NBA Saturday Betting Odds, Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for Thunder vs. Hornets and Raptors vs. Spurs (Dec. 26)
Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors.
- Overreactions to the first night of the NBA season has led to a pair of teams being undervalued in their second contest of the year.
- See why our experts are backing the Thunder and Raptors on Saturday night.
Christmas day gave us five games and 12-straight hours of NBA basketball to bet on, and Saturday’s slate is even better.
With 10 game scheduled for tonight, our crew has pinpointed two spread bets that they just couldn’t pass up. You can find their analysis on those games below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Raptors vs. Spurs
Brandon Anderson: The Toronto Raptors are 0-1, the San Antonio Spurs are 1-0, and suddenly this game is basically a pick’em? Somebody call the overreaction police.
The Raps played the Pelicans even for a half, then got blown out in the third quarter and fell victim to a hot shooting night allowing 19 3s on 45% efficiency. That’s the NBA. Shooting variance happens.
The Spurs had a nice enough start to their season. They got the win thanks to a strong DeMar DeRozan game and a huge advantage at the free throw line. They too played three quarters tight and won mostly because of one big quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies.
So before we overreact to win-loss records, let’s remember we are looking at the difference of one 10-minute stretch for each team. I’m still going on preseason expectations, and they are nowhere close for these teams.
Toronto should have an elite defense with plenty of offense and, dare I say it, probably even the better coach even in this matchup. The Raptors played at a 58-win pace or better each of the last three seasons and return most of last year’s team outside of their centers, and the Spurs aren’t exactly the team to punish them there.
San Antonio will never be an easy win with Pop around, but the Spurs are a fringe play-in contender. The offense still isn’t modern and lacks talent all around, and the defense should be average at best, and probably worse.
This is a pretty easy pick at such even odds. Just take the team that’s better at pretty much everything. I’ll play Raptors to -2.5.
Thunder vs. Hornets
Raheem Palmer: The Charlotte Hornets are mispriced. You add names like consensus Rookie of the Year favorite LaMelo Ball plus former Celtics forward Gordon Hayward and you have the recipe for a team that’s not nearly as good as market perception.
They closed as 3-point road favorites over the Cleveland Cavaliers and despite 42 points and and 10 3-pointers from Terry Rozier, the Hornets lost by seven in a game that they were never in. The Cavaliers led by as many as 24 points. The Cavs could certainly be better than their perception, but the Hornets were incapable of stopping them defensively, giving up a whopping 119.2 points per 100 possessions.
Now the Hornets head home to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder who had their first game of the season canceled due to COVID-19 concerns with the Houston Rockets.
While many project the Oklahoma City Thunder to have a major drop-off after losing Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, Dennis Schroeder and Steven Adams, the Thunder did add some key veteran pieces in Al Horford, George Hill, Ty Jerome and Trevor Ariza so the cupboard isn’t completely bare.
They are also stocked with young talent and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort should take major steps forward after having playoff experience last season. I’m not sure the Thunder will be as bad as the market is pricing them, even if this franchise is in transition under new head coach Mark Daigneault.
That said, this is more of a fade against a Hornets team that I believe is being overvalued, particularly with the absence of center Cody Zeller, who will miss 4-to-6 weeks after fracturing his hand in the season opener. With Bismack Biyombo being the only other center on the roster, look for Horford to have a big day and we should see him go over his points total of 11.5. If you’re into props, that’s a solid wager to make.
Sometimes as a bettor you find yourself holding your nose and playing “bad teams” because of the value created within the betting market. This is one of those times. My personal projections make this game a pick’em so at +2.5.