NBA: Best bets and analysis for Friday, January 19th

Jonathan Von Tobel (67-43-1 | Units: +20.6u) gives his daily NBA best bets and analysis for Friday, January 19th.

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Jan 16, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates after beating the Sacramento Kings 119-117 at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to my daily column of NBA best bets in the National Basketball Association! Here at VSiN we have a ton of NBA content daily, so make sure to keep tabs on Zach Cohen who is doing an excellent job handicapping the league on a daily basis. Also, subscribe to Hardwood Handicappers, our daily NBA betting podcast, wherever you get your podcasts!

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NBA Best Bets

Record: 67-43-1 | Units: +20.6u | ROI: 17.2%

Denver Nuggets at Boston Celtics (-5.5, 234)

Boston has been incredible at TD Garden this season. It is 20-0 SU/12-6-2 ATS at home, the former record has shattered a previous 67-year-old franchise record of 18 consecutive home wins to start a season. The Celtics are also the highest power rated team in the league, so it is understandable that the market supports them often, but this seems somewhat aggressive tonight.

Denver does have Aaron Gordon on the injury report tonight, but he is listed as probable. Its starting lineup is still among the best in the league, and has outscored opponents by 15.0 points every 100 possessions on the floor. The Nuggets are also coming in on two days of rest, as they last played Tuesday in Philadelphia.

Is Boston really this much better than the Western Conference favorite, and second most likely NBA Finals champion? 

The market has jumped on the Celtics here like it knows something. Perhaps the market believes Boston’s homecourt is stronger than most and is factoring that in by betting the line up. However, even at 3.5 this would mean that the Celtics are about 3.5 points better on a neutral and potentially a favorite in Denver.

This might be a buzzsaw that I am walking into here, but this is a bet I will make on principle. Denver has the rest advantage, is fully healthy and has a starting lineup statistically on par with that of Boston’s. This number is too high by my measure, so give me the defending champions in a potential Finals preview.

Play: Nuggets (+7)

Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans (-2, 235)

Phoenix burned me on Wednesday night when it hosted Sacramento. But, it also made me feel like I was on the right path. The Suns dominated the second half of their comeback win over the Kings that night. They put up 1.33 points per possession in the final two quarters and closed on a 23-4 run to beat Sacramento. 

It was a small stretch that encapsulated the potential of this team now that it is fully healthy, and I am willing to give them one more chance. 

Phoenix is still +25.3 per 100 possessions with their trio of stars on the floor. Their offensive rating in those possessions (136.8) ranks in the 100th percentile, according to Cleaning The Glass. Despite having such a skilled offensive group the Suns also defend at an above average level. It’s a good mix, and the risk is worth it as Phoenix is 8-3 SU/4-6-1 ATS in its last 11 games. They are winning but not covering, and I am hopeful tonight they put it all together.

The Pelicans have also shown some warts defensively against some highly regarded offensive opponents recently. Denver and Dallas – in two games – put up a combined 125.9 offensive rating. The Suns are capable of doing that, even on the road.

Play: Suns ML (+110) – Playable to (+100)

Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers (-7, 228)

This is quite the role reversal for Brooklyn which is on the second game of a three-game swing along the west coast. On Wednesday, the Nets closed as 6.5-point favorites in Portland and lost the game outright to the lowly Trail Blazers. Tonight, they find themselves as 7-point underdogs to the Lakers. It is a number that feels like an overcorrection by the market.

Brooklyn is 3-14 SU/2-14-1 ATS in its last 17 games with a -7.7 net rating in non-garbage time. Over that span they are failing to cover by a league-worst 7.5 points per game. The market has clearly overvalued the Nets and refused to budge, but this number is an adjustment of some kind.

Los Angeles won and covered its second game in a row when it beat Dallas on Wednesday, and the new starting lineup looked great. With their new starting five on the floor the Lakers have outscored opponents by 6.7 points per 100 possessions. This could be the start of a turnaround for Los Angeles, but this number is too much to swallow.

Instead, this will be a play on the total.

Brooklyn struggles on defense despite a roster filled with good defensive wings, but where it does thrive is in transition. The Nets have allowed the sixth-fewest points per 100 plays off live rebounds (116.7) and the third-fewest in transition overall (118.3). The Lakers love to run. They rank second in transition frequency overall (17.2%) and fifth in transition frequency off live rebounds (33.5%). Brooklyn should be able to hold up on the fastbreak and limit the easy baskets Los Angeles lives on.

On the other end, the Lakers should thrive defensively in the halfcourt. They rank eighth in points allowed per 100 plays (96.4) and they face a Nets offense which is 20th in the same category (97.4). Brooklyn also generates a healthy amount of its offense on second chance opportunities and offensive rebounds, but it faces the sixth-best defensive rebounding team in the league tonight.

The market is in agreement with me it seems. This number opened overnight at 228 but we’re now down to 227 consensus. The loss of a point does not deter me here, so I’ll come in and play under before it moves anymore.

Play: UNDER 227 – Playable to 226

Best Bets

  • Nuggets (+7)
  • Suns ML (+100)
  • Nets/Lakers UN 227