The first NBA in-season tournament starts tonight. Each team has been randomly selected and placed in groups where they play each other in a tournament. The winners of these groups will play each other in a tournament in Vegas to crown the winner of the NBA Cup. Let’s look at the best bets for Night 1 of this tournament.
Friday’s NBA Best Bets
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
New York Knicks vs. Milwaukee Bucks (-6.5) | O/U 228 (-110/-110)
The Bucks’ new roster is taking time to adjust, and they’ve suffered 15+ point losses in two of their last three games. The biggest adjustment Milwaukee is making is shifting to being a more offensive-minded team. Damian Lillard is a huge offensive upgrade, but Jrue Holiday was by far a better defender, and the team with the fifth-best adjusted defensive rating last year is currently in 16th.
The Knicks have not won or lost back-to-back games this season. The offense has been awful as they’re 27th in adjusted offensive rating, last in effective field shooting, rim field goal percentage, and 20th in mid-range and three-point percentage. Julis Randle led the team last year in points per game but has struggled, averaging just 13.2 points and shooting 27.6% from the floor.
Despite some of their offensive struggles, the Knicks have been able to play well on defense, and for a Bucks team that’s still trying to find chemistry, this could be another game they let get away. Of New York’s three losses, each of their opponents was in the top nine in effective field percentage allowed, and Milwaukee is last.
Best Bet: Knicks +6.5 (-110)
Dallas Mavericks vs. Denver Nuggets (-6.5) | O/U 227 (-110/-110)
This is such a great matchup that you wish it weren’t coming in group play. Many wondered, after last season’s collapse, if the Mavericks would blow this team up. It’s a good thing they didn’t. Luka is putting up tremendous numbers with two triple-doubles and leads the league in points per game. The offense is excellent, with the fourth-best adjusted offensive rating and effective field-goal percentage, and their outside shooting is the best in the league.
Just ahead of their offensive ranking are the Nuggets. Nikola Jokic also has two triple-doubles this year but only leads the team in points and rebounds. Jamal Murray is the assists leader. They have excellent team chemistry and multiple options on the floor, so they like to distribute the ball and are top 11 in assist percentage.
This won’t be for the group play title, but these teams could meet later in the summer for a more important series. Two of the better offenses in the league, and even at 225.5, throw confidence in the over.
Pick: Over 225.5 Total Points (-110)
Golden State Warriors (-5) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder | O/U 229 (-110/-110)
The Warriors decided to keep the band together for another shot at the title, and the season is going well as they start 4-1 and a surprising 3-0 on the road. What made Golden State a championship team two years ago was being elite on both ends of the floor, they got away from that last season, but it looks like they’re getting it back, and another shock is the defense has been better than the offense this year.
Oklahoma City was one of the more exciting teams to watch last year as they made the play-in tournament and even won a game. With Chet Holmgren, they have started the season 3-2, but they’re still looking for their first win against a team above .500.
The Thunder haven’t seen a perimeter shooting team like the Warriors this season, so their numbers against the three are good, but will they have trouble defending it in volume? Golden State’s experience should help them in this game.
Pick: Warriors -5.5 (-112)