NBA Odds & Betting Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Saturday Night Bets (Jan. 30)
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Zion Williamson
- Saturday's NBA slate only has one marquee matchup, but there are plenty of exciting offenses taking the court.
- Our staff expects Blazers-Bulls to be a shootout, and Zion Williamson to continue his dominant offense performances against the Rockets.
The NBA offers up an eight-game slate on Saturday night, and while it’s a little light on marquee matchups, there should be plenty of offense to go around.
NBA Odds & Picks
Blazers at Bulls
Raheem Palmer: I’m not sure we can make these Blazers or Bulls totals high enough. This game consists of two of the league’s worst defenses with the Blazers ranking 29th in Defensive Rating (116) and the Bulls ranking 26th (114.7).
The Bulls play at the second-fastest pace in the league, and that’s pushed them to 10-7 to the over this season. The Bulls have given up 110 points or more in seven of their last nine game and 117 points or more in six of their last nine. This just isn’t a good defense, and it doesn’t look like it’s getting much better.
The Blazers aren’t much better and are missing some key pieces. Given both of these team’s ability to score and that they’re both well rested, I think we see a shootout that goes over the total of 232.
Rockets at Pelicans
Brandon Anderson: We aren’t talking enough about Zion Williamson.
I’m not sure how or why it’s happened, but Zion is in the midst of one of the best 40-game starts in NBA history, and it genuinely feels like no one is even noticing it. Williamson has scored 20 or more points in 31 of his 40 career games now, hitting that mark in 77.5% of his games. In NBA history, only Michael Jordan (34 times) has ever scored 20 or more points more times over his first 40 games, with David Robinson tying Zion at 31 games.
Seems pretty good, right?
And don’t forget, that includes a bunch of games with a minutes restriction last season for Zion. Right now, it feels like Williamson is getting even better. Against the Thunder on Jan. 6, Zion had one of his biggest games of the season thus far with 29 points on 12-of-17 shooting. He bullied the Thunder near the basket, showing off his unique combination of brute strength, agility, and feathery touch near the rim.
Since that game, the Pelicans have featured Zion as a big time scorer, repeatedly giving him the ball in the paint and letting him play bully ball. They know he can score on almost anyone without a whole lot of help, and they’re letting Williamson do it. He’s averaging 26.4 points over the last 10 games and attempting nearly 17 twos a game, unheard of in today’s NBA. He’s scoring on 63% of those shots, an absurd efficiency inside the arc.
Williamson has at least 21 points in all but one of those games, and his pair of 21s in that stretch game against the Bucks and Lakers, two of the league’s elite defensive teams. Against most NBA teams, there’s just no matchup for Zion and he can score when he pleases. And I love P.J. Tucker, but he just looks far too small to hold his own against this kind of beast.
Zion is also getting to the free throw line more. He’s averaging 10.0 free throw attempts per game over the last four outings, using that to add easy points and increase his efficiency even further. If you’re into advanced metrics, Zion is at 66% true shooting with a 127 offensive rating over the last 10 games. And remember — he’s essentially halfway into his rookie season.
We don’t need any advanced metrics here, just 23 points like he’s done in seven of his last 10 games. Zion Williamson is real, and he is spectacular. We’re projecting him at 25.3 points, and I’ll play him here to -140.
Rockets at Pelicans
Matt Moore: The Rockets with John Wall and Victor Oladipo have only played two games together, but in those games, their second quarter margin was +13. That’s tiny sample, but I want to test it out as a theory vs. a Pelicans team on a back to back, in a letdown spot after a huge win vs. the Bucks.
The Pelicans are the worst second-quarter ATS team in the league at 3-11. I lean Rockets for the game, but want to drill down with an underrated bench with Houston.