NBA Odds & Betting Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Rockets vs. Grizzlies, Nuggets vs. Lakers, More (Thursday, Feb. 4)
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets.
Quantity may be lacking a bit for Thursday’s NBA slate, but the quality is certainly high. Among the five matchups scheduled, we’re treated to two fun national TV matchups: Golden State Warriors vs. Dallas Mavericks (7:30 p.m. ET on TNT) and Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers (10 p.m. ET on TNT).
Our crew is making picks from all over tonight’s five-game slate and they’re finding value in totals and props. You can find their analysis and picks on those matchups below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Jazz vs. Hawks
Malik Smith: The Atlanta Hawks have been one of the most profitable teams in the NBA to bet the under on, especially with totals like the one we’re seeing in their game with the Utah Jazz on Thursday.
This season, when the total closes at 227 or higher, the under in Hawks games is 12-3, according to Bet Labs data. The last time these two teams played, the total closed at 229 and the game went under by 21 points. The Hawks are an offensive juggernaut. They actually rank higher in terms of their Defensive Rating (11th) than they their Offensive Rating (15th).
Sure the Jazz are on a roll offensively, but they are also great on the defensive end, ranking fifth on both sides of the ball this season, according to NBA Advanced Stats. They also rank 25th in Pace and the only time the Jazz have gone over this number this season is in blowouts
Much like their last games, this line opened at 222.5 and is moving up, but I’ll take the under at 227.
Rockets vs Grizzlies
Joe Dellera: A few of the Grizzlies will be missing this game due to health and safety protocols, namely Grayson Allen and Jonas Valanciunas. This will likely move rookie, Xavier Tillman into the starting lineup.
In 21.3 minutes per game he has averaged 4.5 rebounds, but this is a bit deceiving as over the past two weeks he has averaged 6.3 rebounds per game while playing increased minutes. Our player projections anticipate 7.3 rebounds tonight from Tillman.
Considering Valanciunas leads the Grizzlies in rebounds per game, there will be plenty of additional misses for Tillman to clean up off the glass against a Rockets team that is the fifth-worst in the league in rebound percentage (48.1%), via NBA Advanced Stats.
Grizzlies vs. Rockets
Brandon Anderson: Let’s put some respect on the division-leading Memphis Grizzlies, shall we? Memphis lost its last game but won seven in a row before that. I counted the Grizz out early when it looked like Ja Morant would be out awhile with an injury in a super tough West, but they hung in there without Morant, and his early return suddenly has Memphis in good shape, even as the rest of the team takes form around him.
Jonas Valanciunas is still out in the health protocols, and honestly, I don’t hate it. I’ve never been a huge JV fan, and his absence has left more time for Brandon Clarke and rookie Xavier Tillman. I love both Clarke and Tillman, and I have loved their synergy together.
They’re both elite team defenders and super smart, high IQ basketball players. Tillman is an outstanding passing big man who sets huge screens and makes everyone around him better. Throw in Gorgui Dieng as the bench big, and this big man rotation has the Grizzlies fourth in the NBA in Defensive Efficiency.
We’re playing the other end of things here. Tillman is never going to be a flash guy or put up huge numbers, but his value keeps him on the floor defensively, and he’ll get numbers in the flow of the game on the other end. Tillman has started the last four games for Memphis and is averaging 10.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists over that stretch.
Again, nothing flashy, but he’s getting the job done, and he’s done that in just 24.2 minutes a game because he’s sat late in a few blowouts.
I expect this to be a close battle against Houston, and that should mean more time for Tillman. Memphis will need him to have a big game to offset Houston’s breakout star, Christian Wood. The Rockets tend to run opponents off the 3-point line and force things inside, so I like Clarke and Tillman to get some good opportunities.
Tillman has double-digit points in five of his last six outings, and that’s all we need for the over here. We project him at 11.3 points, and I’ll also consider playing Tillman’s over 1.5 assists. He’s gone over that number in seven of his last nine and has at least one dime in each of those games, and passing is his forte.
Our Props tool like Tillman to go over his line on points, rebounds, and assists, so you might consider playing a combo prop if you’ve got one available. I’ll play just the points over to -130.
Nuggets vs. Lakers
Kenny Ducey: I wrote why I like the Nuggets to cover this game, but I also love this prop. It’s no secret that Anthony Davis has had a down year so far, but how bad he’s been on defense — where he’s made his mark in the NBA over his nine-year career, has been sort of mind-blowing.
Not only have Davis’ contributions in the scoring and rebounding departments dipped, now the two-time All-NBA first team defender is having locking up opposing centers one-on-one. His Defensive Rating (106.2) would indicate that he’s having a pretty normal season for his standards, but that’s been due in large part to the Lakers’ incredible defense as a whole. Davis himself had one glaring weakness: defending the post-up.
Davis has allowed 1.08 points per possession on post-ups, and the Lakers as a whole have given up the fifth-most points per play in the NBA against the post-up, according to Synergy sports. Though the sample is still small, it illustrates a larger point that it’s not impossible to score down low on the Lakers.
Scoring on post-ups just so happens to be what Nikola Jokic does better than anyone in the NBA. He’s posting up on 25.8% of possessions, which rates as the eighth-highest mark in the NBA, and he’s hit an elite 53.9% of his shots out of the play.
Jokic has gone over this number in six of his past eight games, most recently going for 35 points against the Spurs and a ridiculous 47 against one of the best defenses in the NBA in the Jazz. Now he’ll face a Lakers team that, while has been dominant on defense all year, ranks just ninth in Defensive Rating across the last five games.
I like his chances, on national television, of having a monster game, and without Gary Harris, Jr. the Nuggets may need to lean a bit more on their big man to get them some big buckets.