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NBA Expert Betting Picks (Saturday, Jan. 25): Best Bets for Nets vs. Pistons, Thunder vs. Wolves


Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Paul

There are five games on Saturday’s NBA schedule and our experts are betting the spread and over/under on two specific matchups:

  • 7 p.m. ET: Brooklyn Nets at Detroit Pistons
  • 8 p.m. ET: Oklahoma City Thunder at Minnesota Timberwolves

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.

Bryan Mears: Nets at Pistons

  • Spread: Nets -2
  • Over/Under: 227.5
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

The Pistons aren’t very good, but Derrick Rose has been. And for some reason, the Pistons just decided like five games ago that it might be a good idea to start him and play him with their best players. Some franchises…

Anyway, it’s a small sample, but since that time the Pistons have ranked sixth on offense and have picked up the pace. I think that sample is representative because it jives with how they’ve played all season with Rose on the floor.

With him out there, the Pistons have been a whopping 8.9 points per 100 possessions better than with him out. They’ve increased their eFG% by 3.8%, they’ve shot better from every area of the floor, and they’ve gotten out in transition 3.5% more (98th percentile of player splits).

Further, in that time the Nets have ranked second in pace. They’ve also recently gotten Kyrie Irving back, and the Nets have fairly extreme offensive splits with and without him.

Given how these teams have played, especially the Pistons with Rose, I think there’s some value on the over here. The Pistons have played better defensively over the last couple of weeks, but they just got eviscerated on that end by the Grizzlies, and their good games inflating that sample came against the Wizards, Hawks and other very flawed teams.

The PICK: Over 227.5

Brandon Anderson: Thunder at Wolves

  • Spread: Thunder -1
  • Over/Under: 226
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

There are two things you can be absolutely certain of when the Oklahoma City Thunder play the Minnesota Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins will actually try, and things will get super, super weird.

The Thunder “won” earlier this season with a late torrid comeback featuring a ridiculous technical free throw that helped send the game to overtime when Chris Paul ever so helpfully reminded the referees that Jordan Bell’s jersey was untucked.

Now I don’t want to tell you both teams’ seasons entirely turned in that moment, but Oklahoma City was 8-12 before that “play,” and they are 18-7 since. Minnesota was 10-10 sitting inside the playoffs before jerseygate; they’re 5-20 since. Feel free to draw your own conclusions, but let’s just say Chris Paul should be expecting an icy reception in Minnesota for more reasons than just the weather.

The important numbers here are 18-7 and 5-20. The Thunder are a good playoff basketball team. The Wolves stink. Take the OKC spread and the over on boos in CP3’s direction.

The PICK: Thunder -1

World Wide Wob: Thunder at Wolves

  • Spread: Thunder -1
  • Over/Under: 226
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

This is a spec bet for me, as Karl Anthony Towns injured his leg at the end of the third quarter last night and was clearly nursing it while being attended to by the Timberwolves training staff.

He did return to the game, but like we’ve seen so many times with sprained ankles, adrenaline can act as a band-aid to get players through the game before the true severity of the injury manifests itself over time.

I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to diagnose KAT, but I’m telling you all of this because it would not surprise me in the least to see Towns held out from action today with this being the second leg of a back-to-back. Add in the fact KAT had just returned from an extended absence due to a different injury, nobody would blame Minnesota holding him out for precautionary reasons.

Shabazz Napier got banged up last night, as well, and also returned to action, so the Timberwolves being terrible even when healthy combined with these lingering statuses has me backing OKC.

Even if KAT and Napier actually play, let’s not act like the Thunder are walking into Cameron Indoor Stadium here. If this game was in OKC the spread would be 8. Fire away.

The PICK: Thunder -1

Matt Moore: Thunder at Wolves

  • Spread: Thunder -1
  • Over/Under: 226
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

The Thunder are 2-0 ATS vs. the Wolves this season. That’s a marked improvement for them under Billy Donovan vs. Minnesota, as they are 6-12 ATS overall vs. the Wolves in Donovan’s tenure.

OKC is also on a back to back, and the Thunder are an incredible 7-0 ATS this season on the second night of a back to back.

Now, I don’t expect the Thunder to go undefeated ATS in that spot, nor do I expect them to go undefeated vs. a division opponent who has given them nightmares through the years. (“Andrew Wiggins plays like Michael Jordan vs. only us” is a common Thunder refrain both from fans and folks close to the team).

But I’m taking OKC here with a team that’s been red hot since Thanksgiving, versus a Wolves team that’s been bad at home, in a spot where the number is soft.

PICK: Thunder -1

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