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NBA Expert Betting Picks (Saturday, Jan. 18): Best Bets for Pistons-Hawks and 76ers-Knicks

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Photo credit: Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Derrick Rose

There are 11 games on Saturday’s NBA schedule, and our experts are betting on these specific matchups:

  • 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC: LA Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: Detroit Pistons at Atlanta Hawks
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks 

See the four bets they’re making below.


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


Matt Moore: Clippers at Pelicans

  • Spread: Clippers -5
  • Over/Under: 235.5
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

So Brandon Ingram is on a tear and has been terrific this season. But he’s facing Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers’ other long wings today. So that draws back scoring a little bit.

The Pelicans games have gone over 10 straight times. That’s a tough streak to keep going, and since 2003 no team has ever gone over on a total above 230 after going over 10 straight times. The Pelicans are a much better defense with Derrick Favors on the floor, and there’s not a center threat to tear their weak other centers to pieces.

But that also means the Clippers aren’t facing anyone who can do real damage to their weakness inside.

The Clippers offense is pretty consistent on the road vs. at home (110 Offensive Rating, which is still great, vs. a 110 mark, and many of those have been games without Kawhi Leonard). But this number is so high at 235.5, and the Clippers are able to counter the things that the Pelicans do so well and are weak against the Pelicans’ weaknesses.

The Pelicans are the 30th-ranked team in scoring out of the pick-and-roll, even with Ingram playing great. That’s the Clippers’ big weakness because of their defensive scheme, ranking 26th. The Clippers, conversely, are great against spot-up attempts — first league-wide — and that’s what the Pelicans generate more than any other attempt.

This could be a fast-paced game, with the Clippers vulnerable to transition and that being a key part of New Orleans offense. But even then, 235.5 is too much given the range of outcomes. The Pelicans with Favors are better defensively, so this could be a game in the low teens; the Clippers might strangle the Pelicans offense into a sub-110 performance. It’s hard to see one where the Clippers overperform that much to hit the over even with the Pelicans’ pace.

The PICK: Under 235.5

World Wide Wob: Pistons at Hawks

  • Spread: Pistons -1.5
  • Over/Under: 230
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Am I seeing things or are the Detroit Pistons actually favored against an NBA team on the road? Y’all are just messing with me, right? The Pistons would be underdogs against the Washington Generals without Derrick Rose.

Yes, I know, it’s the Hawks. Yes, the Hawks are on the second leg of a back-to-back. Yes, they won in dramatic fashion, and the script says they’re due to let down.

But this team just had a starting five that wasn’t even alive the last time Atlanta won in San Antonio. They’re absurdly young, and fatigue does not exist when you aren’t even old enough to drink alcohol. Y’all remember your twenties, right? Going out all the damn time, people would tell you, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint…” Hell no. It was both. That shit never ended.

Anyways, my point here is the Hawks are home, riding high from going out all night celebrating victory, without a hangover in sight. If this wasn’t a back-to-back, they’d be 3.5-point favorites. That’s exactly where this game falls. In the end, do you really want your hard-earned money at risk on the damn Detroit Pistons? You already know the answer to that.

The PICK: Hawks +2

Brandon Anderson: 76ers at Knicks

  • Spread: 76ers -4
  • Over/Under: 217.5
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Folks, the Philadelphia 76ers are four-point favorites against the New York Knicks.

Look, I see all the reasons to fade Philly, too. Joel Embiid is still out. It’s a SEGABABA in New York. The Sixers are absolute doggie doodoo on the road at 7-14. Ben Simmons still can’t shoot. Etc etc etc.

Now hear my counterargument: the New York Knickerbockers.

The Knicks aren’t good at MSG because the Knicks aren’t good anywhere on this planet. They are 4-9 this year in “coin flip” games with a spread below five. With a line so low, I’m just trusting someone talented to show up at MSG, and that someone will be wearing a Philly jersey.

The PICK: 76ers -4

Bryan Mears: Pistons at Hawks

  • Spread: Pistons -1.5
  • Over/Under: 230
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

The Hawks have sucked this year, but they’re finally getting healthier with their core three on offense — Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and John Collins — all finally back together. They’ve shown signs of life over their last two games, posting Offensive Ratings of 115.2 and 118.4, respectively, against the Spurs and Suns. A big part of that honestly has been Huerter finally looking like himself; he’s finally hitting his shots, and the Hawks needed a shooter more than anything else this year.

The Pistons, meanwhile, had a good showing last time out, not just covering the 9.5-point spread in Boston Wednesday, but winning outright by 13. Two things to note: They’ve been off for three days, and they’ve recently shifted Derrick Rose to playing with the starting unit.

They’ve largely been playing units without a point guard (sorry to all Bruce Brown fans out there). Rose has easily been their best player this year; the Pistons have been 8.9 points/100 better with him vs. without. The offense has been 10.2/100 better with him, and the Pistons have increased their eFG% by 4.4%. Also importantly, the Pistons push the pace much more with Rose.

With the Hawks playing better and faster of late — they’re top-five in pace since the start of the year — and the Pistons finally playing better lineups and leaning on Rose, I like the over to hit here. Oh yeah, and both teams are pretty terrible defensively.

The PICK: Over 229.5

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