Friday NBA Betting Odds, Picks & Projections: Detailed Analysis for Grizzlies vs. Timberwolves, Bucks vs. Trail Blazers and More (April 2)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks.
- Raheem Palmer is firing up his betting model to find value in all 10 of Friday's NBA games.
- Palmer is betting four of those matchups, including the spread in the late game between the Bucks and Trail Blazers.
- Check out his analysis for that game and more below.
For the 2020-2021 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 10-game slate.
Dallas Mavericks at New York Knicks
“New York, New York big city of the dreams but everything in New York ain’t always what it seems.” The lyrics to Snoop and the Dogg pound’s 1995 hit record perfectly describes how I feel about the enigma that is the 2020-21 New York Knicks.
They’re sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 24-24 record this season while ranking fourth in Defensive Rating (108.3) and 24th in Offensive Rating (108.6). Head coach Tom Thibodeau has clearly put a stamp on this team, emphasizing defense but so much of it feels like fools gold.
The Knicks are giving up the sixth highest percentage of three point field goal attempts (38.9%), however opposing teams are shooting a league worst 33.7% from behind the arc. I’ve been waiting an entire season for regression and yet, it hasn’t happened.
The analytics community has done a ton of work on this subject as teams simply can’t control how teams shoot against them, it’s a product of variance and the Knicks have been running good all season.
Against a Mavericks team that is ranks fifth in 3-point shooting frequency, shooting 40.9% of their attempts from behind the arc, this feels like a spot where the Knicks’ defensive scheme could hurt them.
The Mavs are scoring 120.8 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks with Luka Doncic proving that he’s one of the best young talents in the league averaging 28.7 points, 8.9 assists and 8.1 rebounds.
At some point you have to ask how the Knicks can continue winning games with an offensive rating of just 108.6? My model makes this game Mavericks -3.43, but I think oddsmakers opened this spread at -5.5 for a reason.
The Mavericks are hitting their stride and I expect them to take advantage against a Knicks team that struggles to score. I faded my model here and played the Mavericks at -5.5, but I like this up to -6.5.
Memphis Grizzlies at Minnesota Timberwolves
My projections make this game 228, so at the market number there’s some value on the under. This game is not without some risk as both teams rank top-five in Pace this season — the Timberwolves play at the fourth-fastest pace (101.75) and the Grizzlies playing the fifth-fastest pace (101.28). But what these teams gain offensively with more possessions, they lose in overall efficiency.
The Timberwolves are 26th in Offensive Rating, scoring just 107.4 points per 100 possessions while the Grizzlies are 20th, scoring 110.0 points per 100 possessions. Both of these teams rank towards the bottom 10 in 3-point shooting percentage, which is ideal if you’re playing an under in today’s NBA.
The Timberwolves are 23rd in 3-point percentage (35.2%) while the Grizzlies are the second-worst 3-point shooting team in the league (34.3%) Even more ideal is that neither team is launching a ton of 3s either, so negative variance is unlikely to rear its ugly head in this department.
The Grizzlies primarily thrive in the mid-range with floaters and jump shots, something I’m willing to live with if I have an under play as it’s the least efficient area of the floor.
The Timberwolves on the other hand, are 28th in field goal percentage at the rim (59.7%) and 28th in the midrange (36.8%). As a whole, these teams just aren’t very good offensively. I like the under in this matchup.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Phoenix Suns
The Oklahoma City Thunder scored 113 points (1.17 points per possession) in Wednesday night’s win over the Toronto Raptors. It was the team’s best offensive output all week and a clear aberration given that it came without the services of Shai Gilgeous Alexander, Lu Dot, Darius Bazely, Mike Muscala, Al Horford and Ty Jerome who are all expected to miss tonight’s game as well.
If you read my column Wednesday, you’re aware that I had wagers on the under, which hit despite the Thunder’s strong offensive performance against a Raptors team that has allowed 116.8 points per 100 over the past two weeks.
Things won’t be as easy for the Thunder Friday against the Suns who rank fifth in Defensive Rating, allowing just 109.1 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass.
The Thunder are shooting 39% of their field goals from behind the arc and making just 35.7% of them, which ranks 22nd in the NBA. That doesn’t bode well against a Suns defense that ranks second in 3-point percentage allowed (34.6%).
The Thunder struggle to score at the rim, where they rank 26th among NBA teams, shooting just 60.4%. I’m just not expecting another solid offensive performance from the Thunder, but the Suns should have no problems scoring on their end.
Still, with Chris Paul at the helm, the Suns play the fifth-slowest pace in the league (97.90 possession per game), which should suppress the offensive output of both teams. The last time these two teams played, they combined to score just 199 points in a game with exactly 100 possessions.
Milwaukee Bucks at Portland Trailblazers
The Portland Trailblazers aren’t exactly known for their defensive prowess. They’re 29th in Defensive Rating, allowing 118.1 points per 100 possessions. Over the past two weeks they’re allowing 121.9, which would surpass the best offense in NBA history.
In order for this team to keep up with anyone they have to score a ton of points, which is certainly something they’ve proven capable of doing. Damian Lillard is averaging 29.8 points and 7.8 assists leading the Blazers to the fourth-best Offensive Rating in the NBA (118.3).
With the Bucks scoring 117.3 points per 100 possessions this season and playing at the third-fastest pace in the league (102.24), it’s pretty clear that this game will be a track meet. The last four times these teams have met, they’ve averaged 243 points with this going over the total of 236 all but once. My projections make this total 238.5, but most books have moved this total to 239 and above.
When it comes to the side, I think the Bucks have the advantage here. The Blazers are just 20th in opponent field goal percentage at the rim (64.7%), an area where Bucks rank second on offense (68.2%). The Blazers also don’t defend the 3-point line very well as they give up the fifth-highest percentage on 3-pointers (38.5%).
This has simply just been bad matchup for the Blazers in recent memory as the Bucks have won 10 out of the last 12 meeting by these two teams. The Bucks have won four straight games against the Blazers by an average margin of 25 points.
The Bucks may have taken a small step back this season, but I have a hard time believing that impacts them here, so I’ll take the Bucks for what I believe is a cheap price.