NBA Expert Picks and Best Bets | January 5

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

Just about every NBA team is in action Friday night and we’re focused in on three big picks at Michigan sportsbooks to start your weekend with a good win. The New York Knicks were the first NBA team to make a big trade and shuffle the deck, now they get their first shot at the Sixers this season. After a tough loss in Utah, the Pistons have to take on an angry Steph Curry and the Warriors.

New York Knicks at Philadelphia 76ers Best Bet

Sixers -6.5 (-110) at FanDuel

The NBA Trade Deadline is still a month away, but the Knicks already made a big deal, dumping RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley to Toronto for OG Anunoby. The Knicks were desperate to clog their glut of shooting guards and trying to get out of the second tier of the Eastern Conference.

So far, the results have been favorable. The Knicks have won two in a row and Jalen Brunson looks more comfortable in his role.

But is it enough to take down the big bad Sixers? Joel Embiid came back after missing almost two weeks with a bad ankle and put up a triple double in a win over the Bulls. The Sixers are 9-1 in their last 10 games as the favorite and 20-12-1 against the spread.

The Knicks may match up a little better, but not enough.

fanduel sportsbook
Sixers -6.5 (-110)

Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets Best Bet

Rockets +3.5 (-110) at BetMGM

Sometimes I look at lines, think of going one way, but then after doing some research switch. That’s what I did with this one.

Minnesota still has the best record in the Western Conference at 23-9, but has lost three of five and has hit a bit of a lull. The defense which was the NBA’s best for the first two months has lost its zip. Minnesota has lost five in a row against the spread.

Houston is one of those teams that matches up well with the Rockets inside game. Alperen Sengun has averaged 25.5 in his last 10 games, and veteran Fred VanVleet is still getting it done. Houston is 20-11-1 against the spread this season. The Rockets may not win, but it will be close, so I want to take the points.

betmgm sportsbook
Rockets +3.5 (-110)

Detroit Pistons at Golden State Warriors Best Bet

Over 241 (-110) at DraftKings

Let’s talk tiers for a minute in the NBA. You have a few teams in the elite tier: Boston, Minnesota, Denver, and then the second tier, the middle class. Golden State is now in the middle class. The Warriors are 16-18 this season, and lost Thursday night on a miracle shot by Nikola Jokic at the buzzer at home.

Steph Curry is still awesome and Klay Thompson has shown some life, averaging 18.8 in his last 10 games, but Golden State is no longer elite.

The Pistons are 3-31. They’re at the bottom of the pack, and lost a heartbreaker in OT to Utah. What we’re seeing though is the Pistons can compete with the middle class teams. (Utah is definitely middle class).

I am leery of the spread here, but I love the over. Golden State is 20-14 over/under this season and the Pistons are 22-12. Detroit will get caught up in trying to match Golden State’s scoring. This will be a high number.

draftkings sportsbook
Over 241 (-110)

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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.