Thursday night’s games featured some exciting finishes in two of the three games and Friday night’s slate features more than double the games. Among the matchups on the slate is a star-studded double-header on ESPN: Lakers vs. 76ers (7:30 p.m. ET) and Bucks vs. Mavericks (10 p.m. ET).
Our betting analysts are targeting two other games and have three best bets in those matchup for Friday. Check out their experts picks and predictions below.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|Knicks vs. Hornets Spread|
|Suns vs. Pelicans Spread|
|Suns vs. Pelicans Moneyline|
New York Knicks vs. Charlotte Hornets
|Tipoff||7 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Chris Baker: I’ve talked about it all season, but the Knicks consistently beat bad teams and lose against good teams. They are 5-12 against teams that rank top-15 in Adjusted Net Rating on the season and all of those wins have major caveats as they played the Denver Nuggets without Nikola Jokic, the Cleveland Cavaliers without Jarrett Allen, and Philadelphia 76ers without Joel Embiid and James Harden.
They are 7-1 against bottom-15 teams including a win over the Charlotte Hornets. The version of the team they beat back in October was healthier than this current version of the team as they had Gordon Hayward, Dennis Smith Jr, and PJ Washington available for that one.
I also just like the way the Knicks matchup here as the Hornets are not an offense that takes many 3-pointers. They rank 26th in 3-point attempt rate and 27th in 3-point accuracy (32.6%). The Knicks are highly susceptible to 3s on defense as they allow the third-highest attempt rate in the NBA. The Hornets are not the team to exploit this weakness in the Knicks defense.
Another edge for the Knicks is their ability to generate second chances as they rank fourth in Offensive Rebound Rate. This is a huge edge as the Hornets rank 23rd in Defensive Rebound Rate on the season.
Even if their shots aren’t falling, the Knicks should be able to generate some second shots against this poor rebounding Hornets team. The Knicks are just a much more talented team and they are coming off two straight wins against good teams while the Hornets are spiraling having lost three straight.
The Knicks beat up on bad teams. The Hornets are the definition of a bad team, ranking 29th in Adjusted Net Rating and now they are dealing with tons of injuries. I like the Knicks to cover up to -4 tonight.
Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans
|Tipoff||8:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Matt Moore: Market’s moved this way already. It popped initially at Suns -1.5, moved two and then got bet back down to 1.5. 52% of the tickets as I write this is on the Pelicans, 96% of the money. It’s possible this hasn’t moved further because there are big bettors hitting Suns, but our Action Pro Tools have tracked six sharp moves on the Pelicans.
I make this Pelicans -3 in power rating and Pels -2 on matchup due to a three-point edge in transition. The Pels generate three more points in transition per game on a higher efficiency, and New Orleans’ defense is stingier on the fast break.
The Pels have a better net rating among their starters and their bench, have a better adjusted net rating overall based on strength of schedule at Dunks And Threes, are at home where they are 10-3 straight up and 2-1 ATS as dogs with their only loss at home to the league-leading, world-destroying Boston Celtics.
The Suns have been very consistent vs. bad teams, but have just two games vs. teams top ten in both offense and defense, and are -1.5 in spread differential vs. top-10 defensive teams. This screams of a line where preseason priors have anchored too heavily on both teams.
It’s find to argue the Pelicans aren’t better, or even that the Suns are 1-point better on neutral. But in New Orleans? The Pels should be favored and I like them on the moneyline as well.
Phoenix Suns vs New Orleans Pelicans
|Pick||Pelicans Moneyline (+100)|
Andrew O’Connor-Watts: The Pelicans have been on a tear lately. They’ve won their last five games in a row and are 10-2 in their last 12 games, including wins over the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets.
In that 12-game span they are a respectable 8-4 against the spread and they’ve done so without a flurry of 3-pointers like so many teams in 2022. The Pelicans play a slightly older style of ball, and it’s working for them. They take the second most shots at the rim (39.5%) but the fourth-fewest from beyond the arc (31.1%), according to Cleaning the Glass.
However, they’re making their threes count when they do take them as they hit on 38.4% from deep, good enough for fifth in the league. The Suns do well defending from range, but are just 20th in rim rate (34.8%). I expected Zion Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas to have their way with the Suns front court tonight.
The Pelicans opened +2 last night at Circa, but have since been bet down to +1 since the opening. I make the Pelicans -2.6-point favorites in this matchup so take New Orleans on the moneyline at anything down to -115.