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Best bets today from around the NBA.
Best bets today from around the NBA.

We have a nine-game slate with injury news in flux for most, but there’s already plenty of value to squeeze out of the NBA board. Read on for our NBA best bets for Friday based on the top NBA odds.

Friday’s menu includes a matchup between two Eastern Conference purgatory teams in the Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers, a sky-high total between the Golden State Warriors and the rebuilding San Antonio Spurs, and a late-night primetime game between two contenders in the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.

Here are our NBA best bets for Friday (odds via Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, FanDuel Sportsbook, and DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Check out our Nuggets-Clippers picks.

Friday’s NBA Schedule and Odds

(odds via DraftKings)

  • New York Knicks (-190) vs. Washington Wizards (+160)
  • New Orleans Pelicans (-225) vs. Detroit Pistons (+190)
  • Atlanta Hawks (-130) vs. Indiana Pacers (+110)
  • Golden State Warriors (-350) vs. San Antonio Spurs (+290)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (+160) vs. Chicago Bulls (-190)
  • Phoenix Suns (+175) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (-205)
  • Orlando Magic (+195) vs. Utah Jazz (-230)
  • Denver Nuggets (+115) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (-135)
  • Houston Rockets (+320) vs. Sacramento Kings (-390)

Friday’s NBA Best Bets

  • Spread: Pistons +6 (-110 via Caesars) vs. Pelicans
  • Upset: Magic (+195 via BetMGM) vs. Jazz
  • Total: Thunder-Bulls Over 233 (-110 via FanDuel)
  • Player prop: Wendell Carter Jr. Over 8.5 rebounds (-125 via DraftKings)

NBA Top Picks

Spread: Pistons +6 (-110) vs. Pelicans ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Over 80% of the public against the spread action is on the New Orleans Pelicans on the road, even with stars Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson ruled out again. Yet, the line has frozen. We’ll take the hint, the sharp play is the Detroit Pistons.

New Orleans has lost five of its last seven games, including an 11-point loss in Boston two nights ago. The naive logic is to ride the superior team to bounce back against a tank squad, but New Orleans is actually just 2-3 ATS coming off a double-digit loss like the Pels are on Friday.

The Pistons will be without their newest addition to the starting lineup, center Jalen Duren, and will list forward Isaiah Stewart as questionable, already weakening one of the worst paint defenses in the NBA. However, the Pelicans aren’t the ideal team to go after that mismatch. Since Williamson’s latest injury five games ago, New Orleans has attempted the 13th-fewest shots per game in the restricted area and has posted the fifth-worst field goal percentage in the paint.

On the season, the Pelicans have also been quite lazy defending beyond the arc, allowing the highest 3-point shooting percentage in the NBA. Take the points with the Pistons, whose 3-point specialists are all available on Friday.

Upset: Magic (+195) vs. Jazz ⭐⭐⭐

Over 60% of the public action is on the Jazz ATS, but I’ll gladly fade the public in this matchup between two transitioning franchises with exciting stories entering 2023.

The Magic will have their full starting lineup, but the Jazz will be without starting center Kelly Olynyk. The key to this matchup is that rookie Jazz center Walker Kessler has been a solid backup to Olynyk, especially as a rim-protector, but there's no denying he provides a lack of versatility and switchability which could hurt Utah on both ends of the floor.

The Magic are a fairly well-balanced offense, ranking middle-of-the-pack in paint points per game and mid-range shooting and just below-average shooting the three. They are 8-6 ATS and 7-7 straight up when underdogs by less than seven points. Sprinkle on the plus-money value of the underdog in this fairly even Friday battle.

Total: Thunder-Bulls Over 233 (-110) ⭐⭐

The public is leaning on the Under in this game, probably because Chicago has listed guard Zach LaVine as questionable and forward DeMar DeRozan as doubtful. The books have pushed the line upwards, though, so we’ll ride with the sharps.

Oklahoma City Thunder games are 10-7 to the Over this season when they're road underdogs and 19-8-1 to the Over when the line is set higher than 226 points. The Bulls have gone two straight games shooting worse than 35% from three and scoring less than 100 points in losses. Regardless of LaVine's availability, expect positive regression against a Thunder team with no certified big men. Back offense on Friday in Chicago.

Player prop: Wendell Carter Jr. Over 8.5 rebounds (-125) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This Wendell Carter Jr. line is off by one and we’ll gladly take the value.

This season, the versatile Magic big man has grabbed at least nine rebounds in 12 of his 20 starts. He gets an ideal matchup Friday as, over their last 15 games, the Jazz have allowed centers to grab the fifth-most rebounds per game in the NBA. With the paint-glued Kessler starting at center, it provides opposing bigs even more opportunities to clean the glass. The opposing primary center has recorded at least nine rebounds in six of Kessler’s seven starts. The only opponent who did not was Washington Wizards big Daniel Gafford, who played only 20 minutes due to foul trouble.

Carter has also scored double-digit points in every single start this season, so asking for one more rebound to get plus-money value isn’t a bad idea if you want to sprinkle on the double-double prop (best price on Caesars Sportsbook at +136). Carter isn’t a stat-padder and he has landed on exactly nine rebounds on several occasions, which is why my ideal play is to pay the juice for nine-plus rebounds.

NBA best bets made 01/13/2022 at 12:45 p.m. ET.

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