NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s 2 Best Bets for Saturday’s Slate (Jan. 9)
AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic
- While football may dominate the conversation, there are still a handful of interesting NBA matchups between some of the league's most underrated teams.
- See how we're betting Magic vs. Mavericks with both teams shorthanded, and Suns vs. Pacers:
While football takes center stage on Saturday, the NBA gives us eight games featuring some of the league’s most intriguing teams.
NBA Odds & Picks
Magic at Mavericks
Brandon Anderson: This is an extremely 2021 game.
The Mavericks will be quite shorthanded. Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Jalen Brunson will be out tonight and several more games after being added to the COVID protocol list. That’s two starters for Dallas, including all of its perimeter defense really, along with the first guard off the bench. Kristaps Porzingis is getting closer but is still out too, leaving Dallas ostensibly short three starters and four of its top seven.
But the Magic are shorthanded too! Markelle Fultz tore his ACL this week and is out for the season, joining Jonathan Isaac on the injured reserve list. Al-Farouq Aminu is still missing, and the Magic were without Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Michael Carter-Williams to injury when Orlando played just last night. That’s four of five expected starters, plus two replacement starters gone.
The Magic were horrendous, with just 33 points in the first half against a Rockets team not exactly known for their defense, and now they’re on the second night of a back-to-back after a late night of travel. Fournier is questionable tonight, and MCW and Gordon could be limited if they do return.
And still, we forge on. Basketball must be played, or at least whatever version of “basketball” the Magic attempted to play last night. The Magic pulled their starters down 93-57 after three, and by “starters” I mean the four bodies they found to slot next to Nikola Vucevic, including my new Rookie of the Year pick Cole Anthony, who was rough in his first start.
Hey, you know who’s still playing and is kind of pretty good? Luka Doncic, that’s who.
The Mavs have beaten the Heat, Rockets, and Nuggets since the start of 2021. They’ll lose nearly 100 minutes of play from guys that just suited up against Denver a couple nights ago, but Doncic will still play, and he has a way of elevating his teammates. Rick Carlisle has also a knack for putting role players in a good position to succeed.
Richardson and Finney-Smith are big misses for Dallas against some teams because of their value guarding on the perimeter, but the Magic are one of the least threatening perimeter teams in the NBA and might be missing Fournier tonight too, one of their few threats. Less Jrich and DFS will inevitably mean more Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber, and that makes this team far more vulnerable on defense but raises the offense’s ceiling greatly.
There’s no great need for specialized defense against this paltry Magic lineup. As long as Dallas doesn’t let Vucevic go wild, they may benefit from the offense-first guys they’re forced to play extra here. I like the Mavs at -5 and will play up to -6.5 as long as Luka is out there.
Suns at Pacers
Raheem Palmer: You may not have noticed but NBA underdogs are crushing it this season. Underdogs are a whopping 78-53 ATS (59.5%) and away underdogs are 50-30 ATS (62.5%).
This clearly isn’t a normal season given the lack of fans and the struggles to navigate through life during a pandemic. Nonetheless, I have home-court worth almost nothing this season compared to the 2.24 we saw last season. I’m not one for blindly following trends but it’s clear that this is something we have to expect to continue as we navigate this season.
Either way, I’m showing some value on the Phoenix Suns today coming a disappointing 105-110 loss against the Detroit Pistons in a game they led by as much as 23 points. At one point the Suns missed 16-straight 3’s, which allowed the Pistons back into the game.
As a whole they shot 17-52 (32.7%) from behind the arc, which is well below their season averages of 38.7%, 10th in the NBA. The Pacers have been rolling, winning two straight and three of their last four but this is a matchup in which the absence of forward T.J Warren could hurt them given the wings on the Suns in Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder and Cam Johnson. With Doug McDermott questionable for this matchup, the Pacers will also be shorthanded off the bench.
Overall I think this number is a tad too high as I made this game Pacers -2.2. So with the market pushing this to 3.5, I think this has been an overreaction. This Pacers team just went life and death with a depleted Rockets team without Christian Wood and a competent bench.
The Suns are still the league’s third-ranked defense, holding opposing teams to 105 points per 100 possessions and I think we have a good chance at seeing an upset today provided that their shooting gets back to average levels.