NBA Expert Picks and Best Bets | April 16

darren cooper
Darren Cooper
NBA Picks and Best Bets
NBA Best Bets 2023-2024

It’s the Western Conference Play-In Tournament Tuesday. The winner of the Pelicans/Lakers game earn the seventh seed and the right to face the Denver Nuggets in the first round. The loser isn’t done. Golden State faces Sacramento with the loser going home, while the winner plays the loser of Pelicans/Lakers for the eighth seed on Friday. We got it all figured out!

LA Lakers at New Orleans Pelicans Best Bet

Lakers -1 (-106) at FanDuel

These two franchises are connected because of the trade for Anthony Davis five years ago from the Pelicans to the Lakers. New Orleans fans still don’t like Davis, because he was a moody star in New Orleans and never posted a public thank you to the city for its support. The Pelicans still own one more pick from the Lakers in the deal.

On the court, it’s become a hot, but one-sided rivalry. The Lakers seem like big brothers to the Pelicans. Every time the Pelicans get close, the Lakers pound them. LA beat the Pelicans 124-108 on the last day of the regular season when the Pelicans could have clinched the sixth seed. They crushed the Pelicans in the NBA Cup semifinals.

New Orleans has only won one of the last six meetings. Things also got chippy in the Sunday game when Davis got shoved while coming down from a score. I’m surprised the spread isn’t bigger. LeBron James isn’t going to let the Lakers lose.

fanduel sportsbook
Lakers -1 (-106)

LA Lakers at New Orleans Pelicans Total Best Bet

Over 222.5 (-115) at BetMGM

Playoff basketball means more defense, more officiating debacles (they’re coming) and usually lower point totals. I was all set to go with the under in this game, but I find the total just too low.

The last 10 games between these two teams have all gone over 222.5 points. The total might be this low because technically LeBron and Anthony Davis are on the injury report, but they’re playing.

The Lakers were 47-34-1 over/under. LeBron is still good for 25 a game. The Lakers scored 118 a night, sixth most in the NBA. Defense isn’t really their thing. Same for the Pelicans. Zion Williamson has started to figure things out, but he’s still inconsistent. The Pelicans get Brandon Ingram back from an injury. They averaged 115 a night, but sometimes they just don’t shoot well. Still, I love the over in this one, even if it’s a Lakers blowout.

betmgm sportsbook
Over 222.5 (-115)

Golden State Warriors at Sacramento Kings Best Bet

Warriors -2.5 (-112) at DraftKings

The other Western Conference Play-In Tournament game finds two teams with identical records (46-36) but trending in opposite directions.

Golden State went 10-2 in its last 12 games, while the Kings have lost seven of their last 11. In fact, Sacramento went from a top six spot all the way to the nine seed with this swoon. Now they get the Warriors. It’s also a rematch from the playoffs last year, won by Golden State in seven games.

These two teams split four meetings, but haven’t played since January. Sacramento beat the Warriors by a point and it was the Warriors nadir. They were 19-23 after that loss. The Warriors got healthy. Draymond Green stopped acting crazy…some. Klay Thompson started making shots. Steph was Steph.

Sacramento matches up well with Golden State. Domantas Sabonis is a double-double machine, but you just can’t pick against the Warriors in this one.

draftkings sportsbook
Warriors -2.5 (-112)

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Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.