The NBA season continues on Saturday with a seven-game slate, and our experts have two best bets for you to tail. Brandon Anderson is backing the Bucks at home against the Jazz while Chris Baker is betting on the Trail Blazers on the road against the Rockets.
NBA Odds & Picks
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|Utah Jazz vs. Milwaukee Bucks||8 p.m. ET|
|Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets||8 p.m. ET|
Utah Jazz vs. Milwaukee Bucks
|Tipoff||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Brandon Anderson: When I wrote about the Jazz in early November, Utah was flying high. The Jazz started the season 10–3 through mid-November and were the surprise of the league. I wrote about how Utah was winning with math: taking and limiting 3-pointers as much as any team in the league, forcing turnovers and crashing the offensive glass.
Well, those advantages were only going to last so long before teams caught up to it strategically and, frankly, before the talent disadvantage started to even out. Utah has slipped to 7–11 since that hot opening stretch. Utah’s defense has cratered, the turnovers forced have disappeared, and the offense is starting to recede as the hot shooting simmers down.
In that Jazz article, I targeted a handful of teams that looked especially vulnerable to “Jazz math” but also noted a few who would be the perfect antidote. The Bucks were one of those teams to avoid playing the Jazz against.
Milwaukee has a similar profile to Utah. The Bucks take a ton of 3s and limit opponents from doing so, and they smash the glass and beat opponents up on the boards. The big difference is they also have far more talented players doing all of that, and when Utah’s math advantages are gone, talent should win out.
The Bucks are a bit shorthanded without Khris Middleton, but this team has won plenty of games without Mid already this season, and really, that might just be buying us a little value on the line. Utah has 14 losses, but only two of them are by fewer than five points, so unless you think the Jazz win outright, the Bucks are the play.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets
|Tipoff||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Chris Baker: This is a nice spot to buy the Trail Blazers as they have done a great job of beating up on bad teams all year. They are 6-1 straight up and 5-2 ATS against bottom-10 Net Rating teams, including a 14-point win over this Rockets team without Damian Lillard earlier in the season.
If you exclude the game against the Clippers, as the Clippers are not truly a “bad” team in my opinion, the Trail Blazers are 6-0 straight up and 5-1 ATS against bad teams and are covering these games by 6.67 points on average.
The Rockets certainly qualify as a bad team despite their recent success and difficult schedule. They have been the best offensive rebounding team in the NBA but still rank dead last in halfcourt Offensive Rating, scoring just 88.6 points per 100 possessions. They’ve been awful and shouldn’t have a massive edge on the glass here as Portland ranks 12th in Defensive Rebounding Rate.
Two of the most valuable Rockets, Tari Eason and Alperen Sengun, are questionable for this one. Either of these two being out would be a massive loss as they have been the two most efficient offensive players for the Rockets in terms of on/off differential per 100 possessions.
This is the second night of a back-to-back, but the Trailblazers have been in Texas for five days now and will not have to travel far from Dallas overnight. No Trail Blazer starter logged over 25 minutes yesterday, so fatigue should not be an issue in my opinion.
The final reason I like this spot for Portland is the massive edge they should have going against this Rockets defense. The Rockets are completely devoid of talented guard defenders, and that is a huge issue when facing this Lillard/Anfernee Simons combo. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. might be the worst defensive guard tandem in the league, and Sengun doesn’t have the athletic ability to switch screens or alter shots at the rim.