NBA Expert Tips and Best Bets | January 5

James Salmon
NBA Tips, Predictions & News
NBA Tips & Best Bets
Best Bets 2023 / 2024

Friday is a quiet day in the NBA, with only two games scheduled after a bumper 12-game slate the day prior. Invariably means that there are less betting options, but it also gives us the chance to hone in on a couple of games in detail. These are our three best bets for those two games, with a little added emphasis on player props. 

Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors

Nuggets -2.5 | $1.90 with GetSetBet 

Throughout the course of the season to date, the Warriors have been a shadow of their former selves largely as a result of the fact that age is catching up with the trio which led them to the Promised Land four times in the past eight years, Steph Curry being the notable exception. Things aren’t all bad in Golden State, with a number of talented young players gradually starting to get more exposure in the big league, but they’re in an awkward spot where nearly all their players are either right at the end of their careers, or right at the start. And while they do appear to be figuring out a balance, it’s not yet translating into results, with three losses in their last four games. The Nuggets, meanwhile, are chugging along on their merry way. Though they had a really disappointing loss to the impressive OKC Thunder a couple of games ago, that was their solitary defeat in their past eight games, and they’ve been getting it done both at home and on the road. That’s important, because the Nuggets are probably the best home court team in the league over the past season and a half, but don’t have quite the same aura about them on the road. But they’ve won their past five road games, a number of them against teams in a relatively similar position to the Warriors. Despite all that, NBA betting sites are expecting a close one and have only installed them as 2.5-point favourites. That looks a little too low for me. 

Nuggets -2.5 @ $1.90

Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors

Jonathan Kuminga to score 15+ points | $2.06 with PlayUp 

Slowly but surely, Jonathan Kuminga is gradually beginning to grow in confidence on an NBA floor, and his output for the Warriors is indicative of that. Though his overall minutes are only marginally up on last season, in recent games he’s getting a lot more time on the floor than the 20 or so he’s averaged in that time, with 30 or more minutes in three of his last seven and at least 23 in the rest. And it’s not just minutes, too, which are trending upwards. In his last five games, he has taken more shots in each of them than in the last, beginning at 7 against the Trail Blazers, then 8, then 11, 12, and finally 14 in the Warriors’ most recent outing. By and large, that has resulted in an increase in points, too, with his efficiency not decreasing with added responsibility. In his last two games he has scored first 16 points in 25 minutes, and then 19 points in 34. No longer is he just an athletic finisher at the rim for the occasional play – the Warriors are now giving him isolation post-up possessions, and he’s making the most of it. His athleticism, as he’s proving, is far from his only skill, and some nice ball handling and solid shooting has shown that he’s capable of being a really valuable offensive player in the league. Of course, for this bet all we’re concerned about is how he performs on Friday, but based on the way he has been tracking in recent games and the fact that he has surpassed this total in his last two games, this looks like a good bet at better than even money. 

Jonathan Kuminga to score 15+ points @ $2.06

Milwaukee Bucks @ San Antonio Spurs

Victor Wembanyama over 2.5 assists | $1.66 with BlueBet

Victor Wembanyama has already shown that he was well and truly deserving of the extraordinary hype which surrounded him, with a terrific first 29 games of his NBA career which has seen him average 18.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and a huge 3.1 blocks per game. That assist number would suggest that the 2.5-assist line set by betting agencies – with a little bit of juice on the over – is about right, but that doesn’t factor in the fact that he's already displayed significant improvement in his ability to find his teammates for good looks over recent games. Last game, he had just one assist, but that was an anomaly for him over what is now a relatively extended stretch of games. That was just the second time in his last ten games that he has failed to have at least three assists, and for the most part he’s been getting four or more. He had three two games ago in limited minutes, while prior to that he had at least four in five consecutive games and averaged 5.0 in that span. Overall, over his past ten games the man affectionately known as Wemby has averaged 3.7 assists, and as mentioned has failed to pass this total on just a solitary occasion. The Bucks will probably beat them easily, but that will likely be in a high scoring game rather than as a product of completely strangling the Spurs defence – as an aside, the total for this game is set at a really high 248.5. With plenty of points likely on offer and a lengthy run of consistently passing this total behind him, this line looks at least an assist too low, even if it is at relatively short odds. 

Victor Wembanyama to have over 2.5 assists @ $1.66

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James is a sports writer from Melbourne, and has contributed to a variety of publications covering a range of sports including basketball, cricket, Australian Rules, golf and surfing to name a few. An avid fan of all of the above and more, James’ downtime is spent falling ungracefully off his surfboard, turning over footies and playing an out of tune guitar.