In the dead of winter, a healthy schedule of Friday night NBA games gives sports fans and bettors alike a nice reprieve. 16 teams are in action, with seven of the eight games containing inter-conference matchups except for a meeting in Detroit between Eastern conference bottom-dwellers.
It’s difficult to pick out a headliner from this group of games, which means we can add some extra intrigue by deploying a portion of our bankroll among those teams suiting up.
We’ve got three best bets for Friday night, two plays on the spread and one on a total, that are locked in and presented below.
Charlotte Hornets @ Detroit Pistons: OVER 239.5
Best Available Odds: -110 at PointsBet
Despite neither of these teams being close to playing average NBA basketball this season, they are frequently involved in some of the higher-scoring games in the league.
Charlotte and Detroit rank 28th and 29th in the league in defensive scoring average, respectively. Only San Antonio allows more points and has a worse point differential than these two teams in the chase for the #1 pick this season.
Both teams are in the top 12 in the NBA in pace, a statistic measuring possessions per 48 minutes. More possessions translate to more scoring opportunities, especially in transition, which leads to open three-pointers, free throw attempts, and clock stoppages galore. We’ll take the over and watch some of the rising young players in the league battle it out in Detroit.
Phoenix Suns +10 over Boston Celtics
Best Available Odds: -113 at BetRivers
With all the injuries that have piled up for Phoenix, it’s hard to believe this number is available at only 10 points. Devin Booker, Cameron Payne, and Landry Shamet all remained sidelined for their 32-point loss to Atlanta on Wednesday night.
The only silver lining for the Suns at this time is that Booker is reported to be in consideration for playing Tuesday against Brooklyn for the first time since Christmas Day.
The more ways we analyze this matchup, the more it doesn’t make sense. Boston beat a Phoenix team at full strength by 27 points in early December on the Suns’ home court in their first meeting this season.
The Celtics have tripped up recently against the Magic, Heat, and Knicks but regained their form in a 139-96 dismantling of the Nets on Wednesday. We will side with the Suns Friday night on the principle that the sports books may know something we don’t in this matchup.
Utah Jazz -1 over Atlanta Hawks
Best Available Odds: -112 at FanDuel
Atlanta has lost four of six since a five-game winning streak in mid-January, while the Jazz have won seven of 10 to elevate themselves into the 9th seed in the West.
Lauri Markkanen’s ascent to All-Star status has powered a team that many expected to be in tank mode this season to a game above .500 with two weeks until the midseason break.
Utah has a higher net rating, a better effective field goal percentage, and gets to the free throw line more frequently than Atlanta. The Hawks have a slight edge defensively over the Jazz, but we don’t expect a defensive exhibition on Friday night. Take the team with momentum playing at home and giving less than a bucket to the spread.