Black Friday should be reserved for two things: Thanksgiving leftovers and betting on basketball.
Sure, the college slate is hefty, but the NBA, after taking Thursday off, has nearly every team playing on Friday with 14 games in total on the schedule. Among the matchups that bettors and fans will be keyed in on are two battles between potential West contenders on NBA TV: Pelicans vs. Grizzlies (8 p.m. ET) and Nuggets vs. Clippers (10:30 p.m. ET).
Our crew of betting experts has picks on those games and more below. Check out their best bets for Friday night’s slate.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|Sacramento Kings vs. Boston Celtics||8 p.m. ET|
|Washington Wizards vs. Miami Heat||8 p.m. ET|
|New Orleans Pelicans vs. Memphis Grizzlies||8 p.m. ET|
|Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Clippers||10 p.m. ET|
Sacramento Kings vs. Boston Celtics
|Tipoff||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Chris Baker: This is an extremely high number for a game that is taking place on the day after thanksgiving. This number makes a lot of sense on its face when you look at the fact that both of these offenses rank top-five in 3-point attempt frequency but dig a little deeper and I actually like the way these defenses match up with each other.
The Celtics lead the league in 3-point frequency but the Kings have done an excellent job of limiting those looks as they rank second in the NBA in opponent three point frequency allowing just 31.5% of shot attempts to be threes. The Kings switch a lot and clearly limiting the 3-ball is part of their defensive identity. Where the Kings struggle is defending the paint as they have allow league-average rim frequency and rank 26th in opponent FG% at the rim (69.0%). This isn’t an issue that the Celtics offense is going to expose as they rank just 25th in rim frequency on the year.
Flip to the other side of the ball and I expect this Celtics defense to have some success limiting the Kings offense. The Kings also attempt a lot of 3s but Boston does a great job of defending those ranking fourth-best in the NBA in opponent three point frequency. I also love the way Boston matches up as they have a plethora of quick strong guards to contain De’Aaron Fox. Between Derick White, Marcus Smart, and Malcolm Brogdon I expect the Celtics defense to limit dribble penetration.
Fox pushing the ball and penetrating the lane is really the foundation of the Kings offensive efficiency so if the Celtics can limit that I like their chances to hold Sacramento to a low number. Fox has gotten two straight match ups vs horrible point-of-attack defenses in the Hawks (Trae Young) and the Grizzlies (Ja Morant). Going from those two guys to Smart, Brogdon, and White is a massive step-up in defensive ability.
On top of the matchup edges I also just think that this Kings offense is being massively overrated currently. They rank second in adjusted Offensive Rating, but they have played the 20th most difficult schedule of opposing defenses thus far. Over their past five games they have played the following teams and their adjusted defensive rating; Nets (20th), Spurs (30th), Pistons (29th), Grizzlies (14th), Hawks (13th).
This team has only played a cupcake schedule of opposing offenses this year and they should struggle to score against this Celtics defense. Factor all of that information in with the reality that this is the day after Thanksgiving and these guys are likely slightly hungover and I like the under 239 a lot.
Washington Wizards vs. Miami Heat
|Tipoff||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Joe Dellera: Both teams are dealing with injuries here. The Wizards have Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura, Monte Morris and Johnny Davis listed as questionable. The Heat (oh boy) have Jimmy Bulter and Duncan Robinson listed as out, Caleb Martin doubtful, and Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Tyler Herro, Dewayne Demon and Jamal Cain listed as questionable.
The Wizards have played above .500 ball with a 10-8 record through about 20% of the season but they have struggled to score with just the 27th ranked Adjusted Offensive Rating. Fortunately for the Wizards, they’ve been able to maintain a Top-10 Adjusted Defensive Ranking and they are allowing the third-lowest Effective Field Goal Percentage to their opponents.
Miami has not been very good this season, with similar struggles to the Wizards. On defense, Miami actually should be performing a bit better. They have the sixth-worst allowed eFG% compared to their 10th-best expected mark. They do a great job of limiting looks at the rim but they then allow their opponents to get looks from beyond the arc. However, they are able to counterbalance that with about league average defense of the 3-point shot due to their hustle, rotations, and having a defensive anchor such as Bam Adebayo.
This line is currently set at Wizards +3.5 and they have received some sharp action after opening at +5. Currently, this line is a bit of a hedge on all of the injury news, especially Bradley Beal. These teams played on Wednesday night and Miami won 113-105 as a 5-point favorite with Bradley Beal sitting.
Winning back-to-back games with a holiday in between is difficult, and with the line move, I think now is the time to buy in on the Wizards. If Beal is ruled in this line should move closer to -2. Even if Beal is unable to go, Washington should see an improvement on their 26.3% shooting from downtown.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Memphis Grizzlies
|Tipoff||8 p.m. ET|
Jacob McKenna: The New Orleans Pelicans will finish off a short two-game road trip on Friday night when they travel to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies.
The last week and a half has seen Memphis fall into a downward spiral, while the exact opposite has been the case for New Orleans. Even though New Orleans and Memphis are dealing with some injuries to key players, I think this is a good spot to back the Pelicans as they have proven they can adapt to not having some of their stars on the floor.
Memphis is going to be without Desmond Bane for this game, a guy that is averaging 24.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game while shooting 46.5% from the floor and 45.1% from behind the arc.
Bane was a key contributor on both ends of the floor next to Ja Morant, but he has not played in Memphis’ last five games and as previously mentioned that has been a stretch of poor basketball for the Grizzlies. Bane’s absence has definitely played a large role in that.
The Pelicans will be without CJ McCollum, but we saw New Orleans dominate in their last game against San Antonio without him in the lineup. They should be able to continue to play solid basketball without him.
All in all I think the Pelicans have the better team and more depth to help make up for McCollum’s production. I like them with the points in this matchup.
Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Clippers
|Tipoff||10 p.m. ET|
Kenny Ducey: The Clippers’ role players performed admirably against the Warriors on Wednesday night and did seem prepared to cover the 9.5-point spread at times, but they were simply overmatched out there without at least one of their best two players available. On top of that, they were missing a fantastic offensive weapon in Kennard.
The Nuggets have the league’s best 3-point field goal percentage, so if you thought the Warriors’ 3-point barrage was bad it could get even worse here for the Clippers. I’m not really as concerned with L.A.’s interior defense as I was prior to the Warriors game, but if Ivica Zubac and company decide to put the clamps on Jokic down low I think Denver should have plenty of success from the perimeter.
I’d actually make Denver a slightly bigger favorite here, and I think it finds a much-needed, confidence-building win here.