NBA: Best bets and analysis for Friday, January 26th

Jonathan Von Tobel (77-49-1 | Units: +24.3u) gives his daily NBA best bets and analysis for Friday, January 26th.

Jan 10, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard James Harden (1) controls the ball against Toronto Raptors guard RJ Barrett (9) during the second half at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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NBA Best Bets

Record: 77-49-1 | Units: +24.3u | ROI: 17.7%

Phoenix Suns (-4.5, 243) at *Indiana Pacers

Phoenix is stringing together wins, and very quietly the covers are coming along as well. The Suns are 12-3 SU/7-7-1 ATS in their last 15 games. Over that span they are second in non-garbage time net rating (+11.7) and offensive rating (126.2). Phoenix enters this contest on a 7-0 SU run, over which it is 4-2-1 ATS with a +6.5 spread differential.

The continuity is building, and if you’ve read this column regularly you know that this is something we have been waiting for. If you’re one of those regular readers then you also know what is coming next.

Indiana is in a negative scheduling spot tonight. It is playing its sixth game in nine days on no rest. It allows 120.7 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time for the season, and has shown no improvement with Pascal Siakam in the fold. Phoenix – which averages 135.7 points per 100 possessions with its big three on the floor – should be able to pick apart this defense.

These two met on Sunday and the Suns barely covered at home, but it was Phoenix that was in the negative scheduling spot. In this game the Suns have the rest advantage and the personnel advantage. So, let’s keep riding the train.

Play: Suns (-4.5) – Playable up to (-5.5)

Los Angeles Clippers (-8, 233.5) at Toronto Raptors

Toronto comes into this game on three days of rest, but those days off did not help those Raptors dealing with injury. Both Jakob Poeltl and Immanuel Quickley will miss this game tonight against Los Angeles, and that does not bode well for the Raptors.

Quickley has been a spark plug for this transition attack Toronto runs. When he is on the floor they run on 38.2% of live ball rebounds. Without him on the floor the Raptors will start Dennis Schroder, who slows down the pace considerably when controlling the offense. The loss of Poeltl will also cut into Toronto’s ability to attack the offensive glass and maximize second chance opportunities.

Without either Quickley or Poeltl bettors can expect a slower team that is not as efficient on offense nor effective on the glass. This plays right into the hands of Los Angeles.

The Clippers have the personnel to shut down the smaller wing players the Raptors have on this roster. On the other end, Toronto has no real defensive option for either Paul George or Kawhi Leonard. Los Angeles also tends to play slower – they rank 26th in pace – and with Schroder’s halfcourt style the Clippers will be more than willing to match that tempo.

There is certainly a world in which Los Angeles is so effective on offense this game goes over the total in a blowout, but I do not believe that will be the case. The market has pushed this up, giving us value on the under tonight.

Play: UNDER 235.5 – Playable to 234 

Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks (-7, 239.5)

This is the second game of a two-game series in Milwaukee between these two franchises. The Bucks – in their first game since the firing of Adrian Griffin – won and covered in the first meeting. Milwaukee put forth a better defensive effort and limited Cleveland to 1.115 points per possession in the win. Given the Bucks’ defensive issues it might be foolish to bank on another good showing, but this is a bet on principle.

If you read this column on Wednesday you know that Milwaukee was a bet due to the value with the number. Before Giannis Antetokounmpo was scratched prior to a game in Cleveland last week the Bucks were laying 4.5 points. Milwaukee was laying just 6.5 on Wednesday, which showed a real market adjustment, and a play worth making. Well, here we are tonight and the number is even cheaper.

The market likes to bet on the team in these baseball series that failed to cover the first meeting. As a result, we see the team that was favored in the first meeting take a hit on the number. In non-divisional matchups that has been a successful angle, but in divisional games the winner of the first series tends to repeat the previous performance.

It’s simple: There was value on Milwaukee on Wednesday at a larger number, so there is value on the team once again at an even cheaper number.

Play: Bucks (-5.5) – Playable to (-6.5)

NBA Best Bets

Suns (-4.5)

Clippers/Raptors UN 235.5

Bucks (-5.5)