The NBA deadline has passed and we’re back to the daily grind with seven games on Friday night’s hoops slate. Our analysts are betting betting two of tonight’s games and are eying player props in both matchups.
Read on for their analysis of both games and their best bets for Friday.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers||7 p.m. ET|
|Denver Nuggets vs. Boston Celtics||7:30 p.m. ET|
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers
|Pick||Tyrese Haliburton Under 15.5 points (+100)|
|Tipoff||7 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Kenny Ducey: For my money, this line is inflated due to the fanfare surrounding Haliburton and the narrative of his first game in a new uniform.
The fact is, even when he was logging around 40 minutes in Sacramento he was finding it hard to eclipse this number, scoring 11.7 points in 38.5 minutes per game in his final three games with the Kings. It’s true that his role may be a bit different with Indiana, but this team has been an abomination on the offensive end all year and will offer the young guard little help.
Much more than that, however, the Cleveland Cavaliers own the league’s second-best defense over the last two weeks with just 105.7 points against them per 100 possessions. Cleveland is incredible at taking away your best weapons, and seeing as the Pacers have just one now in Haliburton, I see no reason why it can’t do that on Friday. If Darius Garland struggles on Haliburton, the Cavs can throw Isaac Okoro on him.
Denver Nuggets vs. Boston Celtics
|Pick||Nikola Jokic Under 9.5 Assists (-110)|
|Tipoff||7:30 p.m. ET|
Brandon Anderson: Nikola Jokic has been the best player in the NBA over the last two seasons. Full stop.
Jokic is breaking most of the advanced stats metrics, and we’re now over two-thirds of the way through the season. Even by just sheer counting stats, Jokic has been a monster. He’s at 25.8 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game, a stat line matched by only the greatest greats in NBA history.
Jokic remains in the thick of the MVP race for a second straight season, and Friday’s news could buoy his case: Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are both progressing well and expected back soon.
For now, this is still the Jokic show, and that should mean playing Jokic overs. But we’re going the other way in a really interesting game tonight pitting the Nuggets with the red hot Celtics. Boston has the league’s top defense over the past 15 games. They’re up to third in Defensive Rating now on the season, and the Celtics lead the league in fewest assists allowed per game at just 21.6.
Besides, this line is pretty high anyway, needing double-digit dimes to hit the over. Jokic has gone under 9.5 assists in six of his last nine games, hitting this under 67% of the time, and he’s topped out at 10 assists max in all but one of those games.
It’s always helpful to look at Potential Assists to see how much luck is factoring in, so I wondered if Jokic has just been unlucky lately. Per NBA Advanced Stats, over these last nine games Jokic is at 15.1 potential APG, and he’s converted that into 9.3 APG. That’s a 62% conversion rate, and it’s actually higher than his season-long 57% rate. At that expected rate, Jokic would have 8.6 expected assists per game over these last nine outings, a full dime below this line.
We’re projecting him even lower than that at 8.0 assists, and that makes this a 10 out of 10 rated prop with a 20% edge in our favor. I’ll play to -135 and hope Jokic has to do it himself tonight against a stingy defense.