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NBA Best Bets: Basketball Picks, Predictions to Consider on DraftKings Sportsbook for January 2

Pearce Dietrich and Matt LaMarca give their best bets on DraftKings Sportsbook for Sunday’s NBA betting card.

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Sunday’s main slate features six games and gets underway at 6:00 p.m. ET with the final game tipping off at 9:30 p.m. ET. Yesterday, all of my bets busted, but all of my plays in the targets article hit — can’t win them all. Let’s survey the slate and pick the best bets for Sunday night.

Place your NBA bets at DraftKings Sportsbook and bet online by downloading the DraftKings Sportsbook app.


One note of warning and advice, these rosters are changing rapidly throughout each day and in every sport. For up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups, download the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive.


PEARCE’S PICKS

Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers

Over 224.5 (-110)

This is a big total for the 2021-22 NBA Season (new foul rules), but it doesn’t seem high enough based on the teams that are playing. Both teams are average in terms of defense when healthy — they’re not at full strength, no team is — and both play at a breakneck pace. The Lakers are first in pace of play and the Timberwolves are fifth. Also, both teams rank in the bottom third in Net Rating with negative scores meaning that their defenses are not that great. Usually when bad defenses play in up-tempo games, a lot of points are scored.

In the Lakers’ last seven games since Anthony Davis’ injury, the over has hit five times. Over that span, their defense has been the fourth worst in the NBA (115.1 defensive efficiency rating). In order to stay in games, their offense has picked up the slack and their offensive efficiency has increased from 107.3 on the season to 111.8 over the last seven games. In the last three games, the Lakers offense has seemed to have found its groove. The Lakers have won two of three after dropping five in a row, and in those three games their offense ranks second in the NBA with a 124.2 offensive efficiency rating.

Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder

Mavericks -8.5 (-110)

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Darius Bazley and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl are out. Lu Dort is questionable and he might be the biggest piece. Gilgeous-Alexander hurts but Dort’s absence looms large in a matchup with Luka Doncic and the Mavs. The last time the two faced off was January of 2020 (Dort’s rookie season), and Doncic got the better of him. A lot has changed since then. Both have improved, but both are not 100%. If both play, Doncic is an MVP candidate, so he has the edge, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Mavs will beat the Thunder by double-digits. However, Doncic is close to 100% and Dort could miss the game entirely.

Josh Giddey will return for the Thunder on Sunday night, but Gilgeous-Alexander being out really hurts the Thunder. It’s more significant than Porzingis being out for the Mavs. Doncic will gladly pick up the offensive slack, but there is no one to step up for SGA on the Thunder. Giddey is just a distributor and peripheral stat asset at this point in his career. He’s not a go-to scorer. Gilgeous-Alexander has missed one game this season, and the Thunder got blown out by the Suns 115-97 and failed to cover the +16 spread in that game on Dec. 29. With SGA in, the Thunder covered seven of the last eight games — all as dogs and winning five out right. Those performances came on the back of SGA. Full Doncic and No SGA means a long night in Oklahoma City.

Miami Heat vs. Sacramento Kings

Miami Heat -3.5 (-110)

The healthy Heat are good. More specifically, when Jimmy Butler is on the court, this is one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. In contrast, the Kings are not a good team and they will be without one of their best players Richaun Holmes (health protocols), and they could be without one of their emerging talents — Terence Davis (ankle) is questionable.

With Jimmy Butler back, the Heat comfortably beat the Rockets by 10 on Friday night, leading by as many 22 points in the second quarter. Despite their injury woes, the Heat rank seventh in defensive efficiency and force their opponents to play at a slow, grinding pace (fifth slowest). The Rockets up-tempo offense (seventh fastest) struggled to find a rhythm against the Heat and found themselves in an early hole that they could not dig out of. Sacramento plays at the third fastest pace and will likely find themselves in a similar situation, and just like the Rockets, the Kings have one of the worst defensive ratings in the league.


MATT’S PICKS

New York Knicks at Toronto Raptors

Raptors -8 (-110)

These two teams have been largely disappointing for most of the year. The Knicks were a massive surprise last season, earning the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but they have stumbled all the way to 10th to start the year. The Raptors are in 11th, and both teams are currently two games under .500.

However, there are definitely more reasons to be optimistic with the Raptors.

They’ve had to deal with tons of absences this season, but they are essentially back at full-strength. Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes are all expected to be in the lineup vs. the Knicks, and the Raptors have actually been quite good when their regulars have been in the lineup. Their most common five-man lineup — VanVleet, Anunoby, Barnes, Gary Trent and Precious Achiuwa — has outscored opponents by an average of 10.2 points per 100 possessions. VanVleet has been particularly important to the team’s success, with the team’s net rating increasing by 22.0 points with him on the floor. That ranks in the 99th percentile for qualified players per Cleaning the Glass.

Ultimately, this is a team that I expect to shoot up the standings as long as they can stay healthy.

Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavaliers -2.5 (-110)

No team has been better for bettors this season than the Cavaliers. They were expected to be bottom dwellers in the Eastern Conference, but they’ve jumped out to a 20-16 record to start the year. They’ve posted a sparkling 73.5% cover rate through their first 36 contests, and no other team is above 66.7%.

Unfortunately, the Cavaliers have been hit hard by injuries and COVID. Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio are both out for the rest of the year, while Darius Garland is in health and safety protocols. The team is so desperate at point guard that they traded for Rajon Rondo, but he’s also unavailable on Sunday.

Still, the team’s elite frontcourt should be enough to get them past the Pacers. They’re led by Evan Mobley, who has emerged as the Rookie of the Year favorite. He’s had an instant impact on the defensive end, and the Cavaliers have allowed 4.5 fewer points per 100 possessions with Mobley on the floor.

Offensively, Kevin Love has looked as good as he ever has in Cleveland recently. The Cavs have been careful with his minutes this season, but Love has averaged 27.7 points over 30.4 minutes in his past three contests. He’s also shot an elite 51.1% from the field and 50.0% from three-point range during that stretch.

The combination of Mobley, Love and Jarrett Allen should be able to get the job done vs. the Pacers, who are expected to be without Malcolm Brogdon. The Pacers have been outscored by an average of 2.8 points per 100 possessions with Brogdon off the floor this season.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers

Timberwolves +8 (-115)

The Lakers are on the opposite end of the spectrum as the Cavs. They’ve covered in just 40.5% of their games this season, which is the third-worst mark in the league. They’ve also failed to cover by an average of 3.1 points per game, which is better than only the Blazers.

LeBron James remains as dominant as ever, but this team simply doesn’t have much NBA talent around him. They placed all their eggs in the Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook baskets, and neither of those decisions has paid off. Davis is currently sidelined with an injury, while Westbrook’s play continues to deteriorate.

The Timberwolves’ roster is at far from full strength at the moment — Karl-Anthony Towns remains out due to health and safety protocols — but they could get some reinforcements on Sunday. Anthony Edwards is currently questionable, and his return would give them a nice boost.

Ultimately, I’m going to continue to fade the Lakers until it stops working. This team simply isn’t that good, and they’re still getting too much respect in the betting market.

Place your NBA bets at DraftKings Sportsbook and bet online by downloading the DraftKings Sportsbook app.


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and customer (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.


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