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Friday's Top NBA Expert Picks: Suns and Pacers Set for Scorcher

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Friday's Top NBA Expert Picks: Suns and Pacers Set for Scorcher
Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns passes the ball in the third quarter during their game against the Charlotte Hornets. Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images via AFP.

Read on for our top NBA expert picks for Friday’s schedule.

There are nine games on Friday’s NBA schedule, with the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies shutting things down in a marquee battle between superstar guards Luka Doncic and Ja Morant. The Golden State Warriors battle the Chicago Bulls in a cross-conference heavyweight showdown.

Our hoops experts select their top against the spread and Over/Under picks from Friday’s NBA games (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook and BetMGM; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Friday’s Top Expert NBA Picks


Top NBA Expert Spread Picks

Mavericks +2 (-110 via DraftKings)

A day removed from knocking off the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-108 to extend their franchise record to 11 straight wins, the Grizzlies welcome the Mavericks to town. Led by Morant and is 24.6 points per game, the Grizzlies have lit up the basket as of late, averaging 120.0 points per game over their last five outings. 

While points have come at a premium this season for the visiting Mavericks, they’ve gone stretches without Doncic, who is healthy for Friday. I expect an elevated performance from him, as he will be paired with Morant for his entire career. The Mavericks will do enough to stay within a basket. - Covers

76ers (-170 via DraftKings)

The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics split two close meetings this season but both were in Boston. The 76ers won their last two at home in the series and all their key guys appear healthy for Friday.

The Celtics probably will be without their best perimeter defender again in Marcus Smart. He missed Wednesday’s win over the Indiana Pacers due to a thigh injury but now apparently is dealing with health and safety protocols. The Celtics are plus-4.9 points better per 100 possessions with Smart on the court compared to off. Perhaps expect a 31-point night from Philly center Joel Embiid, who scored exactly 31 points in each of his last five games, the longest such streak in NBA history. He's averaging 32.6 points per game over his eight contests. - Jordan

Cavaliers -3.5 (-110 via BetMGM)

The spread for Friday's matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs remains consistent with the opening line. The market has yet to deviate from a spread that favors Cleveland at -3.5 on the road. This development is somewhat interesting given the perceived gap in performance between the two teams.

The Cavaliers continue to ride stingy defensive play and a plethora of young talent to positive results. Friday's matchup marks the fifth game of a six-game western road trip for the Cavs. Their only loss on the trip to date came against the juggernaut that is the Warriors. Cleveland had an off day on Thursday, after a double-digit win at the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. In terms of personnel, the Cavs' frontcourt trio of Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and Kevin Love figure to have a decisive advantage in this contest.

Although the Spurs are getting healthy again following a run of health and safety protocol absences, star guard Derrick White will miss at least one more game, and the Spurs will face a major headache in trying to match up with Cleveland’s bigs. San Antonio lost four straight and eight of nine coming into Friday. This is simply not a strong basketball team, especially when they are left without key players.

While the long road trip may seem like an unattractive spot to lay points with Cleveland, the Spurs are a team worth fading when the opportunity presents itself. Look for the Cavs to clamp down defensively and make the most of their advantage in the post. - John

Top NBA Expert O/U Picks

Suns-Pacers Over 220 (-110 via DraftKings)

This is a pick with positive regression in mind as both the Phoenix Suns and Pacers come into Friday following some of their worst shooting performances of the season. Neither team scored more than 100 points in either of its last two games despite averaging well over that mark up to that point.

For the Suns, who even still hold a top-six ranking in points per game, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, and free throw percentage, it’s not unreasonable for them to drop 120 points on a given night, and that gets this number mostly to the Over.

I like for this total to sail well over with both teams coming in well-rested and due for some regression upward. – Covers

Hawks-Heat Under 221 (-110 via DraftKings)

The Heat won their third game in a row on Wednesday by a 115-91 score against the Atlanta Hawks. Why is Friday's total set at 221? Hawks center Clint Capela (left ankle sprain) remains hurt and forward Cam Reddish was traded to the New York Knicks. In addition, Kevin Huerter (11.3 PPG) is in question due to a bruised foot.

Miami might get Jimmy Butler back for the first time since Jan. 3, and, yes, he’s averaging 23.2 points but also is an excellent defender, so I don’t believe Butler's return really changes the dynamic much from wagering on the total. - Jordan

Raptors-Pistons Under 211.5 (-110 via BetMGM)

The Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons were both held below 100 points in their most recent contests. While the spread for Friday's game has seen a line move in the Raptors' favor, Detroit has actually been quite feisty at home of late. Thus, we will focus our attention on the total. After opening at 215.5, the line has since fallen to 211.5 across the NBA betting market.

The Raptors rank 11th in scoring defense coming into Friday, allowing 106.4 points per game. Toronto also ranks among the five slowest NBA teams in pace of play on the season. Tough defense continues to be a key element for head coach Nick Nurse’s team even when fully healthy.

While the Pistons actually rank 10th in tempo, they are prone to low-scoring outputs due to poor offensive play. Detroit is dead last in both adjusted offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage this season. These numbers are evidenced in a recent sample of games as the Pistons failed to crack the 100-point threshold in three of their last four outings.

Bettors can reasonably anticipate the Raptors to control the tempo as the better team on Friday. Combine their sound defensive numbers with Detroit’s awful offense and this game should stay below the line of 211.5. - John

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