NBA Expert Betting Picks (Tuesday, Jan. 7): Our Favorite Bets for Kings vs. Suns

NBA Expert Betting Picks (Tuesday, Jan. 7): Our Favorite Bets for Kings vs. Suns article feature image

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Kelly Oubre Jr. (3) of the Phoenix Suns.

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

  • 7 p.m. ET: Portland Trail Blazers at Toronto Raptors 
  • 9 p.m. ET: Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns

See which bets they’re making below.

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

Bryan Mears: Trail Blazers at Raptors

  • Spread: Raptors -2.5
  • Over/Under: 220
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

I hope you didn’t buy tickets to this game in the preseason, because you’re not going to see a ton of starting players.

For the Blazers, CJ McCollum is questionable to play with an illness and missed Sunday’s game. For the Raptors, Fred VanVleet is out, joining Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and likely Norman Powell on the bench.

The Blazers are a weird team to handicap right now. If McCollum is out, the offense is obviously hurt. For the season, the team has been 6.9 points per 100 possessions worse with him on the bench vs. playing. The biggest hit has predictably been on offense, as the Blazers have seen a team-high 3.9% drop in effective FG% without him on the floor.

In 689 possessions this season with Damian Lillard playing and McCollum on the bench, the Blazers have posted a poor -4.5 Net Rating. McCollum is a pretty underrated player to his team’s value, especially offensively.

Further, the guys out for the Raptors are incredibly important to their offense as well. Without Gasol, the Raps’ eFG% has dropped by 5.9%. Without Siakam, 6.0%. Without FVV, 3.6%. Those are three of the four highest marks on the team.

The Raps have been decent overall without those three guys playing, posting a +5.4 point differential in 482 possessions. As suggested above, though, it’s been almost entirely due to the defense, which has allowed just 101.5 points/100 in that sample. The team on offense has posted a 46.9% eFG%.

OK, to summarize, we have the Blazers with McCollum potentially out. That would hurt the offense, but that defense has just been so bad lately. The Raptors are missing a lot of offensive talent, and the defense has been solid even without those guys. This seems like an under play if it weren’t for the Blazers defense being so scarily bad.

But looking deeper there, over the last two weeks they’ve been dead last with a 122.5 rating — almost impossibly bad. But they could see some regression: Opponents in that span are hitting 40.3% of their 3-pointers, which will go down. They’re shooting over 40% on non-corner-3s — the hardest ones. On wide-open shots, opponents are posting an absurd 61.5% eFG% against Portland. The Blazers suck, but probably not that bad.

It’s terrifying to bet the under in anything related to the Blazers, but I think there’s some value if McCollum is ruled out.

The LEAN: Under 220

Brandon Anderson: Trail Blazers at Raptors

Both of these teams are barely holding things together right now with a slew of injuries, which could get even worse if CJ McCollum (questionable) ends up missing the game as Mears noted above.

Despite all the injuries, they are the team that has shown a resiliency and ability to play through injuries, while Portland mostly just looks average this year.

Plain and simple, this is just a pick on the belief in a champion defending its home court. Kyle Lowry can neutralize Damian Lillard, and I’ll take the rest of the Raptors cast against anything Portland throws out there.

The Raptors are 18-3 as favorite this year and 14-7 as favorites against the spread, while the Blazers are an ugly 4-10 ATS as dogs. Only one of these teams knows how to play with its backs against the wall this year.

The PICK: Raptors -2.5

John Ewing: Kings at Suns

  • Spread: Suns -6.5
  • Over/Under: 226
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET

The Suns have been one of the most profitable over teams in 2019. Overs in Phoenix games have gone 21-15, +5.14 units. Historically, it has been profitable to bet the under once a team consistently goes over the total.

This works because casual bettors like to cheer for points and wager on the over. When a team is cashing over tickets, like the Suns, oddsmakers will further inflate the over/under.

The optimal situation to bet the under in these games is when both teams are on short rest and the total has decreased — a sign sharp money is on the under.

Since 2005, a $100 bettor following this strategy has returned a profit of $11,296.

Suns-Kings is a match for this system. The total opened 226.5 and has decreased to 226. The public will likely bet the over but history tells us this is a good spot to wager on the under.

The PICK: Under 226

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