Christmas Day always gets the fanfare where the NBA is concerned, but Friday’s slate nearly three times the games with 14 matchups in total.
Our staff has two best bets for Friday, both picks against the spread, for tonight’s games. Check out our expert picks and predictions below.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets||9 p.m. ET|
|Memphis Grizzlies vs. Phoenix Suns||10 p.m. ET|
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets
|Pick||Trail Blazers +5|
|Tipoff||9 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Austin Wang: Two division rivals collide as the Denver Nuggets host the Portland Trail Blazers tonight. The Blazers are on the tail end of a six-game road trip and two consecutive losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Nuggets have won two in a row and are in the middle of a four-game homestand.
I love backing these scenarios where each team’s momentum appears to be heading in the opposite direction. I like the Blazers to have a bounce-back spot here, especially in a revenge spot after the heart-breaking loss to the Nuggets in that epic masterpiece of a game.
As mentioned, the Blazers are on the last game of a six-game road trip, which sounds like it would be a good spot to fade. However, the data shows that road teams in this situation are 77-52-4 (59.7%) ATS since the 2016-2017 season, per the Sports Data Query Language at Killer Sports. The market appears to be over-valuing the impact of this extended travel spot.
Both Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray are questionable for tonight’s matchup. Porter appears likely to play, and I think it will take time for them to gel with a player of such high usage rate. In fact, in games where Porter Jr. returns after a Nuggets win in which he did not play, the Nuggets are 1-8 ATS this season, per the SDQL. If Murray is declared out, there is additional upside here.
In addition, when those home teams have a look-ahead to a Christmas Day game, they are 12-25 ATS (32.4%) since the 2012-13 season, per the SDQL. These are both prime to fade the Nuggets here as they look forward to the matchup against the Phoenix Suns on Christmas Day.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Phoenix Suns
|Tipoff||10 p.m. ET|
Andrew O’Connor-Watts: I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little scared of betting the Memphis Grizzlies on the road this season. As I mentioned in my game guide, the Grizzlies have the third-worst road record in the NBA against the spread (3-10-2) behind only the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers.
But I think this has been more to do with the Grizzlies lack of roster depth, which is improving with the recent return of Ziaire Williams who made his ’22-’23 debut on Dec. 7. The Grizzlies have a winning record in their last five home games and I think that’s due, in part, to Williams’ return and the depth he adds.
Desmond Bane is also questionable to return tonight, which is good for Memphis’ regular season, and adds some depth to a Grizzlies team that lost De’Anthony Melton to free agency last off season.
Bane’s immediate impact is still unclear as he will be on a minutes restriction if he does play, but I like the Grizzlies regardless of Bane plays.
The Suns are without All-NBA guard Devin Booker, which is a big blow for them. They are 1-3 straight up and against the spread in games when Booker sits this season and are just 6-12 against the spread since the 2022 season.
Booker’s absence plummets the Suns’ offense. In the past two seasons, the Suns have a 117.3 Offensive Rating when Booker plays. Without him, their Offensive Rating drops to 111.5.
There are several ATS trends I like about this matchup too. The Grizzlies are 6-2-1 in their last nine games, 4-1 in their last five vs. a team with a winning record, and 6-2 when playing on two days rest.
Meanwhile the Suns are just 1-4 ATS in their last five games following a loss, both straight up and against the spread.