NBA betting tips: 3 picks against the spread for Friday
Shane McNichol makes his NBA predictions for Friday night's games, with three picks against the spread.
With the NBA season starting to hit its stride, some of this season’s biggest storylines surround teams both falling short of high expectations or exceeding preseason hopes. As we turn the page to another weekend full of games, there are some juicy opportunities to take advantage of teams that are currently over or undervalued in the market.
Toronto Raptors (-1.5) vs. Philadelphia 76ers
While the rest of the city of Philadelphia has turned its eyes to the unbeaten Eagles and World Series-bound Phillies, the Sixers have gotten off to a dismally disappointing start.
What was supposed to be the deepest, most talented roster to ever surround Joel Embiid has instead looked listless and low energy. On the nights that Embiid has struggled, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey haven’t been good enough to spark the Sixers offense. When Embiid has played at his expected high level, his teammates have stagnated on offense and shot poorly.
Philadelphia looks like a team desperate for a change, with Doc Rivers the prime candidate to lose his job if there’s a shake-up. Until something changes, expectations for the Sixers have to change, especially against a Toronto team that is always tough to beat on its home court.
Los Angeles Lakers (+8.5) at Minnesota Timberwolves
Speaking of teams looking listless and low energy, the Lakers have been a mess so far this season, failing to secure a victory in their first four outings. Why, then, am I bullish on their chances on the road Friday night?
Things can’t go much worse for the Lakers, especially outside the arc. The Lakers have managed to make just 22 per cent from deep so far this season. That’s not only the worst in the league so far this season, or the worst four-game stretch to start a campaign, it’s the worst four-game stretch at any part of any season in NBA history (min. 125 attempts).
Russell Westbrook catches a lot of the blame, both for his own 1-for-12 shooting from deep to start the year and the ensuing spacing issues his game causes, but the entire Los Angeles roster has been ice cold. The seemingly capable shooters brought in to play on the wing around the Lakers stars have underwhelmed, with Patrick Beverly shooting 3-for-16, Kendrick Nunn hitting 4-of-17, and Lonnie Walker making only 4-of-23 to start the year.
Add on early-season shooting woes for both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and the Lakers’ 0-4 start makes a lot of sense.
Eventually, shooting regression will come, potentially in a big way. I’m willing to roll the dice on that outcome a few times, starting in Minnesota. Even if it’s not enough to power a win, seven points is a spread too big to turn down.
Portland Trailblazers (-5.5) vs. Houston Rockets
With Damian Lillard seemingly approaching the back-half of his prime years, the Trailblazers appear more and more adamant that they compete for playoff position year after year. This year was no exception, with the offseason additions of Jeremy Grant and Josh Hart intended to bolster a porous Portland defense.
So far, the Blazers have looked capable of competing in the postseason, starting 4-1 with big nights from Lillard and backcourt mate Anfernee Simons. If Portland wants to keep pace all season long, home games against the bottom half of the conference, like Friday’s date with the Rockets, are must-win games.
The young Rockets offense ranks fifth-lowest in the league in points per 100 possessions, leaving it well short of the firepower needed to top the hot shooting Blazers.