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NBA Expert Picks, Predictions, Odds: Monday’s 5 Best Bets, Including Bucks vs Pelicans, Jazz vs Cavaliers

NBA Expert Picks, Predictions, Odds: Monday’s 5 Best Bets, Including Bucks vs Pelicans, Jazz vs Cavaliers article feature image
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Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans.

  • We're starting a busy NBA week off with nine games and five best bets for Monday night.
  • Among the games our experts have picks for are Raptors vs. 76ers and Bucks vs. Pelicans.
  • Read on for the expert picks and predictions below.

Have you recovered from one of the wildest sports weekends in recent memory? Good, because we’ve got games to bet — nine to be exact.

Monday’s NBA schedule features a potential revenge game for two players having breakout seasons after being traded in Jazz vs. Cavaliers (7 p.m. ET). There’s also a (potentially) fun matchup out West between division rivals on NBA TV between the Lakers and Suns (9 p.m. ET) if the injury report is kind.

However, our analysts are targeting two other games as their best bets tonight, featuring bets on spreads, totals and a player prop. Read on for their expert picks and predictions for Monday night’s games below.

NBA Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Raptors vs. 76ers Spread
Raptors vs. 76ers Total
Jazz vs. Cavaliers Player Prop
Bucks vs. Pelicans Spread
Bucks vs. Pelicans Total

Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Pick
Sixers -7
Book
PointsBet
Tipoff
7 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Joe Dellera: The Toronto Raptors look totally lost right now and have lost five in a row, including eight of their past 10. Now, they face a Philadelphia 76ers team that has won four straight, including seven of their past 10.

A major problem for the Raptors has been their defense. They are known for having length and being a tough matchup for most teams, but that simply has not been the case this season. Over the past two weeks they have allowed opponents to score 121.2 points per 100 possessions, second-most in the league.

The 76ers and Joel Embiid should be able to feast on a Raptors defense that likely won’t have OG Anunoby tonight (he’s questionable, but missed four straight). Philly has scored 120.8 points per 100 possessions over the last two weeks, third-most in the league.

The 76ers have a significant rest advantage here: The Raptors played the Golden State Warriors at home Sunday night and this is their third game in four days and the 76ers last game was on Friday. I fully expect Philadelphia to take care of business today and I’ll lay the points (up to -8) with the Sixers at home.


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Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Pick
Over 219.5
Book
BetMGM

Andrew O’Connor-Watts: For whatever reason, my model tends to skew towards showing value on unders, when it comes to projecting totals. Tonight, however, it’s showing a lot of value on the over in this game — and by a pretty significant margin.

When I dig a little deeper, an over play fits with the handicap. Philadelphia has the 11th best Effective Field Goal Percentage in the league at 55.3% — a metric that adjusts for the increased value of 3-pointers.

As much as it pains me to watch free throw contests, they’re good for the over. They give teams a free chance at scoring points with the clock stopped. And both of teams do well at getting to the line, while letting their opponent get to the line with frequency.

The Sixers have the third-best Free Throw Rate (23.3), and a below-average Defensive Free Throw Rate (21.3). Similarly, the Raptors are top 10 in FT Rate (22.4), but bottom-five at stopping opponents from getting to the line (23.1).

As one of the best rebounding teams in the league, the Raptors are also one of the best in the league in transition offense. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Raptors are the highest scoring team per possession in transition (5.1) and fifth in that same metric off of live ball rebounds. Alternatively, the Sixers allow the most transition opportunities off of rebounds (31.1%).

The Sixers have been playing efficient offense of late, ranking fifth in Offensive Rating over the past five games (117.6), and the Raptors might be down their best defender, OG Anunoby, for another game. Even with Anunoby, the only team with a worse Defensive Rating over the past five games has been the Charlotte Hornets, who are on an eight-game losing streak.

Expect a lot of fouls, and not a lot of defense. I like the over at the current number and up to 223.


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Utah Jazz vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Pick
Donovan Mitchell Over 28.5 points
Book
WynnBet
Tipoff
7 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Joe Dellera: This is Donovan Mitchell’s first game against his former Jazz teammates. While I don’t really bet on narratives, this is a great spot.

Mitchell has smashed this line on the season, exceeded it in 19-of-27 games and this is a significant Pace Up spot for the Cavaliers (last in Pace) against a Jazz Team that is 11th in Pace.

The Jazz rank 26th in Adjusted Defensive Rating, and Mitchell should be able to get whatever he wants on both the perimeter and on drives considering the Jazz have nearly zero interior defense and struggle to defend primary ball handlers and shooting guards.

I’ll take him to go over his points prop up to 29.5 if necessary.


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Milwaukee Bucks vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Pick
Pelicans ML +100
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
8 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Matt Moore: Why exactly are the Bucks favored here? The Pelicans are home, with a better point differential (a stronger indicator of team strength than record) and have faced the 18th-ranked strength of schedule compared to the 28th for the Bucks.

Milwaukee’s offense isn’t just only-pretty-good it’s pretty mediocre. The Pelicans are one of two teams top-10 in both schedule-adjusted offensive and defensive rating at Dunks AndThrees.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a monster, but his efficiency hasn’t been quite the usual standard. The Pelicans shoot better (eFG%), turn the ball over less (turnover percentage), rebound basically the same (ninth in offensive rebound% vs. eighth for the Bucks), and generate more free throws (free throw rate).

Defensively, the Bucks are better, but not by the same margin the Pels are better offensively.

I make this Pels -1 on matchup advantage and -6 based on power rating.

Oh, and one more for you. Mike Budenholzer’s Bucks are dominant vs. Eastern conference teams. But since the 2018-19 season, they are just 43% as a road favorite vs. Western Conference opponents.

Familiarity, steam strength, whatever, this is a great spot to fade the market’s perception of Milwaukee.


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Milwaukee Bucks vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Pick
Under 228.5
Book
BetMGM

Chris Baker: I think this number is a bit too high for two teams that both rank top-six in Defensive Rating. Also, the Bucks can nullify what the Pelicans do well.

The Pelicans (third in Rim Rate) are constantly trying to attack the paint on offense. The Bucks, led by DPOY frontrunner Brook Lopez, do an excellent job of deterring rim looks as they allow the fourth-fewest opponent rim attempts.

The Pelicans love to get out and run — ninth in transition frequency, according to Cleaning the Glass. The Bucks allowing the second-fewest transition points per 100 possessions.

Another key for the Bucks will be limiting second-chance opportunities. The Pelicans excel in generating second looks as their current starting five ranks in the 100th percentile in Offensive Rebound Rate, grabbing a remarkable 38.2% of their available offensive rebounds. The Bucks, meanwhile, rank first in the NBA in Defensive Rebound Rate.

The final key to limiting the Pelicans is to avoid sending them to free throw line. I believe the Bucks’ defense can guard without fouling as they rank third best in Free Throw rate allowed on the season.

On top of the matchup parity, I think that both of these offenses are highly overrated as they each have played weak schedules of opposing defenses. The Pelicans have played the second-easiest schedule of opposing defenses while the Bucks have played the eighth.

While the Pelicans may be overrated on offense, I think it is highly likely their defense is actually being slightly underrated. They rank sixth in Defensive Rating despite playing the fourth-toughest schedule of opposing offenses.

This Pelicans’ defense might be legitimately elite and I like their chances to limit Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks’ offense. Between Herb Jones, Zion Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas, the Pelicans have plenty of physical guys to match the physicality of this Bucks frontcourt.

Take the under 228 in what should be a tightly contested game. Play this down to 227.


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