NBA Picks: Friday's Top Basketball Plays

Jason Lake

Friday, January 17, 2014 12:59 PM GMT

Friday’s NBA betting slate includes the return of Rajon Rondo for the Boston Celtics, and the strange marriage between Hedo Turkoglu and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 17 inclusive:

43-34-1 ATS

12-10 Totals

There aren’t too many jobs in the world where you can alienate your employers, your fellow workers and your customers all at the same time, and still get re-hired. Then again, there aren’t very many 6-foot-10 people in the world. Hedo Turkoglu is back in the NBA, signed on Thursday by the Los Angeles Clippers and put on a plane to New York for Friday’s nationally televised game against the Knicks. Let’s make that our first stop on Friday’s basketball betting tour.

L.A. Clippers at New York (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) 

At one point in his career, Turkoglu was a pretty good forward with a sweet 3-point shot and solid ball-handling skills. That was seven years ago. He’s been in decline ever since, bouncing from team to team and showing less professionalism at every stop. Which means he’s perfect for Los Angeles. The Clippers (27-13 SU, 23-17 ATS) are always happy to add another shooter on the cheap to create space – see Jackson, Stephen. And you never know, the gamble might pay off this time. People change.

As for the marquee players, the Clippers are 4-1 SU since Chris Paul (27.4 PER) hurt his shoulder, but only 2-3 ATS. Darren Collison (17.6 PER) is a very good back-up, but he’s still a step down from the person he’s replacing – see Jackson, Reggie. The Knicks (15-24 SU, 16-23 ATS), meanwhile, are 6-3 SU and ATS in their last nine games since Carmelo Anthony (23.4 PER) returned from the injured list. Unfortunately, Amar’e Stoudemire (16.5 PER) and Kenyon Martin (12.2 PER) both rolled their ankles in Thursday’s 117-89 loss to the Indiana Pacers (–9.5 at home). Time to get off the bus again. 

NBA Pick: Take the Clippers –3.5 at The Greek

[gameodds]5/253040/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Minnesota at Toronto (7:00 p.m. ET, TSN) 

The Raptors (19-18 SU, 22-15 ATS) were one of the teams that Turkoglu managed to cheese off on his journey through the NBA, but that’s all flotsam under the bridge now. These are the new-look Raptors – or soon will be, after their upcoming re-brand. They’ve been killing it since Rudy Gay left, beating the basketball odds in 10 straight games before losing to the Celtics (+4 at home) Wednesday night in an uncharacteristically flat performance. 

If only the Timberwolves (18-20 SU, 20-18 ATS) could develop some of the same team chemistry that Toronto has. They certainly have the talent, especially down low with Kevin Love (27.4 PER) and Nikola “Kneel Before Zod” Pekovic (20.3 PER). But it’s going to take the Wolves a little while longer to undo the damage that former exec David Kahn has done. Minnesota is 3-5 SU and ATS in its last eight games. Insert obligatory Love-based pun here. 

NBA Pick: Take the Raptors –2 at BetCRIS

[gameodds]5/253043/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

L.A. Lakers at Boston (7:30 p.m. ET)

This ain’t your grandfather’s Lakers-Celtics matchup. It isn’t even your older brother’s. Both Los Angeles (14-25 SU, 20-18-1 ATS) and Boston (14-26 SU, 20-19-1 ATS) appear destined for the draft lottery, although both teams have managed not to suck as badly as the NBA odds market expects. The C’s should take a major step forward with the return of Rondo (18.1 PER last year), but he still needs to play his way into game shape. Just ask the Lakers how things went with Kobe Bryant’s return.

There hasn’t been much room for optimism on the Laker front – at least, not as far as 2013-14 is concerned. But at least Jordan Hill (20.1 PER) was put back into the starting lineup in Wednesday’s 121-114 loss to the Phoenix Suns (–10.5 at home). Heck, Mike D’Antoni even went with Chris Kaman (15.1 PER) as his back-up center while Robert Sacre (14.0 PER) was left glued to the bench. Kaman scored 18 points in 16 minutes to help the Lakers cash in for the second time in back-to-back games. I’ll buy that for a dollar. 

NBA Pick: Take the Lakers +6 at Sports Interaction

[gameodds]5/253045/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]