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NBA Expert Betting Picks (Wednesday, Jan. 8): Best Bets for Rockets-Hawks, Bucks-Warriors

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Photo credit: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images. Pictured: Draymond Green

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

  • 7 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets at Atlanta Hawks
  • 10 p.m. ET on ESPN: Milwaukee Bucks at Golden State Warriors

See which bets they’re making below.


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


Matt Moore: Rockets at Hawks

What I really wanted in this game was the Rockets team total over, but the books are wise by now. It’s at a stunning 123 at the books I checked. One team’s over/under is 123. I can’t take the under because of what else I’m about to tell you, and I can’t take the over because the number is too high.

I will take the Rockets, however.

So last year, late in the season, the Rockets had finally gotten Clint Capela and Chris Paul back. They were rounding into shape. And they went into Atlanta and won 121-105. That’s just a 16-point win vs. a lottery team … no big deal. But over the final three quarters, Houston put up a 128 Offensive Rating, holding the Hawks to a 106.7 Offensive Rating. It was a clinic.

The Hawks defense has specific issues that mean high-execution offenses rack up huge numbers on them. They have inexperienced wing defenders who can’t close out, small guards who can’t get over screens and no real rim protection to speak of, especially against secondary passes.

The Rockets are going to have a field day. This is the type of game where Harden and Capela just run pick-and-rolls to death and the Hawks have no answer. Their offense is also such that Houston’s inconsistent defense can manage things.

The Rockets are 4-1 in their last five meetings vs. Atlanta, and I don’t think this is different. You can’t make the totals high enough so there’s no value there, but anything single digits on the spread is value for Houston.

THE PICK: Rockets -8

Bryan Mears: Rockets at Hawks

The Hawks suck this season. But they’ve also been dealing with a variety of injuries and suspensions to their best players. John Collins is finally back, Trae Young is, too, and Kevin Huerter is now seeing big minutes again. Things could be looking up for this young team.

The last two games have been encouraging: They went 1-1 against the Nuggets and Pacers, but importantly put up offensive efficiency marks of 113.7 and 118.6. They shot the ball well finally and really got to the foul line.

Their shot profile has dramatically shifted since the beginning of the season. They were middle of the league in 3-point rate despite finishing fourth in that regard a season ago in Trae Young’s first year. But since Dec. 5, the Hawks have a 40.7% 3-point rate, good for third in the league. And with their guys healthy and playing normal minutes, they’re starting to hit more of those.

One interesting data point is that the Hawks have been pretty bad offensively on the season with Collins playing. They’ve scored just 97.0 points/100, which is in the second percentile this year. They’ve been awful shooting the ball, rebounding, turning it over, getting to the foul line — everything. But the minutes with him and Trae have largely been fine; it’s just been the bench units in a small sample size. That should get better.

Meanwhile, the Rockets continue to roll offensively, and their defense remains incredibly hot or cold depending on the evening. The Rockets obviously bomb 3s and rank first in the league in pace. Over the past month, the Hawks are pretty close to them in those categories.

In the first game between these two teams this year, the Rockets put up 158 points, posting an insane 160.8 Offensive Rating. They had a 81.1% eFG%, which is almost impossible to do. James Harden went for 60. That game combined for 269 points, and it didn’t include Collins or Huerter. Trae played just 25 minutes.

You see where I’m going with this: The over is high today, but I still like it.

THE PICK: Over 237

Brandon Anderson: Bucks at Warriors

Let’s try something new today on an angle. The Milwaukee Bucks are 7-10 against-the-spread this season as a double-digit favorite. They’re 17-0 straight-up in those games, so they always take care of business, just not always in style.

The Golden State Warriors are 7-5 ATS this season as a double-digit underdog. They won two of those games outright against the Rockets and Blazers and got close to pulling off a few other upsets against teams like the Jazz, Spurs and Wolves. They really got blown out in only a couple of those games.

The Bucks know this is a freebie win, but the Warriors still have the whole “heart of a champion” thing and seem to play with a chip on their shoulder in these games where they should have no chance whatsoever. Call it the Draymond Green effect.

There’s no real basketball reason the Ws should be in this, so there’s no more analysis. Just angles, baby. And if you want to get really wild? Golden State is +900 outright.

THE PICK: Warriors +13.5

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