Top Game to Bet: Lakers (-9) at Bulls
The Lakers enter this matchup with the Bulls riding a seven-game winning streak over Chicago. The Lakers have won eight of the last 10 games this season and six of the previous seven en route to the NBA's best record (12-4). The Bulls won three-straight games as they enter this home underdog situation. The Bulls lost to the Lakers 117-115 earlier this season when they met in Los Angeles.
Anthony Davis returns to his hometown to take on the Bulls. Davis was recently quoted saying, "Right now, to be hard on myself, man, I think I suck right now," when talking about his play. The Lakers forward was an MVP and DPOY hopeful but averaging 21.1 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.
Over his last five overall games, Davis has scored 17-19 points and averaged 9.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. In the previous three outings, Davis has gone to the free-throw line five or more times. Davis has also recorded five or more assists, including a season-high seven on Monday.
Davis averages 24.7 points and 10.8 rebounds per game over 11 career meetings with Chicago. In the last six games, Davis has scored 27 or more in five. Davis scored 15, 27, 30, 32, 34, and 36 points since 2016-17. With the Lakers, Davis only met the Bulls once, and he scored 15 points in that contest.
Chicago allows the fifth-most points per game to centers (23.35), the 10th-most points to power forwards (22.37) and the 10th most assists (4.11). The Bulls have been solid rebounding versus opposing big men, but Davis' has recorded two double-doubles in the past five outings and the books are prepared for a big game from him. FanDuel opened his PRA odds at 36.5 and -120 odds for the Over.
Davis has scored 30 or more in four of his previous five meetings with Bulls and I will back Davis to get back on track in his hometown with his points, rebounds and assists numbers. Davis has looked good rebounding and passing lately. His five or more assists In three straight games are the most on the season across three games and his assist prop is Over/Under 3.5 (-107).
I am certainly backing the Lakers to get the win, but Chicago has come out on fire recently and has plenty of scoring options. If you have FanDuel, there is a player performance boost for Davis to get five-plus assists and the Lakers to win for +265 and to score 25-plus points and the Lakers to win at +162.
I will bet on the Lakers but wait for in-game value as I am confident Los Angeles will win. The -9 spread is manageable but has only happened once in the Lakers' last seven victories over the Bulls. Chicago's run will likely come to an end here, and if I can get the Lakers at -4 in-game or to lead at the half for a decent value, that would be ideal.
The Lakers average 59.9 points per game (3rd) in the first half and are 8-0 on the road (1st) this season. Two strong trends to back, but I would wait as the Lakers sometimes start the opening frame a little slow. The Lakers average 27.7 points per game in the first quarter (21st) over the last three games compared to an NBA-leading 33.7 in the second quarter.
Chicago also averages 33.7 points per game in the second quarter over the last three games. Both squads rank top three in points per second quarter on the season, averaging 29.8 (CHI) and 31.6 (LAL). Back the second quarter to be where the magic happens, or live bet the Over in the first-half if the first-quarter Under 57.5 hits.
Game Pick: Lakers-Bulls Second Quarter Over 57.5 (1u), Anthony Davis Over 36.5 PRA (1u)
Top Team to Fade: Minnesota Timberwolves
The last three meetings between these two have combined to total 206, 227 and 273 points. I like to focus on the last two because those are the game scores with Zion Williamson in the lineup and without Karl-Anthony Towns.
Zion scored 23 and 25 points in both meetings, and in his last three games this season, he scored 27, 31 and 32 points. Right now, Zion is playing some of the best basketball of his career. As a fun lean for this game or some extra throw-away money, I'll be playing a Zion double-double (+175).
A double-double is something he has done in five-of-13 games and two of his previous seven. This matchup seems like a solid one for him to get double-digit rebounds with an Over/Under set at 8.5.
Despite the Pelicans being 3-8 ATS in the last 11 meetings, Zion is 1-1 versus the Wolves, and his Pelicans have scored 120 and 134 points in two meetings. Zion's prop total opened at 24.5 and was up to 25.5 within an hour. That'll likely only grow but it's surpassing too many points for me after being 22.5 and 23.5 two weeks.
New Orleans has scored 102, 118, and 128 points over the previous three games and Minnesota has allowed 96, 98, 116 and 118 in their last four. The Under is 4-0 in this series' last four games, so wait and see if the Under will be bet down.
If it does, the Pelicans Team Total will drop from 115.5. When the line becomes 113.5 or 114.5, I am taking that, but 115.5 is acceptable up to 1 unit if it does not. I like both teams to up the pace and New Orleans to focus on scoring more than defending.
Game Pick: Pelicans Team Total Over 114.5 (1u) - up to 115.5
Saturday Betting Notes
Heat at Nets: Nets -8
This is the most questionable game on the slate today. Brooklyn is fresh off two losses back-to-back to Cleveland and Miami is 2-4 in their previous six games with two wins over Detroit (3-12).
Miami is 0-4 ATS in the last four meetings and 1-4 ATS in the last five in Brooklyn. Right now, Brooklyn is a tough team to back because of what just happened, and they are still gaining cohesiveness as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden play together.
Thus far, the roster is competitive and talented enough to handle a Miami team that has been held back by COVID protocol and injuries for nearly two weeks. The Heat still has Jimmy Butler (ankle), Tyler Herro (neck), Avery Bradley (medical) and Meyers Leonard (shoulder) listed as day-to-day. I would wait for injury reports for both teams as Durant took a day of rest in Friday's loss to Cleveland.
Rockets at Mavericks: Mavs -10.5
Houston came away with a one-point win over Detroit on Friday and have a quick turnaround with Dallas. The Rockets are 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings with the Mavericks while they have done surprisingly well in Dallas, going 5-2 ATS in the previous seven.
All of that was in the James Harden era, and without him and Christian Wood, who is out, I cannot back the Rockets. The -10.5 spread is too much to back either, as Dallas has not proved they are worth a double-digit spread as a favorite, although they have won two of their last five by 10 or more. I would look at Luka Doncic and Kirstaps Porzingis props, but do not be scared of a few Rockets props, such as Victor Oladipo, Eric Gordon P.J. Tucker.
76ers at Pistons: 76ers -8.5
The 76ers and Joel Embiid have been rolling and playing well lately, beating the Celtics twice and winning four of the last five games. The Pistons have lost three in a row and five of the last six as they host Philadelphia.
The 76ers are 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings in Detroit and 10-1 ATS in the previous 11. This spread is rather large, but most basketball fans would agree Philadelphia should win by double-digits. I would not play this past -9, but as often as I enjoy fading Detroit, there are occasions where they pull last-second heroics for the sportsbooks.
Detroit has already bit me a few times on backdoor covers, mainly versus the Bucks, but be careful backing Philadelphia on the road -- that is usually a rare recipe for success the last two seasons.
Nuggets at Suns: Over/Under 218.5
These two teams had a nailbiter on Friday, with Denver coming out victorious 130-126. Denver continued their strong ATS play, extending their mark to 13-6 in the last 19 overall meetings. The Over is 4-1 in the last five games and is 7-1 in the last eight trips to Phoenix.
Just about every player had a significant night for both teams, and the extending playing time could make for some tired legs today. The Suns have played three back-to-backs, and on the second night, the total combined scores have been 209, 216 and 242. For the Nuggets, the combined scores have been 203 and 240 points in the second night of a back-to-back.
I'd back the Under here or at least the first-half Under.
Warriors at Jazz: Jazz -6.5
The Warriors are coming off an ugly loss to the Knicks in their last outing and they have not fared well versus the Jazz. Golden State is 2-8 ATS in their last 10 meetings with Utah, and that is not good considering the Jazz are on a seven-game winning streak.
It will be challenging to stop Utah, and Draymond will be a crucial factor after being ejected on Thursday. The Warriors had a two-game winning streak snapped by the loss to the Knicks, while Utah has covered and won seven-straight games. Golden State is not a very appealing team to stop this Jazz train. The Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings, which a bet I would consider before backing the Warriors to cover.