The first weekend of the NBA season is upon us, and while it’s too early to separate the contenders from the pretenders, there are a handful of games each night that offer some level of certainty as things begin to fall into place around the NBA odds space. Let’s take a look at a few of the best bets for tonight’s slate of games.
Best Bet: Timberwolves -6 (DraftKings)
This is a rare spot for a Timberwolves team that were home favorites just seven times last year (going 2-5 ATS in those contests). However, with Zion Williamson out of the lineup for the Pelicans, Minnesota should have little issue notching their second 2-0 start in as many seasons.
Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell combined for 51 points in the team’s season-opening 124-106 win against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, and they’ll be facing a New Orleans team that allowed the Philadelphia 76ers to shoot nearly 52 percent from the field during their 117-97 loss just three days ago.
Also working in Minnesota’s favor is the fact that they’re heading into this matchup with two days of rest, while New Orleans is coming into the game fresh off of last night’s battle against the Chicago Bulls. The fact that the Timberwolves have covered four of their last six contests with the Pelicans is icing on the cake: The trio of Edwards, Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns is far too much firepower for a short-handed New Orleans team to handle on the tail end of a back-to-back.
Best Bet: Under 214 (PointsBet)
The league’s schedule makers decided to give us Bulls/Pistons for the second time in a week. Unfortunately, while both of these teams are a far cry from what they were in the Jordan Rules Era, tonight’s game does offer a nice play for those so inclined.
Chicago – who has covered in each of their last six against Detroit – won’t have a problem putting up numbers in this one: Zach LaVine has established himself as one of the league’s premier scorers, and DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Lonzo Ball can each put up 25-30 points on any given night.
The Pistons, however, are overly reliant on Jerami Grant to carry the load offensively. He did his part in the team’s season opener on Wednesday scoring a team-high 24 points, but Detroit still fell to the Bulls 94-88, with the total falling well under the closing number.
With the Bulls as a home favorite last season, the under cashed 73.3% of the time. Expect a similar result in this one as well, especially with Chicago playing its third game in four nights.
Best Bet: Miami -3.5 (BetMGM)
The -3.5 spread in Saturday’s Pacers/Heat game is enticing for a number of reasons: Miami is coming to Indianapolis after a couple of days off, while this will be Indiana’s third game since opening up the 2021-22 campaign on Wednesday night.
It’s hard to ignore what Jimmy Butler and Co. did in their season opener: Miami scored 72 points in the first half and absolutely steamrolled the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks 137-95. Don’t expect a letdown after that performance, however, as Miami is one of the league’s most consistent teams away from home. Last season, the Heat were 14-7 when heading into a game as a road favorite.
No Caris LeVert for the Pacers means yet another start for rookie Chris Duarte, who will be hard pressed to match his 27-point outburst in his debut. The first-year guard out of Oregon will have his work cut out for him if he wants to reverse Indiana’s recent history: The Pacers were just 4-12 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse as home underdogs last year.
Best Best: Under 217 (FanDuel)
Both Toronto and Dallas failed to crack 90 points in their opening games this year: The scoring will come in time for both squads, but it doesn’t feel like the dam is going to break tonight. Neither team boasts a ton of offense under normal circumstances, and with the Raptors suiting up for the third time already during opening week, the under feels like the logical play here.
The problems in The North go deeper than scoring: Toronto is going to have a hard time simply winning games until Pascal Siakam returns from offseason shoulder surgery. Against the Wizards on Wednesday, just three players scored in double-figures, and no one finished with more than 12 points on the night. Even with Siakam in the lineup for the majority of last year, the under hit 20 times in 36 home games for the Raptors.
Dallas’ 113-87 loss versus the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday feels like an outlier after the team went 4-0 during the preseason. They finished the exhibition stretch with the league’s second-best defensive rating (92.7), and seem poised to regain their form against a Toronto team that appears to be headed towards the basement of the Atlantic Division.