The 2019-20 NBA season is rolling and we have a huge slate this Thursday.
On every big slate this season, PlayPicks is providing our top bets against the spread and against point totals for all the NBA games.
Injuries can always play a factor into the point spreads listed by US sportsbooks like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook in the NBA. Keep an eye on the status of star players with any sort of nagging injury or “load management” concerns as well.
In this column, we will list three of our best bets against the spread with data to support our picks. Then, we will list the following games on the NBA slate in order of our confidence in analyzing the matchup.
Keep in mind that lines can often shift when players are announced out due to rest or injury.
NBA January 2 Best Bets
Utah Jazz (-4) at Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have been surprisingly competent with the second-best defensive rating (101.3) and eighth-best net rating (3.5) in December. But how much of that is due to a soft schedule? The Jazz no longer represent a soft matchup, as Utah is 3-1 with a 6.0 net rating over its last four road games. Utah is 7-1 with the third-best net rating (8.7) in the NBA over their last eight games and have finally been able to maintain a solid offensive rating with the second unit by adding combo guard Jordan Clarkson.
Chicago is 29th in FG shooting (.431%) and 25th in fourth quarter scoring (25.7), which has led to some late collapses in recent weeks. Utah ranks 7th in third quarter and 13th in fourth quarter scoring this season. The Bulls are 16-28 ATS when listed as home underdogs since the start of last season. Utah has covered in 8 of its last 9 games and has won three straight by an average of 14 PPG. You might have capitalized on Chicago’s overvaluation with our best bet on the Bucks last Friday, and here’s another opportunity.
Denver Nuggets (+1.5) at Indiana Pacers
These teams are mirror images to an extent, with both ranking in the bottom 10 in terms of pace of play and the top 10 in defensive rating this season. Denver hit its stride with the sixth-best offensive rating (112.8) in December and presents a tough matchup for Pacers team that ranks 20th in offensive rebounds and 2PT attempts allowed. Nikola Jokic saw his scoring jump from 15.8 PPG to 20.8 PPG and his true shooting jump from .510% to .629% from November to December. When The Joker is going well, the Nuggets are tough to stop.
While Indiana has won six straight at home against some excellent teams, the Pacers will likely be without team MVP Malcolm Brogdon (back) tonight. Brogdon has missed seven games this season and the results were thus: A 19-point home loss to Milwaukee, blowout win at Brooklyn, 5-point win over Orlando, 1-point win at the Knicks (when they sucked), OT win over shorthanded Toronto, and losses at Miami and New Orleans. Aaron Holiday and T.J. McConnell are nice players, but they could definitely struggle against Jamal Murray and the rest of Denver’s lengthy guards.
Memphis Grizzlies (+4) at Sacramento Kings
Sacramento is still looking for ways to increase its pace of play under Luke Walton, yet is still struggling to do that despite the return of De’Aaron Fox. Tonight the Kings host a Grizzlies team that ranks fifth in pace and second in APG (27.2) this season. Memphis is scoring a league-high 27.2 PPG in the paint and Sacramento is way behind at 28th in PPG (43.6) in the paint this season. We’ll take the young tandem of Brandon Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr. over Sacramento’s injury-diminished frontcourt.
The Kings are 5-10 ATS and have dropped five straight at home. Sacramento ranks 27th in net rating (-7.4) with a weak 105.6 offensive rating during an 8-game losing streak. Memphis is fifth in the NBA with a 113.3 offensive rating during that span, and the Grizz have covered in four of their last six road games. Memphis is playing much better ball right now, yet is listed as a 4-point underdog on most books.
NBA January 2 Picks Against The Spread
Los Angeles Clippers (-12.5) vs Detroit Pistons
The Pistons are a dumpster fire right now with a league-worst 118.6 defensive rating during a 1-7 stretch. The Clippers should make short work of them since this is not a B2B situation for Kawhi Leonard.
Cleveland Cavaliers (-1.5) vs Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte is backsliding after a very surprising start and the Cavs are turning things around after they seemed close to quitting on new HC Jon Beilein.
Dallas Mavericks (-8) vs Brooklyn Nets
The Nets are 1-4 with a putrid 97.1 offensive rating over their last five road games and the Mavs still lead the NBA with a 114.9 offensive rating.
Golden State Warriors (+3.5) at Minnesota Wolves
This line could change if Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) is active, but if KAT is out, there should be no qualms about taking a surging Warriors team against a Wolves squad that is a league-worst 3-11-1 ATS at home.
San Antonio Spurs (-2) vs Oklahoma City Thunder
The Spurs have won nine straight home games against the Thunder dating back to 2014. While many of those games have been close, this spread is small enough to take Gregg Popovich and company in another potential nail biter.
Toronto Raptors (+5.5) at Miami Heat
Despite all their injuries and all of Miami’s success at home this season, it’s impossible to count the Raptors out in a huge game for the ECF standings.
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