Friday’s NBA Expert Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for Timberwolves vs. Nuggets, Pelicans vs. Warriors
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14).
There are 10 games on the NBA schedule for Friday night and our experts are betting on three specific matchups:
- 7 p.m. ET: Sacramento Kings at Indiana Pacers
- 9 p.m. ET: Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets
- 10:30 p.m. ET: New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors
See what bets they’re making below.
Odds as of Friday afternoon and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Brandon Anderson: Kings at Pacers
- Spread: Pacers -4.5
- Over/Under: 207.5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
The Sacramento Kings are eighth in the West standings … How did this happen? It’s really a bit of a miracle the Kings have hung around despite getting almost nothing from De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley all year. Those two are back now but still not contributing much.
The truth is that the Kings have piled up lucky, close wins over good teams, with wins by four points or fewer against the Rockets, Mavs, Nuggets, and Celtics in the last month. A year ago the Kings surprised teams by taking the game to hyper speed.
Now they’re doing it at a snail’s pace. The Kings are dead last in the league in pace, and they’re better on defense than offense. Teams saw Fox and Bagley missing, figured it was a freebie, and missed a team grinding a bit on defense and keeping games close. The Kings under is 17-10 this season, 10-6 on the road, and an even more robust 12-5 when they are underdogs.
Grinding it out on defense and keeping games close? Sounds like the Pacers. The Pacers have a top-six defense and a top-six record in the East, even without Victor Oladipo. They are well-coached and play good defense and take care of business. The Indiana under is 16-11-1 on the season.
Add it all up and there might not be much to add up. First team to 100 wins — if they even get there.
The PICK: Under 207.5
Wob: Timberwolves at Nuggets
- Spread: Nuggets -10
- Over/Under: 216.5
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
With Karl-Anthony Towns wounded and limited at shootaround this morning, I’m rolling with the under here regardless if he plays or not. Without a healthy KAT out there, this offense is doomed.
The Timberwolves run the same flex offense we ran on my JV team in high school. I wish I was kidding. It is just so basic, and while basic can work in the right conditions, the Wolves looked absolutely useless without their main creator and initiator.
It essentially becomes the Andrew Wiggins show with Jeff Teague chucking whenever he finally gets passed the ball. While Wiggins certainly has been better this season, he is going up against a team with the second-ranked defense that plays at the second-slowest pace.
The Nuggets want nothing more than to turn this into a half court mud pit with Wiggins launching as many contested long twos as possible. He is more than happy to oblige. I just don’t know how Minnesota gets to 100 points tonight, therefore, we’re going under here.
The PICK: Under 216.5
Bryan Mears: Pelicans at Warriors
- Spread: Pelicans -1
- Over/Under: 223.5
- Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
The NBA is bringing the firepower this week. Lakers-Bucks and Rockets-Clippers last night, and now Pelicans-Warriors on ESPN tonight!
I bet the Pels here at -1 on the road, which is admittedly terrifying. They are coming off a win, although it was their first since mid-November and against a Karl-Anthony Towns-less Minnesota team. Over the last two weeks, even after the victory, they’re 28th with a -9.5 point differential, only behind the Wolves and Cavaliers.
Still, there are some signs of life. The defense has been slightly better over the last two games, and since Dec. 1 they’re actually second in the league in percentage of their shots classified as “open” by NBA.com.
They haven’t hit very many of those, but that should regress, and they’ve also gotten back JJ Redick, who is incredibly important to the team in the same way Kennard is to the Pistons. They’re both excellent shooters in a vacuum, but their value is magnified playing on teams that have little shooting and spacing elsewhere.
With Redick on the floor, the offense has been 8.3 points per 100 possessions better than with him off. Further, Jaxson Hayes has carved out a bigger role in the rotation (although he didn’t play much last game), and he’s been easily their best big this season. Hopefully the Pels will continue to give him extended run, especially with the starters.
There are fewer reasons to believe in the Warriors, who have lost nine of their last 10, including to bad teams like the Knicks and Grizzlies at home, as well as the Hornets and Hawks on the road. The offense has just been absolutely atrocious, and there’s little reason to think it will improve.
Since Dec. 1, the Warriors are easily dead last in percentage of wide-open shots. Sure, they aren’t making many, and that could regress positively, but more concerning is just the lack of good looks they’re getting. Everything is tough, they don’t have guys to create good looks and D’Angelo Russell continues to be a terrible fit for Steve Kerr’s motion system.
In a battle of terrible teams, I’m willing to bet on the superior talent of the Pelicans, especially with Redick’s shooting back in the lineup.
The PICK: Pelicans -1 (I wouldn’t bet past -2)
Bryan Mears is 417-320-11 (56.6%) overall betting on the NBA. You can follow him in our free app.
John Ewing: Pelicans at Warriors
Brandon Ingram is averaging 3.7 assists per game this season. Oddsmakers have set his over/under for assists against the Warriors at 3.5. This prop bet is in line with his season average, but it is not accounting for the positive matchup against Golden State.
Per HashtagBasketball.com, the Warriors have allow opposing shooting forwards to average 5.2 assists per game this season, one of the worst marks in the NBA.
According to our FantasyLabs projection tool, Ingram is projected to have 4.5 assists on average in tonight’s game. The over has received a 10-out-of-10 rating in our prop tool. The over 3.5 is juiced to -120 but with a positive matchup I’m comfortable paying the vig on this prop bet.
The PICK: Ingram over 3.5 assists
John Ewing is 522-459-19 (53.2%) overall betting on the NBA. You can follow him in our free app.