A total of 20 of the NBA's 30 teams are in action on Friday night with two games nationally televised: Nuggets at Pacers on NBA TV and Spurs at Lakers on ESPN. SBR breaks down five interesting betting matchups on NBA odds. All times Eastern.
Nuggets vs Pacers (-2.5, 197.5), 7 p.m.
Covered by Jason
This is a hard game to handicap. Why? The Nuggets look in total disarray under Coach Brian Shaw and are a huge disappointment at 1-6, while the Pacers are missing half their team. Many believed the offseason trade for Arron Afflalo and the return from injury of Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee would have the Nuggets in the playoff hunt. Instead, Shaw's job might be in jeopardy. He essentially benched Afflalo, as he only played for 10 minutes in Wednesday's 130-113 loss at home to Portland. Essentially, the Nuggets right now are Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried and a bunch of mismatched pieces. Denver is looking for its first road win and Indiana surprised the Heat in Miami on Wednesday, 81-75, as an 8.5-point underdog on NBA odds. This despite the Pacers playing without injured rotation David West, George Hill, Rodney Stuckey, C.J. Miles and C.J. Watson. Only Miles likely has a chance to return Friday.
Heat vs. Hawks (-2, 195), 7:30 p.m.
Covered by Jason
As good as Miami was when LeBron James played there, the Heat always had trouble rebounding, ranking among the worst teams in the NBA each season. When you have a superstar like LeBron, you can cover up things like that. Of course James is gone and rebounding is still an issue as the smallish Heat rank 29th in the NBA in that category. Miami was an 8.5-point sportsbook home NBA pick on Wednesday against Indiana but lost 81-75 in large part because the Pacers won the battle of the boards 53-28. Chris Bosh also had his worst game of the season with just nine points and three boards. Atlanta won its third straight Wednesday and improved to 3-0 at home with a 100-97 win over Utah. The Hawks' Paul Millsap had 30 points and 17 rebounds against his former team. Atlanta played without starting forward DeMarre Carroll, and he already has been ruled out Friday.
76ers vs. Rockets (-15, 208), 8 p.m.
Covered by Joe C.
If this line sticks, it's the biggest spread of the early season. Philadelphia has the unfortunate circumstance of being the only team to play the second of a back-to-back Friday as the winless 76ers were 13.5-point underdogs in Dallas on Thursday. Philadelphia did get some good news heading into that game as the 2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams, made his season debut off shoulder surgery. MCW likely will have limited minutes for a while. In addition, rookie big man Nerlens Noel was set to return from missing two games with an ankle injury. Houston is 7-1 and all seven wins are by at least 11 points. The Rockets won in Mexico City on Wednesday against Minnesota, 113-101, despite playing without injured starting point guard Patrick Beverley and forward Terrence Jones. As long as James Harden and Dwight Howard are on the court, Houston shouldn't be losing to Philly.
Pistons vs. Thunder (-1.5, 189), 8 p.m.
Covered by Dave
Why is this line unusual if it stays that way? It's the first time the injury-ravaged Thunder have been a favorite all season. It helps that Detroit is 0-4 on the road. The Pistons fell 107-103 in Washington on Wednesday night despite 32 points and 10 assists from Brandon Jennings. However, young star center Andre Drummond had just three shots, scoring two points and five rebounds in 23 minutes. Oklahoma City got its first road win Wednesday with a 109-94 upset at Boston as the Thunder were 7.5-point underdogs on NBA odds. Guards Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow each had 28 points, and as short-handed as OKC is they will have to continue to have big nights for the Thunder to win.
Spurs vs. Lakers (+9, 210), 10 p.m.
Covered by Dave
It used to be laughable to consider the Lakers as 9-point home underdogs at sportsbooks, but things have changed in Los Angeles. The Lakers remain last in the NBA in points allowed and Coach Byron Scott called his team out defensively following Wednesday's 109-102 loss in New Orleans. Scott has focused on defense all season, but the Lakers are 30th in defensive efficiency, allowing 114.5 points per 100 possessions. Offensively, the Lakers are Kobe Bryant jacking up at least 24 shots a game and the other guys watching. Could Kobe win the scoring title? Don't rule out Spurs coach Gregg Popovich perhaps resting some guys here because San Antonio plays Saturday night as well -- or Pop could chose to do it that night. The Spurs look back to themselves this week with impressive wins at the L.A. Clippers on Monday and Golden State on Tuesday.