NBA: Best bets and analysis for Saturday, January 20th

Jonathan Von Tobel (69-44-1 | Units: +21.6u) gives his daily NBA best bets and analysis for Saturday, January 20th.

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Jan 11, 2024; Paris, FRANCE; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) in action against the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA Paris Game at AccorHotels Arena. Mandatory Credit: Alexis Reau/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports

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NBA Best Bets

Record: 69-44-1 | Units: +21.6u | ROI: 17.6%

Cleveland Cavaliers (-2.5, 232.5) at *Atlanta Hawks

It would seem that Cleveland is starting to find its groove. The Cavaliers enter this contest today on a 6-0 SU/5-1 ATS run. They have outscored its opponents by 22.7 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time over these six games, and are covering by 15.4 points per game. The competition has not been stellar, but the fact that this team can take advantage of said competition to this degree is encouraging.

Cleveland has also benefited from the scheduling quirk of playing in Paris just over a week ago. Because of the travel the Cavaliers were given three days off before their next game against the Bulls. This game tonight against the Hawks will only be their third game in nine days! That is a massive rest advantage over Atlanta which is playing its sixth game in nine days and on the second leg of a back-to-back.

Rest advantages aside, Cleveland is just better.

Donovan Mitchell has averaged 30.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.6 assists on 50.0% shooting from the floor over his last nine games. Neither Dejounte Murray or Trae Young – who has been dealing with an illness and is questionable today – will be able to stop him on the defensive end. Mitchell’s play has allowed the Cavaliers to average 121.3 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time over this run. That will be a problem for Atlanta which has slipped to 26th in defensive efficiency (119.7).

Cleveland seems to have everything going for it here, so it is the play tonight. One quick note: If Young plays we could see this line move a bit toward the home team. If bettors want the most of the number just hold out a bit, but I believe this number to be playable right now even if he is on the floor.

Play: Cavaliers (-2.5) – Playable up to (-3.5)

Oklahoma City Thunder at Minnesota Timberwolves (-4, 234)

After a brief lull the Minnesota Timberwolves are picking up some steam once again. The team comes into this game 6-2 SU and ATS over its last eight games. Minnesota has outscored its opponents by 14.3 points per 100 possessions over this span, and it has covered by 5.1 points per game. Oklahoma City is an opponent perfectly capable of ending this run, but I do not believe that will be the case tonight.

The Timberwolves matchup very well with the Thunder. One of the biggest weaknesses for Oklahoma City is its lack of size. By extension, the team struggles to rebound with consistency. The Thunder rank 28th in overall rebounding rate (47.5%), and 29th in defensive rebounding rate (67.5%). That could be a problem against a team with Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert in the frontcourt. 

The Timberwolves are not a dominant rebounding team, but they do rank seventh in overall rebounding rate (51.2%) and eighth in defensive rebounding (72.1%). Their sheer size will allow them to have an advantage on the offensive glass as well.

Minnesota also has multiple defensive options for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Anthony Edwards or Jaden McDaniels.

This might come across as controversial, but I believe the Timberwolves to be the better team. This number currently sits as low as -2.5 which would mean these two are equals on a neutral court, which is not something that jives with my ratings. There is also the potential loss of Luguentz Dort tonight, who is ill and questionable to play. If Dort is out that means the Thunder’s best option to defend Edwards is not available.

Play: Timberwolves (-2.5) – Playable to (-3)

NBA Best Bets

Cavaliers (-2.5)

Timberwolves (-2.5)