NBA Friday best bets: Don't count out Spurs in big underdog spot
We went 2-0 once again on our NBA picks on Thursday, bringing our early record to 5-2 heading into an intriguing Friday slate. Here are our best bets:
Two days after Evan Fournier set a new career high (32 points) against one of his former teams, the Boston Celtics, can he spark the New York Knicks to another win against the team he spent seven seasons with?
The French swingman was one of six New York players to score double digits in Wednesday's double-overtime thriller. They'll all have a chance to put up gaudy totals against an Orlando Magic defense that surrendered 123 points to the San Antonio Spurs - a team still proving itself offensively - in Wednesday's 26-point defeat.
Orlando was 1-6 against the spread last year following a loss of at least 25 points, and it'll likely be missing five rotation players in Friday's tilt. It's a big number, but the Knicks should win this one easily.
Pick: Knicks -8.5
Which team do you trust more: the Brooklyn Nets without Kyrie Irving or the Philadelphia 76ers without Ben Simmons? Philadelphia had the more impressive showing in its season opener (admittedly against lesser competition), though a 52% mark from beyond the arc skewed a result that was ultimately closer than the final score suggested.
Friday's contest could pose an additional challenge if Joel Embiid (knee) isn't able to suit up. He rested down the stretch of Wednesday's win and will need to be at full strength to captain a 76ers crew lacking shot-creators and playmakers. With so many questions surrounding Philadelphia's stars, I'd rather lay the points on the two on the other side.
Pick: Nets -2.5
The Denver Nuggets pulled off one of the more impressive wins thus far with Wednesday's upset over the Phoenix Suns, fueled by a strong game by Will Barton and a mostly mistake-free showing from fill-in point guard Monte Morris.
Can those two have the same success against the Spurs? Dejounte Murray and Derrick White were among seven San Antonio scorers in double digits, and they also combined for five steals and helped force the Magic into committing 16 turnovers, compared to the Spurs' eight giveaways.
The Nuggets coughed it up 17 times in Wednesday's win, and it'll be imperative for their unproven backcourt to cut that number down to escape with a win on Friday. If not, the Spurs could spring the outright upset.
Pick: Spurs +7.5