NBA Odds & Best Bets: Our Top 3 Picks for Saturday, Including Timberwolves vs. Trail Blazers & Celtics vs. Warriors
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
- Saturday's slate brings with it a number of solid NBA games.
- We have three best bets for today, including picks for Mavericks vs. Bulls, Celtics vs. Warriors and Timberwolves vs. Trail Blazers.
- Check out all three of our NBA best bets for Saturday night below.
Prime-time NBA action is back for another Saturday.
The Warriors and Celtics meet in a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals on ABC in what should be a hotly-contested battle in the Bay.
We also have two other best bets for Saturday’s slate, starting with Mavericks vs. Bulls at 8 p.m. ET and running all the way through the Timberwolves vs. Trail Blazers nightcap at 10 p.m. ET.
So, check out our three NBA best bets for Saturday night below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Mavericks vs. Bulls
Brandon Anderson: I continue to think these Dallas Mavericks are underrated and worth betting on.
Dallas is coming off a tough back-to-back after blowing the game against the Bucks last night with six consecutive free throws missed to end the game.
That was Dallas’s sixth loss this season by five or fewer, and I’m not enthusiastic about this team in crunch time. But that number matters.
Add in two other losses in overtime by more than five, and that’s eight very winnable games the Mavs could’ve gotten this year. Dallas is 13–12 but ranks top-10 in both offensive and defensive rating and top-10 in net rating.
That also means Dallas has covered +5.5 in 18 of its 25 games this season and could’ve been 20 if not for letting those two overtime losses balloon away. That’s a 72% cover rate and nearly 80% for this line.
The Bulls are an interesting matchup because the teams neuter some of each other’s strengths. Dallas allows the fewest 3-point attempts in the NBA, but the Bulls take the fewest 3s anyway. Chicago ranks No. 1 in defensive rebounding percentage, but the Mavs are second-to-last on the offensive glass, eschewing it completely.
One key battle will be Dallas turnovers. The Mavs rarely ever turn it over, but a key Bulls strength this season has been forcing turnovers.
I think Dallas takes care of the ball, and if it does, I like the math for the team that’s best in the league at getting to the line and taking 3s against a team that’s basically the opposite.
Add in the five-point cushion of a possible cover in a loss, and I’ll take Mavs +5.5.
Celtics vs. Warriors
Chris Baker: This number is just too low for two teams that rank top-10 in adjusted offensive rating and above average in pace. The Warriors are the fastest team in the NBA, and the Celtics are easily the best offense in the NBA.
This is not a fluky Celtics offense, as they have actually played the second-most difficult schedule of opposing defenses, according to DunksAndThrees. They should have no issues scoring against this Warriors defense that ranks 18th adjusted defensive rating.
Each team will also be missing two key defenders, as the Celtics will be without Robert Williams, while the Warriors will miss their most versatile defender in Andrew Wiggins. The Warriors defense has been -8.2 points better with Wiggins on the court — by far their most impactful defender besides Draymond Green.
The Celtics offense actually gets +4.2 points better with Al Horford off the court. With Horford out, we should see a lot more Luke Kornet and Sam Hauser minutes, which is certainly favorable to the over. Both of these players can shoot the 3 at an elite leve,l but neither can defend anyone.
From an offensive shot profile perspective, Golden State and Boston rank first and third in 3-point rate, respectively. I expect the Celtics to launch a ton of 3s against a Warriors defense that ranks 21st in opponent 3-point attempt rate.
Ultimately, with Wiggins and Horford out, we should see a lot more minutes from each team’s younger players, and these guys are generally defensive liabilities. Factor that in with the pace, shot profile and offensive efficiency of these two teams, and we have a recipe for an over.
Timberwolves vs. Trail Blazers
Brandon Anderson: The Wolves and Blazers both sit at 13–12 after 25 games, so it’s interesting that the vibes for both teams are so different.
Everyone feels pretty good about Portland. The Blazers are top-10 on offense despite missing Damian Lillard for half the season so far, and both Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant have been key contributors.
The defense is still nothing to get excited about, but it feels like Portland is overachieving.
Minnesota is the exact opposite. Rudy Gobert has been mostly a bust so far. Anthony Edwards has been a terrible disappointment this season. Karl-Anthony Towns has not lived up to his usual best and is out injured.
Minnesota basically ranks right at league average on both offense and defense and right at average in net rating, effectively playing .500 ball.
Still, doesn’t it feel like this is about the nadir for these Wolves? Absolutely everything has gone wrong for this team, but Minnesota is still playing .500 ball after 25 games. That’s not bad.
Defense is a team construct and takes time to figure out. The offense has a new different look. No one has played particularly well. And the Wolves are still right in the thick of things.
It’s telling that the 10th percentile outcome for Minnesota this season is still tied with what feels like an above-average outcome for Portland. Perception can skew reality sometimes.
The truth is that the Blazers have lost eight of their last 11 outright. And yes, five of those losses came without Dame, who is back now, but Portland has not put many teams away. The Blazers have covered this line only six times all season. Even when they do win, it’s usually interesting late.
This is a buy-low spot on Minnesota, and I’ll take it a step further. The Wolves are only two games back in what looks like a pretty wide-open Northwest Division, yet Minnesota is +1600 to win the division at FanDuel.
If Minnesota wins this game tonight and Utah wins in Denver, the Wolves will pull within a game of the division. That number is too long, and if you think Minnesota can win tonight, now is a good time to buy low.
For the game alone, I’ll buy low and take the points. Even without KAT, these teams are close enough to grab the +5.5.