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My favorite gambling looks on the NBA’s Friday slate are duels between a couple of the best young point guards and two of the most talented rosters in the league. Below, I’ll provide a betting breakdown of both the Celtics-Pelicans and Thunder-Grizzlies and provide the best bet for each.
Boston Celtics (12-3) at New Orleans Pelicans (9-6)
The Celtics take their eight-game winning streak into the Big Easy — 5-3 against the spread (ATS) — to play the Pelicans — 4-1 straight up (SU) and 4-1 ATS in their last five.
Boston will be without reigning Defensive Player of the Year, PG Marcus Smart, and NOLA All-Star PF Zion Williamson is listed on the injury report as “questionable.”
The Celtics won and covered both regular-season meetings with the Pelicans last year. That said, New Orleans is the play here because …
The Pelicans will get better looks
Boston chucks 3-pointers at the highest rate in the NBA in non-garbage time, according to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG). Whereas NOLA has the second-best defensive 3-point percentage.
The Pelicans attempt the eighth-highest rate of mid-range jumpers while the Celtics are 26th in defensive field goal percentage vs. mid-range attempts, per CTG.
Also, there is …
Sketchy line movement
The Celtics opened up as 3-point favorites and more than 80% of the action is on Boston ATS at the time of writing, according to Pregame.com.
But, the Celtics are now down to 2-point favorites in the consensus market and it’s a red flag whenever the sportsbooks make the more popular side cheaper.
NBA Best Bet #1: Pelicans +2.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +1.5
Oklahoma City Thunder (7-8) at Memphis Grizzlies (9-6)
OKC has won three of its past four games (4-0 ATS) with the latest being a 121-120 victory at the Washington Wizards thanks to a game-winning 3-pointer from Thunder PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Memphis has lost back-to-back games entering Friday — at the Wizards (102-92 Sunday) and at the Pelicans (113-102 Tuesday). The Grizzlies are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games.
The Grizzlies beat the Thunder in two of three regular-season meetings last year but OKC was 2-1 ATS in those contests.
The Thunder is the right side in this game as well because they are 6-1 ATS as road underdogs with a +6.1 ATS margin and…
OKC has the best player on the floor
At this point, Alexander is a top-five MVP contender and has played better than Memphis All-Star Ja Morant. Alexander is third in PER and fourth in both Win Shares per 48 and points per game (32.3). SGA has outscored Ja in four straight meetings.
Plus the Grizzlies’ second-leading scorer, SG Desmond Bane, is sidelined with an injury. Memphis scores 17.6 more points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time when Bane is on the floor, per CTG.
Furthermore, this is a …
‘Pros (Thunder) vs. Joes (Grizzlies) Game’
Per Pregame.com, roughly 65% of the cash is on OKC at the time of writing while nearly two-thirds of the bets placed are on Memphis. DraftKings is reporting a similar discrepancy between the money and tickets columns.
The Thunder are considered the sharp side here because professional bettors wager a lot more money than the public. Let’s follow the money and …
NBA Best Bet #2: Thunder +6.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook and ‘sprinkle’ on OKC’s ML (+200)
Listen to the ‘OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark’ podcast HERE.