Friday’s NBA Odds, Picks & Projections: Betting Analysis for Knicks vs. Mavericks, Nuggets vs. Rockets (April, 16)

Friday’s NBA Odds, Picks & Projections: Betting Analysis for Knicks vs. Mavericks, Nuggets vs. Rockets (April, 16) article feature image
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Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Dallas Mavericks.

  • Looking for a betting angle in every game on Friday night's slate? You've come to the right place.
  • Raheem Palmer gives his projections for all 11 matchups and lists his picks for tonight's action.
  • Read all of his game analysis 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

Click on a game to skip ahead
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Philadelphia 76ers
7 p.m. ET
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Chicago Bulls
8 p.m. ET
Denver Nuggets vs. Houston Rockets
8 p.m. ET
New York Knicks vs. Dallas Mavericks
9:30 p.m. ET

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 11-game slate.

Los Angeles Clippers at Philadelphia 76ers

Pick
Pass
Gametime
7 p.m. ET
TV
ESPN

These are two teams are polar opposites in many ways. The Clippers rank first in Offensive Rating, scoring 119.7 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass. The Clippers defense hasn’t been what it was last season however.

The Philadelphia 76ers on the other hand, make their living defensively, holding teams to just 107.9 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes. Where they’ve struggled is on offense where they’re scoring just 113 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes. So what wins out? The team that thrives via offense or defense?

While both of these teams are very different offensively, they have some major similarities. Both of these teams live in the mid-range with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris all ranking at the top of the league in midrange shooting percentage.

One of the biggest issues with the Clippers offense is that they’re taking just 28.4% of their field goal attempts at the rim, while the 76ers with Embiid and Ben Simmons are dominant at the rim.

Given the Clippers lack of bigs and the injury to Serge Ibaka, they’ll struggle to stop Embiid and this 76ers offense.  The Clippers are allowing opposing teams to shoot 64.8% at the rim and 43.1% from mid-range, which ranks 20th and 24th respectively. This is a big advantage for the 76ers.

Where the Clippers thrive is their ability to shoot the three, where they’re shooting a league high 42.5% from behind the arc. This is a game in which the Clippers 3-point shooting should keep them in this game and possibly give them the chance to win it as the 76ers are just shooting 30.9% of their attempts from behind the arc.

This is the classic matchup where we’re likely to see the advantages of 3s over 2s, however the Clippers are much more prone to shooting variance than other elite teams. The 76ers have matchup advantages inside is the biggest reason why they’re favorites here, however my model sees these teams are all equal.

The Clippers are the second-highest power rated team in my system, but they’re missing Ibaka and Patrick Beverley so this is a pass for me.

However, with Tobias Harris questionable for this matchup, I think the Clippers have a minor edge here if he ends up sitting. The contrasting styles of these these teams should make an entertaining game to watch nonetheless.


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Memphis Grizzlies at Chicago Bulls

Pick
Grizzlies -3.5 (BetMGM)
Gametime
8 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

This marks the second time these two teams will meet this week as the Grizzlies defeated the Bulls at home 101-90 as 3-point favorites. In that game my model made the Grizzlies 4.5-point favorites at home in a game that featured Zach Lavine who has been by far the best player for the Bulls this season.

Unfortunately for the Bulls, Lavine is expected to miss several games after entering the COVID protocol. This loss looms large for the Bulls and their playoff chances as they were scoring 114.6 points per 100 possessions with Lavine on the floor compared to 105.7 with him off the floor this season (+8.9).

For a Bulls offense that ranks 15th among NBA teams, scoring 112.3 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass, I’m not sure how they recover. The Grizzlies are seventh in Defensive Rating, holding opposing teams to just 110.9 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes and they held the Bulls to just a 89.9 Offensive Rating.

The trade for Nikola Vucevic really hasn’t worked out well as expected for the Bulls so far. Since trading for Vucevic the Bulls are just 4-7 and have an Offensive Rating of 110.9, a Defensive Rating of 115.4 and a total Net Rating of -4.5. When Vucevic is on the floor, opposing teams are scoring a whopping 119.3 points per 100 possessions.

The eye test matches exactly what the numbers say as he was Barbecue chicken for Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas in Monday’s loss. Valanciunas scored 26 points on 12-of-15 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds. Valanciunas was a +21 on the game was a -19 and this appears to be a major matchup issue for the Bulls.

Overall, the Grizzlies are just the better team and had they not collapsed in their 114-113 loss against the Mavericks on Wednesday night, this line would likely be higher. I’ll lay the 3.5-points with the Grizzlies.

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Denver Nuggets at Houston Rockets

Pick
Under 227 (DraftKings)
Gametime
8 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

In Wednesday’s column, I played the Denver Nuggets -4 against the Miami Heat as I thought it would be the perfect spot for them to perform in the absence of Jamal Murray.

I was proven correct as the Nuggets won 123-106 in a game that had just 90 possessions, which leads us to todays’ game against the Rockets. The Nuggets are playing at the third-slowest Pace in the league since the All Star break (96.08) and given the absence of Murray we simply can’t expect this team to put up an Offensive Rating of 136.2 every night.

With Murray on the floor this season, the Nuggets were scoring 120.7 points per 100 possessions vs 113.5 with him off the floor (+7.2). Despite Nikola Jokic averaging 26 points, 8.8 assists and 10.9 rebounds as well as being the odds-on favorite for the MVP Award, I still expect this offense to take a step back.

Defensively the Nuggets should be much improved with the addition of Aaron Gordon and they’re playing a Rockets team which isn’t very good offensively. While they’ve improved since the return of Christian Wood and the additions of Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley, this offense still isn’t anything to be afraid of.

Over the past two weeks, they’re scoring just 112.4 points per 100 possessions, which ranks 21st among NBA teams. The Rockets are dead last in three point percentage (34.2%) and dead last in field goal percentage in the mid-range (35.7%) so this isn’t an offense that’s lighting up the score board.

With the Nuggets playing slow pace, them taking a step back without Murray and the Rockets offense not being very efficient, I think this total is a tad bit too high.

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New York Knicks at Dallas Mavericks

Pick
Mavericks -6 (PointsBet)
Gametime
9:30 p.m. ET
TV
ESPN

This line is a bit perplexing to me as these two teams met just two weeks ago on Friday April 2 with the Dallas Mavericks closing as 5-point road favorites against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in a game we gave out in my projections column.

The Mavericks went on to win that game 99-86 and yet two weeks later these teams meet again and this line sits at 5.5 despite this being a Mavericks home game. My model makes this game Mavericks -1.9 based on a string of recent bad performances from them, however I don’t believe my model is capturing the real strength of these two teams.

The Mavericks are 7-3 in their last 10 games but has double digit losses against the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets throwing off their point differential. The loss the Rockets hurts as they’re the 29th ranked team in my system so that’s negatively the Mavericks rating. It also doesn’t help that the Knicks have come into this game winning four straight games.

Nevertheless, the Knicks aren’t what they appear to be. They’re second in Defensive Rating, holding opposing teams to just 107.9 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes this season, according to Cleaning the Glass.

On the flip side, the Knicks are one of the luckiest teams in the NBA. Teams are shooting a league low 33.6% from behind the arc against the Knicks despite shooting the seventh highest percentage of three point field goals (38.3%). With the Mavericks shooting the fifth highest percentage of three point field goals (41.1%), that alone makes this a bad matchup.

The Mavericks haven’t shot the ball particularly well recently, shooting under 35% from behind the arc in six out of their last 10 games and it’s not surprise the Mavericks offense rating has suffered as they’re scoring 112.4 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks which is 19th among NBA teams.

So what does it say about the Knicks that the Mavericks still won by 13 despite shooting just 12-of-37 (32.4%) from behind the arc?

What it is says is that New York’s offense continues to be their Achilles heel. They’re going to beat weaker competition based on solid defense and three point shooting variance but they aren’t going to beat many good to elite teams with an Offensive Rating of 109.1, which ranks 24th among NBA teams.

There’s a reason the Knicks are just 10-18 against teams above .500 and 19-9 against teams below .500. The Mavericks put up an Offensive Rating of just 104.1 in their April 2 game against the Knicks and still won by 13.

I’m expecting a much better performance today and with them shooting 68% at the rim, second among NBA teams, the Knicks could struggle to defend this teams without Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel questionable for this matchup.

The Mavericks put up an Offensive Rating of 119.7 despite shooting just 13-of-40 from downtown in Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies. I’ll lay the points with the Mavericks and bet on their offense doing enough to cover this number at home.

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