Shane McNichol makes his NBA predictions for Friday night with four best bets.
Utah Jazz (-1.5) vs. Atlanta Hawks
This spot feels ripe for the Jazz to take care of business in front of their home crowd in Salt Lake City.
The Hawks are in the middle of a sprawling West Coast road trip, with a back-to-back scheduled Saturday in Denver. This comes with Atlanta struggling of late, dropping four of their last six.
Meanwhile, Utah hasn’t left home since January 25, winning two straight in their own arena. The Jazz have been reliable there this season, with a 16-10-1 ATS record at Vivint Arena.
Jordan Clarkson is a tough cover for Trae Young and is the player to watch Friday night. Trust the Jazz, who look to be sticking around in the playoff race unexpectedly.
Philadelphia 76ers (-9.5) at San Antonio Spurs
These teams met early in the season in late October, with a surprising Spurs win capping a disastrous 0-3 start for Philly. For a brief moment, the Spurs had some hope. San Antonio started 5-2 and looked far sharper than expected.
Since then, the Spurs are 9-36. San Antonio was just 2-13 in the month of January. Six of the Spurs’ last eight losses have come by margins larger than this spread, with little correlation to the location of the game or the matchup against the other team.
Even against the spread, the Spurs are 2-8 in their last ten outings. This is a young team built to lose and earn San Antonio better odds in this year’s NBA Draft lottery.
The Sixers, on the other hand, are the hottest team in hoops right now. Philly is 20-5 in its last 25 games, on the back of an MVP-like stretch from Joel Embiid. Expect that to continue Friday night. When these teams met in October, Embiid posted 40 points and 13 rebounds. San Antonio has no answer for the Sixers’ star.
Minnesota Timberwolves (-5.5) vs. Orlando Magic
The injury report might give you some pause here. Rudy Gobert isn’t expected to play with a groin injury. Seemingly, that would favor Orlando.
This season, however, Minnesota has played well with Gobert sidelined. In 10 games with their starting center wearing street clothes, the Timberwolves are 7-3, including wins in the last three occurrences.
On Wednesday night, Naz Reid slid into the starting lineup and brought a new dynamic to the Minnesota offense. The rim-running Gobert is one-dimensional, but Reid can step out and hit jump shots. He attempted eight three-pointers against Golden State, finishing the game with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists.
Against a young Orlando frontline, he could repeat that performance Friday.
Sacramento Kings (ML) vs. Indiana Pacers
After a three-game losing streak, with all three losses also not covering the spread, Indiana was treated to a tough turnaround by the schedule makers. Indy hosted the Lakers Thursday night and then will see Sacramento Friday night.
The Kings enter on a two-game winning streak, both victories coming on the road, covering the spread as favorites.
Sacramento may lose some steam on their current road trip, but catching the Pacers on a back-to-back is good fortune. The Kings should be able to do enough to earn the win.