Who doesn’t Friday night hoops? We’ve got nine awesome games on the NBA slate tonight, including two national TV matchups on ESPN with star power: Knicks vs. Bucks (7:30 p.m. ET) and Pelicans vs. Warriors (10 p.m. ET).
One of those games is capturing the attention of our NBA analysts along with a lower profile matchup between two Western Conference teams looking to make a jump in the standings.
Our experts give their top best for Friday night below.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|Knicks vs. Bucks Spread||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Knicks vs. Bucks Total||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Clippers vs. Timberwolves Moneyline||8 p.m. ET|
|Pick||Knicks + 5 | ML +180|
|Tipoff||7:40 PM ET|
Raheem Palmer: Despite being the defending NBA Champions, the Bucks haven’t been themselves this season.
They’ve been dealing with injuries to Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, Donte Divcenzo and now Khris Middleton, who is out due to health and safety protocols. For a team that already lost players like PJ Tucker in free agency, the Bucks just don’t have a ton of depth.
While Jrue Holiday will finally return to the lineup tonight after missing time with a sprained ankle, the depth of this Bucks team could really be tested against the Knicks who have one of the best performing benches in the league.
The Knicks have the third-best Offensive Rating in the league this season, scoring 114.4 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes. They’ll look to bounce back from their 111-98 loss against the Indiana Pacers in which they shot just 5-of-24 from behind the arc.
The Knicks are league’s No. 1-ranked 3-point shooting team, making 40% of their attempts and they should find some success here against the Bucks who haven’t done a good job at defending non corner 3s.
While the return of Holiday could help with that, the interior defense for the Bucks is still missing Lopez and they’re currently allowing opposing teams to shoot 63.6% at the paint. Without Middleton in the lineup the Bucks are missing one of their best perimeter scorers and wings and it could hurt them in this matchup.
I think the Bucks are being mispriced as five-point favorites, so I’ll back the Knicks in this spot and sprinkle a bit on the ML as well.
New York Knicks vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Kenny Ducey: The Knicks have been surprisingly bad on the defensive end this season, and while getting Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson back in the lineup will help things, there have been serious issues on the perimeter as Tom Thibodeau tries to get a new backcourt acclimated.
They have survived — and even thrived — on the strength of their offense, and I believe New York will have one of its better nights of the early season on that end of the floor.
New York’s 3-point-happy offense will run into a Bucks team that sits 15th in Defensive Efficiency, which may actually be an inflated mark given they just got to play the Spurs and Pistons over the past week. This team is going through it on the defensive end, especially without Khris Middleton, who remains out under the league’s health and safety protocols as Raheem mentioned.
In a pace-up game for the Knicks, who will run into one of the kings of uptempo basketball over the last two years in the Bucks, I think this offense will thrive.
On the other side of the coin, I don’t see many reasons to believe in this Knicks defense, which will surely see some positive regression — just not on the road in Milwaukee.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
|Pick||Wolves +120 ML|
|Tipoff||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Brandon Anderson: This is the second half of a duplex series between these two teams, and the Clippers won the first game, 126-115. LA. exploded with a huge third quarter and mostly coasted to victory, and now they’re three-point favorites to do the same Friday.
These duplex series often flip in the second game though, with the loser of the first coming back to take the second. I think the Wolves have a very nice chance to even things up here. After all, as lopsided as the first game seemed, Minnesota actually played quite well.
The Wolves absolutely dominated on the glass with 16 offensive rebounds, and the Timberwolves actually scored pretty well. They had 27 assists with Patrick Beverley and Anthony Edwards distributing well with D’Angelo Russell out. The defense forced turnovers like usual. So what happened?
Well, the third quarter happened. We saw it in last year’s playoffs too — sometimes this Clippers team just gets scorching red hot, and that happened Wednesday night in the third quarter. The Clips exploded for 45 points on just 20 shots, making 17 of them including 9-of-11 from behind the arc.
Reggie Jackson and Nic Batum were each a perfect 3-for-3 on treys, and Paul George added 12 points of his own. Minnesota scored just fine, but it ran into an avalanche of 3s and there was simply nothing the Wolves could do about it.
The Clippers finished the game with an effective field goal percentage of 73.7%. It’s fair to say that should regress in the rematch. Take away that red-hot shooting and this matchup looks pretty even, maybe even slightly in Minnesota’s favor.
The Wolves fancy themselves a potential playoff team, and these Clippers are exactly the sort of team they’d probably have to beat in a play-in tournament. It’s time for them to show up at home and take care of business.
I’m forgoing the cover and playing the moneyline. I like the Wolves to win outright.