NBA Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Monday, January 2nd

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

January 2, 2023 08:17 AM

Welcome to the daily NBA best bets page, your source for analysis on the betting lines for the day in professional hoops. For updates throughout the day follow me on Twitter, and make sure to subscribe to the Hardwood Handicappers podcast!

All game lines via the VSiN NBA odds page

*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back

**Lines are opening numbers

Best Bets

Record: 32-41 | Units: -10.11 | ROI: -14.21%

Phoenix Suns at New York Knicks (-1.5, 223)

Two struggling teams meet in an early afternoon affair at The Garden today. Phoenix went 5-11 SU/6-10 ATS in December while allowing the third most points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time (119.3), and it comes into this game as losers in five of six with a 2-4 ATS record. New York might have slaughtered Houston last time out, but the Knickerbockers are still 1-5 SU/1-4-1 ATS in their last six games with a 119.5 defensive rating. It would seem that this is a game tailor made for some scoring, but the market has plummeted from an overnight total of 223 to 219 at most shops. The pace is going to be slow, as both teams rank 22nd and 24th in pace this season, but each team does well against what the other struggles to defend. New York takes most of its shots at the rim and ranks fifth in putback points generated per 100 missed shot attempts (24.3). Phoenix ranks 23rd and 29th in those categories defensively. Meanwhile, the Suns generate the third most corner 3-point attempts in the league, and are fifth in transition offensive efficiency (132.6). The Knicks allow the seventh most amount of corner 3-pointers and rank 20th in transition defense. It seems it is time to buyback on this total dropping.

Play: OVER 219.5

Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers (-3.5, 222)

Cleveland could be without Darius Garland and Evan Mobley once more tonight, much like it was when these two teams faced off on New Year’s Eve. It did not show on the floor that night, but one could make the argument that the power should not be adjusted much at all for the Cavaliers should neither Garland or Mobley play tonight. Cleveland has outscored opponents by 9.9 points per 100 possessions without either on the floor, and its 105.6 defensive rating in those possessions ranks in the 98th percentile of qualified lineups. That showed in the meeting on Saturday, as they held the Bulls to 0.705 points per play in the halfcourt and 1.041 points per possession overall. That defensive effort should be similar for Cleveland, and Donovan Mitchell will likely bounce back at home from a 15-point night on 5-of-16 shooting. The market is coming off this opener in a few spots and rightfully so. Give me the Cavaliers tonight.

Play: Cavaliers (-3.5)

Best Bet Recap

Suns/Knicks OV 219.5

Cavaliers (-3.5)

The Rest

Los Angeles Lakers at Charlotte Hornets (-1, 240.5)

It might get repetitive, but the analysis remains the same when it comes to Los Angeles. Since losing Anthony Davis to injury they have allowed 122.6 points per 100 possessions to their opponents - the second worst defensive rating in non-garbage time over that span - and 74.6% on shots at the rim. Charlotte is currently 30th in non-garbage time offensive rating (106.4), but it leads the league in frequency of attempts at the rim (38.6%) and could take advantage of Los Angeles’ lackluster rim defense. Having said that, the Hornets lack a real defensive presence for LeBron James and their offense is reliant on transition opportunities, something the Lakers have actually been good at defensively without Davis. In a month that has seen the value of homecourt drop to about 1.5 points one could make the argument that Los Angeles deserves to be favored here, but not by much.

Toronto Raptors at Indiana Pacers (-3, 229)

Indiana is back to its pesky ways, coming into this game with a 7-2 ATS record in its last nine games. Meanwhile, Toronto has shown some stability recently with a 4-2 ATS record in its last six. This game is all about transition offense. The Raptors and Pacers head into this contest ranked first and second respectively in transition offense. Toronto adds 5.8 points per 100 possessions through transition offense and averages 140.4 points per 100 plays. Indiana adds 4.6 points per 100 possessions and averages 133.3 points per 100 plays. The difference will be how the other defends, and that is where the Pacers are at a disadvantage. The Raptors also 12th in transition defense this season, compared to 26th for the Pacers. This overnight line was bet down to -1.5 which is an understandable move considering the matchup.

New Orleans Pelicans at Philadelphia 76ers (-4.5, 231)

Transition will also be an important aspect of this game. When these two teams met in New Orleans on Friday night the 76ers were obliterated by the Pelicans when they ran. New Orleans averaged 1.923 points per play in the fastbreak and 3.0 points per play off live rebounds! Philadelphia has been better in that area of the floor recently, but it was a defensive weakness early in the season and New Orleans is perfectly capable of exploiting it. Tyrese Maxey is back on the floor tonight after sitting out the second leg of a back-to-back on Saturday, and both teams are relatively healthy, outside of Brandon Ingram still being sidelined for New Orleans. The betting market has bet this up to 5.5 in some spots this morning which seems surprising given what transpired on Friday.

*Denver Nuggets (-1.5, 232.5) at Minnesota Timberwolves

Denver pulled out a big win last night over Boston without Jamal Murray, and tonight he will be back on the floor to face Minnesota. The Timberwolves are spiraling out of control right now, heading into this game 0-5 SU/1-4 ATS in their last five games with an abysmal -7.1 net rating. One would think that having Rudy Gobert on the floor would make Minnesota uniquely equipped to handle Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, but Jokic has had quite a bit of success in games opposite Gobert, averaging 30.4 points, 11.5 rebounds and 9.3 assists on 62.3% shooting since 2019. There has been no movement early due to the mystery surrounding Denver’s injury report, but once it is confirmed it would be wise to expect some move toward the Nuggets.

Atlanta Hawks at Golden State Warriors (-5, 237.5)

Golden State improved to 4-0 SU and ATS in this current homestand when it outscored Portland 30-16 in the fourth quarter in a comeback effort on Friday night. The Warriors’ defense has been great during this run, limiting the four opponents to 105.6 points per 100 possessions, and it will likely thrive once more against an inconsistent Hawks team which ended December 5-9 ATS. Atlanta is not only 21st in non-garbage time offensive efficiency, but reports emerged over the weekend about Nate McMillian seriously considering resigning from his post as head coach. The initial overnight line of -5 was aggressive and did not consider the injuries for Golden State which are numerous. Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and JaMychal Green are all out, along with the usual absence of Stephen Curry, leaving this team small and short-handed.

Miami Heat at Los Angeles Clippers (-5, 222.5)

Los Angeles returns home after a somewhat disappointing east coast trip that ended with a close loss in Indiana. Nic Batum is expected to miss this game, but he is the only notable name for the Clippers on the report, but the same cannot be said for the Heat which have Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson and Gabe Vincent listed as questionable. Having said that, Miami will have its big three of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry on the floor which means this is truly a heavyweight battle. The Heat are playing their third game in four nights, completing a back-to-back circuit in Denver and Utah, meaning the fourth quarter should be an area of focus for in-game bettors looking to play against a potentially fatigued road team. This number has dropped to as low as 2.5 at a few shops with a total down to 219.5 at most spots.

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Matt Youmans: Heat (+8.5) at Nuggets. View more picks.


The Lombardi Line: Both the Nuggets and Heat shot poorly in Game 1 of the NBA Finals - and the total is down five points in Game 2 (219.5 to 214.5). Consider betting the OVER if you expect any positive regression. View more tips.