There are so many ways to bet an NBA game, but for those bettors who can’t bear to sweat the full 48 minutes, there are other markets that offer more instant satisfaction. One of those markets is the Race to 15 Points. It’s as simple as the name suggests: The first team to hit 15 points cashes the bet.
Let’s get right into tonight’s first to 15 odds and picks featuring two of of the nine games on Friday’s hoops slate: Nets vs. Jazz and Thunder vs. Kings.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Utah Jazz
|First to 15 Odds||Nets: +130 | Jazz: -160|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
I’ll note at the top that, just like anything related to the Brooklyn Nets, having Kevin Durant involved is always better. Durant went down with an injury four games ago and the Nets haven’t won since. This game comes on the second night of a back-to-back in Utah (also not great) after the Nets fought valiantly and nearly came back to beat the Phoenix Suns on the road.
From the moment the Nets started to hit their stride in mid-November until Durant’s injury, they had the highest-scoring first quarter offense in the NBA 31.8. Without him, their offense in the first quarter has fallen to 29th. Still, the Nets have opened games well even without KD.
In their first game without Durant against the Celtics, they actually were the first to 15 and they’ve either been one shot away or hit 15 points first in two of their other four games without their best player. Having Kyrie Irving on the floor helps, plus with Joe Harris replacing Durant in the starting lineup, the Nets have a quality shooter who can space the floor and get open looks with defenses loaded up on Irving.
The Nets have been the second-best road team in the Race to 15 Standing this season (58.3%) and even without Durant, I think there’s value on them at plus odds. I will also note that Irving sat out against the San Antonio Spurs on a days rest, so he could potentially be held out on this back-to-back, which would nullify this bet. If he plays, though, I like the Nets here against one of the worst defenses in the NBA.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Sacramento Kings
|First to 15 Odds||Thunder: -104 | Kings: -122|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
This might be one of the most fun games on the slate tonight. The Sacramento Kings are legit and the Oklahoma City Thunder are in the play-in race, tied with the Warriors, Clippers and Timberwolves for 10th in the Western Conference standings.
The Kings rank sixth in Pace (101.82), third in Offensive Rating (117.4) and third in True Shooting Percentage (60.3%) overall. At Golden 1 Center, the Kings are averaging 31.0 points in first quarters, which ranks fifth in the league. They also have one of the best cover rates at home (69.6%) in the Race to 15 standings.
The Thunder, as fun as they are to watch, are not a fast starting team, especially on the road. They have the fourth-worst rate on the road this season despite a four-game streak as the first to 15. I don’t think they will maintain this streak against a Kings team that is also in rhythm right now. I lean toward the Kings in this matchup tonight.