Handicapping the NBA: Best Bets for Friday Night
Handicapping the NBA: Best Bets for Friday Night

This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.

The NBA closes out the week with only six games on the schedule Friday. Despite the limited slate, there are a bevy of wagering opportunities to consider. After last week, when I went 3-1 on player props, let's check in on where my record stands for the season, overall.

Player props: 15-9

Spread picks: 3-3

Parlays: 1-5

Let's try to start the weekend off with some extra cash in your pocket. As per usual, all odds are obtained from the FanDuel Sportsbook.

PLAYER PROPS

Damian Lillard, 8.5 Assists: OVER (-110)

Lillard has the weight of the Blazers on his shoulders with C.J. McCollum (knee) and Jusuf Nurkic (lower leg) out. While he's been productive across the board with McCollum sidelined the last five games, he's really racked up assists by averaging 11 dimes during that stretch. He was only needed to play 28 minutes against the Bulls on Wednesday and he still managed seven assists. This should be a closer game on the road against a tougher Hawks team and he's going to have the ball in his hands a lot, so I'll take the over.

Damian Lillard, 5.5 Rebounds: OVER (+100)

I'll stay on the Lillard bandwagon for a second wager. He's grabbed at least six rebounds in three straight games and the Blazers could really use him to keep that up with Nurkic out. The Hawks play at the fastest pace (104.5 possessions per game) in the league, which could leave Lillard with added opportunities on the glass. With these favorable odds, rolling with the over might be a risk worth taking.

Al-Farouq Aminu, 10.5 Points: OVER (-108)

Aminu is usually not that involved offensively, evident by his 13.3 percent usage rate. However, the Blazers need more than just Lillard to step up considering McCollum and Nurkic had the second-highest and third-highest usage rates on the team, respectively. Aminu has scored at least 12 points in three of the five games since McCollum went down, including a 16-point performance against a tough Pacers defense. After scoring 17 points against the Hawks earlier this season, it wouldn't be surprising for him to be productive again since the Hawks allow the most points per game (118.6) in the league.

JaVale McGee, 15.5 Points: OVER (-116)

Ok, enough of the Blazers and Hawks game. Let's move over to another potentially high-scoring contest between the Lakers and Hornets. The Lakers play at the fourth-fastest pace (103.7) while the Hornets have allowed an average of 113.4 points across their last 10 games. Part of the reason for the Hornets' recent defensive struggles has been the absence of starting center Cody Zeller (knee), who missed eight of those contests and will be out again Friday. The Lakers have unleashed McGee with nothing left to play for, leaving him to average 18.4 points and 32 minutes across his last five games. With plenty of playing time likely on tap Friday, the over looks very appealing.

SPREAD PICK

Denver Nuggets at Oklahoma City Thunder: DEN (+3.5)

These two teams are currently projected to face each other in the first round of the playoffs, but things could still change. The Nuggets are only one game behind the Warriors for the top spot in the West while the Thunder could realistically finish anywhere between the fifth and eighth seeds. The key for the Thunder on Friday is the status of Paul George (shoulder), who is listed as questionable. George missed some time about a month ago with a shoulder injury and has only shot 39.8 percent from the field since returning. If he sits out, the Nuggets at these odds could be a steal. Even if he does play, taking the Nuggets and the points could be the way to go since they have covered the spread in all three meetings against the Thunder this season.

PARLAY

Golden State Warriors at Minnesota Timberwolves UNDER 228.5 points and Kyrie Irving UNDER 7.5 Assists (+240)

At first glance, a matchup between the high-flying Warriors' offense and the putrid Timberwolves' defense might appear to be a great opportunity to take the over. However, this is a pretty lofty line. The Warriors are not a bad defensive team, which is one of the reasons why they have hit the under in 11 of their last 13 games despite their potent offense. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves have hit the under in six of their last eight contests, so grab the under for the first leg of this parlay.

The Celtics took their last game against the Cavaliers on Tuesday as an opportunity to rest Irving, so at least he's fresh for this matchup. The problem is that scoring might be hard to come by since the Pacers allow the fewest points per game (104). They've held Irving in check over their first two matchups this season, including limiting him to three and two assists, respectively. This is a fairly large number given the circumstances, making it hard to pass up on the under.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Barner
Mike started covering fantasy sports in 2007, joining RotoWire in 2010. In 2018, he was a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. In addition to RotoWire, Mike has written for Sportsline, Sports Illustrated, DK Live, RealTime Fantasy Sports, Lineup Lab and KFFL.com.
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