NBA betting: 4 picks and predictions for Friday night
Brandon Anderson makes his NBA predictions for Friday night's games, with four picks against the spread.
San Antonio Spurs (-3.5) at Orlando Magic
It’s easy to look at these teams and just think they’re both terrible at basketball. The Spurs are 2–6. The Magic are 2–7. If the season ended today, San Antonio and Orlando would be vying for the number one draft pick.
Not all bad teams are created equal, though. The Magic probably really are as bad as they look. They haven’t even been competitive in over half of their losses, and their metrics are bad on both offense and defense. This is a very young team that’s going to lose a lot.
The Spurs, on the other hand, are a decent team with a borderline top-10 defense that’s competed in every game but faced a tough schedule. They have close losses to the Mavericks (twice), Lakers, Nuggets, and Bucks — no shame in that.
Gregg Popovich has made a living beating up on the bad teams for years, and the Magic are bad. The Spurs already beat the Magic by 26 in the season opener. They should take care of business again here.
Minnesota Timberwolves (+2.5) vs Los Angeles Clippers
The Timberwolves and Clippers just played two nights ago with Los Angeles winning by double digits, so why would we expect anything to change in a rematch two days later?
Shot variance is key here. The game Wednesday was mostly even, maybe even slightly tilted in Minnesota’s direction, outside of one key factor: the Clippers were absolutely scorching red-hot shooting from deep. Los Angeles finished 21-of-36 on 3s, making 58 per cent of their treys and finishing over 75 per cent True Shooting on the night, and they barely missed a shot in the third quarter.
You’ll win a lot of games comfortably with shooting nights like that, but you don’t usually get them two nights in a row. We’ve seen a lot of these back-to-back games go to the losing team in the rematch. Minnesota could even the score tonight.
Golden State Warriors (-9.5) vs New Orleans Pelicans
Sometimes it really doesn’t need to be all that complicated.
The Warriors are 6–1 with an early MVP candidate in Steph Curry, an elite defense led by Draymond Green, and a revitalized supporting cast and bench.
The Pelicans are still without Zion Williamson, while Brandon Ingram is banged up too, and they’ve been awful. New Orleans is 1–8, worst in the entire NBA, with half of those losses by double digits.
The Pelicans are struggling to find consistent offense and probably won’t find any new answers against this defense, and we know how good the Warriors are at home. This should be Golden State in a walkover as long as they don’t leave the back door open.
Portland Trail Blazers (-4.5) vs Indiana Pacers
The Blazers and Pacers are two of the more disappointing teams in the league so far. Portland sits at 3–5 on a three-game losing streak, while Indiana has won two in a row but is still just 3–6 on the season.
Still, both teams have reason for optimism. Indiana finally got Caris LeVert back for both of these wins, and Malcolm Brogdon is back too. The Pacers are still missing T.J. Warren, but the offense has been pretty good considering the circumstances, and they should be able to score on this Blazers defense.
As for Portland, they’re scoring plenty too, ranked sixth in Offensive Efficiency thus far, and that’s despite an ice cold start from Damian Lillard. Dame’s shots are bound to start falling one of these nights, and Portland has had three impressive wins already when the shots start falling, all of them at home.
The Blazers always play better at the Moda Center in front of a raucous crowd, so this could be another chance for the offense to get right and put some points up. This should be a high scoring game, so the four-point spread isn’t too worrying. Portland should win and cover at home.
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