Friday NBA Odds, Picks & Projections: Betting Analysis for Cavaliers vs. Wizards, Jazz vs. Thunder and Raptors vs. Mavericks (May 14)
Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: Tim Hardaway Jr. #11 of the Dallas Mavericks high fives Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Dallas Mavericks.
- The final Friday of the NBA's regular season tips off with 16 teams in action.
- Raheem Palmers has analysis for Cavaliers-Wizards, Jazz-Thunder & Raptors-Mavericks.
For the 2020-21 NBA season, I’ll be publishing my projections for every NBA game on the Wednesday and Friday slate. 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.
Check out my analysis for tonight's eight-game slate.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Washington Wizards
The Wizards have yet to clinch a spot in the play-in game, holding a two game lead over the Chicago Bulls for the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference. With the Bulls holding the tie breaker over the Wizards, this game is important to lock down their spot as two Bulls wins and two Wizards losses would put them out of the play-in.
Nonetheless, they find themselves in an ideal spot facing a Cavaliers team that has won just one of their past 12 games, losing these games by an average of 17.27 points per game. The Cavaliers have failed to cover 14 out of their past 17 games, which tells us how they've struggled to remain competitive recently.
The Cavaliers rank 28th in Offensive rating (104.5) and Defensive Rating (121.7) over the past two weeks in their non-garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass. The loss of Larry Nance has had a huge impact on this team, particularly on the defensive end of the floor as they're giving up 109.9 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor vs 116.7 with him off (-6.8).
The Cavaliers are also missing Kevin Love, Cedi Osman, Taurean Prince, Matthew Dellavedova and Isaiah Hartenstein, so this is a patchwork lineup surrounding Collin Sexton and Jarrett Allen.
I don't see the Cavs stopping a Wizards team that ranks eighth in Offensive Rating, scoring 118.9 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks. Even without Beal, I think the Wizards should take care of business here.
Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder have one win in their past 23 games. If you're looking for what may potentially be the bad beat of the season, it's their win total, which was set at 22.5 and they needed just two more wins to go over with 20 wins back on March 22.
Since then they've won just twice, suddenly morphing into the 2015-16 Sam Hinkie led Philadelphia 76ers. They've decided to bench their key players in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Al Horford and embrace the youth movement.
When you look at the past two weeks, this team is scoring just 97.6 points per 100 possessions and allowing 125.9 points per 100 possessions defensively. I'm not sure you can actually make their spreads high enough as they've lost by an average of 21 points over the past 24 games.
Even without Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz should have no problems taking care of business here as they look to lock up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. With Lu Dort out of the lineup, the Thunder will also be missing their best player since they started resting their starters.
Mike Conley is questionable for tonight's matchup, but even without Conley I believe this line is short. I typically don't like to play spreads this high but my post All-Star break numbers, which are weighted towards more recent results, have the Jazz as a 23.24 point favorite. I believe there's some value laying 14.5 points here.
Toronto Raptors vs. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks are still looking to clinch a playoff spot and avoid the play-in game with two games left. They'll be playing all of their starters and it appears Luka Doncic's past criticism of the play-in game has lit a fire under this team as they've won 11 out of 14 games.
They should win this matchup as well as they take on the Raptors who have packed it in this season deciding to rest their starters and embrace the youth movement to improve their draft position.
While their actual starting lineup is a lot better at basketball than the Action Network staff, it is no match for an NBA team looking to get into the playoffs. The Raptors should have Chris Boucher back for this game, which should improve their offensive output as they're scoring 116.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor vs 109.3.
While some of that has to do with him playing much of his minutes with the Raptors starters, having a 6-foot-9 power forward who is shooting 38.3% from deep can open up an offense.
Defensively the Raptors are struggling particularly at the rim — they're allowing opposing teams to shoot 65.3% in that area — and from behind the arc where they're allowing teams to shoot 38.3%.
Those numbers rank 24th and 25th respectively, so the Mavericks — first in field goal percentage at the rim (68.9%) and fourth in 3-point frequency (40.7%) — should find some success here. This total has been steamed down from 221 to 219 where my model sits, but I think we could see an over here.
The Mavericks are scoring 120.8 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks and they're not likely to see any resistance. The Raptors have gone under in four of their past five games, but I think the return of Boucher could allow them to have a higher output offensively tonight.
With no chance at stopping the Mavericks, I'm going to fade the under steam and play this game to go over the total of 219.5