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Friday’s NBA slate features an ESPN doubleheader, one of which we’ll breakdown below. That said, I have three best bets for the Pelicans-Thunder, Heat-Mavericks, and Thunder-Kings.
You can listen to the audio versions of these handicaps on my recently launched NBA Hoops At Lunch show on the OutKick Bets Podcast feed Monday-Friday.
(Buyer beware: It’s the “load management” era in the NBA and random injury news. NBA players are sitting out more games. It would behoove you to wait until the final injury reports before betting.)
New Orleans Pelicans (26-19) at Orlando Magic (16-28)
My favorite look in the Pelicans-Magic is the OVER because of the stylistic matchup. Both teams attack the rim, both are bad at protecting the rim, both have misleading 3-point defenses and both had poor ball-security.
For instance, the Pelicans attempt the fourth-highest volume of field goals at the rim, according to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG) and the Magic are 13th.
But, New Orleans has the worst defensive field goal percentage vs. shots at the rim and Orlando’s rim protection ranks 26th.
Also, the Pelicans are first in defensive 3-point percentage and the Magic are third. However, NOLA is 24th wide-open 3-point-attempt rate (3PAr) allowed and Orlando is 29th.
“Wide-open 3s” are defined by the 3-point shooter having at least six feet of distance between him and the nearest defender. I.e. both teams give up a ton of wide-open 3-point looks.
Plus both team’s clumsy ball-security could lead to easy baskets. The Magic are 26th in second-chance points per game (PPG) allowed and the Pelicans are 24th.
Finally, both teams have Over-friendly location-based trends. Orlando is 13-9 Over/Under (O/U) at home with a +6.9 O/U margin. New Orleans is 15-7 O/U on the road with a +4.4 O/U margin.
NBA Best Bet #1: OVER 228.5 in Pelicans-Magic (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook
Miami Heat (25-21) at Dallas Mavericks (24-22)
Heat-Mavericks is the first of an ESPN-NBA doubleheader and these teams are trending in opposite directions entering Friday.
Over the past two weeks, the Heat are sixth in non-garbage time net rating (nRTG) and fourth in against the spread (ATS) margin, per CTG. The Mavs are 26th in non-garbage time nRTG and 27th in ATS margin over that span.
Both Heat All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are in the projected starting 5. When Butler and Bam are both on the floor, Miami has a +9.3 non-garbage time nRTG, which ranks in the 94% of all 5-man lineups, per CTG.
Also, there are too many ugly ATS trends for Dallas in this spot. The Mavs are 3-8-1 ATS as ‘dogs with a -7.1 ATS margin, 5-9-1 ATS vs. teams with a winning record and 3-13-2 ATS vs. the East with a -6.6 ATS margin.
Lastly, Dallas’s offense is too Luka Doncic-centric. Miami is fourth in defensive rating because coach Erik Spoelstra is a defensive mastermind. The Heat consistently have one of the better defenses in the NBA, specifically because of coaching.
NBA Best Bet #2: Miami Heat moneyline (-125) at DraftKings
Oklahoma City Thunder (22-23) at Sacramento Kings (25-18)
I’m going back to the well with OKC and fading Sacramento. We won betting both teams Wednesday but the Thunder got a rocking-chair cover in a 126-106 vs. the Pacers and the Kings got a lucky cover, beating the Lakers 116-111.
Both teams have played well recently but OKC’s resume is more impressive. Over their last 10 games, the Thunder have road wins over the Bulls, Sixers, and Nets. They also beat the Celtics 150-117 and the Mavs 120-109.
The Kings are 5-0 overall and ATS over the past five games. But, Sactown beat a bunch of duds such as the Lakers, Spurs, Rockets (twice) and Magic. OKC is 5-1 ATS as 3-to-4.5-point underdogs and 12-4 ATS vs. winning teams.
Finally, gimme Thunder PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander over Kings PG De’Aaron Fox. Both are candidates for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award but SGA is more efficient.
SGA is outshooting Fox from everywhere on the floor when the play each other. Gilgeous-Alexander averages more PPG than Fox, has a higher PER and has more Win Shares.
NBA Best Bet #3: Oklahoma City Thunder +4.5 (-110) at DraftKings
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