The 2019-20 NBA season is rolling and we have a big slate this Friday.
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 3 Best Bets
Miami Heat (-2) at Orlando Magic
Miami has not been reliable on the road, or on the second half of B2B sets. But we’re still dealing with a small sample size (1-3-1 ATS) in terms of the Heat playing on zero days rest, and it’s not like they’ll be facing a team of world beaters on Friday after winning a defensive struggle against Toronto last night. Of course, this is hardly a big road trip up the Florida coast to an arena that could be somewhat neutral.
Orlando is 7-13 ATS when playing on 1 days rest and is 4-8 ATS with a 102.5 offensive rating over its last 12 outings. The Magic just lost at home to a putrid Hawks team that owns the worst offensive rating (96.7) in the NBA during that span, whereas the Heat is 11-4 with the seventh-best offensive rating (112.1) over the past month.
Miami won, 115-91, in its last trip to Orlando, and is clearly a different team this year with Jimmy Butler leading and Bam Adebayo turning into a star. Adebayo should be able to tangle with Nikola Vucevic and Miami’s depth should be an advantage after the Magic lost critical wing Jonathan Isaac (leg) to a scary injury.
New Orleans Pelicans (+10.5) at Los Angeles Lakers
We’re going contrarian with our top two picks tonight, as more money is coming in on the host Lakers in this grudge match. Both sides should be motivated to show out against their former teams, but the young Pelicans certainly didn’t back down in a 114-110 home loss when they first met this season. The presumption appears to be that the Lakers will dominate at home, yet that’s been far from the case lately. The Lakers rank 26th with a 114.1 defensive rating and are 2-3 over their last five home games. They lost two straight home games to quality foes in the Nuggets and Clippers, then let the Suns nearly erase a 30-point deficit in a 10-point win on Wednesday.
The Pelicans don’t have a great record or great numbers ATS this season, but they’ve seriously turned things around with a 5-1 record and the third-best net rating (9.9) over their last six games. The Lakers are 3-3 with a -1.0 net rating during that span, and strength of schedule doesn’t explain it since the Pels have also faced great opponents (Denver, Houston, Indiana) and covered in four straight. Brandon Ingram is breaking out with a 115 offensive rating and Jrue Holiday is steady as ever in big games. Look for the Pelicans talented backcourt to keep them in the game against the Lakers older guards.
Houston Rockets (-4.5) vs Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid (knee) is set to return to action tonight after sitting out Tuesday’s game with knee soreness. He could still be limited after playing 68 minutes in a B2B situation last weekend, and he’ll have to be at his absolute best to carry the Sixers on the road. Houston has struggled defensively at times, but allows a below-average 46.5 PPG in the paint at home. Clint Capela just returned from a two-game absence and he’s a rare true center in today’s NBA, so the Rockets have the personnel to contain Philly’s biggest weapon.
Offensively, James Harden and company won’t be stopped. Houston is 7-3 with a 115 offensive rating over its last 10 and just shredded Denver’s top-rated defense for 130 points at home. With Eric Gordon back and Danuel House healthy, the Rockets have the complementary wings they need to space the floor around Harden.
Philly’s road struggles are well documented. The Sixers are 7-11 straight up and have the third-worst record ATS (6-10-2) in road games this season. They’re 1-4 with a -5.0 net rating over their last five road tilts. Houston has covered in six of its last eight home games and its last four wins have come by an average of 14.8 PPG.
NBA January 3 Picks Against The Spread
Boston Celtics (-12) vs Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks give up a league-high 122.7 PPG on the road and the Celtics lead the NBA with a 116.6 offensive rating at home.
Washington Wizards (+5.5) vs Portland Blazers
The Blazers have dropped six straight and the Wizards have been surprisingly feisty with a 14-11-1 record ATS when listed as underdogs. Portland could snap its skid but fail to cover.
Phoenix Suns (-5.5) vs New York Knicks
The Knicks run of hot play could come to an end in Phoenix, as long as Ricky Rubio (hip) is active to lead the Suns improving offense.