Friday NBA Betting Odds, Picks, Projections: Detailed Analysis for Timberwolves vs. Celtics, Wizards vs. Warriors & More (April 9)
Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Westbrook.
- We have another stacked Friday NBA card on the docket, with nine games taking place around the league.
- Basketball analyst Raheem Palmer gives his in-depth analysis below, featuring the Timberwolves vs. Celtics and Wizards vs. Warriors.
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 nine-game slate.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Boston Celtics
Sports betting is about capitalizing on small edges, so sometimes it may seem counterintuitive to play many of these games.
The Timberwolves are absolutely abysmal defensively as they’re allowing 116.2 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning The Glass.
The Wolves gave up 141 points to an Indiana Pacers team missing three starters in Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner so they aren’t locking anyone down. After Wednesday night’s performance, you have to expect pride to kick in, so I have trouble believing they’re going to give up 141 tonight.
Despite how bad this defense is, they’re still 26-26 to the over, which should tell you how efficient this market is.
The Timberwolves are just as bad on offense where they’re scoring just 108.1 points per 100 possessions, which ranks 26th among NBA teams. They’re in the bottom three at scoring at every single area of the floor, including at the rim where they’re shooting just 59.9% (28th), the mid-range where they’re shooting 36.7% (29th) and 3-point range where they’re shooting 35.2% (26th).
The Celtics rank 13th in Defensive Rating this season allowing 112.5 points per 100 possessions this season, but over the past two weeks they’re allowing just 107.2, which ranks fourth among NBA teams. With Tristan Thompson back in the fold I’m expecting a minor improvement on defense with a small step back offensively.
Boston hasn’t been great offensively this season as they rank just 12th in Offensive Rating (114.5) as this isn’t a very deep team offensively outside of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier and the latter will miss this game due to COVID-19 protocols.
These two teams are polar opposites in regards to pace with the Timberwolves playing the sixth-fastest pace in the league (101.26) and the Celtics ranking 22nd in Pace (97.66). This the Timberwolves’ second straight road game and this will be their fifth game out of their last seven on the road so I’m projecting a lower pace.
If Minnesota can’t score efficiently and the Celtics have some droughts with the big four on the bench, this game is going under. My model makes this game 226 so at 228, this total is a tad bit too high in my opinion.
San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets
The second game of a two game series is 41-28-1 (59.4%) to the under this season, according to Bet Labs. If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you know that I don’t blindly follow trends.
You still have to actually handicap the games because even with the under hitting nearly 60% of the time, that means the over is hitting 40% of the time. I believe this one of those times.
In Wednesday Night’s Spurs vs. Nuggets game these teams played at a pace of 101.9 possessions, but neither of these teams were particularly efficient with the Spurs putting up an Offensive Rating of just 94.2 and the Nuggets scoring 1.04 points per possession.
The game ended 106-96 (202), flying under the total of 219 with the Spurs shooting 41.8% from the field, 6-of-24 from three (25%) and the Nuggets shooting 44% from the field and 8-of-26 from behind the arc. There’s a reason many oddsmakers opened this total at 220 and there’s some 220.5s and 221s in the market on this game.
The Nuggets may have Jamal Murray back for this game as he missed the previous two so jumping on this over early could give you a positive expected value wager without even factoring in the other variables of this game. The Nuggets have an Offensive Rating of 118.9 with Murray on the floor vs. 107.6 with him off so he’ll have a major impact on this total if he plays.
The Nuggets rank fourth in Offensive Rating in their non garbage time minutes (118.8) but over the past two weeks they’re scoring a whopping 123.1 points per 100 possessions, first among NBA teams. Over the past two weeks the Spurs are giving up 118.2 points per 100 possessions so it’s pretty clear Wednesday Night’s performance was an aberration from Denver.
The Nuggets score are top 10 in shooting percentage from every area of the floor but they should have no problem generating points on the perimeter against a Spurs team that is 18th in opponent three point shooting percentage (37.7%) and 20th in opponent mid-range shooting percentage (42.7%).
While Denver defense has improved as well allowing 1.08 points per possession over the past two weeks, the Spurs aren’t likely to score just 0.94 points per possession again. I’ll take this over at 219.5 at Bet MGM and would play this up to 221.
Washington Wizards at Golden State Warriors
Yes, I know these are the two fastest paced teams in the league this season with the Washington Wizards playing 104.46 possessions a game and the Golden State Warriors playing 103.02 but this is a market and I believe that’s been priced into the line.
From my view it’s been overpriced. The Wizards are just 26th in Defensive Rating, allowing opposing teams to score 114.1 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass, but over the past two weeks they’re seventh in Defensive Rating allowing just 108.3. Meanwhile, the Warriors actually have a top-10 Defense this year, allowing 112.1 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes.
The main case for this under is that despite playing a fast paced game is that neither of these teams are actually good offensively. Last night’s Clippers/Suns game was a good example of a slow paced game going under with both teams being efficient offensively as the Clippers put up a 127 Offensive Rating while the Suns scored 114.6 points per 100 possessions as the game featured just 88 possessions.
This Wizards/Warriors game should be a fast paced game with these teams not being as efficient. Even with Stephen Curry on the team, the Warriors are just 23rd in Offensive Rating (109) while Bradley Beal’s league leading 31.2 points per game still isn’t helping this team be a top tier offense as they’re 21st in Offensive Rating this season (109.6).
While Curry and Beal are clearly two of the best offensive players in the league, they simply can’t play every second of the game. The Warriors are scoring 113.9 points per 100 possessions with Curry on the floor vs 102.5 points with him off (+11.3). The Wizards are scoring a 114.2 points per 100 possessions with Beal on vs 102.4 with him off the floor (+11.8).
Unfortunately for the Wizards, Beal is dealing with a hip injury that caused him to miss five straight games and in his return against the Orlando Magic Wednesday night, he scored 21 points on 11-of-19 shooting. It’s hard to believe that he’s 100% and if he isn’t, we could see a suppressed offensive output from this team.
With a total this high, every possession matters. Even with the two fastest paced teams in the league, you give me two offenses that struggle to score without their stars and a banged up star for one of these teams. My model makes this game 235 so with the market sitting at 239.5, I’m in it to win it on the under.