Expert Picks for Nuggets vs. Knicks, Heat vs. Bulls
The NBA has shown us their version of insanity as teams head into the postseason. Eight games are scheduled for Saturday and all but one team are currently chasing a place in the play-ins or playoffs.
The featured matchup of the night on NBA TV is a “rivalry game” between the Warriors and the Grizzlies (8pm ET), but our crew is targeting two more games to make their best bets. Their expert picks include player props, first half spreads and more.
Read below for their analysis and betting predictions.
NBA Odds & Tips
Denver Nuggets vs. New York Knicks
Malik Smith: This matchup gives me flashbacks to last season. The Knicks hosted the Nuggets in a matinee game at Madison Square Garden and were first-half favorites. They trail by 11 at the break. In today’s matchup, the Knicks get a potentially more vulnerable version of Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, who are 5-5 in their last 10 games.
The Knicks are the best team against the first half spread in the NBA (48-22-1, 68%) and even better at home (26-8-1, 76%). They haven’t played since Monday and on three or more rest days they are 8-2 ATS in the first half. In games tipping before 5 p.m. ET, the Knicks are 7-1 ATS.
The Nuggets are in the first half of this season with 36-34 ATS and 17-17 ATS. They are 7-13 ATS as street favorites and still 1.5 point favorites in this matchup. They were behind the Pistons, Raptors and Spurs at halftime last week.
The trends here are all pointing to the Knicks and I’m putting them on both ATS and the money line in the first half.
Denver Nuggets vs. New York Knicks
Chris Baker: The Knicks didn’t look like a good basketball team since Jalen Brunson went down with a foot injury. The ball doesn’t move on offense and they don’t get the same shot quality as they did with Brunson in the lineup.
They have gone 2-3 in their last five games without Brunson, although four of those games have been against teams with the lowest 10 net ratings. During those five games, the Knicks rank 19th in net rating and 30th in offensive effective field goal percentage (50.2%). This is clearly a very different team without Brunson but I have to mention that he trained fully yesterday and is officially questionable for this team.
Since that line is only -2, I’d assume Brunson will play, but it’s important to note that he’s been struggling with foot pain (the team originally called it a bruise). Without knowing Brunson’s exact situation, I would just say that I expect his minutes here to be monitored and caution against assuming he will play his normal workload. As someone who is currently personally suffering from plantar fasciitis, I can tell you that walking longer minutes can flare up with nagging foot problems.
The Knicks would certainly benefit from Brunson’s presence, but I don’t know if it will be enough to thwart this elite Nuggets offense. The Nuggets have so much off-ball movement and you need to be on defensive assist when Nikola Jokic has the ball as he can split-second whip a pass for a layup or a dunk if you’re lazy with your rotations. Focusing on the defensive end has been a big issue for Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, and I expect Aaron Gordon will benefit from cuts with plenty of open shots if Randle defends him. It really is a five-man effort defending the Nuggets, and unfortunately, I don’t know if the Knicks have five guys who can focus on defending that offense for 48 minutes.
Also, I like the Gordon defensive matchup against Randle. An elite defender, Gordon has the power and foot speed to keep the ball in front of him when guarding Randle. I think this is a very cheap option given Brunson’s uncertainty and the matchup, so I grab the -2 and play this down to -3.
Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls
Bryan Fonseca: Jimmy Butler has mostly played well on his Chicago returns.
In all, he has visited the Bulls five times since he was originally traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves after the 2016-17 season and has averaged 27.4 points. In fact, he’s hit over 23.5 on three separate occasions. Additionally, he has been a top NBA player since the All-Star hiatus and was eliminated from the All-Star team.
Butler tends to do that this time of year anyway. Since the break, he’s been good for 25.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 60% (!!) from the field, 50% on 3s and 85.7% 11 free throw attempts per contest. Butler has made it from the field, but even when he doesn’t, he gets to the line at will, scoring double-digit free throw attempts (and completions) in five of his last eight games.
And in terms of the primary counting stat here, Butler has scored over 23.5 points in five straight games before just 23 last time out. This feels like a reliable game, which isn’t always the case with this season’s Heat team.
Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Joe Dellera: The Golden State Warriors travel to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies as both teams are in the second game of a straight set. The Warriors lost away in Atlanta while the Grizzlies clinched an overtime win in San Antonio.
The Warriors have struggled to find a rhythm away from home, but they are a top-10 team overall since the All-Star break with a +2.5 point difference in 13 games. The Grizzlies have played well without Morant this season, but in their last seven games without him they are 4-3 by +1.2 points. Those stats are a bit inflated though – the wins are two games against the Mavericks without Kyrie Irving or Luka Doncic, the Spurs, and of course the one game against the Warriors where they pulled out a 20-point lead in the first quarter.
The Warriors need this game a lot more than the Grizzlies, and while there’s something to be said about being in a position where you “need” a game, it doesn’t inspire confidence, but this Warriors team has been waiting for it all year to flip a switch. There’s bad blood from last season’s Conference Finals and I expect the Warriors to bounce back from their head-to-head loss a few days ago.
The Grizzlies’ current form is somewhat inflated due to their current schedule and the injury streak of their opponents. Now that the Grizzlies are clinching an overtime win away, their home field advantage isn’t as significant and I wouldn’t be surprised if their rotations were a little lower today.
I’ll take the points with the Warriors on the street; At the time of writing, BetMGM has the best line with the Warriors priced at +2.5.
How would you rate this item?
This page contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content of this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of any information provided or the outcome of any game or event.