NBA Odds, Picks & Projections: Betting Analysis for Jazz vs. Bucks, Raptors vs. Kings & More (Friday, Jan. 8)
Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors.
Editors note: Kyle Lowry is out of Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings for personal reasons.
For the 2020-2021 NBA season, I’ll be publishing my projections for every NBA game. Here’s what you’ll find in my model: projected team totals, projected combined totals, projected spreads for the matchup and the implied odds for the moneyline.
Note: My projections won’t be updated in real-time throughout the day, but Action’s PRO Projections tool is dynamic and will reflect the latest injury and lineup news.
I’ll also be highlighting some of the slate’s most intriguing matchups with in-depth, game-level analysis that goes beyond the numbers.
NBA Projections Model
NBA Odds & Picks
Although projections give us a solid baseline for what a number should be, it’s also important to handicap each matchup for things that the numbers can’t tell us. For the first week or two of the season, my numbers heavily incorporate priors, so we’ll be relying much more on handicapping ability when looking for an edge.
Check out my analysis for tonight’s massive 10-game slate.
Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards
The Wizards are 6-2 to the over while the Celtics are 5-4. My projections make this game total 237, and that’s not even taking into consideration that Boston’s frontcourt was decimated by a COVID-19 outbreak that saw Robert Williams test positive and Tristan Thompson and Grant Williams facing a minimum 7-day quarantine due to contract tracing.
We should see some small-ball lineups given Boston’s lack of frontcourt options behind Daniel Theis.
Besides the lineup news, the Wizards play at the fastest pace in the NBA this season (106.69) according to NBA Advanced Stats, while maintaining the league’s second-worst Defensive Rating, allowing opposing teams to score 115.2 points per 100 possessions.
Both the Celtics and Wizards rank in the top 10 in Offensive Rating, so we should see plenty of points in this game. I’ll play this total to go over.
Utah Jazz at Milwaukee Bucks
The Utah Jazz are in the midst of a brutal stretch of road games, playing seven times away from home in 10 days.
While they were able to open the road trip with a win over the Spurs, the Jazz dropped back-to-back games on consecutive nights to the Nets and Knicks earlier this week.
Things don’t get any easier for them, having to travel and face reigning-MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bucks. Milwaukee is yet to play a road game in 2020, while it’s hard to imagine the Jazz will have the freshest of legs.
Before their game against the Nets, the Jazz didn’t practice in order to save their legs and still came out flat and unable to score. Now, they face a Bucks team that is first in net rating (+12.9) and Offensive Rating (120.1) while still maintaining a top-tier defense.
My projections are heavily influenced by recent games so there’s a big discrepancy between my number and the market number. Nonetheless, I still think this line is short.
With Joe Ingles popping up on the injury report due to a sore Achilles, the last thing this Jazz team needs is to be shorthanded. I’ll be laying the 4.5 points with the Bucks at home.
Toronto Raptors at Sacramento Kings
My projections make this game Raptors -5.74 and while that’s close to the market number, I’m not sure if it’s capturing the disparity between these two teams.
If there’s any team that could act as an elixir for the struggles of the Toronto Raptors, it’s the Sacramento Kings. De’Aaron Fox comes into this game questionable with a hamstring injury and while rookie Tyrese Halliburton lit it up in his absence Wednesday night helping to lead his team to a win over the Chicago Bulls, this is still a bad Kings team.
Sacramento struggles to defend, giving up 113.2 points per 100 possessions. It is giving up the eighth-highest percentage of 3-point attempts, which is where the Raptors make their living on offense with 44.2% of their field-goal attempts coming from behind the arc.
Look for big days from Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet as the Raptors get their second win of the season. Lay the points.