NBA Expert Betting Picks (Friday, Jan. 3): Best Bets for Pelicans-Lakers, More

NBA Expert Betting Picks (Friday, Jan. 3): Best Bets for Pelicans-Lakers, More article feature image

Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon Ingram of the New Orleans Pelicans.

There are six games on Friday evening’s NBA schedule, and our experts are betting on these specific matchups:

  • 7 p.m. ET: Portland Trail Blazers at Washington Wizards
  • 10:30 p.m. ET: New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers

See which bets they’re making below.

Odds as of Friday afternoon and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150). No strings attached. No rollover required.

Brandon Anderson: Trail Blazers at Wizards

  • Spread: Trail Blazers -6.5
  • Over/Under: 235.5
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

Quick, how many Wizards can you name from tonight’s starting lineup? I’ll go first: Bradley Beal. You’re up, who ya got?

Did you come up with Isaiah Thomas and Ian Mahinmi? Maybe. But I bet you didn’t name Johnathan Williams or Gary Payton II, real live human beings projected to start tonight for the Wizards. Beal himself might not even be a correct answer since he’s questionable with a leg injury. If he can’t go, Washington might have to bring back Gilbert Arenas.

Listen, I know the Blazers aren’t very good. They’ve lost five games in a row, and the Melo honeymoon effect has long since worn off. This team just lost to the Knicks Wednesday night by 24 points. TWENTY-FOUR.

It’s time for Dame Lillard and C.J. McCollum to show a little pride and get back on track against a truly terrible but very entertaining Wizards team. Take Portland -6.5 before Beal gets announced out and the line doubles. HIBACHI!!

The PICK: Blazers -6.5

Matt Moore: Trail Blazers at Wizards

The injured list for these two teams is a mile long. And while injuries can compromise defensive integrity with players unfamiliar with scheme, that requires the players to have defensive integrity to begin with.

The Wizards have been over machines this season (20-12), but at home the over is just 8-6. With Davis Bertans out, Bradley Beal questionable, Thomas Bryant, Mo Wagner, and Rui Hachimura all out, their loaded offense just isn’t the same. Jordan McCrae will get numbers, but not enough.

Meanwhile, historically, teams with offensive and defensive efficiencies over 107 playing teams with offensive and defensive efficiencies over 107 have seen the under hit at a 53.4% rate. The Blazers have a bad shot profile (ninth-worse expected eFG%, league-wide). All of this spells the under for me.

The PICK: Under 235.5

John Ewing: Pelicans at Lakers

  • Spread: Lakers -10.5
  • Over/Under: 224.5
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

The NBA season is long. The 82-game schedule can be a grind for the players, which makes rest more important as the season progresses.

Historically, it has been profitable to bet well-rested teams (four or more days off) against opponents on normal rest (two days off) late in the season. The optimal situation is to bet on well-rest road teams as homecourt advantage is overrated.

A $100 bettor following this simple strategy would have returned a profit of $3,014 since 2005. The Pelicans have had five days off. The Lakers are coming off two days rest. A well-rested Pelicans squad (+10.5) on the road is a match for this system.

The PICK: Pelicans +10.5

Wob: Pelicans at Lakers

How is this number not in the 230s? Seriously, what am I missing? Have you seen the Pelicans play defense? It looks like the first half of Space Jam and the Pelicans are the Tune Squad.

The answer to these questions is the Lakers have one of the most efficient defenses in the league and when they decide to clamp down, they do it as good as anybody. But with the Lakers it’s not a matter of ‘when’ as it is ‘if’. They are not going to fix bayonets against the damn Pelicans.

LA’s trench warfare defense is reserved for championship contending teams, and when they face the lottery ones, they put LeBron at point guard and start throwing lobs in transition until the other team rage quits.

They are more than happy to oblige to the pace and space preferences of Alvin Gentry, and if Anthony Davis’ performance in New Orleans was any indication — this game is going to move.

The PICK: Over 224.5

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