NBA Betting Picks for Friday 3/8/24: Will the Cavaliers Defang the Wolves' Defense?

Riley Thomas
Riley Thomas_riley8
NBA Betting Picks for Friday 3/8/24: Will the Cavaliers Defang the Wolves' Defense?

The 82-game NBA regular season offers us a wide variety of betting options, including point spreads, moneylines, and totals. The Association features 1,230 regular season games, which can make sifting through the odds an overwhelming task.

However, various advanced statistics can help narrow the choices. numberFire's NBA power rankings and daily projections paired with advanced stats from the NBA can help give the inside track to winning big.

While utilizing some of the mentioned tools, which NBA odds from FanDuel Sportsbook look like the best bets today?

Please note lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published.

NBA Best Bets

New Orleans Pelicans at Philadelphia 76ers

Over 221.5 (-110)

The New Orleans Pelicans are looking to continue their hot offensive streak as they've averaged 119.8 points per game (PPG) over their previous eight games. The Pelicans visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. Philly has the 14th-best defensive rating in the league. Opponents have averaged 115.5 PPG over Philadelphia's previous six contests.

I have little doubt that New Orleans will light up the scoreboard once again thanks to the offense rolling at the right time. The advantages seem to be there against the 76ers as they give up the 11th-most points in the paint (51.7). This average has only increased during the last five games as opponents have totaled 53.6 points in the paint per game. The continued absence of Joel Embiid (112.0 defensive rating) is a huge factor.

Meanwhile, the Pelicans love to attack the rim, notching the 11th-most points in the paint. Their leading scorer drives home the point as Zion Williamson (22.0 PPG) takes 95.3% of his shots within nine feet of the rim.

New Orleans has also suddenly set aflame from beyond the arc, cashing in 45.4% of their three-point attempts over the previous five games. Philadelphia has given up a 39.0% three-point percentage during its last four games.

The Pelicans are catching a struggling Sixers defense at the perfect time. But will the Philly's offense contribute enough for the over?

The 76ers lean on their paint attack, logging 52.0 points in the paint per game (10th-best). Despite allowing the fifth-fewest points in the paint, New Orleans' defense has also slipped in recent games as opponents have totaled 52.7 points in the paint over the last three. This is a notable jump compared to the Pels' season-long average of giving up 47.1 PPG in the paint.

The bottom line: both offenses have the tools to expose each defense's recent weakness. I like the over, which is in line with numberFire's projections as numberFire gives the over a 59.7% chance to win out.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavaliers Moneyline (-116)

If you're a fan of elite defenses, make sure to tune in for the Minnesota Timberwolves against the Cleveland Cavaliers. This matchup features one of the smallest totals of the day at 207.5, behind only the Orlando Magic-New York Knicks at 206.5. Minnesota boasts the top defensive rating in the league while Cleveland has the third-best mark.

These defenses rate well in pretty much every imaginable category. Each unit is among the top two in the fewest PPG allowed and sits in the top three of opponent effective field goal percentage (eFG%). The Timberwolves' defense typically gives them the upper hand as they tend to squeeze the life out of opponents like an anaconda. However, that is exactly how the Cavaliers like to play -- a slow-paced, defensive showdown. Minnesota has the sixth-slowest pace, and Cleveland has the ninth-slowest pace.

Finding which offense is poised for the most success could reveal the victor. I like the Cavs to come out on top.

Cleveland has a dangerous three-point attack, racking up the 7th-most makes and 10th-most attempts. The efficiency has been elite over the previous six games, with the Cavs making 40.4% from three. Minnesota's perimeter has shown some cracks of late, with the last two opponents each shooting at least 38.0% from beyond the arc.

We should also consider the fact that the Wolves' best scoring trait has been averaging the 14th-most points in the paint. The Cavaliers have an elite interior defense, surrendering the third-fewest points in the paint paired with the second-best mark in opponent two-point percentage.

Orlando Magic at New York Knicks

Magic -1.5 (-108)

The Orlando Magic against the New York Knicks is another game that's expected to be a close one.

Orlando is visiting the Big Apple at the perfect time; New York is 3-7 and 2-8 against the spread (ATS) over the last 10 games and has key injuries for tonight. OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson will be out yet again. Jalen Brunson (team-high 31.2% usage rate) is questionable and has played in only one full game over the past four contests; he missed two games while playing one minute of another.

Meanwhile, the Magic are riding high on a five-game winning streak while going 5-0 ATS in that time. I believe Orlando is capable of pulling off another win and cover tonight.

Orlando's offense has been blistering hot during the winning streak, making 55.0% of their field goals and converting 25 of their last 61 three-point shots (41.0%). Over the past five contests, opponents are shooting 48.8% overall against the Knicks, including 39.2% from three. New York also has the 12th-worst mark in opponent three-point percentage.

Not only have the Magic caught New York at the ideal time due to injuries, but the offense is excelling in the right places to flourish against a sliding defense. I'm backing the road favorite in this one.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.