NBA Expert Betting Picks (Monday, Jan. 6): Our Favorite Bets for Bulls-Mavericks, Bucks-Spurs, More
Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic (77) of the Dallas Mavericks.
There are nine games on Monday evening’s NBA schedule, and our experts are betting on three specific matchups:
- 8 p.m. ET: Utah Jazz at New Orleans Pelicans
- 8:30 p.m. ET: Milwaukee Bucks at San Antonio Spurs
- 8:30 p.m. ET: Chicago Bulls at Dallas Mavericks
See which 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.
Bryan Mears: Jazz at Pelicans
- Spread: Jazz -3.5
- Over/Under: 221.5
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
This might be the most fascinating game of the night. Both teams have been incredibly hot lately, sitting with +10.6 (first) and +9.3 (third) point differentials over the past two weeks. Both teams have top-10 offenses and defenses in that stretch. A lot of it is pretty hot shooting, however.
In that two-week stretch, the Jazz and Pels have posted eFG% marks on wide-open shots of 63.6% and 66.3%. The Pels’ mark is potentially more sustainable: They rank seventh in that stretch in expected eFG% and fifth in actual eFG% overall. The Jazz, though, are 19th in expected eFG% and third in actuality.
That said, the opposite is true on defense. The Jazz are fifth in expected eFG% allowed and second in actual eFG% — that makes sense. The Pels, however, are 27th in expected eFG% but sixth in actual eFG% allowed. They’re giving up the second-most shots at the rim, but opponents haven’t been making them.
Put simply: Both teams have played well, but also have benefited from shooting luck — the Jazz on offense and the Pelicans on defense.
Given the talent here, I trust the Jazz a bit more to see continued success, but I think there’s one key area of play for tonight. The Pelicans have done well lately pushing in transition, getting out on 16.1% of their possessions. They’ve pushed on 30.2% of live rebounds, one of the highest marks lately.
That makes sense given their personnel in Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram and others. And they could have success in that regard against the Jazz, who since Dec. 1 have allowed the most transition opportunities in the entire league.
The Pelicans have also done a good job hitting the glass on both ends of the floor, and that’s been of struggle of Utah’s lately, too. The Jazz have been a good defensive rebounding team, as to be expected with Rudy Gobert, but if that continues to be a problem, that’s a win for the Pelicans.
All in all, I would lean toward the Jazz here, but there are some key areas the Pelicans could win and swing this game. I might take a little bite pre-game, but it also might be worth looking for live betting opportunities.
The LEAN: Jazz -3.5
Brandon Anderson: Bucks at Spurs
- Spread: Bucks -7
- Over/Under: 228
- Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
I’m sorry, why are the Bucks just 7-point favorites against the Spurs? This line feels at least three points too low, so low that I had to double check to make sure Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn’t out injured or something. No, these are the full-strength Bucks.
And may I remind you that the Bucks are 23-0 against teams under .500 on the season? The Bucks are taking care of bad teams with ease this season, and in case you haven’t been following, the Spurs are not good.
The Spurs had a nice December with wins against such vaunted opponents as the Warriors, Pistons, Grizzlies, and Kings. Hooray for them. Still, this team is average on its best day, and spoiler alert, its best day likely won’t come against the Bucks.
If you’re holding out hope that the Spurs make this a game because it’s in San Antonio, don’t hold your breath. The Spurs are 5-14 against the spread at home this season
This ain’t 2003 anymore. Bucks roll.
The PICK: Bucks -7
Justin Phan: Bulls at Mavericks
- Spread: Mavericks -9
- Over/Under: 217
- Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
The Bulls have consistently been one of the league’s best defensive teams over the past month-plus, particularly from the perimeter. They’ve held opponents to the fourth-lowest 3-point percentage (.334) this season, which will be crucial against a Mavs side that has the second-highest 3-point attempt rate.
The expected absence of Lauri Markkanen is a big blow. He shot lights out in December and his spacing is crucial to the success of the Bulls’ offense — their Offensive Rating drops from 104.6 to 99.1 when he’s off the court.
With Markkanen’s minutes expected to be soaked up by Thaddeus Young, the Bulls will trade worse offense for better defense. It’s also worth noting that both teams have been below-average in pace recently.
The PICK: Under 217 | Bulls Under 104.5