It’s Friday in the NBA and we’re closing out Opening Week with 11 games as we head into the weekend.
We’ll have two rematches from last postseason on national TV: Celtics vs. Heat (7:30 p.m. ET) and Nuggets vs. Warriors (10 p.m. ET). But our analysts are focused on two off-the-radar games along with the the late game on ESPN.
They break down their analysis and picks for those matchup below.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|San Antonio Spurs vs. Indiana Pacers||7 p.m. ET|
|Utah Jazz vs. Minnesota Timberwolves||8 p.m. ET|
|Denver Nuggets vs. Golden State Warriors||10 p.m. ET|
San Antonio Spurs vs. Indiana Pacers
|Pick||Tyrese Haliburton Over 17.5 Points|
|Tipoff||7 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Munaf Manji: Tyrese Haliburton comes into the new season as one of the favorites for Most Improved Player of the Year and rightfully so. Since the trade from the Sacramento Kings to the Indiana Pacers, Haliburton has seen an increase in production and offensive stats.
Why is this?
Well, he has the keys to the offense now. In the first game of the regular season against the Wizards, Haliburton notched 26 points on a team-high 18 attempts.
Tonight, the Pacers welcome in what is going to be one of the worst teams in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs. In fact, in their first game of the season, the Spurs allowed the Hornets a total of 129 points but gave up at least 30 points in each quarter.
Furthermore, starting guard Terry Rozier scored 24 points on 52.6% shooting from the field. I expect the Spur’s defense to continue to struggle tonight, especially against the point guard position.
Utah Jazz vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
|Pick||Jarred Vanderbilt Over 8.5 Rebounds (-113)|
|Tipoff||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Jim Turvey: This is a prop I’m going to be looking at early and often this season. Vanderbilt is an absolute menace on the boards, and has been his whole career. The fifth-year forward averages 11.8 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career, and I only expect that number to rise this season.
Vanderbilt is surrounded in the Utah starting lineup by a pair of rather pedestrian rebounders in Kelly Olynyk and Lauri Markkanen. Vanderbilt has, by far, the best rebounding rate of the three, and those two have long rebounded because they were tall and needed to, not because of any love of the art of rebounding like Vanderbilt clearly has.
In the first game of the season, Vanderbilt pulled pulled 12 rebounds in 18 minutes, for an impressive 41% rebound rate. That’s obviously not going to last, but he should get more minutes against a loaded frontcourt in Minnesota to make up for any slip in rebound rate.
Oh, and speaking of Minnesota, this is a revenge game spot for Vanderbilt who was traded from the Wolves to the Jazz this offseason. There’s likely no bad blood there, but every player likes to try a little extra hard against their former employers who traded them away.
If you’re really bullish on Vanderbilt, you can play his escalator prop of 10+ rebounds at +155 at Bet365.
Denver Nuggets vs. Golden State Warriors
|Tipoff||10 p.m. ET|
Chris Baker: So much of handicapping the NBA regular season involves predicting each team’s motivation. I am on the Nuggets here for a multitude of reasons and motivation is a huge factor.
The Nuggets were eliminated in five games against
this Warriors team in the first round of the playoffs last year but the Warriors were also the team they were playing when Murray suffered his ACL injury back in April 2021. Prior to that injury, the Nuggets were flying sky high as they had won seven straight games and posted the best net rating in the NBA following the trade for Aaron Gordon.
Many pundits were picking the Nuggets to come out of the West and some were picking them to win it all. I mention all this just to establish the amount of emotion surrounding this Nuggets team when it comes to the Warriors.
I don’t think there is any animosity towards the Warriors but I think that this game means a little more than the average early regular season game for this Nuggets team. You factor in the fact that the Nuggets have been getting clowned for an embarrassing road loss to the Utah Jazz in their opener, and I think that Denver has the clear motivation edge for this one.
On top of the motivation edge, I think that the Nuggets have actual matchup advantages as well. Nikola Jokic is one of the most dominant players in the NBA regardless of matchup, but we did see Draymond Green do a decent job of limiting him in the playoffs last year.
Fortunately for Jokic, Steve Kerr has already made it clear that he will continue to limit Draymond and Klay Thompson’s limits to around 25 minutes per game. Jokic should score at will and force double teams when Draymond is off the court and I think this Nuggets team is better built to exploit double teams with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back in the lineup.
Trust the Nuggets to make a statement in primetime off a tough loss vs the Jazz.