Saturday’s main slate features five games and gets underway at 7:00 p.m. ET with the final game tipping off at 9:00 p.m. ET. Let’s survey the slate and pick the best bets for Saturday night.
Over 210.5 (-110)
This is a real gem. The two worst teams in the NBA will do battle — or do something — on Saturday night. The Pistons’ -9.9 Net Rating is the worst in the NBA and the Magic are next in line with a -9.6. The Pistons’ defense ranks 22nd and the Magic are 25th, and their offenses are even worse, 28th and 29th, respectively.
This could go either way because each team is terrible in both phases, but this line is too low. Neither defense is capable of limiting their opponent to 105 points, and although each offense is at the bottom of the league, they can easily surpass this total. The Magic — playing short-handed — have scored over 105 points in four of the last five games. They could be short-handed on Saturday night with Franz Wagner and Cole Anthony both listed as questionable, but this seems precautionary. Both played through ankle injuries in their last game and they’ve had plenty of rest since that game on Wednesday.
While the Magic have not been the favorite a single time all season, the Pistons have been favored to win twice. They covered in one of those contests, and that just happened to be against the Magic (110-103 win on Oct. 30). The Pistons are finally getting back to full strength and have scored 109 points or more in five of the last seven games. They were held to 88 points in their last game, but that was on the road against Memphis (one of the best defensive units in the NBA). The other low total was in a matchup with the Knicks in the middle of the Pistons’ COVID outbreak. The Pistons will start Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes and Hamidou Diallo on Saturday night. This is far from the Showtime Lakers. They are young but competent and definitely able to score over 105 points against one of the worst defenses in the league.
Hornets -1 (-110)
The Bucks are the better team, but not tonight. It’s possible that a depleted Milwaukee squad beats the Hornets on the first game of a back-to-back, just as they beat the Nets last night (121-109). However, a depleted lineup on the tail end of a back-to-back on the road will not beat the Hornets. The Bucks should not have defeated the Nets on Friday night, but the Nets are stumbling at the moment. They shot 22% from three against the Bucks and have lost four of five — the old, worn out Nets’ only win over that span was at Indianapolis with fresh-legged Kyrie Irving playing.
The Hornets have trouble defending the frontcourt, so Giannis Antetokounmpo will eat them alive. They can survive a little bit of Greek cannibalism, but if Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis play above their heads again (combined for 45 points and 18 rebounds vs. the Nets), then the Hornets are in trouble. Middleton is not likely to make 55% of his 3-point attempts on back-to-back nights (34% 3-point percentage this season) and Portis is averaging 15.5 points per game this season (25 points on Friday night).
The Hornets are back at full strength, well rested (last game was Wednesday) and playing at home against a short-handed team that is playing their third game in four nights. Most of the time, the Hornets pace of play — the fastest in the NBA — does not do them any favors (-0.8 Net Rating ranks 22nd). However, in this spot, it’s perfect. A healthy, well-rested Charlotte squad should beat the banged-up Bucks. Despite a double-digit blowout win on Friday, the Bucks have a -1.0 Net Rating over their last three games and rank 16th in offensive efficiency. On a normal night, the Bucks’ fourth-ranked offense would easily keep pace with the Hornets’ third-ranked offense, but this is not a normal night because those no longer exist in the NBA.
Knicks +7 (-110)
With DraftKings Sportsbook mobile betting launching in New York on Saturday, it would seem prudent to take the Knicks even if it is against DraftKings’ hometown team. The Celtics are the better team and clearly deserve to be significant favorites at home, but that’s the story on paper. The Celtics have been favored often this season despite having a losing record. In fact, not only have they lost six of their last nine games, but they were the favorite in five of those contests — the most recent was a straight up loss to the Knicks. At home, they were the favorite in their last two games and failed to cover in both.
In contrast, the Knicks have won six of their last nine games despite not looking good on paper. They covered in every single one of those contests. Over the last seven games, the Knicks are sporting a +2.0 Net Rating to the Celtics’ 0.0 Net Rating, and as evidenced by the 208.5 over/under, both teams are playing at a snail’s pace — the Knicks rank last in pace and the Celtics are 28th over the last seven games. If points and possessions are limited and the Knicks continue to play above-average basketball, then it’s going to be hard for the Celtics to cover this line.
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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.
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