Our NBA analysts have their eyes on both of those games, as well as an early evening game between the Cavs and Sixers in Philly. We’re looking at a pair of totals as well as a bet on a road favorite tonight.
Here are our three best bets for Friday night in the NBA.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Philadelphia 76ers||7 p.m. ET|
|Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls||7:30 p.m. ET|
|New York Knicks vs. Phoenix Suns||10 p.m. ET|
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Philadelphia 76ers
|Tipoff||7 p.m. ET|
Austin Wang: The James Harden and Joel Embiid era in Philadephia has gotten off to an amazing start.
Since Harden has joined, the Sixers have won and covered all three games and each of them flew over the total. However, their opponents in those three games were the defensively-challenged Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks (twice).
They now face one of the stingiest defenses in the league: the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are fourth in Defensive Rating and have two excellent frontcourt defenders in Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.
Embiid is still going to get his, but the presence of these two big men can make life a little more difficult for him. This will put more pressure on Harden, who likes to keep the pace slow and methodical as he attacks opposing defenses in isolation.
The Cavaliers have really struggled to score lately. They’ve failed to break 100 points in three of their last six games. Caris LaVert will once again be out, so I can see them struggling against a stout Philly defense that is ranked ninth overall in Defensive Rating.
Both teams have been excellent to the under all season. Their last matchup did not even break 200 points, with the Sixers winning 103-93. The market adjusted this total way too much based on these last few games, so I see some value here. These are two strong defensive teams that play at a slow pace, so I expect another low-scoring game and will take the under at 216.5 (down to 216).
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls
|Tipoff||7:30 p.m. ET|
Raheem Palmer: Capitalizing on scheduling advantages is one of the best ways to gain an advantage betting on the NBA, and tonight’s matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls has caught our eye as a game where we have an edge.
After a Thursday night road game against the Atlanta Hawks, the Bulls will host the Bucks, who are well rested after their 120-119 comeback win against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
Although the Bulls are 8-5 SU and 7-5-1 when playing on zero days rest this season, their wins have come over the Oklahoma City Thunder (2x), Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons. None of these teams have a record over .500.
Their five losses came against the Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, all but Indiana have records over .500. In addition, while the Bulls may have a solid record when playing on zero days rest, they have a Defensive Rating of 113.8 in these spots, two points per 100 possessions higher than their season averages.
Nonetheless, the Bulls find themselves in another situation facing a team over .500, this time the Bucks, who have dominated them recently. The Bucks have defeated the Bulls in 13 out their last 14 matchups with the only loss coming on the last day of the 2020-21 season, a game where the Bucks played none of their starters.
Getting more granular and digging into this matchup, it’s clear the Bucks have the edge here. The Bulls have seen their defense fall off a cliff since the injuries to Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, ranking just 18th in Defensive Rating and allowing 112.3 points per 100 possessions. They’re just 20th in half court points per possession (96.6) and they’ll be facing a Bucks team that is seventh in half court points per possession (98.3) first in Offensive Rating and scoring 124.5 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks.
When facing teams with a top-10 offense, the Bulls are 17th in point differential (-0.2) for the season and 16th (-7.6) over the past two weeks. You can expect Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and this Bucks offense to get whatever they want in this matchup.
Although the Bucks’ defense has dropped off a bit in the absence of Brook Lopez, this is still a better defense than what the Bulls have put on the floor, as they’re 11th in Defensive Rating (110.0).
New York Knicks vs. Phoenix Suns
|Tipoff||10 p.m. ET|
Kenny Ducey: The Knicks don’t exactly scream “offense” at this point in time. They have lost 10 of 11 games, mainly due to the fact that they’ve ranked 26th in points scored per 100 possessions since the beginning of February. While they don’t exactly scream “defense” either with 117.4 defensive rating over that same period of time, the Suns are missing Chris Paul and Devin Booker tonight.
With those two gone, the offense has turned to Deandre Ayton for valuable contributions, and that could be difficult considering the good work Mitchell Robinson has done on opposing centers this season. A team missing its two best players and entering a matchup where its next-best option might meet some resistance doesn’t have me excited to bet the over here, particularly with an offense this bad on the other side of the floor.
On top of it all, the Suns have ranked 21st in pace in the four games Paul has missed due to injury, and the Knicks have played at the second-slowest pace all season long. All of this should amount to a low-scoring affair, which is why so much money has come in on the under. It’s moved two whole points, but I would still play it to 221.