NBA Plays for Friday and Saturday

Before we get to a couple of plays for Friday evening and Saturday, let’s look at the state of the union across the league.

The hottest team in the league right is the Utah Jazz. Not only do they have the best record in the league—at the time of writing this—they also have the best NBA BPI. This index says that they should beat teams like the LA Lakers and LA Clippers by around 2.5 points if they were to meet on a neutral court.

The Milwaukee Bucks are the second-best team in the NBA at the moment as far as the BPI is concerned, with a rating of 6.0. That said, now that Durant is back in action, and the Brooklyn Nets are firing on all cylinders, the Nets share the best record in the East with the Phila &6ers and have a 1.5-game lead over the explosive Bucks.

The Pheonix Suns have been one of the more surprising teams this season. When I say this, I mean the consistency they’ve shown. It didn’t surprise me to see them climb up in the standings, but the fact that they have maintained their position near the top of an uber-competitive Western Conference shows that they are legit.

Without  further ado, here are a couple of NBA picks to wet your weekend entrance palate:

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Phoenix Suns -10.5

The T-Wolves head to Phoenix and face the Suns, who are 11-point favorites in the dark of night at 10 PM EST, 8 PM CST, 7 PM PST.

The Suns are interesting because not only are they 26-12 SU straight-up), but they are also 26-12 ATS (against the spread). Meanwhile, the Minnesota T-Wolves just 9-31 SU and 16-23 ATS. So, we have a team that covers the number 68% of the time against a team that only manages to do so 41%.

It gets even worse for the Timberwolves when they are listed as underdogs. In this situation, they only cover the spread 38% of the time. On the flip side, the Suns cover the number 75% of the time when they are the home favorites.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Excited to be at Phoenix Suns Arena tonight to watch <a href=”https://twitter.com/Wilson_Bulldogs?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Wilson_Bulldogs</a> and <a href=”https://twitter.com/FandMCollege?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@FandMCollege</a> grad Chris Finch lead the <a href=”https://twitter.com/Timberwolves?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Timberwolves</a> against the <a href=”https://twitter.com/Suns?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Suns</a>. <a href=”https://twitter.com/Twolves_PR?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Twolves_PR</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/fandmMBB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@fandmMBB</a> <a href=”https://t.co/HawSMKnj76″>pic.twitter.com/HawSMKnj76</a></p>&mdash; Andy Shultz (@andyjshultz) <a href=”https://twitter.com/andyjshultz/status/1372733669979267076?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>March 19, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

The Phoenix Suns have a rating of 4.8, while the Timberwolves are rated negative 5.9.  So, on a neutral court, these numbers should mean that the Suns would win by 1.5 to 11 points, right where the point-spread currently sits. However, the Suns are at home, so we are going to give them an extra 1.5—not the full 2.3 they would normally get during a game with thousands in attendance. Homecourt advantage pushes the BPI difference to a little over 12 points, so when we factor in the other ATS stats, there is quite a bit of value in taking the Sun.  Put it this way, Phoenix is the right play, even if they end up missing on the ATS cover.

Friday Night Bonus — Portland covers +4 (-117) against Dallas Mavericks at the Rose Garden.

Atlanta Hawks @ LA Lakers (no spread released)

Here we have two teams who are mediocre at covering the point spread. The Lakers are 51.2% with a 21-20 ATS record. The Hawks are 21-19-1 against the spread.  However, the Lakers have a better SU record, mostly due to their performance earlier in the season. Now, they have been hit or miss. That said, they have smashed through three straight wins, albeit against mediocre teams. On the flip side, the Hawks have powered out six straight wins.

I was going to make a case for the Lakers to get the straight-up win at home, but with only one day of rest, the Lakers only cover the number 44% of the time and with equal rest as their opponent, just 39%of the time.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Lakers come in as 6.5-point favorites in this matchup, and if so, I love the Hawks to cover that number if Marc Gasol remains in SARS-2 quarantine through Saturday. They have already been downgraded to OUT for Thursday evening against the Charlotte Hornets.

These teams match up well against each other statistically speaking. Both score 112 points and change per game, but the Lakers are roughly 5 points better on defense. However, the Hawks have a lot of momentum, and I’ll take a six-point spread or greater if Gasol is out still. If he looks probable, we’ll reassess.

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