Shane McNichol makes his NBA predictions for Friday night with four best bets against the spread.
The NBA is charging forward with one of the more exciting seasons in recent memory. The race atop each conference is heating up with championship contenders and the list of MVP-worthy players seems to grow with every highlight that hits your TV screen.
Friday’s slate of games offers some marquee matchups between big name teams, with these four picks standing out as the best chances for bettors to find value:
De’Anthony Melton Points + Assists Under 16.5
Melton has been a really nice addition for a Sixers team in need of secondary scoring and creation. Joel Embiid’s ability to score against opposing bigs is so dependent on having dynamic scorers surrounding him on the perimeter, sucking potential help defenders away and putting the other team on their heels.
Melton has not, however, been as much of a factor offensively in the games in which he shared the court with James Harden. The Beard is back after an extended absence due to injury, sapping up potential production from Philly’s role players like Melton.
In Philly’s last five games, Melton has averaged 14 points plus assists, only topping 16.5 once in that span. In the eight games he played with Harden to start the season, his numbers were even lower, averaging 11.8 points plus assists and only topping this mark three times in eight tries.
In front of a big audience with LeBron James and the Lakers in town, Harden will take center stage and Melton won’t have the chances to produce.
Brooklyn Nets -7.5 vs. Atlanta Hawks
There’s no questioning the Nets talent. When things go right, Brooklyn has one of the best rosters in the NBA and can compete with anyone.
If you follow the NBA at all, you know that things haven’t exactly been going right this season. Head coach Steve Nash was fired, injuries have been all over the roster, Kyrie Irving has been embroiled in controversy, and Ben Simmons has played somewhat on par for the expectations of a player who sat out all of last season.
In recent weeks though, the nets have started to cobble themselves together. Head coach Jacque Vaughn has settled the ship, Irving’s issues have taken a backseat for now, and Simmons has missed time with injury (which opens space on the offensive end for Kevin Durant to work). Brooklyn has suddenly won five of its last six.
Facing a Hawks team without Dejounte Murray, who is slated to miss time due to injury, Brooklyn is likely to take care of business at home.
Luka Doncic Points + Rebounds + Assists Over 47.5
It generally takes Luka Doncic a little time to settle into the season before he elevates to his typical level of play, among the short list of MVP candidates each season. This year, he appears to have turned on the jets as we approach the holiday season.
In Doncic’s last five games, he’s topped 30 points four times and has averaged 32.2 points, 9.8 assists, and 8.2 rebounds.
His Mavericks are riding a three-game winning streak that has proved valuable as they jockey in the Western Conference standings. Welcoming in Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks to Dallas should provide Doncic plenty of motivation to keep up his stellar recent play.
In last season’s only meeting with his fellow European superstar, Doncic posted one of his best games of the season, with 32 points, 15 assists, and 8 rebounds.
I expect a monster night from Luka Doncic again here.
Utah Jazz (-3) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
Sometimes picks are based on deep rooted statistical evidence or prior results from this season. Sometimes, however, as every bettor knows, there’s just something emotional about the game.
This is Rudy Gobert’s return to Salt Lake City after being traded away to Minnesota this summer. I would believe he thinks he has something to prove, but Rudy Gobert isn’t exactly the type of player built to capitalize on that feeling.
Instead, I expect the feisty Jazz to continue their strong play from early this season. Everyone in the NBA expects Utah to fade from the playoff push, yet as long as they continue to be as efficient offensively and cohesive defensively as they’ve been to date, this Jazz team will continue to win games, including this revenge game against the French Rejection and his fellow Timberwolves.