Green’s injury, the Warriors were second in opponent points in the paint (41) and tied for fifth in opponent second chance points (12.2).
Since he’s been out, the Warriors are 13th in opponent points in the paint (46) and 23rd in opponent second chance points (15), according to NBA Advanced Stats. The Warriors have also dropped from fifth in Defensive Field Goal Percentage (59.4%) within six feet to 24th (66.1%). Of course, some of this could be noise due to a small sample size, but it feels like an area the could be exploited.
On the other side of the ball, the Indiana Pacers are missing Myles Turner who is one of the best defensive players in the league. Last season, the Pacers were nearly five points per 100 possessions worse on defense with him off the floor. Before playing the Lakers, the Pacers gave up 139 points to the Clippers who rank 27th in Offensive Rating (106.3) this season.
The Warriors have very clearly been slumping offensively, but they should have no problems scoring here. I gave this out on the Buckets podcast last night at 216.5 and the line has since moved up but I still like the over 217.