As is common in the fall, Friday night’s are loaded with sports, and this Friday is no different. We’ve got Game 1 of the World Series, College Football and, of course, 11 NBA games.
Pacers vs. Wizards and Pelicans v. Suns get top billing on national TV, but our analysts have spotted value in three more matchups across the slate. They’re targeting two totals and two spreads for tonight’s matchup.
You can find their analysis and best bets for Friday night below.
Chris Baker: These teams played on Wednesday night and reached 228 points, but I am going to take the under here. Looking at that game, both teams did a good job of blocking out and limiting second chance opportunities as they both rank under the 20th percentile in offensive rebound rate, according to Cleaning the Glass.
The game wasn’t particularly fast paced as each team had fewer than 95 possessions, but it managed to go over as both teams shot extremely well from the field: They each shot above 43% from deep and made 16 3-pointers.
The other major reason the game went over was the complete lack transition defense from Philly. The Sixers allowed 22.8% of the Raptors’ possessions to be in transition and they allowed 16.4 points per 100 possessions in transition.
This has been a theme for the 76ers as they currently rank dead-last in the NBA defensively in points per 100 in transition. I think Sixers head coach Doc Rivers will make this a major point of emphasis in a game where Philly should have more urgency due to their slow 1-4 start.
Toronto currently ranks first in the NBA in transition frequency and points but they drop to 24th in points per 100 when they are forced to play in the half-court.
The slow pace from last game should continue as they teams currently rank 29th and 30th in pace per Dunks And Threes. Going back to the playoffs, the Raptors have played Philly in eight of their last 13 games while the 76ers have faced Toronto in eight of their last 19 games.
These teams should be extremely familiar with each other and the types of sets their opponent wants to run and I expect that familiarity to result in less points on Friday night. Take the under in Toronto on Friday night.
Matt Moore: I make this double digits off Adjusted Power Rating. The short-sample current season numbers are even bigger.
The Pacers profile as this great offensive team, but they rank 27th in halfcourt Offensive Rating, while the Wizards rank second in halfcourt defense. The Wizards’ offense is worse, but the Pacers are 28th in halfcourt offense.
The Wizards allow the 13th-fewest transition opportunities. They force you into halfcourt and out-execute you. Injury report is clean. The number is short. I like the Wizards here.
Andrew O’Connor-Watts: The winless Lakers take on the new-look Timberwolves in a battle of what might be a playoff preview … if not for such an awful-looking Lakers offense.
The silver-lining for the Lakers, (or should I say gold and purple) is they boast the fourth-best defense in the league (104.0), according to NBA Advanced Stats. And yet they still rank 26th in Net Rating.
However, the Lakers are dead last in Offensive Rating (96.9) and score a whopping 5.3 points per 100 possessions fewer than their crosstown rivals, the 29th-ranked Clippers (102.2).
To put it in perspective, the offensive difference between the Clippers at 29 and the Lakers at 30, is a bigger gap than the ninth-ranked 76ers (114.0) and the 24th-ranked Bucks (109.1). Yeesh.
Lucky for us, that combination of ingredients can make for some tasty plays on the under. In Lakers games this year, the total is 3-1 to the under, and that one over came on opening night against the fastest-paced team in the league — the Golden State Warriors.
Some cause for concern could be the Lakers’ own pace. They rank second in the league at 105.9 and the Wolves aren’t far behind at 103.3, good enough for fourth in the league.
While both teams like to push the pace, neither gets out in transition particularly well. The Timberwolves rank 29th in Pts+/Poss (.1) and Pts/Play in transition (105.3), while the Lakers rank 25th in those same categories, according to Cleaning The Glass.
The one area in which the Lakers excel offensively in the fastbreak is off of live rebounds, where they rank first in the league. The Timberwolves can easily counter any threat the Lakers might pose in those scenarios, as they rank first in their own right defending the fastbreak off of live rebounds.
As of now, both Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook are listed as questionable. I’ll feel better if Davis and Westbrook play — AD for his defense and Westbrook for his lack of shooting — but regardless of what happens it won’t keep me away.
In all four meetings last season, the total went under. Since then, the Wolves have added one of the best defensive big men of the last 20 years in Rudy Gobert, and the Lakers added zero plus-shooters. I like this under down to 225.5.
Matt Moore: I bet this just after open at +7.5, and grabbed a +7. My numbers make this spread 5 flat so I think there’s value to that point.
There are two angles here: If the Knicks really are decent-to-good, the power rating for them from the books won’t have caught up yet, allowing an opportunity to steal some value early in the season. New York hasn’t had a really awful showing yet. They will, eventually, and it might be here when they run up against the first contender they’ve seen. But they might be underrated by the overall power rating, and playing well right now.
Second, this is a letdown spot for the Bucks. In the last two seasons, they are 5-2 straight up and against the spread vs. the Nets — who they beat on Wednesday — but they’re just 2-5 ATS in the following game.
The Bucks are also overrated by the market at home against teams within the non-division Eastern Conference teams, at least since trading for Jrue Holiday. The past two seasons Milwaukee is 10-7 ATS vs. division teams, but against all other conference opponents, they are just 16-21 ATS (43%).