Friday NBA Odds, Picks & Projections: Betting Analysis for Suns vs. Raptors, Grizzlies vs. Jazz & More (March 26)
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Denver Nuggets star Donovan Mitchell.
- There's plenty of betting options available on Friday's stacked NBA slate.
- Raheem Palmer gives his top four bets, including three totals he likes on the schedule, below.
For the 2020-2021 NBA season, I’ll be publishing my projections for every NBA game on the Wednesday and Friday slates. Here’s what you’ll find in my model: projected team totals, projected combined totals, projected spreads for the matchup and 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 the 11-game slate.
Phoenix Suns at Toronto Raptors
In Wednesday’s 135-111 win over the Denver Nuggets, the Toronto Raptors shot 45 of 89 from the field; 24 of 58 from behind the arc; and, scored 16 fast-break points.
Those things are not likely to repeat themselves against the Phoenix Suns, who are fifth in Defensive Rating, according to NBA Advanced Stats, and hold opposing teams to 109.2 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning The Glass. By comparison, the Nuggets are 17th in Defensive Rating (111.9) this season.
Although Toronto makes a living from behind the arc, shooting the third-highest frequency of 3-point field-goal attempts (42.4%) while making the ninth highest (38.3%) in the league, this Phoenix team is stout at defending the perimeter.
Opposing teams are shooting the third-lowest percentage from behind the arc (34.9%), so I’m not expecting a huge scoring outburst from the Raptors, who just traded Norman Powell for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood, both of whom are likely to be available.
If you shut down Toronto’s 3-point attack, it doesn’t have much else as it ranks 24th and 27th in field-goal percentage at the rim (60.6%) and from mid-range (37.6%), respectively.
The Suns have plenty of advantages to capitalize on offense. They’re shooting 66% at the rim and face an opponent that ranks 20th in field-goal percentage at the rim (64.4%). Phoenix should also have no problems scoring from behind the arc, as Toronto is allowing teams to shoot 38.1% from deep (22nd in the league).
Although the Suns are likely to score efficiently, they still rank 24th in pace this season and have just 98.22 possessions per game. So from my projections, this total is a bit too high. I played some under 225 and we’re seeing this total get steamed down for a reason. My projections put this game at 222, and I still see some value at this number at the current number.
I also like the Suns in this matchup, and while there’s some steam on the Raptors at +4.5, I see a ton of value on Phoenix at -3.5 on the spread. The Suns should be able to shut down the Raptors’ offense and do whatever they want.
Look for Phoenix to bounce back from Wednesday’s loss to the Orlando Magic, coming via a win in a game that should be lower scoring than the market anticipates.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets are a league-leading 26-16-1 to the under this season, and for as much as I’ve spoken about playing New Orleans Pelicans’ overs, I’ve played Rockets unders just as much.
Houston features the league’s worst offense, scoring 105 points per 100 possessions this season. Unfortunately, the return of Christian Wood hasn’t done anything to change that ,as they’re still scoring (yup… you guessed it) 105 points per 100 possessions. Making matters worse, the Rockets traded Victor Oladipo, who was the team’s second-leading scorer at 21.2 points per game.
With Houston lacking offensive weapons, Oladipo had a usage rate of 29.9% and you have to imagine that it’ll miss his presence, as Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley likely won’t be available. When you combine that with the absence of Eric Gordon, the Rockets’ offensive cupboard is almost completely bare.
Houston is dead last in 3-point (33.2%) and mid-range (35.4%) shooting percentage, plus it’s 16th overall at the rim. It’s not far-fetched to assume the Rockets could still struggle to score against a Timberwolves’ defense that’s 27th in Defensive Rating, giving up 116.1 points per 100 possessions.
Minnesota isn’t anything to write home about offensively as well. The Timberwolves are 26th in Offensive Rating, scoring just 107.6 points per 100 possessions this season. Their full-season numbers could be a bit misleading, as Karl-Anthony Towns missed a large stretch of games. Rookie of the year candidate Anthony Edwards has emerged as of late, and Minnesota is 13th in Offensive Rating over the past two weeks (113.0).
While the Timberwolves do play a fast-paced game at 101.70 possessions per outing, I still think this total is a bit too high at 229.5 points, based on my projections. It opened at 226 and personally I disagree with the line move. That said, I’ll take the under here. If you feel inclined, you can also play the Rockets’ team total under 113.5 points as well.
Memphis Grizzlies at Utah Jazz
This total got steamed up from the opening number of 227.5 points to where it currently sits at 228.5. This is an intriguing game between the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies, who rank second and sixth in Defensive Rating this season.
On the flip side, these teams are also top 10 in pace, so we’re looking at a high-octane game. The question is: will these teams be offensively efficient?
The Grizzlies are just 21st in Offensive Rating this season, scoring 110.0 points per 100 possessions. This is a team that’s generating most of their points via floaters and mid-range jumpers. Memphis is struggling at the rim and from behind the arc, which are the two most-efficient scoring areas on the floor.
Memphis is 18th in field-goal percentage at the rim (62.9%); ninth in mid-range field-goal percentage (43.6%); and, second to last in 3-point shooting percentage at 34.3% percent. The Grizzlies are facing the Jazz, who are top 10 in field-goal percentage at every area on the floor, so they could struggle to generate efficient half-court offense if they aren’t getting out in transition consistently. Of course, with Ja Morant at point guard, this is a real concern.
The Jazz are scoring 119.1 points per 100 possessions this season, second behind only the Brooklyn Nets. However, their offense is prone to variance, as they’re shooting the highest frequency of 3-point field-goal attempts at 45.4 percent. The Grizzlies can defend this team is at the rim, though, where they’re holding teams to 61.9 percent shooting.
The pace of this game is why this total is where it’s at, but my projections make this number a tough too high. This feels a bit risky, based on the Jazz having a prolific offense, but keep in mind they’re 22-20-1 to the under and the Grizzlies are 23-19-2 to the same statistic. These have been under teams this season, and with my projection putting this game at a total of 225, I’ll play the under and fade the steam that pushed this up to 228.5 points.