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Friday has a pretty terrible NBA slate with only one game between two teams above-.500. Regardless, I’m taking some shots at the Kings-Pacers, Magic-Timberwolves, and Hawks-Jazz matchups.
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.
(Word to the wise: 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.)
Sacramento Kings (29-21) at Indiana Pacers (24-29), 7 p.m. ET
The Kings clubbed the Pacers 137-114 in their 1st meeting this season in Indiana on Nov. 30. Pacers big Myles Turner scored 4 points and All-Star PG Tyrese Haliburton scored 9 points.
Kings-Pacers is a game both teams should be up for because Sacramento sent SG Buddy Hield and Haliburton to Indy for Kings PF Domantas Sabonis.
Which leads me to the biggest factor in this game: Indiana’s motivation. Hield and Haliburton obviously don’t want to lose both games against the team that traded them.
Also, the Pacers should be motivated by a tough loss Thursday vs. the Lakers. They led by 12 points entering the 4th quarter before getting out-scored 28-15 to lose 112-111.
Furthermore, Sactown’s 119-109 win at the Spurs Wednesday is misleading. The Kings didn’t play well and needed All-Star snub PG De’Aaron Fox to bail them out by getting to the foul line.
Fox has already been ruled out of this game for personal reasons. Sacramento’s half-court offense will suffer without Fox and Indiana’s fastbreak offense is more efficient.
Haliburton made his return from a 10-game absence last night against the Lakers. It wouldn’t be surprising for Indy to hold him out on the 2nd of a back-to-back.
However, the Kings only being -3.5 currently feels cheap. The Pacers are 1-9 straight up (SU) and 2-8 against the spread (ATS) in their last 10 games and got smacked by the Kings earlier this season.
Maybe I’m misreading the tea leaves. But, either way, Indiana is the right side because of motivation, Sacramento missing Fox and the Kings cannot stop a nosebleed on defense.
NBA Best Bet #1: Pacers +3 (-105) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +1.5
Orlando Magic (20-32) at Minnesota Timberwolves (28-26)
We have to ignore the results of the 1st Magic-Timberwolves meeting on Nov. 16. Minnesota steamrolled Orlando 126-108 on the road.
But, the Magic were missing three starters including No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, and the T-Wolves got a 30-point game from Karl-Anthony Towns who will not suit up Friday.
However, Minnesota has the best defensive rating in the NBA over the past two weeks, per CTG and Timberwolves wing Anthony Edwards is by far the best player on the floor.
Over his past seven games, Edwards is averaging 33.0 PPG on 51.2% shooting (45.7% from behind the arc) with 6.6 rebounds and 5.3 assists. Edwards was left off the Western Conference All-Star team and could take it out on Orlando.
Minnesota has a strength-on-weakness edge over Orlando in ball security. The Magic are 27th in both offensive turnover rate (TOV%) and points off of turnovers allowed per game. The Timberwolves are 5th in defensive TOV% and 8th in points off of turnovers per game.
Lastly, Minnesota big Rudy Gobert sat out of the last game and is “questionable” for Friday. My hunch is Gobert plays and if he does that complete neutralizes Orlando’s size.
NBA Best Bet #2: Timberwolves -4.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -5
Atlanta Hawks (26-26) at Utah Jazz (27-26), 9 p.m. ET
The Jazz upset the Hawks 125-119 in Utah as 4.5-point home underdogs in their 1st meeting this season on Nov. 9. Utah won three of the four quarters, hit nine more 3s, and 11 more free throws.
Atlanta smacked the Phoenix Suns 132-100 Wednesday but the Hawks are a team you want to fade after a win. They are 9-16 against the spread (ATS) following a win this season with a -3.7 ATS margin.
Also, Utah crushes bad teams at home and Atlanta is 22nd in non-garbage nRTG. According to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), the Jazz are 8-1 SU vs. bottom-10 teams with a +11.5 adjusted nRTG (ranked 5th) and a +4.3 ATS margin (4th).
Utah is one of the best teams from 3-point land in the NBA. The Jazz sink 3.2 more 3s per game than their opponent. The most important aspect of 2022-23 NBA basketball is 3-point shooting.
They have more depth and role players typically perform better at home. Utah’s bench averages 8.1 more points per game (40.2-32.1 PPG) than Atlanta’s. This partially
Finally, the Jazz have a better shot quality on both ends of the floor, per CTG. But, on defense, the differential between these two teams is huge. Utah is 8th in shot quality on defense allowed and Atlanta is 27th.
NBA Best Bet #3: Jazz moneyline (-120) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -135 before laying up to -3 with Utah
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