We have an action-packed Wednesday night on the hardwood. A total of 10 NBA games are scheduled for this evening. The slate includes a fun nationally televised doubleheader on ESPN and a massive Central Division showdown between the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers. Basketball Insiders takes a look at the NBA best bets and free picks for the January 26th NBA betting slate. Odds for the picks can be found at BetOnline Sportsbook.
NBA Best Bets and Free Picks Tonight, 1/26
Hornets vs Pacers: Over 228 (-110) | NBA Best Bets
The Charlotte Hornets had a stretch of recent games in which they held five of six opponents to 102 points or less. However, a closer examination of opponents’ shooting percentages suggests that this is far from a defensive renaissance. In essence, the Hornets got somewhat lucky in having several teams shoot well below league average against them. If one bumps the shooting numbers up to the NBA mean, those low point totals allowed look much different.
We have already seen potential evidence that this was a fluke run in the Hornets’ last two contests. After allowing 113 points to the Atlanta Hawks in a home loss on Sunday, Charlotte surrendered 125 to the Toronto Raptors just last night. A 12-point Hornets loss ultimately saw 138 combined points scored.
On the season, the Hornets are tied for 23rd in defensive efficiency allowing 109.8 points per 100 possessions. While their defensive play has been horrendous, Charlotte is able to have the seventh-best record in the Eats thanks to a top-five offensive efficiency. The Hornets have averaged 110.0 points per 100 possessions this season.
The side of tonight’s matchup features an Indiana Pacers outfit that has also allowed over 109 points per 100 possessions defensively to date. With shot-blocking center Myles Turner sidelined long-term and fellow big man Domantas Sabonis questionable, the Pacers’ defense has only been worse recently.
Add it all up and we are likely looking at a run-and-gun affair between the two sides tonight. With most sportsbooks already having climbed as high as 228, we’ll aim to snag a half-point of value with the favorable line at FanDuel.
Denver Nuggets -2 (-115) | NBA Best Bets
Simply put, the Brooklyn Nets are not playing anywhere close to their best basketball right now. The absence of Kevin Durant clearly looms large, and the Nets have struggled to account for all of his productivity. Last night’s home loss to the L.A. Lakers was the Nets’ second straight defeat and fourth loss in their last seven games overall. Not only will they be playing the second game of a back-to-back tonight, but Brooklyn will also once again be without Kyrie Irving as it is another home game.
Without both Durant and Irving, the Nets are a one-man show for home games right now. Furthermore, it has been reported that that one man, James Harden, is not too thrilled with the current situational dynamics in Brooklyn. He put those feelings aside to score 33 points last night, but he also played 38 minutes. Fatigue could very much be a factor tonight for a Nets team that is already shorthanded.
While the opposing Denver Nuggets are far from world-beaters, they are at least fully healthy coming into tonight’s game. Of course, this excludes the long-term absences of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Matchup-wise, the Nets don’t figure to have much of an answer for reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic in the post. If Denver can have four additional players score in double figures like last night, one has to believe they will be in a good position to win tonight’s contest.
Considering the respective records and outlooks for these two teams, the fact that the Nuggets are laying two points on the road tonight is pretty telling. It may not make much sense, but the market seems to be telling us that Denver is the right NBA betting side to play in this matchup.
Portland Trail Blazers +4 (-101) | NBA Best Bets
The Portland Trail Blazers have looked rather sharp since C.J. McCollum returned to the lineup. While it has only amounted to a 3-2 SU record, Portland has been playing opponents tough on a nightly basis. After taking down the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors in two solid road wins this past weekend, the Blazers fell by just two to the Minnesota Timberwolves last night.
Of course, given their deficiencies on the defensive end, the Trail Blazers’ hopes of winning and/or covering any game start and end with their offense. In McCollum’s absence, other players were forced to step up. Now that he is back, we are still seeing each of Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little and Jusuf Nurkic play sound offensive basketball. Little is notably listed as day-to-day ahead of tonight’s matchup, but the opponent Dallas Mavericks have some injury concerns of their own.
The Mavs caught an unfortunate break during yesterday’s blowout loss as Tim Hardaway Jr. suffered a broken foot injury. Just like that, Dallas is now scrambling to replace over 14 points and nearly 30 minutes of production per game. After a recent hot streak that saw them surge up to fifth in the Western Conference standings, the Mavericks are in a tough spot heading into tonight’s contest.
While both teams will be playing their second game in as many nights, the Blazers notably have the advantage of playing both at home. A balanced scoring output should be enough to offset any individual heroics by Luka Doncic and keep Portland within the number. Although the consensus spread still sits at Blazers +4, this line has already been nudged down to +3.5 at some sportsbooks.