NBA Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Wednesday, January 4th

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

January 4, 2023 10:47 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: 33-42 | Units: -10.20 | ROI: -13.95%

Indiana Pacers at Philadelphia 76ers (-7.5, 232.5)

Indiana is 6-1 SU and ATS in its last seven games, and 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games. The Pacers have become a deadly transition team, coming into this game ranked third in points added per 100 possessions through transition offense off live rebounds (2.4) and overall transition offensive efficiency (133.4). This matters in this matchup because the 76ers’ biggest defensive weakness has been its inability to contain elite transition offenses. New Orleans burned them for 2.167 points per play off live rebounds and 1.88 points per play overall in transition offense in the two games they just played. It is likely Indiana can exploit this weakness tonight, and that would likely lead to a successful night for the Pacers.

Play: Pacers (+8)

Best Bet Recap

Pacers (+8) 

The Rest

Memphis Grizzlies (-6.5, 234.5) at Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte will be without Kelly Oubre for the next 4-to-6 weeks, which means the league’s worst offense will not have its leading scorer (20.2) on the floor for the foreseeable future. The team will likely be without Gordon Hayward as well. That is an issue when facing Memphis, which leads the league in non-garbage time defensive efficiency (109.5). It’s not a stretch to say the Hornets will struggle to score tonight. Their gameplan to generate any sort of offense is to run as often as possible, but the Grizzlies give up the sixth fewest points per 100 plays in transition (121.1) and ninth fewest off live rebounds (117.6). This is a game in which Memphis should thrive, but away from home the Grizzlies are just 8-10 SU/5-11-2 ATS with a -3.0 net rating in non-garbage time. 

Phoenix Suns at Cleveland Cavaliers (-4.5, 222)

Last time we saw Cleveland it rallied from a 21-point deficit behind 71 points from Donovan Mitchell to beat Chicago. How does the team, and more importantly Mitchell, respond tonight? Darius Garland will likely be sidelined once more and Evan Mobley is questionable again, and if we learned anything from the game Monday it is that this offense can look ugly without a secondary creator like Garland on the floor. Meanwhile, Phoenix turned up an absolute dud on Monday in New York, putting up 0.965 points per possession in a 102-83 loss. The Suns are now 1-6 SU and ATS in their last seven, and their defense has fallen off a cliff. How much does that raise the Cavaliers’ floor tonight? This total has come down four points off the open, but the side remains untouched. Cleveland closed as 4.5-point favorites on Monday against Chicago, so bettors must ask if Phoenix rates better or worse than the Bulls and play accordingly.

*Oklahoma City Thunder at Orlando Magic (-2, 229)

Oklahoma City ran Boston out of the Paycom Center last night, ripping the Celtics’ defense for 1.505 points per possession in a 150-117 blowout victory. Tonight, they are in Orlando to face the Magic which has dropped its last three games both SU and ATS. Orlando’s luck on the perimeter has seemingly worn out, with the last six opponents combining to shoot 39.5% from deep and 41.7% on wide-open 3-point attempts. That luck was a driving force behind the team’s incredible run, and with that dried up this is obviously a much more mortal team. With the Thunder on the second leg of a back-to-back the injury report matters. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was a late scratch last night due to an illness, so he could be on the floor tonight. That is an injury that alters a line, and it is likely why we have not seen this line budge from the overnight opener. 

San Antonio Spurs at New York Knicks (-9, 227.5)

New York has won and covered its last two games, and now it gets to exact some revenge against San Antonio. After the Knicks blew that game in overtime to Luka Doncic and the Mavericks it played the Spurs on the road two nights later and lost that game. On the surface, this is a lopsided matchup. New York is 10th in non-garbage time defensive efficiency, limiting opponents to 113.2 points per 100 possessions while San Antonio is 26th in offense (111.0) and could be without its second-leading scorer in Devin Vassell. The Spurs also allow both the most points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time (120.5) and frequency of attempts at the rim (38.5%). The Knicks own the 10th best offensive rating (115.6) and take 34.2% of their attempts within four feet. If Vassell is out this number could get to -10 by close tonight.

*Milwaukee Bucks (-2, 229) at Toronto Raptors

Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 55 points on 20-of-33 shooting last night against Washington, but it seems he and the other key role players are getting the night off tonight. The overnight number was Bucks -2 but we are at Raptors -5 at some shops this morning. A move like that would indicate Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday taking the night off. Toronto has not been the most consistent team, and the sample size of that inconsistency is growing. Since the end of November the Raptors are 5-12 SU/6-11 ATS with the sixth worst net rating in non-garbage time over that span (-3.2). It is also interesting to see the market move this strongly without official word on the status of Antetokounmpo or Holiday. This is definitely a situation to monitor throughout the day.

Brooklyn Nets (-4.5, 235.5) at Chicago Bulls

How does Chicago respond after their most recent loss? The Bulls blew a 21-point lead to the Cavaliers on Monday night, and allowed Donovan Mitchell to drop 71 points in an overtime loss. We saw the Knicks go to San Antonio and lose to the Spurs in a similar situation last week, and today Chicago gets to face the hottest team in the league. Everyone would like to talk about the Nets’ current run, but let’s extend the sample size back to the firing of Steve Nash. Since Jacque Vaughn took over as head coach this team is 23-7 SU/18-11-1 ATS with the league’s best net rating in non-garbage time (+7.6). Chicago has no real defensive option for Kevin Durant, and if they cannot keep up with the Nets’ offense this could be another ugly result for the Bulls which had found some recent success. 

Portland Trail Blazers at Minnesota Timberwolves (-1, 233)

In an unsurprising move the betting market has flipped the favorite here in Minnesota. Portland is now -1 consensus, and for very good reason. The Timberwolves might have upset the Nuggets last time out, but that victory snapped an 0-6 SU/1-5 ATS slide. Since losing Karl-Anthony Towns the team’s offense has been abysmal, averaging just 113.0 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time while going 6-11 ATS. It is really hard to make the case for Minnesota at this point, but it's not like Portland enters this game on fire. The Trail Blazers are in a 3-5 SU and ATS slump, during which their defense has been weighing them down. Portland gives up the second most shots at the rim, something Minnesota will look to exploit. In a game which has a tight number with a high total in-game is almost always the way to go.

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