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NBA Expert Betting Picks (Monday, Jan. 20): Best Bets for Lakers vs. Celtics, Spurs vs. Suns, More

Credit:

Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Devin Booker (1) of the Phoenix Suns.

There are 13 games on a loaded MLK day schedule in the NBA, and our experts are betting on five specific matchups:

  • 5 p.m. ET: Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets 
  • 5 p.m. ET: Chicago Bulls at Milwaukee Bucks 
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics 
  • 8 p.m. ET: Denver Nuggets at Minnesota Timberwolves 
  • 9 p.m. ET: San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns 

See the four bets they’re making below.


Odds as of Monday afternoon and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.


World Wide Wob: Thunder at Rockets

  • Spread: Rockets -7.5
  • Over/Under: 230.5
  • Time: 5 p.m. ET

Oh so we’re doing the whole “THE ROCKETS ARE STILL GOOD AND THIS IS WHERE THEY MAKE THEIR STAND” thing, huh? I’m sorry, but I’m just not a believer. This team is a complete and utter mess.

When Russell Westbrook goes off for his most efficient performance of the season and the Rockets still get boat-raced at home on national television by the Lakers — Houston, we have a problem.

In comparison to the other championship contenders, they just stink. I don’t know how else to say it.

Danuel House Jr. and Ben McLemore being two vital rotation pieces is just inexplicable. If James Harden doesn’t go berserk with 45 points and 10 assists, the whole “chuck 3s and throw lobs to Clint Capela” strategy is useless when an NBA game consists of about 105 possessions per team.

And as for the off-court issues, it feels like Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey are in a race to throw each other under the bus. We’ve got cryptic postgame press conference answers Westbrook and a rousing “we’ll figure it out” from D’Antoni. Those famous last words are still on his Lakers tombstone.

Anyway, regarding this game, we’re in avalanche mode if the Rockets fall behind. They’re one more bad loss from this negativity from getting out of control.

With the Oklahoma City Thunder playing at maximum capacity and Chris Paul guard arguably playing like the best point guard in the league this season, this spread has nothing to do with basketball for me. I’m simply shorting the market before it drops.

The PICK: Thunder +7.5

Matt Moore: Bulls at Bucks

  • Spread: Bucks -15
  • Over/Under: 225.5
  • Time: 5 p.m. ET

Mike Budenholzer is 27-18 against the spread (60%) as a home favorite vs. division teams in his career. As the head coach of the Bucks, that goes to 11-2.

They’re laying a ton of points, I get it. But I like Milwaukee.

This is where the Bucks just land haymakers over and over. The sharps have tended to like Chicago in certain spots this season as I’ve written consistently. They’ve underperformed offensively and are due for regression to the mean.

But they’re still coming in on the Bucks. Chicago’s defense is underrated, but they rank 17th in points in the paint allowed. That’s death incarnate vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Bulls’ perimeter defense is good, though, which is why I lean towards the under. Chicago’s offense is going to have a miserable time. The Bulls rank 23rd in points per possession on jump shots and 22nd on catch-and-shoot opportunities. If you can’t hit those shots vs. Bucks — they’re the only ones Milwaukee will concede — you’re doomed.

The PICK: Bucks -15 | Under 225

Justin Phan: Lakers at Celtics

  • Spread: Lakers -2.5
  • Over/Under: 226
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

I like the Lakers spread and moneyline tonight up to -3 and -150 with news that Anthony Davis will suit up and Jaylen Brown is available to play for the Celtics — Kemba Walker expects to play for the Cs as well. Boston’s defense has been in free fall as of late and this is a brutal matchup with Davis active given the Celtics’ lack of size up front.

The PICK: Lakers -2 | Lakers ML (-124)

Brandon Anderson: Nuggets at Timberwolves 

  • Spread: T-Wolves -3
  • Over/Under: 221.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

The Nuggets and T-Wolves have established a fun little rivalry ever since that essential one-game playoff to end the season a couple years ago. These teams do not like each other, and they’ll both be locked in.

The Nuggets will be without three starters again, but I’m still riding their depth, even against my beloved Timberwolves. The Wolves just aren’t good right now. They’ve lost five games in a row by an average of 14 points, and that’s even with Towns back for a few of those.

Here’s a complete list of teams Minnesota has beaten since November: Blazers, Cavs, Warriors, Nets, Kings.

You know who doesn’t belong on that list? The Nuggets, even short-handed.

Sorry, but the Wolves just shouldn’t be favored here, even at home. I’ll take the visitors.

The PICK: Nuggets ML (+120)

John Ewing: Spurs at Suns

  • Spread: Suns -4.5
  • Over/Under: 229.5
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET

The Suns opened as 3.5-point favorites vs. the Spurs. More than 60% of spread tickets are on San Antonio. But the line has moved from Phoenix -3.5 to -4.5 (-5 at other books).

Pros are responsible for the line movement. We know this because while less than 50% of bets are on the Suns, this accounts for nearly 60% of spread dollars. This means that large bets, usually from respected gamblers, have been placed on Devin Booker & Co.

Historically it has been profitable to follow NBA line movement when there is a large discrepancy between tickets and dollars.

A $100 bettor following this system would have returned a profit of $5,003 since 2015.

Pros don’t always win but being on the same side as sharp money is a profitable long term strategy.

The PICK: Suns -4.5 (has since moved to -5)

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