Saturday NBA Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Our 3 Best Bets, Including Heat vs. Nets (Jan. 23)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz and Royce O’Neale #23 of the Utah Jazz against the Denver Nuggets.
- The NBA season rolls on Saturday with a big slate starting at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday night.
- We're betting two of the league's better teams as favorites, and fading one of the worst at a nice price.
- Get our full breakdowns and NBA best bets below:
Saturday’s NBA slate doesn’t get going under 8 p.m. ET, and it offers a healthy mix of quality and…the opposite of that.
NBA Odds & Picks
Pelicans at T’Wolves
Brandon Anderson: The Minnesota Timberwolves are absolutely terrible. I’m sorry you had to find out this way.
The Wolves are horrendous. Their season is already over and, in case you forgot, they don’t even own their draft pick this season — I guess the Warriors really are light years ahead. Remember when Minnesota started 2-0? The Timberwolves are 1-11 since then. The Wolves have been missing Karl-Anthony Towns for much of that stretch and still are, but many of their opponents are missing key players too, and the team simply can’t keep up.
Minnesota barely even resembles an NBA team without Towns. Even counting the games with him, the Wolves rank bottom three in both Offensive and Defensive Efficiency right now, which is the sort of thing teams only do when they are purposely tanking. We already knew the Wolves couldn’t defend, but this iteration can’t score either. The Wolves have scored 98 or fewer points in four of their last five games.
Minnesota also can’t shoot. The team keeps playing defense-only guys like Jarred Vanderbilt and Josh Okogie in an effort to balance things on defense but all that does is make the team play shorthanded on both ends.
No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards has been absolutely horrendous. He’s shooting 42% on the season… wait, sorry, that’s his TRUE SHOOTING PERCENTAGE. Egads. Jarrett Culver still can’t find much offense either, and Naz Reid should not be starting NBA games.
The Pelicans have been in a tailspin of their own of late, losing seven of eight, and I’m not sure New Orleans is particularly good either, but there’s a huge difference between not particularly good and abjectly terrible. New Orleans has extremely cramped spacing on offense, even as Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram play well, but it’s the defense that has struggled during this losing stretch.
The Pelicans ranked toward the top of the league on defense a couple weeks ago but have been just as poor as the Wolves defensively during this stretch. But a closer look reveals a pretty brutal schedule for New Orleans. The Pels just played the Utah Jazz twice in a row, who are as hot as any team in the league, and they also played both LA teams in the past five games. The Pelicans still profile as an above average defensive team — they’re just playing the best offenses in the league right now.
The Pelicans held three opponents under 100 in the first couple weeks of the season, so the defensive upside is there. New Orleans allows the most 3-point attempts in the league defensively, and remember, Minnesota can’t shoot.
I’m taking a shot on another miserable Wolves game offensively and playing this alternate line at BetMGM with the Wolves going under 100 for the fifth time in six games at +225. Maybe the Wolves get hot from behind the arc, but I’ll take my chances.
Heat at Nets
Raheem Palmer: The late Notorious B.I.G once rapped “Where’s Brooklyn At?”
If you’re a fan of the Brooklyn Nets you might find yourself asking the same question as they sit at 9-8 on the season with back-to-back double digit losses against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they return home and while Kevin Durant was absent in Friday’s 125-113 loss against the Cavs, he returns tonight to face the Miami Heat.
We’ve known from the start this team will take its lumps, however their offensive prowess should overwhelm many inferior teams throughout this league that can’t dominate them inside. The Heat have been decimated by COVID-19 health and safety protocols as Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley are out while Tyler Herro and Meyers Leonard are out with injuries.
Even with Bam Adebayo, the Miami Heat are just 20th in rebound rate, 29th in offensive rebound rate and 23rd in Defensive rebound rate. The Nets rank 17th, 22nd and 27th in those categories so this lineup that got dominated on the boards against Cleveland Friday shouldn’t have any issues tonight, especially with the return of Kevin Durant.
Even in his infant form, this Nets offense with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden is a problem for any team as they’re scoring 118.7 points per 100 possessions over the last two weeks. Against a Bucks defense which is much better than the Heat are currently given the depleted state of their lineup, the Nets put up an Offensive Rating of 120.
Overall this feels like a good buy-low spot on this Nets team that has championship aspirations facing a Miami team without all its weapons coming off a 101-81 loss against the offensively challenged Toronto Raptors. I’ll lay the seven points with the Nets.
Warriors at Jazz
Brandon Anderson: I still don’t believe in these Golden State Warriors.
Oh, I believe in Steph Curry. I will always believe in Steph. But I remain very underwhelmed by this team as a whole. The Warriors are 8-7 but I think they’re much closer to a 5-10 or 6-9 team. Golden State has won all three one-score games it’s played, while five of their losses have come by double digits, and a handful have been ugly.
Draymond Green still does the little things and has certainly helped to unlock Steph, but he’s not making a big impact on the box score. Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins have had their moments but aren’t reliable. James Wiseman is not NBA-ready and should struggle against Utah’s experienced bigs. There’s just no one I trust on this team outside of Curry. No one else is reliable on offense, and a good defense should be able to focus on Steph and make the other Warriors beat them.
The Jazz boast a good defense, and probably a great one. Utah has quietly become a top five team in the NBA right now and is playing as well as anyone. The Jazz have won seven straight and now rank in the top-7 on both offense and defense. The defense has found its swagger again this season, with Rudy Gobert leading the charge as always, and the offense has really gelled and taken a huge leap as a shooting team.
The Jazz lead the league in 3-pointers made per game and hit over 40% of them. The Jazz! Leading the league in shooting!
Every key Jazz player that actually shoots is at 38% or better on the season. Utah moves the ball well and plays great team ball. This is the team the Jazz envisioned when they went out and got Mike Conley a year ago.
This just feels like two teams moving in opposite directions right now. The Jazz are shaping up to make a real run, and the Warriors are still relying on a Steph explosion to have a chance against real teams. I’ll test my luck against Curry and bet on the much better team. I’m grabbing Jazz at -6.5 while it’s there and will play to -7.5.